Indie-mation, Opinions

Animation You Might Have Missed in 2016

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I think we can all agree 2016 was a tremendous year for animation. I honestly think there were about 23 films that, in other years, would have been nominated for Oscars, or at least in the running. That is impressive stuff! We also saw great things in television and shorts that helped move the medium forward. The only problem with so much wonderful output is that quality films and series can get lost in the mix. Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about some animated projects that impressed me that you might have missed in 2016.

Miss Hokusai

This anime based on a historical manga has a few small problems, but it’s still definitely worth checking out. In the film, we get introduced to the daughter of a famous Japanese painter in 1625 Tokyo. We then follow her through a series of vignettes about her life and art. The animation is stunning, especially when we get to dive into the paintings. Check out our review on Rotoscopers here.


If you like horror, the stop motion short Foxed by James Stewart and Nez Bezaire is for you. It is a super creepy story of a little girl who has been abducted and forced to work in a cave by foxes. In my opinion, it was better than at least 2 of the Oscar nominated shorts. I love the way it uses music to create mood.

Son of Zorn

For a laugh you might have missed, check out Son of Zorn on Fox. This is a very funny comedy about a He-man-like animated warrior named Zorn who comes to the human world to bond with his teenage son. The cast is great, with the especially hilarious Cheryl Hines and Tim Meadows. Jason Sudeikis also does wonderful voice work as Zorn.

Phantom Boy

It’s a real shame that almost nobody went to see Phantom Boy (even for an indie, it made little at the box office). I, for one, appreciated having something small, intimate and self-contained in a superhero movie. There’s real heart here in young Leo developing super powers that allow him to escape his hospital bed. The animation by the Cat in Paris team has a lovely cubist flair to it that I loved. If more people saw it, I could see it developing a fan-base. Either way, it was refreshingly different.


2016 was a pretty great year for anime, with Your Name taking the world by storm, but I also liked a movie called Harmony. The ending was a little disappointing, but not enough to completely derail the movie. The dystopian setup is really neat with everyone connected through social networking type device that allows us to reward people for kindness and post what we think of their choices. The visual style is also beautiful. So, despite some problems, it is worth checking out.

Wander Over Yonder Finale

I know Wander Over Yonder has a sizable fan base, so I don’t understand why more people aren’t discussing how perfect the series finale was. Of course, the animation was stunning. That goes without saying. It was rich and frantically paced with incredible attention to detail. But it also told a great story about Wander and Sylvia leading the team against Dominator. The writing was really sharp, and it managed to be both funny and poignant at the same time.


I admit I may be partial to this film because it was one of my first reviews for Rotoscopers, and I got to interview the team behind it at Sundance. Nevertheless, I thought this was such a sweet little effort. It’s simply kids trying to entertain themselves on a snowy winter’s day. The animation was pretty good for the tiny budget and the emotional message packs a punch. It’s definitely worth seeing.

Long Way North

Long Way North may be another I admit I am a little biased on because I got to interview the director Remi Chaye, but I still recommend the film. The 2D animation with no lines, just color blocks, is different and unique, and I also enjoyed the story. The lead, Sacha, gives up her more diva-like ways in a believable manner and the adventure was a lot of fun.

There are many other films and series I could have mentioned but these are some of the most obscure.

What are other projects I could have chosen? Have you seen any of these properties? Share in the comments below!

Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and more. Follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl
  • I watched Son of Zorn from start to finish. Not exactly the most well-acted show, but there are genuinely smart moments and a few chuckles to go around.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Yeah it really does have some good laughs

  • Son of Zorn was definitely one I didn’t expect to give me more than a few laughs

    • Rachel Wagner

      It’s funny. Right?

  • I definitely need to check out some of these films. I have no idea what a lot of them are about, but based on the art alone, I am really interested in them. Long Way North in particular, but also Miss Hokusai, and Phantom Boy.
    I watched all of Son of Zorn, and while I’m not the show’s biggest fan, I have to say that it was entertaining enough to keep me coming back. It’s definitely not a show that I am desperately hoping gets renewed for a second season, but if it is, I’m sure I’ll keep watching.
    Wander Over Yonder is one of my favorite cartoons in recent years, and I am pretty bummed about its cancellation. I actually haven’t even brought myself to watch the last few episodes because I hate to think that I’ll be completely done with the show. I like knowing that I have a few more to look forward to, but one of these days I’m going to have to bite the bullet and finish watching it. I am really looking forward to seeing what the finale has in store.

    • Rachel Wagner

      That’s how I was with Gravity Falls. I held it off for as long as I could. Wander Over Yonder is so great. I miss it

  • I’d definitely love to check out any of these animations! Awesome list!!

    • Rachel Wagner

      Thanks Haley. Let me know if you do see them

  • Marielle

    I liked Snowtime too. The story has problems, but the animation is lovely. The characters look like tiny wooden painted dolls. As for Long Way North, I think it’s a real gem. It has an original vision and very pretty animation.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Yeah Snowtime isn’t perfect but I think worth a watch. I agree on Long Way North. I loved that film!