Saturday, 7 December 2013

Top Ten of 2013: Animation

I’m watching anime a lot less that I used to, but I’m still maintaining a steady intake of other animated works, prompting this this list.  You’ll have to forgive my generally mainstream tastes and I found few non-English speaking titles to consider, but that’s just how it is.  As before choices are limited to titles on physical UK retail which means that titles such as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 will have to sit this one out.

Frankenweenie – A story about a boy and his reanimated dog set to a 1950s-esque suburbia backdrop.  Tim Burton remakes his live action short film from 1984 to great effect in this stop motion effort.  Classic horror movie references abounds, and the odd proper scare or two.  Everything is as it should be with this one.

Paranorman – It plays in the same neighbourhood as Frankenweenie, but is very different.  It removes the classic horror vibe in favour of a more modern tone with disinterested leads, and a smarter, cynical outlook.  Definitely recommended to the many Coraline fans out there.

Lady Death – Okay, I’m joking…

Monsters University – I’ll admit I cast a massively sceptical eye over Pixar’s current trend to churn out sequels to all its popular franchises, and to a certain extent I still do (there’s no way a studio with that level of talent aren’t coming up with new ideas by the second).  Monsters University stumbles through its first half and yet results in a genuine emotional depth that is satisfying to see.  It’s very much playing in its safe zone, but does enough to be both enjoyable and relevant.

Archer Season 3 – Superspy Archer shoots and shags his way through a third season of action.  Somewhat side-lined by the Family Guys and South Parks of this world, Archer dumps the constant pop culture references in favour of just letting the characters battle it out from their brutal freeflowing scripts.  As often hilarious as it is deeply inappropriate.

Despicable Me 2 – You don’t watch Despicable Me 2 for its story.  It’s there, and does what it needs to do to keep the jokes coming which, in a way, makes it perfect.  Grab a drink and a banana and dive on in for some unpretentious fun.

Ernest & Celestine – I’ve talked about this film before but once is never enough for something this good.  Released on DVD with absolute zero fanfare and noticed by essentially no one, Ernest & Celestine is a gentle soul with a simple tale of friendship to tell with its charming artwork and quality animation.  Safe for all audiences (unless you’re queasy when it comes to loose teeth), and it’s basically a joy throughout.

The Little Mermaid – The film described as igniting the Disney Rennaisance, and it’s not difficult to see why.  Sat between Oliver & Company and Rescuers Down Under in the Disney’s feature film chronology, Little Mermaid still looks distinctly modern compared to its contemporaries.  It triggered over a decade of quality Disney films before CGI enveloped 2D animation in the west almost entirely.

Adventure Time Season 1 – I’ve been seeing cosplayers of this show at comic events for ages now, and finally the relevant parties have wised up an have given us some Adventure Time love.  Judging by the amount of merchandise already out there, Finn and Jake’s visit to the UK will be a long one.

The Rabbi’s Cat – Kind of bending the rules as this hasn’t actually had a UK release yet, I doubt I’ll have another opportunity to talk about this one (the US Blu-ray will work here however so import away).  The Rabbi’s Cat is a mischievous film, poking fun at certain human conventions while critiquing the inflexible and intolerant.  You wouldn’t think a film about a talking cat would be as intelligent as this, and younger viewers may find it a little dry, but mature audiences will be fully engaged while being stunned by the amazing artwork.

Other noteworthy titles:
King of Pigs
Kirikou and the Men and Women
Legend of Korra: Book One

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