The Importance of Colour in My Life as a Teenage Robot
It’s no secret that My Life as a Teenage Robot is one of my favourite animated TV shows. It’s an underrated gem that is enjoyable even if it isn’t quite as clever as other shows. Besides it’s awesome sense of Art Deco style, the great voice cast, the deeply embedded in-jokes and a central female protagonist, the show also makes superb use of colour. (And no post about colour should go without a link to Oswald Iten’s excellent blog, Colorful Animated Expressions)
I’m not talking about the use of colour in the sense of The Simpsons either; strong colours existed exist in that show, but rather to make them stand out against other TV shows. My Life as a Teenage Robot instead uses colour as a tool to accentuate atmosphere, moods and important plot points.
Don’t believe me? Then check out the series of screenshots below, from the season three episode, Stage Fright.
We start off with Jenny (XJ-9) in her normal colours, that is, white and turquose.
Now we’re entering the theatre, where the darker setting changes Jenny’s colour to an off-white and straight blue.
Still in the theater, but it’s darker now and Jenny’s colours follow along.
Now that she’s on stage and in the light, Jenny’s colours change back to the lighter shades but include even more shades to account for the costume.
First big change. After the aliens invade, we get an orange Jenny nicely contrasted against a green background.
Same colours but with a regular background. (Also, awesome pose.)
Action mode is now off so we revert back to the darker theater colour in the sitting pose above.
The aura lightens Jenny to the point that she is brighter than in the second screencap but doesn’t revert to her normal colours.
Aaaaaaand, ACTION! Big changes here as Jenny becomes pink and purple, contrasting nicely with the orange and brown background. For the most part, Jenny is always some combination of white and blue/green except when engaged in some kind of action. In these instances, she can be just about any colour.
Not a great shot, but it shows what Jenny looks like in the shadows; practically violet.
Bad guys defeated, Jenny reverts to the white and blue that’s been the theme for this theater setting.
Last but not least, here’s Jenny on stage in full wardrobe retaining the blue and including some lighter shades to fit the costume.
And that’s it! If you know your stuff, you’ll realise that in just about 11 minutes, Jenny’s colour changed a total of 5 times (not including costume and shades). In the grand scheme of things, she changed appearance a total of 12 times, that’s about once a minute!
This wouldn’t normally be too much but Stage Fright is a fairly average episode. Some of the more action oriented ones get even more colour changes and things get really interesting once Jenny goes into space!
So there you go, a quick look at how the crew of My Life as a Teenage Robot managed to use colour as a a great tool throughout the series.