Crudely hand-drawn animation, violent and explicitly gore-filled, along with plenty of adult situations. These ingredients undoubtedly sound like the modern mix for a show on Adult Swim. Fans of the content Adult Swim produces have come to expect far-fetched, reality bending, and random programming. My parents don’t really care for it, and neither do most of those who find themselves, say, over the age of 40.
The animation world, as far as Adult Swim is concerned, is aimed for those night owl millennials who grew up with the increasingly sporadic animation of shows like South Park, Adventure Time and Family Guy; However, the blueprint for such “trippy” content came decades before Adult Swim reached the foothold it now holds.
In 1981, the world got its first taste of the quirky animation that would later become so popular through the release of Heavy Metal, a feature length science-fiction animated movie accompanied by a stoner-rock soundtrack that included artists such as Black Sabbath, Don Felder, and Sammy Hagar. The film could be accurately be defined as weird and vulgar, but in the best fashion possible, taking audiences on a series of short stories portraying the demise of humanity at the hands of the ‘Loch’nar across all galaxies and time.
Those familiar with South Park likely have had a small taste of Heavy Metal without even knowing it, as the film was parodied through the episode “Major Boobage,” which saw Kenny flying on a drug fueled trip through space while listening to parts of the original film’s soundtrack. The animation of the original film is not clean and not consistent, and was reportedly undertaken by multiple groups of illustrators; However that is what makes it so interesting to watch in the 21st century, when most mainstream cartoons are digitally animated and character movements are clear as day.
For any fans of Adult Swim out there who need something different, new, and truly out-of-this-world to watch, find a way to watch Heavy Metal. Just be sure to strap in your seatbelt.