Do you enjoy Animation?
Recommending my favourite animation from recent years
In all the Writers Retreats I host, there is one evening dedicated to movie night. We all sit, grab our snacks, pour our drinks and watch short films. It’s a great time to get everyone to watch and study a single piece of storytelling together and later discuss it, and even pull from it. I select the short films and I usually stick to animated movies. Why? I’ve found not many people (read: adults) watch animated movies. They consider them made for kids, which is such a loss!
I want to correct this injustice.
Over the last month, I got Covid and I’ve been home quarantined. Within that period, I got a lot of reading done—but I haven’t been watching anything. It’s the reading phase and I didn’t want to break the streak. But as I got better, I re-started watching things and, of course, I started with animation. I find there is a certain level of freedom in animated stories that you can’t get in live-action. Like all movies, there are people involved, budgets to take into consideration, and so many more things that go into creating any story for the screen. And yet, there is a sense of freedom. It’s like a dream where the rules of physics itself can be tweaked to your heart’s content.
I’ve always loved this sense of freedom I find in animation and that’s why I’m going to recommend a mix of new and old animation for you to enjoy.
1. Arcane: League of Legends
This is brand new on Netflix and you can see how confident the animators for this show are. The story is top notch, with a diverse set of amazing characters. Each one plays such a beautiful role. And they are brought to life with superb voice acting. But it’s the animation that’s got my heart: it’s smooth, slick, speedy, with visuals like I’ve never seen before. And the world building, just excellent. This show deserves a Chef’s kiss. 🤌🏼
Disney’s newest entrant. You could say this is for kids, but it works for adults so well. It talks about family and tackles generational trauma. You would not expect it to go into that space, especially for a movie made for kids, and yet, here we are. That’s the best part of a kids story, when you return to it as an adult, you see so much more. And Encanto has great music too — songs like “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Surface Pressure” are gems. Watch this movie for the feels. It’s on Disney Plus. 🎶
3. Marvel’s What If…?
While Marvel’s live action movies have taken over the world, their animation segment was never the best. I’d give that crown to DC. But with What If…? they created something new and exciting, and added it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (ahem…Multiverse). And it’s a good watch, especially if you’ve seen the entirety of the Infinity Saga—you’ll see how stories can change if people make different choices. It’s a great thought experiment while being a great way to explore other paths in a story that have never been taken. Some of the episodes do falter, I won’t lie, but somewhere near the end, the show really picks up and redeems itself as a fun watch. Not to mention, great animation, with some of the live action actors returning to voice their characters. Available on Disney Plus. ♾
4. Dragon Ball Super: Broly
I had the pure pleasure of watching this movie in a theatre, back before the pandemic was even known. As a Dragon Ball buff, I’ve seen it all and I was quite happy to be watching Dragon Ball Super episodes every Sunday with my breakfast through 2017. During that time, I learnt a lot about the animation process, and how animators drew scenes, and the shortcuts they had to take for budgetary reasons. A show has limited budget for every episode, and sometimes they are stingy with one episode’s budget to deliver in another episode. It’s always this give and take. But in a movie, that’s not the case. Consistent animation is key and it’s beautiful to watch this movie unfold. The second half is just the animator’s flexing what they can do and showing off what technology is capable of. Just watch for nostalgia and great animation. 💪🏼
5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse
It surprises me how many people have not seen this movie. I’m a mega Spider-Man fan and while the new No Way Home was fantastic, it could not replace this movie as my second favourite Spider-Man story of all time. OF ALL TIME. (First being the Spider-Man PS4 game). The animation here is slick—it captures the world and it’s essence without trying too hard. The soundtracks are amazing and the visuals are a treat. Every character is well thought out and it’s voiced with such care. If you love anything to do with Spider-Man, you gotta watch this movie. I’ve seen it at least 5 times and I think I’ll keep coming back. It’s on Netflix now. 🕷
6. Star Wars: Visions
This is a very underrated, not advertised enough part of the Star Wars franchise. What it is is essentially giving the Star Wars IP to eastern anime makers and making short films and non-canon stories within the Star Wars universe. As an anime buff, I love this idea and I’d been following it for months until it released. Each episode uses a different animation style depending on the studio working on it. Each episode is like a short film in itself, different storylines and diffferent characters, and they all come to life in their own way. It also makes for a great study of different animation styles and how they effect the storytelling. If you enjoy Star Wars, do not miss out on this—it’s a gem waiting for more people to watch it. It’s available on Disney Plus.💎
Akshay’s Updates 🤗
Because I had Covid, I was not able to write much and my writing was limited severely. I did write, but nothing worth putting out. The only piece I managed to publish was:
This Accessory will take your iPad Setup to the Next Level - A review of the oriGrid for the iPad Magic Keyboard. Read here.
But I did make many lists for ideas and things I’m working on. Hopefully, the Akshay’s Update section in the the next newsletter will have a fuller section.
Friend’s Updates 🥳
I love supporting my friends and fellow writers and to take that a step further, I’m starting this new recommendation section where I’ll be sharing things they have gotten published in the last few months.
1. Kavya: She recently got her poem “Joy is not made to be a Crumb” published. Read it here.
2. Tanuja: She’s got two of her short stories published in an Anthology called Pahaadi—stories from Uttarakhand. I read them while I was in Uttarakhand in December. You can check out the anthology here.
This newsletter is and will always remain free. If you wish to support me and my work, you can consider buying me a cup of tea (or three) here. You can also share this newsletter with your friends or on your social pages — support does not always have to be monetary.
Hope you are staying safe. Until the next month,