Ten “2D” Animated Features I Would Like to See (2014)

10 2D Films to See_No1_2014_FINAL

To further elaborate, this is a list of 10 “2D” hand-drawn animated features, either recently released on Blu-ray, or about to be released in theaters somewhere in the world, that I feel are worth watching for both me and you, in the near future.

All of these films are from the 2000s, so they can be from any year in between, making all of these rather recent productions. I wanted to do this because there are quite a few, generally obscure, “older” animated films like Watership Down, or Allegro Non Troppo and Fantastic Planet that are known by select groups of people already, and you can find them in lists of so-called “obscure or rare animated features” all over the internet. But when it comes to films made in the new millenium, there are far fewer people that seem to be taking notice of them.

So that’s why I’d like to highlight 10 2D films for you here that I am very interested in, some of which I even own, but have yet to watch in their entirety.

Number 10: The Congress

A very bizarre concept and a very unknown film by the looks of it, The Congress is potentially the new millenium’s answer to the 1990’s film, Being John Malkovich. It’s a hybrid film, mixing different forms of animation, green screen sequences in black and white, references to other films, and a plot that I can’t quite explain, nor do I wish to read about until after I have seen it. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises that are still left to be found.

Number 9: Persepolis

One of the few non-Japanese films to be based on a Graphic Novel, Persepolis intrigues me most because of its story and its mature tone. Most of the films on this list are not intended for children, or at least young children, and this is one of them. Its is a rather loose and rough animation style, but hopefully the story will bowl me over despite the lack of captivating visuals.

Number 8: Children Who Chase Lost Voices (from Deep Below)

I have been going through the films of Makoto Shinkai for a little while now. This is his 3rd feature length production, and techincally his 4th film. There is definitely a Miyazaki-like artistic style and vibe going on here. And unlike Makoto’s previous works, this one seems to be more based in Fantasy and magic than it is sci-fi and romance. The visual design and depth of color, especially when it comes to shading and highlights is stunning, and another step up from even 5 Centimeters Per Second. Makoto’s work has always been heart-wrenching, and very very emotionally satisfying, so I’m really hoping this film can deliver that same effect.

Number 7: A Letter To Momo >>>

It’s a little hard to judge this film on what it will end up being. The characters seem a bit over-done, especially in the English dub, and yet enough people seem to find it an enjoyable film. So I can’t be sure if it’s going to annoy me, or if its going to enchant me. And the visuals give no definitive clue to this either. The art style and animation are quite nice, and the color pallette is soft and muted, which is actually quite comforting to me in this case. I’m hoping that it will not disappoint.

Number 6: Mia and the Migoo

One of the only three children-friendly films here, Mia and the Migoo seems a bit like its own My Neighbor Totoro, but for Brazil. The art style is all done in graphite stroke, or possible charcole, and the color pallette emphasizes bright reds and oranges more than anything else. I can’t quite tell what the tone or pacing will be like, but the potential for this story is very good in my opinion, from what little I’ve seen thus far.

Number 5: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Perhaps even more mature and somber a picture than Persepolis is likely to be, Princess Kaguya is sure to impress the more seasoned film goers out there, but may alienate your typical fans of animation, especially fans of Disney. Its an unorthodox production, utilizing a similar style to Mia and the Migoo, but with a wash of water colors. It clearly intends to present the film as if it were a living drawing, which is something that I think has been visually lost in 2D animation. It certainly isn’t a bad thing that that feeling is gone, but I think sometimes its important to remind people just what a marvel 2D animation actually is, and what make it such a fascinating art form. I already have this film on pre-order, as I’m sure there won’t be any other easy way to see it in the near future, but hopefully I will be emotionally prepared for what is to come. Though if its anything like Memoirs of a Geisha, the I think I’ll be fine.

Number 4: Nocturna

I remember seeing this very trailer way back in 2006 when this film was first released. This was likely a trailer for its UK theatrical release, and I was disappointed to see no sign of it being brought over to America. Thankfully the great people over a GKids have graciously chosen to promote and release this film, along with most of the titles on this list, as a matter of fact.

Nocturna impressed me most with its highly fluent animation and shot design. Its a stringy/squishy art style that manages to give the characters an extra sense of volume and weight. And the animators are well equipped with the skills to bring this oddly designed characters to life. The color scheme is also very bizarre, emphasizing turquoise blues and mustard yellows for what appears to be most of the film. I’ll be interested to see if the story actually progresses into daytime, or if the entire story just takes place at night.

Number 3: The Rabbi’s Cat

Wow, just look at how crisp this looks. The line work and the colors and the fluidity of the animation all make this film look good enough to eat. It makes me think of it like a very fresh tomato and basil cracker. I dunno what I’m saying now, but I think I’m sort of making sense. I don’t often like to watch foreign films in their native language, especially when its something like French or German where the dialogue can get a bit jarring to the uninitiated. I mean no disrespect to the language, but its not something I typically am used to. However, in this case, I am more than fine with watching this in French with subtitles, because this looks too good to miss.

Number 2: Song of the Sea

A follow-up to 2007’s Secret of Kells, the animation style and design seems to have improved in terms of their shot design and integration with computer imagery. I don’t really have a problem with computer integration. In fact I wouldn’t mind if something like this were done entirely in Flash or Toon Boom. But its nice to see even the Irish making films on paper. The movie looks twice as charming and enjoyable as Kells was. So I am no less excited for its Blu-ray release, likely in early 2015.

Number 1: The Wind Rises

Now for the big one. Of course this had to be at number 1. Just got this film in the mail a little while ago, and have been waiting for the best moment to sit down and watch it. From the looks of it, it definitely feels very fancy and sharp, especially when it comes to the color choices and the level of detail that you see in everything, especially metalic objects and water. It definitely looks very similar to Makoto Shinkai’s approach to Children Who Chase Lost Voices. And it is nice to see that even though Miyazaki is in his mid-70s, this film does not look like it was made by a stuffy 75-year-old. It looks like a modern movie epic. Will this film stand the test of time and become a classic like many of Miyazaki’s other works, I can’t really say just yet. But I will let you all know very soon.