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 is a rottentomatoes approved film critic and podcaster. She loves all things animation and does a monthly podcast on classic Disney films and on obscure animation at Rachel's Reviews. She also is the founder and lead host of The Hallmarkies Podcast. She grew up with mainstream classics like The Little Mermaid and The Simpsons but also loves indie and anime fare like Song of the Sea and Your Name. Most important to her is discussing all kinds of film and TV shows with her friends and all of you. Follow Rachel on twitter at @rachel_reviews and on her blog