My Top Ten Story Arcs in Western Animation

Western Animated shows, on the whole, are fundamentally different from anime in a number of ways.

The tropes they employee, their general reputation, the style they use–it all combines to create a more lighthearted, comedic atmosphere in comparison to the Japanese medium many know and love.  This has led to a format where most Western cartoons tell their stories sporadically.  With lots of independent, unrelated stories in between, compared to anime, which continue a single plot without interruption.

However, there are times when these shows choose to focus on a single story, over the course of multiple episodes.  These are the episodes that get plot-heavy really quick–the ones that oftentimes are responsible, for creating the most high-stakes, memorable situations of a show.   And today, I’ll be talking about my top ten favorite story arcs!

I tried to stick to two criteria for this list.  First, only one story arc per series, and second, the arc has to last at least five episodes, or at least be addressed over the course of a series.   This was to rule out those hour-long specials, which are so common in Western cartoons.  That said, let’s get to it!

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My Top Ten Stories of All Time! 10-8

Stories impact people.

Stories are those things which are considered timeless, a series of events which some people consider important enough to keep on telling.  They engage us, suck us into the lives of characters that aren’t even real, and teach us lessons that transcend the ordinary, and yet find real, true application.  Stories are universal, experiences that bind us all together, and man, they’re freaking GREAT to experience.

Heyo, Aaron here, and as a bit of a celebration for the 100 post milestone, I’ll be sharing my Top Ten favorite Stories of all time.  From anime, to manga, to western animations and video games, these narratives have been the most powerful, meaningful, and just straight up interesting stories that I’ve ever experienced.  It’s a very personal list, not judged by the explicit “narrative quality” of the series, but rather, simply how meaningful they are to me.

That being said, let’s get it started.

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A Coming-of-Age Story: Bubbles, and Innocence in Steven Universe!

Steven Universe is a show that starts out strange, odd, completely weird, and grows to become something with ridiculous amounts of depth.  From the story of a young boy who has his powers triggered by Cookie Cat Ice Cream bars, to a complex tale of how the passing of one Rose Quartz has changed the lives of those close to her, Steven Universe has become one of the best series that Western Animation has to offer.  Every character is just so, so good, so well designed, so relatable.  However, it is through the titular character, Steven Universe, where we see the best thematic elements of what the show has to offer.

Steven starts off the series as a young kid, idealistic, always happy, and confident that everything will be alright.  As the series progresses, he never stops hoping for the best, but he’s forced to confront situations that make him rethink his view of the world, and grow dramatically.  The story of the Crystal Gems is ultimately Steven’s Coming-of-Age story, and there’s so much in the series that build it up as such.  There is one supernatural element of the story in particular that I feel epitomizes this growth, and that is the way the series uses bubbles.

There will be sizable spoilers here, as one might expect.  I’m just gonna talk about how bubbles in the series and what they mean in regards of Steven’s growth- analyze just how he grew, and how he might continue to grow. Hopefully, it’ll be pretty interesting!
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My Five Favorite Western Animations

You know, I’ve been concentrating a lot on the worlds of anime and video games.  For all my talk about appreciating all sorts of media, I really haven’t been giving any love to other forms for the entirety of this blog’s existence, save for Lucid 9 and Miraculous Ladybug months ago.  That being said, I’d like to spread the love around, this time for the genre least touched on the blog- Western Animation.

Between the Americas and the whole of Europe, we’ve gotten some pretty exceptional series.  The differences between Western and Asian animations are rather clear, Western cartoons far more often gearing towards comedy and adventure, rather than lasting emotional value and artistic strength.  However, as the years have gone on, some truly wonderful pieces of animation have emerged that have proven to exemplify the best the medium can offer.  For this list, I’ll be listing off five of my personal favorite Western Animations.  This is almost entirely by personal preference, but generally speaking, a combination of technical quality, story telling, and characterization is what separates each entry from the rest.  With that out of the way, let’s get started!

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