Why animated movies will always be superior to live action
Live-action is limited by reality – not in the sense of having non-fiction type stories, but in a much more literal sense: they are made up of real people and use physical settings and locations (and although computer generated effects have become important, they are not embellishments).
On the other hand, there is anime, the Japanese animated film that is seemingly devoid of any physical human, a field completely different from ours in essence. And in many ways, this radically different universe turns out to be advantageous for the real humans and celebrity faces we regularly encounter in American entertainment.
Live actors can rarely, if at all, get away with the same exaggerated emotional expressions as animated characters. Imagine seeing a well-known celebrity screaming in utter despair, kneeling on the floor as if her legs were weakened by the devastating thought of the tragedy that just happened, clenching her head and sobbing hysterically.
I don’t buy it. Most moviegoers, no matter how optimistic or jaded of the world they are, would find the scene ridiculous. Because it would be. Most human beings do not act in public, and when they do, they attract the attention of many watchful and judgmental eyes.
Live-action movies are meant to mimic reality enough for the story to be believable. Seeing an actor try to exaggerate his expressions for a movie would also ruin the mood of the scene. The simple fact is that humans are confined to the expressions their faces can make.
Not only that, but they are confined to the very lives of the actors who are supposed to play the characters. An audience knows that while a character may die in a live-action movie, the actor is still alive and well and ready to move on to a new role in a new movie for a new character. To make matters worse, the actor has a personal life of his own (probably more boring than any role he’s portrayed for the film) and audiences just have to be content with that – the fact that a person wearing the face of the character he is familiar with now roams the world. It’s almost blasphemous, a crime of identity theft. More than that, it weakens the effect of finality and cohesion of a film.
A film creates a world, however provincial or literal it may be. It’s an isolated kingdom with a story to tell, which isn’t meant to bleed (much) in reality. Movies are most often a form of escape and almost always a form of storytelling. Characters are not to leave their respective worlds unless the intention is to completely shatter the carefully crafted story that audiences have to immerse themselves in.
The drawn art form offers a lot more flexibility in character creation. This might be an odd thought, as western animation is typically associated with children’s cartoons, silly or simplistic in theme, plot, and character development. Western cartoons associated with an adult audience are often satirical, without much plot, and very little character development as well.
Anime characters, while physically two-dimensional, often have representations and designs that make them far more multidimensional than anything live-action could possibly be able to portray. Drama can be taken to a whole different level in animation.
The anime, in fact, is known for its exaggeration with keyframes that can go from an extremely happy character to a character in utter desolation in an instant. The amount of emotion that an animation moment can hold is mind-blowing and, more importantly, it works. While they may not be visually realistic (in terms of looking like a living person making a similar expression), the animated characters achieve a certain emotional realism through the artistic liberties the animators take. They can achieve rawness through exaggeration, something nearly impossible for live action movies.
Animated characters become like real people rather than actors living their stage life and their “real” life. Animated characters can’t suddenly decide to give up on a movie because they don’t want the acting role. They have no escape from their spectacle. They are just there, existing in their own domain. When a character dies permanently in an anime, they leave their world and ours.
In the meantime, it’s hard to take horror movies seriously when all you can think of is, “I wonder how embarrassing it must be for the actor to do such a stunt to make this scene so horrible. . “
Perhaps in more extreme terms, the anime is its own world to escape to, while the live-action is a kind of fabrication – a blanket over our eyes to provide a fragile, temporary illusion.
The most significant contrast between anime and live action is the creative freedom. First and foremost, it should be noted that there are different forms of creative decisions made for the live action compared to those made for the anime. Live-action movies are swimming in creativity, from what people can do with physical sets and costumes, to some pretty awesome acting skills and more. The art form of drawing is another form of creativity, which resonates powerfully with viewers in its ability to add both artistic depth and originality to a film. Creativity and “art” in live action is used to make things appear real (in the context of the film). Anime art is used to realize all the story.
The anime can easily incorporate deliberate symbolism and atmospheric effects in unique ways, such as a specifically colored flower that spawns in a drab setting in which all of the characters except the protagonist are grayed out. Animators have thousands of canvases in the form of keyframes to create metaphors, symbols and artistic backdrops. It almost becomes poetry in visual form.
During this time, the live action is often limited for convenience. The cast of “The Lord of the Rings” had to be filmed in New Zealand to get the desired setting, and even then they couldn’t literally move mountains to capture the perfect camera angle.
When I think of live action, the first thought that comes to my mind is restriction – of resources, actors, effects, even creativity (but to a lesser extent). Live action can be an art, but such an idea is more often an afterthought, behind the idea that it is pure entertainment. The medium of the anime is inherently creative and isolated enough from our reality to open up a whole different realm of storytelling.