Motorcity and Tron: Uprising are 2012 cartoons airing on the Disney XD channel this year. They’ve been in my periphery for a while, but having only checked them out recently I can say the two have a remarkable amount in common.
Motorcity is another Titmouse animated series that, like Black Dynamite, indicates the company is moving upwards from its humble beginnings in charming shows that wore their low production values on their sleeves, such as Metalocalypse. Motorcity is about a group of teens living in a dilapidated underground slum while an omnipresent sterile government rules the overground. The kids fight the establishment with fast 3D racing cars and slick 2D character animation. Animated gifs taken from the series and posted on Tumblr are what encouraged me to check it out, as the animation appeared to be on a higher level of competency than you’d expect given its subject matter.
(A short aside: back when I was in college and still tinkering with Flash animation, I had this short-lived fantasy of relocating to Los Angeles and hanging out at Titmouse Inc. until they had no choice but to give me a job sweeping the floors or something, which I would parlay into an animation career with hotblooded shonen-like enthusiasm. Maybe I should have done that.)
Tron: Uprising is, of course, a tie-in to the recent Tron: Legacy movie, wherein renegade computer programs wage guerrilla war against an oppressive force inadvertently created by Jeff Bridges. I came to be interested in this ‘toon by way of its character designer: the talented Robert Valley, whose comics work on his self-published Massive Swerve series caught my attention via a recent Kickstarter campaign. The one Massive Swerve book I’ve read looks great, as do Valley’s character designs for this series. His characters’ lanky figures are quite forgiving of Uprising‘s sometimes stilted 3D animation, as are the neon structures that comprise the Grid. The cartoon is remarkably decent, cribbing enough from Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack to tie the visuals up in a stylish bow that channels the frenetic cool of Aeon Flux.
Both Motorcity and Tron: Uprising combine 2D and 3D animation relatively well. They’re also about resisting a well-disguised oppressive government. Is this a part of an initiative to seem more hip to the upper-tween demographic? Is it merely coincidence that the two shows are being released in the same year? Are they doing sufficiently well that we can expect shows with similar themes in the future?
Say what you will about the predominant vagaries of slacktivism, I find it amusing to imagine a bunch of kids are planted in front of their televisions, rooting for cartoon characters that are fighting corrupt governments. Because of Disney.
I know if I were still among them I’d be eating this stuff up with a spoon.