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The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile

The Student News Site of Horizon High School

The Profile


What's the best part of Springtime?

  • Flowers blooming (29%, 10 Votes)
  • Warmer weather (26%, 9 Votes)
  • Rain instead of snow (17%, 6 Votes)
  • Closer to summer (11%, 4 Votes)
  • Longer days (9%, 3 Votes)
  • Eating ice cream without getting cold (9%, 3 Votes)
  • Easter brunch (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 35

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The Rapid Success of The Amazing Digital Circus

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Image credit:

Animation as a medium seems to have always gotten the short end of the stick. Lots of modern animated media is thought to cater to children and therefore lack depth, or on the other hand, come under fire for having too much depth for children to comprehend. Companies such as Netflix and Disney Channel produce animated shows only to cut them short due to a perceived lack of success. Because of this, the future doesn’t look too bright for company-driven animation.

This could explain why so many animation fans are turning away from company animation and instead directing their attention toward the world of independent, or indie, animation on YouTube. Animated shows without any hosting company beyond a team of dedicated animators and a director have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years for their creative topics and complicated subject matter that, without having to worry about appeasing a perceived child audience, can be fully explored and fleshed out.

This gravitation towards indie animation can be best exemplified by the seemingly overnight success of Glitch Productions’ The Amazing Digital Circus, an animated show described as a “psychologically dark comedy about cute cartoon characters who hate their lives and want to leave”. With bright colors and scenery and inspired by the 90s children’s book series I Spy, the pilot episode was released this past October. It introduces Pomni, an anxious and confused jester, as she meets the rest of the cast, who are humans stuck as avatars in the Digital Circus, a virtual world entered by putting on a VR headset that cannot be taken off. The eccentric AI ringmaster and overseer, Caine, runs adventures and events to keep the inhabitants healthy, but it’s implied that Caine knows much more about the world they’re trapped in than his overexcited persona lets on.

Teasers for the show gained popularity online in the few months before the pilot’s release because of the show’s compelling premise and bright characters. And upon the pilot’s release, it was evident that it did not disappoint, as it amassed enough views upon release to be circulated into the YouTube algorithm. By the next month it had passed 100 million views, amassing more views within the first month than its fellow popular YouTube shows, such as Helluva Boss, amassed with their pilots over many years. Neither the series creator, Gooseworkz, nor Glitch Productions anticipated this astounding online popularity, and have expressed their gratitude for the pilot’s success.

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So what is to be attributed to the success of The Amazing Digital Circus? Part of it is the YouTube algorithm. Videos that gather a lot of clicks from their attention-grabbing thumbnails are more likely to make their way into the algorithm. From there, they come to be recommended to anyone who’s viewed an animated show during their time on YouTube. Part of it is also that this show has been teased for a long time, giving it time to ramp up excitement for the pilot episode, which features prominent indie animation voice actors such as Michael Kovach of Vivziepop’s Hazbin Hotel and Lizzie Freeman of Joel G’s surrealist ENA. The recognizable cast linked The Amazing Digital Circus to these other successful indie shows, pushing those shows’ fans to want to check out Digital Circus by proximity.

But a large factor in The Amazing Digital Circus’ success would be the massive support for independent animation online. Fans enjoy the concept of being able to access shows without subscribing to a streaming service and without fear of cancellation due to discussions of sophisticated topics. With its compelling and existentially confounding premise and vibrant characters, The Amazing Digital Circus seems to offer a prime example of exactly what animation fans are looking for in a show. Evident from the massive amounts of views in such a short period, the support for the world of independent animation and its possibilities are growing rapidly.

If the project reaches enough money through kickstarting and merchandise sales to produce a full show, fans can expect eight episodes about the adventures of the Digital Circus characters learning the value of friendship in a world where existence is fake. And it’s clear that many indie animation fans are braced to support this show every step of the way.

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About the Contributor
Grace Hilliard
Grace Hilliard, Assistant copy editor and Marketing and Social Media Director
This is Grace’s first year in journalism- and only year, as they graduate in May! Grace loves writing, art, and storytelling, and she hopes to get some a career in some kind of storytelling field (the dream would be a graphic novelist!). Beyond journalism, they do Battle of the Books and Theater, where they delight in being able to connect with others and discuss, tell, and act stories. In her free time she enjoys drawing, reading, listening to music, playing Minecraft, and watching animated shows.

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