Aliens, flying cars, human cloning, and the end of the human race. Through numerous blockbusters, video games, and books, we’ve begun to visualize the multitude of possibilities about what the future holds in store for us may it be extraordinary or grim. But let us take a step back into our childhood or even take a closer look at present day cartoons in order to see how these comical and charming presentations invite us to further envisage the future of our world. Here are 5 cartoons that enliven our perspective about future…in a less serious tone.
The Jetsons (1962-1963; 1985-1987)
Classic at its best, The Jetsons provided a vision of a futuristic utopia in the year 2062 from a 60s perspective. Although indoor walkalators, instant food, robot helpers, and flying cars are inventions that transcend beyond the scope of today’s technology, this cartoon certainly predicted other aspects of the future that persists today: gradual technological advances such as the modern television (our flat LED TVs), and conditions that lead to an established luxurious culture. Ultimately, The Jetsons depict inventions that may be easier said done, but it sure doesn’t limit our imagination.
Astro Boy (1963-1966)
A Japanese manga series that was first broadcasted in Japan in 1963, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy is a timeless sci-fi series set in a futuristic world where robots co-exist with humans. The protagonist, namely Astro, is a gifted robot with fighting skills as well as the ability to experience human emotions. Throughout the series, Astro remains a symbol of justice, protecting humans from enemies such as evil robots or alien invaders. The cartoon continues to echo the common prediction of coexistence between humans and robots, but more importantly ushered in a trend of experimentation with the relationship between man and machine or better yet, culture and technology.
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Disney’s 47th animated film, Meet the Robinsons is a charming tale that provides a colorful insight about the future. The film’s protagonist, Lewis, is a young and aspiring inventor at an orphanage who one day bumps into a mysterious boy from the future named Wilbur Robinson. From that moment on, their fates were intertwined as they partake on an adventure together into the year of 2037. From flying shuttles and talking frogs to instant buildings that pop out of the ground, this movie creates an intimate blend of family and fun. Sure the movie doesn’t provide an entirely believable alternate reality, but there’s no reason to come down on it harshly as many critics have. In the words of Walt Disney, “animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.”
Futurama (1999- 2003; 2008 – present)
What is there to say that hasn’t been said about Futurama? Noted as one of the most critically acclaimed animated series to date, we follow our favorite 20th century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, on his endeavors in the 31st century after being cryogenically frozen for one thousand years. With mighty talented voice actors such as Billy West (Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth) and John DiMaggio (Bender, Marcus Fenix from Gears of War), as well as original and sarcastic story lines, how can we not love this series? Futurama is practically embedded into pop-culture today, and serves as one of the most entertaining sci-fi cartoons ever created. Here’s a short clip from the episode “The Late Philip J. Fry “ for those of you who have not been absorbed in by the hypnotoad.
Pixar’s favorite robot shines under the spotlight in a post-apocalyptic world that is left to waste due to mass consumerism. WALL-E provides viewers with a sentimental fusion between romance and sci-fi to demonstrate the future of our world in 2805. What is left of the human race resides aboard the Axiom, a starliner that hovers in outer space. On the Axiom, the ship’s original human passengers and their descendants have suffered from severe bone loss and become morbidly obese after centuries of living in microgravity and relying on the ship’s automated systems. The movie that is imbued with ecological and social themes about the future are realistic warnings, making it a unique silent film that opens the eyes of both the older and younger audiences.
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