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Animation Destination: Current Cartoons to Watch

By Crystal Harrell

If you're in that group of millennials that was born and raised on the quintessential cartoons of the 80's and 90's, you've probably been skeptical of this generation's programming. Gone are the Klasky Csuspo Nicktoons we'd wake up to in delight on weekend mornings and the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays we'd watch till our eyes demanded sleep. Now it seems corny live-action sitcoms and obnoxious CGI are dominating Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel. All hope is not lost, however, because here are some hidden gems that deserve to be appreciated by both the younger crowd and all us disgruntled neo-adults who aren't easily impressed. 

1. Gravity Falls - As an attempt to bring more animation to the current Disney Channel line-up, Gravity Falls premiered in June of 2012, and has since captivated audiences with its blend of quirky humor and creative mystery. The show follows twin siblings Dipper and Mabel Pines as they spend the summer with their great-uncle ("Grunkle") Stan in the seemingly quaint town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Things are not what they appear as the brother-sister team encounter some strange happenings within the town and a very unique ensemble of characters. If you dig conspiracy theories, mythical creatures, and pig sidekicks, then this show is right for you. 

2. Adventure Time - What started as a six-minute pilot that premiered on Cartoon Network in 2010 has now progressed into a pop culture phenomenon with almost 200 episodes already aired. Adventure Time centers on Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, two best friends and adoptive brothers who constantly seek heroic quests in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. Cartoon Network scored big with this one, seeing as you are bound to find some type of Adventure Time merchandise at your local Hot Topic and/or Barnes & Noble. The show is as imaginative as you can get with an Ice King, thousand-year-old vampires, and a talking dog who likes to make bacon pancakes (which is a lot of imagination, in my opinion).

3. Over the Garden Wall - This one's for those of you who like sophistication and class, but with all the charming oddities of talking bluebirds, musical frogs, and a bell that keeps the occasional evil spirit inside of you at bay. Over the Garden Wall premiered on Cartoon Network last November, and although it was only a ten-episode miniseries, it garnered a considerable amount of acclaim from viewers and critics. The show follows two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, who wander through a magical forest to find their way back home. Over the Garden Wall features star-studded voice acting by Elijah Wood and Christopher Lloyd, and bizarre episode plots that maintain the mystical appeal of a children's folk tale. 

4. Steven Universe - Steven Universe owes its creation to the same animators of Adventure Time, and premiered on Cartoon Network in July of 2013. The show's premise features a young boy named Steven who lives in the town of Beach City with three alien humanoids called the "Crystal Gems." It's up to Steven and his magical friends to save the world from their own kind, while also having a lot of fun. The show has garnered a large following as well, with several short films, video games, and comic books created for the franchise. Steven Universe is ideal for anyone with a sense of humor also looking for a bit of magic to spice up their life.

With contemporary shows like these, the future of televised animation looks less bleak and more promising. 

Crystal HarrellComment