I’m a sucker for animation. Whether it’s anime, western cartoons, or a "Gorillaz" music video there is just something about 2D animation specifically that catches my attention and enamors me. I love to see stories told through animation that would be otherwise difficult or tonally confusing to tell through live action. That and there’s just something so special about artwork being brought to life through motion.
So when I came across the 2016 Cartoon Network short “Infinity Train,” created by Owen Dennis, on Youtube a while back I was immediately intrigued. The music is synthetic and mysterious, in a way that feels reminiscent of older shows without being some sort of cheap nostalgia grab. The art style and animations are simple yet pleasant, utilizing fairly thin linework and distinct shapes to convey a nice balance of cartoonish unreality with thoughtful character design and concept/set design.
For the most part it looks like standard fare for modern Cartoon Network shows, simple yet interesting with a focus on blending unreality into reality. Whereas many animated shows I grew up with swung for more blatant unreality in both their animations and their subject matters, modern ones tend to go for an almost magical realism-style approach. The absurd is faced down with either realistic confusion or amusingly bland mundanity, and “Infinity Train” definitely fits into this mold.
In terms of story it follows a girl named Tulip, trapped on an infinite train (duh) where each car is a different room of impossibilities brought to life, as she attempts to find her way back home. From our small time with Tulip and One-One, her split personality robot companion, we see three main cars. A puzzle room car, an unbearably white car of unending stench (or the fart car as One-One calls it), and a car that is a great sprawling kingdom ruled by talking corgis. A surreal mystery, infinite possibilities, and a corgi kingdom? If you’re not sold on this idea already you are boring and I no longer wish to speak to you.
All joking aside, if it was released in 2016 originally then why am I only writing about it now? Well, my interest in the short, as strong as it was when I first came across it, ended up buried beneath all the other things I ended up watching and reading since my first viewing. I still loved “Infinity Train” and hoped for more, but it could hardly be counted as a major priority in my interests.
Just the other day, however, whilst lazily stumbling though “Adventure Time” and “Steven Universe” clips on the Cartoon Network Youtube page (yes I’m 22, no I’m not ashamed of this) I rediscovered “Infinity Train” and just had to give it another look. Was it still as fascinating as I remembered it? While the pacing felt a bit rushed, something you can hardly hold against an eight and a half minute short film, it was just as mysterious and alluring as my first time coming across it.
“Infinity Train” is a short animation that deserves attention and, if the 36,087 supporters of this petition are anything to go by, it deserves its own full series run on Cartoon Network.