Entergalactic and the untapped potential of adult animation

Visual albums are great tools for bands and artists to promote their discography by using the songs from new releases for soundtrack productions. This has resulted in some incredibly well-executed, artful and impactful projects like Prince’s purple rain, Beyonce’s black is king and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The latest release of this genre, and the one that is quite interesting, is Kid Cudi’s animated special Entergalactic. Released to Netflix on September 30 and created by Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Kenya Barris, Entergalactic shows the incredible and untapped promise of modern adult animation. It’s a six-chapter story that follows Jabari (Mescudi), a street artist who just got a job at a comic book studio, who meets and immediately falls for his new neighbor, a photographer named Meadow (Jessica Williams), and must juggle his new love with an old flame (Laura Harrier) and his creative ambition.

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This is a story that could easily have been told in live action, but the choice to animate this film with a vibrant color palette and a New York City setting reminiscent of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, was one that shows what mature animated features have been lacking for a very long time, and something we need more of.

RELATED: Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi & Jessica Williams Talk ‘Entergalactic’, Create Cool Animated Melting Pot of Music, Fashion & Art


Animation: Not just for children

Fortunately, the archaic idea that animation is only for children is something society has evolved, or is evolving past. However, the reputation of adult animation in general is somewhat polarized; there is a stereotype that for animation to be mature, it must be explicitly for adults. This is usually done in one of two ways: The first is to make it as explicit as possible, with sex, violence and/or a sick sense of humor, which can either be done really well or badly to become incredibly juvenile. The other way, the way that gets more criticism, is to use animation to tell dark, traumatic life stories, sometimes historical, sometimes autobiographical, but always pulling at the heartstrings. There is of course room for films like these, that spectrum of The haunted world of El Superbeasto and Waltz with Bashir, but there is another possibility which may unfortunately be overlooked.

Sometimes real life can feel like a cartoon when you go inside your own mind and perceive the world around you. Sometimes you don’t need world-changing drama to tell a compelling story, even in animation. There are films that balance the depiction of life and political turmoil at the same time, such as the brilliant animated film Persepolis, however, there are only a few films with the former. Mary and Max, $9.99, and He is sick are all brilliant clay endeavors that explore the connections between people and the meaning of life but Entergalactic gives us something we haven’t really received in animation yet: the joys of adulthood.

Being an adult sometimes stinks; it is full of hardships and financial struggles and personal conflicts that make you pray for the halcyon days of childhood. But at the end of the day, there’s a reason we were so excited to become independent adults back then, because as stressful as it can be, being an adult is also really fun. Entergalactic masterfully portrays the life of creative young adults in a big city, the excitement of a career opportunity, the magic of a new romance, going bar-hopping with friends, eating a perfect burger, putting on some good music and relaxing in your apartment. It shows the simple pleasures of living an independent life, and in a sea of ​​movies about the oppression marginalized people go through, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a predominantly black cast of characters who happen to be winning at life.

The animated life of the artists

This movie, while the sex, profanity, and casual drug use make it explicit for adults, is one of the most positive, life-affirming features to come out this year. It’s a tribute to modern positivity, almost wholesome in its morals about finding love and meaning. It is a romantic film, both romantic because it is a romance, but also romantic in its optimistic view of life.

There’s always a pressure when making films for adults using a medium that’s encapsulated for children to show the grittiness of reality. Whether it’s conflict on a global scale, or a single person’s existential crisis, with very muted colors and a lack of elements that could make the film seem “too cartoony.” So what’s good about it Entergalactic is that it doesn’t try to hide that it’s a cartoon, and leans heavily into the freedom animation affords the creatives behind the film.

Exploring new love in New York City is something that has been done many times in live-action, and it would make sense for Mescudi to make a live-action visual album, as many have done. The choice to make it into an animated film not only highlights the amazingly curated soundtrack both inside and out Entergalactic the album itself, but also presents the protagonist’s inner world. Jabari is an artist, and the entire film is about the nature and career of artists in large metropolitan areas. The struggle to comply with consumer standards or to step out of one’s comfort zone to promote their work, so we see the world through the eyes of the cartoonist with his own character, Mr. Rager (Keith David), come to life on the walls. The emotions Jabari feels, the stories he’s told are all shown in different animation styles, the explosions of color when you see one you instantly fall in love with, how it feels like you’re flying on a bike down the road. , there are some great sequences in this film that are bright and bursting with color, showing the vibrancy that New York City has to offer.

There have been some spectacular pieces of animation aimed at adults in recent years, Hollywood dramas such as Bojack is ridingcomical celebrations of friendship as Tuca and Bertieor surrealist discussions of philosophy as The Midnight Gospel. Netflix has especially won in this regard with projects like the aforementioned series and hidden gems like Cut along the dotted line. Entergalactic takes adult animation a step forward from this, hits the step off Tuca and Bertie in its mixture of positivity and depth. This film is a cut above many animated films for adults by giving it light, allowing animation to be colorful, letting the character designs be softer, showing the beauty of the characters and the world around them.

Entergalactic is up there with the great visual album of the 21st century, it’s what “adult animation” should mean, and hopefully others will take inspiration from it in the future.

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