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Daily Debate: What Was (or is) the Best Decade for Animation?

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Animation has been around quite a long time. The first animated film, Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, was released in 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton. We then had many years of animated shorts, followed by full-length animated films, and then the rise of animated TV shows.

Some decades are iconic and have some of the best films ever made. Others, not so much and are considered the dark days of animation. Some decades have a cohesive feel to them, even though the content was created by different studios and artists, while other decades are all other the place.

Which leads us to today’s Daily Debate:

What  was (or is) the best decade for animation?

We can’t wait to read your thoughts. Join the discussion below in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About Morgan Stradling

Morgan is a native of Arizona and is a desert rat who loves the heat–she doesn’t even turn on the AC in her car in the middle of the summer! She loves big eyeliner, Survivor, Lady Gaga, and, of course, animated films. She has her MBA in Marketing from ASU and now works as a Product Manager for a tech company. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

  • The decade beginning in 1937, easy. Not even a question. This is a debate? 😛

    One could make a case for “when is your personal favorite decade” I guess, but the *best* remains that one. (My personal favorite would probably be 1989-99. Mouse Detective was 86, but the wealth of favorites during those 10 years after 89 was incredible.)

  • Manuel Orozco

    I’ll have to say this decade so far! I’ve seen a lot of entertaining and impressive animated features. From How to Train Your Dragon to Toy Story 3 to Wreck It Ralph to Frozen to Inside Out to the Peanuts Movie to Moana! Ultimately, I don’t have a particular favorite decade.

  • Dante Panora

    I came up with this question, but I suppose I should also mention the “Ages” of animation:

    1900’s-20’s: Silent age. 30’s-50’s: Golden age. Dark Age: 60’s-80’s. Renaissance era: 90’s. Millennium age: 2000’s to present.

    I would say it ‘s not fair to say the 90’s and this early part of the 21st century are different eras (at least according to TV Tropes). Despite the aesthetic change in American feature animation (2d to CG), I’d say the industry follows alot of the principles and economics established in the 90s.

    In my personal opinion though I’m watching some 90s animated movies on Netflix like Balto and We’re Back! and I am kind of charmed by the era because it was such an interesting time for animation. I learned recently the channels like cartoon network were made as much in mind for adults in their 20’s/30’s as well as children, since it was proven adults do like watching cartoons.

    But thinking critically I would say the 2010’s is the best decade and it will probably get better. Cartoon brew has some interesting articles about Latin American and European animation, and alot of them look amazing. I also think adult animation will be advanced by streaming sites like Netflix and others? Anyone check out that new Castlevania trailer?

    • Manuel Orozco

      If I were to pick, I would say the Millennium age

  • Fadi Antwan

    Despite some disturbing current trends in the animation industry, I would also have to say that it’s this decade. The industry has never been more diverse or international as it is now. We also get high quality films every year from all over the world.
    I know many of you, myself included, might be inclined to say it’s the 90’s, but that decade was more or less dominated by one genre from Disney (musical fairy-tales and princess movies), albeit a very enjoyable one.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I haven’t really cared for the foreign animated films we’ve received in recent years but I do agree Disney has been on a roll this decade. So has Illumination (seen all of them except Hop) and Pixar (like always).

  • I think the 1930s and around the war periods are very important for discovering what animation can do, but I gotta say that the 1990s perfected it. I mean without the 90s we wouldn’t have the Disney we love and not to mention animation in tv started to get extremely good and could actually impact a lot of pop culture today. I know it might be speculation for if without the 90s we’d have such great animated entertainment, that’s just what I thought it kinda meant at least to me.
    ******But again that is just my opinion all of the years in animation are impactful and should always be seen as great :)******

  • Frank Coufal

    Despite some bad stuff, I think the 1990s was an amazing time for animation.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Yeah well I prefer some non Disney stuff from back then. Plus I’m a 90’s baby

  • Marier Villarreal

    I think the best eras for Animation are the Renaissance Era, and the Millenial Era.

    The Renaissance Era because Disney gave us classics that (up to this date) are still remembered and loved. They have been rebooted by other studios and even Disney in itself, but they can’t compare to the animated Disney classics (As of now, the only reboot from the 1990’s is Beauty & The Beast, but was mediocre for me).

    The Millenial Era because they show good messages, and they’re hugely entertaining (like the 1990’s Disney animated movies, but kiiiiinda different), Disney’s movies are HUGE today!
    Illumination is growing big, not my favorite animation studio, but whatever), Blue Sky Studios… *sees Ice Age 5* needs to improve, Ferdinand may be an improvement, but I hope it’s as good as The Peanuts Movie.
    Dreamworks Animation doesn’t seem to be as prominent as before, and their 2017 movies seem… kinda dumb, but I hope they come back on top with HTTYD 3.
    I don’t know what Reel FX is doing right now, honestly…

    The animation medium is getting more attention now, and I think that’s why animation movies will try to be as good as they can be.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Let’s not forget Pixar which is my favorite studio. I hope Ferdinand is as great as Peanuts Movie as well. Also I’ve seen all Illumination’s movies except Hop and they have yet to totally disappoint me.

  • Jordan Briskin

    Boy, this is a tough question! On a personal note, I’m rather torn between the ’90’s and the current decade….

  • This is a tough one. I love the Millennium age because we today have so many choices
    when it comes to animation. Today, there are usually over 10 animated films released a
    year. From mainstream to indie, there’s so much choice now. But I’d choose the Golden
    age. This was the age that saw the rise of Walt Disney, Warner Bros, MGM, Terrytoons,
    Fleischer Studios, Paramount, and so much more. Television animation like Jay Ward &
    Hanna-Barbera began in this time. I personally prefer today’s animation, but the Golden
    age was the age that helped get us to where we are today and got us classic characters.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m more into today’s mainstream animation world than indie.

  • Alex Beezley

    This is not going to be a very unique choice, but the 1990s were the best decade for animation in my opinion. Two of my top three favorite animated films (Toy Story and The Lion King) were released during this decade, and computer animation was utilized to a much fuller extent than was seen in the 1980s. It still amazes me how Disney was able to seamlessly blend CGI with traditional animation during the Renaissance, especially in Tarzan. In addition, non-Disney animated films released during this decade, notably The Prince of Egypt and The Iron Giant, still hold up today. A close second is the 1950s, but the 90s had something that the 50s lacked: the introduction of major animation studios outside of Walt Disney Feature Animation.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I prefer some Non-Disney features than most of what Disney gave us back in the 90’s. But in particular I liked Prince of Egypt, The King & I, Cats Don’t Dance, Pebble and the Penguin, Thumbelina, The Swan Princess, We’re Back, A Troll in Central Park, Quest for Camelot, Rock A Doodle, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Pippi Longstocking.

  • Jeremiah

    I have a soft spot for the fifties. Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, and my girl Cinderella. Plus Looney Tunes was at a really good place, they had created all the great characters and things were rolling. That decade was some good stuff.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m not a huge fan of Looney Tunes but I remember liking them as a kid. I also like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty. But Cinderella is the best Disney had done in the 50’s!

  • Frank Coufal

    I also like the millenium era as well.

  • Trev

    If we’re allowed to choose our own specific decades, then my pick would be the late 80s to early 90s. For a couple of reasons:

    1) Obviously, the Disney Renaissance (‘Little Mermaid’, ‘Lion King, ‘Beauty and the Beast’)
    2) Formation of Pixar and commercial breakthrough of computer animation (‘Toy Story’)
    3) Formation of Studio Ghibli and the global spread of anime. (‘Grave of the Fireflies’, ‘My Neighbor Totoro’)
    4) Other groundbreaking anime films like ‘Akira’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell’.
    5) ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, still the gold standard for stop-motion animation, was released.
    6) The rise of MTV gave way to experimentation with animation in music videos.
    7) The beginning of ‘The Simpsons’ (the beginning of adult-oriented tv shows and a television landmark in it’s own right)

    • Manuel Orozco

      It’s hard to believe over 20 years later, Pixar still has a bit of magic in them.

  • Dean

    You will not find any TV shows animated as well as they were in the 1990s. Characters were detailed and well-animated. Not the simplified, robotic animation of other decades.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I agree fine cartoon shows are tough to find these days. Luckily I’m enjoying Tangled the Series and Star Wars Rebels. When I think of the past decade, I think of Avatar, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, American Dragon Jake Long, Life & Times of Juniper Lee, SpongeBob and Fairy Oddparents back in their prime, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go, Oban Star Racers, Emperor’s New School and Kim Possible.

  • Jo

    I’d say late 90’s to early 2000’s.