Who needs nostalgic childhood cartoons when we have the mastery that is YouTube animation?
Okay, we’re kidding. We still love those old episodes of Postman Pat and Peppa Pig, but over the years, YouTube has become host to some of the most innovative, hilarious, and captivating animation we could ever imagine. From stunning puppetry to literal sketch comedy (see what we did there?), we have a veritable smorgasbord of animated videos to choose from.
There’s no denying the amazing amount of time that goes into building these stories frame by frame, so we thought it was only appropriate to finally pull one of our famous all-night YouTube marathons and bring you some of our favourites.
Here they are! Five of the Best: YouTube Animations.
everything you eat is poison | ed stockham..
We’re starting off our list with Ed Stockham‘s beautifully provocative piece from 2014. Get ready to think… a lot. everything you eat is poison follows the story of a sky giant in what we would imagine to be a post-apocalyptic universe – at least, if we base our assumptions on the seeming intertextuality of that Blade Runner à la Gatsby-esque billboard. A combination of ethereal backgrounds and minimalist animation offers a captivating contrast between the elegant simplicity of the visuals and the complexity of the video’s symbolism.
This is definitely a video that warrants multiple views. When we first watched it, we understood the story as a commentary on consuming social discourse. Then we hit replay and realised it could just as easily be a critique of consumer culture (but then again, what postmodern work isn’t?) and the implications of intellectualism and personal autonomy. Replay again and we start to contextualise the themes of isolation and hunger, not to mention a bit of religious imagery. We’re all but dusting off our old film textbooks over here and we absolutely love it, whether or not our analysis is on point or way, way off!
Once you’ve properly sunk your intellectual teeth into this short, we absolutely recommend taking a look at the rest of Ed’s work. We promise you won’t be sorry!
fishy business | KickThePj
When your animations have been turned into real-life puppets by the wonderful Jim Henson Creature Shop, one of whom was voiced by the Patrick Stewart, you know you’ve got a winning video on your hands.
By now, PJ Liguori‘s OG animations are some of YouTube’s more whimsical relics, and fishy business is no exception. We love PJ’s use of mixed media in these older animations. After all, we kind of like the idea that even in our supposedly safe YouTube world, repo fish still have the potential to knock on our door and vaporise our friends. We like a bit of danger, if we’re honest.
These repo fish capture the perfect mix of dark comedy – which we’ve come to know and love from PJ – and wonderful fantasy. At this point, we’re pretty sure anything can happen in PJ’s universe and we’re certainly not mad about it. Here to vaporise you or not, how can you argue with a couple of fish in tails? Answer: You can’t, which is why fishy business will always be a classic.
Saloonatics | Eddsworld
A list of our favourite animations certainly wouldn’t be complete without mentioning an episode of Edd Gould and Tom Ridgewell‘s Eddsworld. While the team’s animation definitely feels more similar to a “television” standard than the previous two videos on this list, the dialogue and humour is undeniably unique to YouTube.
Clever wordplay, ass jokes, and an Undertale reference that we were just as excited about as literally everyone in the comments all play to the video’s audience without dumbing anything down. Sure, there’s slapstick comedy and barf jokes, but there’s also an undeniable depth to the care put into every episode. Also notable is that the Eddsworld team is not afraid to play with the show’s aesthetic, using an adjusted frame rate in this video to give us a different sense of motion than other episodes in the series.
Being the penultimate episode before the series’ two-part finale, this video is a must-watch. Unlike that 100-year-old cola, which definitely is not a must-drink and looked terrifying before Edd even opened it. This episode is everything we love about Eddsworld and everything great about the action, comedy, and adventure side of YouTube.
Muddy Paws | Simon’s Cat
Returning to minimalist animation, Simon’s Cat is a great compilation of short videos featuring, you guessed it, Simon’s Cat! The remarkable thing about this series is the consistent attention to detail, from the way that plant falls over to the shift of the rug when the cats jump outside.
For a series that contains no dialogue or even a background score, we would like to point out the finesse of that sound design. Never overdone, the foley in these videos makes the feline antics that much more hilarious.
Whether or not you’ve ever lived with a cat, these animations are an adorable look into the cat psyche. Okay, maybe we wouldn’t go that far, but it definitely is a look into the endearing things our pets do!
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 6 | Don’t Hug Me .I’m Scared
Unless you’re Kimmy Schmidt and wildly new to the internet, you’re probably well acquainted with the characters in our final video!
Everyone knows the 2011 classic debut episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, but if you only saw the original, you might not know that creators Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling have released five additional episodes in the series that work self-referentially to create a fascinating commentary on media consumption and creativity.
We chose the final episode in the series because it ties together the overwhelmingly symbolic narrative of the character’s experience with the media within their universe whilst leaving us with a very real question about the implications of our intellectual consumption. Great tie-in with the first video, eh?
Whereas the first episode as a standalone piece may have seemed to be “some wacky internet randomness”, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 6 creates a provocative end to a pretty dark narrative about content creation. We love it, we love it, we love it! The puppetry is marvellous and an absolute feast for the eyes, and these episodes have inspired some wonderfully in-depth theories from the community. After all this time, we can finally say that great is a creative colour.
So there you have it…
This is just a small taste of the amazing range of YouTube animation. We certainly suggest diving into all of these series and marvelling at the incredible talent of our friends in the community. Plus, we hope you might also be inspired to get out that graphics tablet, download Flash, and show us some of your own stories!
Want more Five of the Best? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:
- Five of the Best: Parent Collaborations
- Five of the Best: Warm Weather Lookbooks
- Five of the Best: Disney-Inspired Videos