Animutations were a popular form of media on the Internet of the early 2000s and a sort of spiritual predecessor to YouTube Poop. They can be best described as music videos, usually made in Flash, with a hodgepodge of pop culture references tweened around and characters flapping their mouths to the lyrics. The music used tends to be bizarre and usually non-English in language, and often includes mondegreens/misheard lyrics of English words that sound phonetically similar to the foreign lyrics.
Origins and Peak Popularity
Animutations were created by Neil Cicierega in 2001, starting with The Japanese Pokerap and more notably Hyakugojyuuichi shortly thereafter. Cicierega was influenced by other bizarre flashes of the time, such as Hatten ar Din, and most of his early works used Japanese Pokemon songs. His works laid out the basics for animutations and set various recurring motifs, most notably the frequent inclusion of Whose Line is it Anyway? comedian Colin Mochrie, that would become animutation hallmarks.
Numerous others soon created their own animutations (or "fanimutations"), which were often hosted on Flash portals such as Newgrounds and Albino Blacksheep. Several years later, an animutation-specific website called Animutation Portal was set up, although a lower standard of quality control for the hosted animutations compared to the aforementioned sites caused some controversy within the animutation community.
Decline in Popularity
Nearly all of the most popular animutations were made by 2004, with some of the last notable releases being Toxic AKA Bob Barker's Chocolate Niblet Beans in September of that year, and the 13-person collaboration The Fingertips Project in 2005. Although there was still a reasonable amount of productive animutators for the next few years after that, by 2008 the amount being made overall declined significantly. Very few are made nowadays. The Animutation Portal site is now a ghost town overran by spambots and its attached forum has been closed down, although its hosted animutations are all still viewable.
YouTube Poops, which differ in many ways from animutation but share the core essence of distorting numerous pop culture sources, serve as something as a spiritual successor to animutations. Several animutators went on to make Poops, and others who found getting the hang of Flash too difficult found creating Poops the most feasible equivalent.
Despite being such an ancient lost art, a considerably high amount of (and all of the must-watch) animutations still exist online. The continued existence of Newgrounds, Albino Blacksheep, and (despite its ghost town state) Animutation Portal is a major factor, as is the preservative effect of Archive.org. As a number of animutators hosted their animutations on their own websites, most of which have now gone defunct, Archive.org proves crucial in keeping a record of a good number of those. Archive.org also proves pivotal towards finding animutations that were removed from Newgrounds for copyright reasons (as unlike blammed flashes, copyright-removed flashes are not entirely scrubbed from Newgrounds).
Most animutations that are completely gone are self-hosted ones Archive.org didn't pick up, blammed from Newgrounds, or hosted on defunct file sharing sites (ie MegaSWF).
Online Flash players are set to be deactivated at the end of 2020, and could potentially see a number of animutations wiped out. Aware of this potential risk, Probo saved every Flash-made animutation (and a few YouTube ones) she could still find online to her PC, guaranteeing that whatever lasted this long will last for years to come.
Popular Animutation Characters
- Colin Mochrie: Comedic genius and practically the face of animutation. Is aware of his prominence in the artform.
- Jay Jay the Jet Plane: Star of the weird children's show of the same name, whose starring role in Hyakugojyuuichi catapulted him to animutation stardom.
- Mario: The second most frequently used character.
- Pikachu: Given Pokemon's prominence in pop culture and in animutation, Pikachu sightings were to be expected.
- Matthew Lesko: Zany infomercial figure recognizable by his question mark-dotted outfits. Like Mochrie, is aware of his role in animutation.
- Alex Chiu: An eccentric inventor behind what he claims to be "Immortality Rings". In fairness to him, he's still alive, so he hasn't yet been proven wrong.
- Jesus H. Christ: Not the usual depiction of Jesus, but rather a Jesus action figure specifically referred to as "Jesus H. Christ".
- Hello Kitty: The best known of Sanrio's cute characters, Hello Kitty is mostly seen in animutation via a specific dancing gif.
- Harry Potter: Harry's face from the cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire appears in Hyakugojyuuichi, and is the most common way he appears.
- Adolf Hitler: Historical monster mocked in many an animutation.
- George W. Bush: You couldn't walk five feet in 2000s Internet without bumping into a flash movie parodying Dubya. Animutations were not exempt.
- Neil Cicierega: The father of the artform, who remains a relevant and influential figure in Internet culture to this day.
- Andrew Kepple: Merged the traditional animutation style with his own Flash animation talents. Best known for his Colin Mochrie vs. Jesus H. Christ trilogy, the personal favorite animutations of Colin Mochrie himself.
- Toxic AKA Bob Barker: Released a number of popular animutations, culminating with the energetic Chocolate Niblet Beans - the rare animutation to substantially utilize Flash's random object functions.
- Drunk Magikoopa: A love-it-or-hate-it figure in the animutation community - loved by many for his eccentric brand of humor; hated by those who didn't have the stomach for his usage of shock images. Those who were fans of his animutations also had the perk of knowing he was Twitter sensation dril years before the rest of the Internet caught on.
- Dwedit: Made five animutations, with his two best-regarded being Suzukisan and JamezBond.
- Veloso: Though he only made three animutations, his Irrational Exuberance, a tale of economics, fruit, and yatta, was among the most popular.
- Robinson Wilburn: Made two full animutations (plus an animutation segment of a larger video), and the first to use Alex Chiu, making him the rare case of a non-Cicierega animutator introducing a new character into the animutation canon.
- Kelenar: Packed perhaps the most energy and subliminal messaging into his animutations, with A Sticky Night of Love his most popular.