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South Park Fans Are Divided Over The Change In Animation Through The Years

The origin of "South Park" lies with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's series of "Spirit of Christmas" shorts, including "Jesus vs. Frosty." These were made using construction cut-outs. In a later interview with Entertainment Weekly, Parker said, "It was all single-cel animation, so the damn thing took a week of no sleep to make five minutes' worth." The Comedy Central show's controversial first episode similarly required serious effort from the filmmakers. Parker and Stone spent three months working on the pilot alone.

The arduous animation process clearly needed to change so the "South Park" creators could actually produce 13 episodes for the first season. The hit series now uses computers to make Kenny's death scenes and Kyle's fights with Cartman. But as animator Lucas Walker told Gameinformer in 2016, "It's almost the exact same process as stop motion, it's just done digitally."

Still, while modern technology has helped speed up the show's production, not all "South Park" fans are happy with its modern look. 

Redditors think new South Park looks too slick

A r/southpark post from u/bruhmomentwithcheese juxtaposed how the cows look in a 2019, high digital-grade episode of "South Park" with the original 1997 pilot which featured hand-drawn cows. The comparison soon inspired several comments and complaints about how the Comedy Central show's filthy, violent animation had changed over the decades.

For one, u/zer0fade felt "The OG cows hit different." The OP agreed, responding, "I wish 'South Park' still attempted to make it look like it's made of paper and not just a normal cartoon with weirdly shaped characters."

u/Wasgehtab1212 wrote about ultimately preferring how "South Park" looked in early seasons: "I know, this sounds weird, but the way I see it, a low budget fits 'South Park' better and also enhances the comedic aspect of the show." Certainly, the show looks glossier and less flat now that there's more money behind it. But the cheap, clumsy visuals of early "South Park" also have a character and weight to them that the newer, digital look doesn't always possess. 

The show's modern visuals do have online defenders

It's obvious Redditors don't love the style of the recent "South Park" episodes, but some online fans are actually in favor of the newer seasons' slicker, higher-budget visuals. One commenter, u/–KingFlippyNips–, argued the controversial sitcom hasn't lost touch with its DIY roots. "They're detailed on stuff when they want [to] be because they can be with the higher budget, but at the same time they stick to their roots with basic circles for heads and other seemingly-cheap shortcuts," they wrote.

u/RepresentativeYak864 meanwhile outright prefers the new episodes compared to older seasons. The Redditor explained, "It's not like it isn't crude anymore, the modern day animation still has that old, classic, recognisable charm, it's just more refined and detailed than it was before and that's for the better IMO." Other users like u/Rafeaky agree the show's increased resources over time have been a good thing. "Now they have the budget and can make realistic looking cows!" they quipped.

These fans are ultimately happy with the visual style of recent "South Park" episodes. Hopefully Trey Parker and Matt Stone will continue to develop the show's animation with new "South Park" seasons and projects for Paramount+.