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Animation Sub Genres and What It Takes

By Alan Shires. Published Aug 10, 2023.
Filed Under: Animation

Animation is not an incredible genre. It is a vast universe with a myriad of sub-genres, each appealing to a distinct audience and evoking a different tone and style. This diversity is also reflected in the realm of voiceover more generally, where actors navigate the nuances of each sub-genre, bringing characters to life with remarkable dexterity. Let's journey through some primary animation sub-genres and discover how they influence voiceover performances. Hold on to your seats, this is going to be one nostalgic journey filled with talent, tale, and perhaps even some old friends. 

Children's Animations and Sub Genres

Examples like Looney Tunes, Rugrats, and SpongeBob SquarePants paint a picture in your mind of the different types of children's animations out there as well as how it has evolved over the years. Children's animation is crafted to engage young minds, often incorporating vibrant visuals, energetic characters, and moral lessons. Voiceovers in this sub-genre require actors to embrace exaggerated expressions and playful tonalities. Jumping from one style to another is not always easy. As a voice actor, it is important to emphasize clear enunciation to cater to developing language skills. It is vital to have versatility in shifting between various emotional extremes, from exuberant joy to childlike sadness. Finally, the ability to embody a character's innocence, wonder, and sense of discovery is critical.

Adult Animations and Sub Genres

Examples like Family Guy, American Dad, and The Simpsons paint a picture in your mind of the different types of adult-based animations as well as how the passage of time has changed styles somewhat. Targeted at mature audiences, adult animations tackle complex themes, satirical commentaries, and darker humor. These narratives require voice actors to embody more sophisticated, nuanced, and often flawed characters. As a voice actor, it is important to have a deeper exploration of the character's psyche and layered personalities as well as a Mastery in delivering sarcastic, ironic, or dry humor. Finally, the ability to convey mature themes convincingly without alienating the audience is critical.

Anime Animation 

Examples like Naruto, Attack on Titan, My Neighbor Totoro paint a picture in your mind of the different types of anime being distributed. Originating from Japan but with a global fanbase, anime covers a vast spectrum, from romance and horror to fantasy and sci-fi. Anime often delves deep into characters' emotional and psychological landscapes. From a voice acting perspective authenticity in portraying intense emotions, especially during climactic scenes as well as the ability to resonate with cultural nuances, especially when dubbed from Japanese to other languages is critical. Versatility to handle both high-paced action sequences and slow, introspective moments is important too. 

Stop-Motion Animation

Examples such as Coraline, Wallace and Gromit, The Nightmare Before Christmas paint a great picture of the different types of animation being made in the stop motion sub genre. Stop motion brings inanimate objects to life frame by frame. It has a tangible, tactile feel, different from traditional animation, which can influence voiceover. The voiceover artist needs to synchronize with the deliberate, methodical pace of the animation as well as emphasis on texture and depth, mirroring the physicality of stop-motion characters. Precision in timing to ensure voices align perfectly with the painstakingly crafted scenes is critical too.

Computer-Generated (CG) Animation

One of the most notable styles in the current day aligns itself with computer-generated (CG) animation. Films like Toy Story, Shrek, Moana, and so on give a really precise image of what these styles host. CG animation offers hyper-realistic visuals, intricate details, and fluid movements. These features can elevate the realism of voiceover performances. This is often the dream for many voice actors looking to work in animation. What is demanded of them is a greater emphasis on realism and natural delivery to match the lifelike visuals. Adding to this they must be adaptable to work alongside the evolving animation technologies, which can change the way characters emote. Finally, collaboration with animators to ensure that vocal expressions are mirrored accurately in the animation is an important skill to have as well.

Educational Animation

The name is in the title, animations such as Dora the Explorer, Magic School Bus, Bill Nye the Science Guy (animated segments) are the first animations that come to mind when you through education into the mix. Designed to both entertain and educate, these animations simplify complex concepts for easier understanding. To deliver this from the voice talents perspective, clarity and articulation to ensure comprehension is a must, as is balancing educational content with engaging delivery to maintain audience interest. Using varied tones to differentiate between instructive and narrative segments is important too.

Experimental/Art Animation

Probably the least noticed sun genre, experimental is known for projects such as Fantasia, World of Tomorrow, and Loving Vincent. Pushing the boundaries and redefining animation norms, these films often blur the lines between visual art and storytelling, demanding unconventional voiceover approaches such as an Openness to non-traditional voiceover techniques, like abstract narrations or poetic deliveries. It also requires flexibility in adapting to evolving visuals and non-linear storytelling and a sensitivity to the artistic essence, ensuring the voice complements rather than overshadows the animation.

Animation Sub Genres Concludes

Animation's vastness offers voice actors a playground of possibilities. As the sub-genres diversify, they present unique challenges and opportunities for voiceover artists. Embracing the essence of each sub-genre allows actors to deliver performances that resonate, whether they're voicing a mischievous child in a Saturday morning cartoon or a tormented protagonist in a dark anime saga. The rich tapestry of animation genres ensures that voiceover, as an art, will continue to evolve, adapt, and captivate audiences across the globe.

Animation Sub Genres by Alan Shires

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