Animation is a big deal. Hollywood made 11.4 billion at the box office in 2016 and half the revenue was because of the animated films released. Animated films appeal to everyone. Children are interested but even Adults are always ready to see a good work of animation. It is interesting to bring animals to live. Or for children to see a version of themselves that is clearly not real but is there for the purpose of their entertainment, most times, it is to teach them a lesson.
I cannot think of a made in Nigeria animated film that has been released in the cinema and there are reasons why filmmakers are holding back before taking such a risk. First of all, animation is a complicated genre; it is not as easy as having actors in front of the camera with memorized scripts and getting them deliver their lines. For animated films, the animator creates his actors, and has professional voice artistes’ voice the dialogue, the animator has to match the dialogue with the lip movement of the animated characters and also, match the movement of characters on screen. The animator has to create the movement and create an almost realistic environment for the characters to exist. It is no easy job and it takes true experience and talent to create a work of animation that is not distracting and does not look fake.
Several animated shorts have been released online over time and maybe it is to test the Nigerian audience. The good thing is that the feedback has been incredible.
Starting with Anthill’s entertaining “Plaything” which is an incredible effort that makes us really hopeful about the future of animated films in Nigeria, the effort is interesting. Plaything is three minutes short and concentrates on a young boy bringing his toys to life and enjoying them engage in a fight. The picture is beautiful and for a good reason I wanted it to be longer.
“Mi and Mozi” follows Mi, a twelve year old boy that meets an ethereal being and they start a friendship that sees them playing together, dancing and doing other fun things that kids do. They develop an incredible bond but the demon Tanko deals their friendship a great blow and Mi has to learn how to continue life on his own.
These stories are short and are not fully developed but what is incredible about them is the picture quality. For Mozi, he is a character created to look like the famous Goblin from “Merlin”. Mozi looks really light and even though the environment in which Mi and Moi exist does not look realistic, it is commendable. It is a start to a good work.
“Plaything” is more impressive. The young boy looks like what we want to see in an animated film and inspiration is gotten from the successful “Ant Bully”. The young boy looks just like Lucas in “Ant Bully” and if “Ant Bully” was intriguing and continues to thrive on kids channels we can imagine the success, “Plaything” if developed, will enjoy.
There are many animated films that have been released that we have also enjoyed, among them are Jibril Mailafia’s “The Throne”. The story about brothers fighting to inherit a throne should appeal to children. What is more fascinating is that everything was shot in a single room with live actors performing but when it got to the editing room, Jibril created a whole kingdom, spiced up with a little colouring from the editing desk. “The Throne” is highly enjoyable and visually, it is satisfying.
If you are interested in checking animated shorts, you can check out “The Legacy of Rubies” by Ebele Okoye and also “Lost Dreams” by Ayodele Elegba, they are all great animated shorts and we cannot wait to watch a full length animated flick in the cinema. What we have seen so far makes us hopeful!