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The Rapid Rise of Independent Animation

Independent animation studios producing their own animated series is something that has become increasingly common and popular ever since the start of the decade. Some of the most well known recent examples of this are Hazbin Hotel by Vivienne Medrano, Murder Drones by Liam Vickers, Lackadaisy by Tracy Butler, and most recently, The Amazing Digital Circus by Cooper Smith Goodwin. All four of these have received incredible success and overwhelmingly positive reviews by critics, and have generated about a billion views on YouTube combined. In this article, I will focus on two of the animated series that I previously mentioned, in which their success is comparable to a regular TV series produced by a company as big as Netflix or Hulu. Even if you have never heard of them, the importance of their success stories are outstanding, as they pave a potential new future for animation and streaming alike.

The two series that this article will be focusing on aired their pilot episode about three years apart from one another, but have had major success within the past year, despite the difference in release dates. If you’ve never heard of either series before, I’ll be providing a basic rundown for each show, and diving into the audience it aims to attract and why the success of each one is so important. Today, we will be focusing our attention on Hazbin Hotel, and how it was able to achieve a full-length series on Prime Video after the pilot episode received over 90 million views on YouTube, and we will also be focusing our attention on The Amazing Digital Circus, and how its pilot episode was able to gain a quarter of a billion views in just a few months, making it the most popular independent animation project on all of YouTube by a wide margin.

The story of Hazbin Hotel revolves around Charlie Morningstar, the princess of Hell, as she works to give sinners a chance at redemption with the use of a hotel, in order to allow them into Heaven and reduce the overpopulation problem in Hell. She does this with the help of a hotel manager, facilities manager, bartender, and maid, with all of them working to advertise and promote the hotel and its benefits. Alternatively, the story of The Amazing Digital Circus revolves around Pomni, a human who has recently found herself trapped in a virtual reality game that resembles a circus tent, with her objective being to maintain her sanity. Upon her entry to this world, she meets the ringleader of the circus and five other humans who she will be spending the foreseeable future with. Both shows have their pilot episode available to watch for free on YouTube, with Hazbin Hotel receiving 7.7 stars out of 10, and The Amazing Digital Circus receiving 8.1 stars out of 10 respectively.

The success of Hazbin Hotel as being the first independent animation project to really enter the mainstream set a new standard for that field of entertainment. After four years since its pilot episode was initially posted to YouTube, it has amassed a grand total of 90 million views. This impressive statistic led to the pilot episode being picked up by A24 Studios, and later being developed into a full series hosted by Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video. Because this is the first time that a major pilot episode of a YouTube web series was transformed into a full series by a major streaming platform, it opens up future opportunities for other independent animation projects to reach a similar status that Hazbin Hotel has gained. The full first season is now available to watch on Prime Video.

The success of The Amazing Digital Circus is unlike anything seen before in the field of independent animation, breaking countless view records and the internet itself within the first month of the pilot’s release. After four months since the pilot episode was uploaded to YouTube, it has gained 250 million total views, surpassing other independent animation giants, such as the previously mentioned Hazbin Hotel, Helluva Boss, Murder Drones, and Lackadaisy combined in a fraction of the time. There are plans from independent animation studio Glitch Productions, the same studio that developed Murder Drones, to develop The Amazing Digital Circus into a full-length series, but there has yet to be an official announcement regarding this. The overwhelming success that The Amazing Digital Circus has gained in such little time leads many to believe that its development into a full series would be far more successful than just the pilot episode. This builds more potential for even more successful animated series in the future, and could very well change the future of animation if this exponential growth continues.

While these two shows consist of highly different themes and characters, their importance in the realm of independent animation cannot be ignored. Hazbin Hotel achieving the status of being the first independent animation project to be picked up by a major studio, and The Amazing Digital Circus earning widespread fame and recognition in seemingly every corner of the internet in such short time are stories of success that not only show how far the genre of independent animation has come, but show how far it may continue to grow in the future. If this article is your first time hearing about either of these shows, giving them a chance is always something to consider. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new show to get hooked on as a result.

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About the Contributor
Martin Rocha
Martin Rocha, Writer, Art and Entertainment Editor
Martin Rocha is a senior at HMSA who loves to listen to music, watch cartoons, and play video games. He joined the newspaper in order to have an outlet to share his interest in writing with the Aviator population, ranging from thorough reviews to fantasy stories. In his spare time, he works on various projects to display his inner creativity, such as video editing, music composition, and storytelling. As editor for the “Arts and Entertainment” section, you can expect to see his articles revolve around all forms of entertainment, with specific emphasis on his love for fantasy cartoons and experimental music.

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