There have been tons as many animated series that have become classics over the years and just as many god awful piles of crap that turn people off of animation all together. I have my own ideas on the subject of what separates the good ones from the bad, but I'd like to know what everyone else thinks. So let's share our thoughts.
What is it that makes a good animated series or comic in general, and what is it that eventually turns them into a horrible mess.
It's a hard question to answer, because its the same thing as asking what makes a good movie and there's no real right answer. I guess animation and design are more important to me, because I'll forgive a lot of flaws if what I'm watching is pretty in motion.
Based on my experience the hierarchy goes as such.
I believe it is due to that if the characters are interesting and well written I would view an animation of them doing nothing but eating lunch, depicted in crude stick drawings, and from experience it would seem that a great compelling idea for a story can be rendered a horrible abomination by having poorly written characters. As for animation it's a very important means for delivering the prior two, example being a silent scene with good animation can have just as much if not more impact than one with speaking parts because it can masterfully display the story by focusing on the emotional actions of the character, as seen in the animations of Hayao Miyazaki. However without the two before it good animation can draw a crowd but doesn't seem to make for good cinema, seen in how movie producers and some directors think they can make a box office hit with a sub par rehash of a story with cardboard cut outs of characters and amazing special effects, which is true, but doesn't make for a memorable film.
It's indeed not an easy question to answer.
It's like asking what is the best recipy for food.
But if I would try to pin it down it would be one rule:
"Keep it interesting"
A good story line, a working episode format, interesting characters, surprising plot twists, original ideas, a good mix between seriousness and fun/humor, etc.
They are all factors that contribute to that one rule.
The quality of the graphics / sounds / music are what makes the stories easier to digest.
But of less importance.
Since even great graphics won't keep the viewers hooked when everything else bores them.
True colours always shine brighter within darkness. ~ WonderDrow ~
Avatar had beautiful animation, a fun cast, and great fight choreography. I'm of the opinion that it didn't do anything wrong.
The movie's problems all stem from its director trying to fix what wasn't broken and not understanding the shows tone. It's telling that the actor they got to play Aang, perfect in all other respects, spent the entire movie with a neutral expression on his face.
The only flaws in Avatar:the last airbender deal with the notion that it was a kid's series and to remain well within the American pg rating in order to remain on Nick's lineup. Granted they worked well, if not impossibly well within these limits in order to make a gripping story, they could have gone much, much farther in some of the darker more emotional aspects of the show in order to more accurately represent the trials and conflicts that the characters went through. An example being the blood bending episode, if the authors had not been restricted as such I have no doubt that they could have recreated something along the lines of some of history's great horror novels and go deeper into why it was so tabu. Other than that they were able to convey so much more than most cartoons in America have in the past, or probably will in the near future.
As for the movie...the writing was just horrible and Shiamalon simply cannot direct human emotion, or people, or story, or basically anything outside of black and white art house films with no dialogue. Shiamalon gave the excuse that he's been influenced by European film and that since they use a much more understated acting method focusing more on story than emotion, Americans simply are not use to it. And that's a lie, a horrible lie, because I've seen foreign films, I rather liked a few of them, and they have better acting, writing, and storyline that actually flow instead of work as picture cards to a never ending scroll of exposition. That, and he obviously paid more attention to some pseudo philosophy he made up himself after watching two episodes of the show instead of paying attention to any of the action or the characters, or even the real philosophy the show was trying to get across.
I will not say that Last air bender was the first bad movie adaption, however I will say that it was one of the furthest from the show it was based on that I've seen, while somehow sticking at least somewhat close to the storyline. I believe that the main reason that adaptions usually are horrible abominations released upon this world to further the damnation of man are that they usually simply buy the rights from the original author and then restrict their input, opting to instead let people who have no idea what made the original such a grand thing, or simply do not know how to tell a story to begin with, have complete control over writing and directing...I've no Idea how Last airbender made twice the amount of money that it cost to make it would claim special effects, except for the fact that the effects were horrible as well.
I will admit one thing in Shiamalon's favor, it takes an incredible amount of effort to condense an entire series into a two hour movie and to do it well, in fact it's incredibly hard to simply not mess it up. But then again, I have one question concerning this, why do you have to condense an entire season into a single two hour movie. Recently Hollywood seems to have somehow created a backwards ideology as of late where they take ideas which should be told through multiple viewings, and condense them into a single film, while simultaneously stretching out what should have been a single movie, into several parts. An example "A Series of Unfortunate Events" having it's first three books condensed into a single movie, yet for some reason the hobbit is being stretched out into three while twilight breaking dawn was also stretched out into two movies :Typing that actually hurt me:.
What they should have done in order to make the avatar movie better would be to get a director who could direct the actors to actually have emotion while having the creators of the show and the original voice actors of the show on set helping with the directing and coaching of the actors, in order to insure they actually were able to capture the character. Get writers who actually know how to write a story in fact, use the original writers, and maybe import only one or two who know how to create a slightly grittier dramatic story, which it could have made in the transfer to cinema. Get someone who can actually choreograph action and have the original animators work with the special effects team in order to create bending that follows the actions of the actors so you will not be outdone by Shaolin Soccer. And lastly, make sure everyone, and I mean everyone, has watched the damned show, at least once, if not twice.
In the episodes I've seen, I've seen nothing I've not liked.
“She'd become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a known lady could do. And she'd taken to it well. She'd sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she'd beat herself to death with her own umbrella.”