First, Nollywood to the world, then — to a much more explosive degree — Afrobeats. If the sheer amount of films submitted from across Africa, for screening at the just concluded Lagos International Festival of Animation (LIFANIMA) 2022, is anything to go by, animation could be next.
Let’s just say we predict that the global takeover of African animation is only a matter of time, and we’ve gathered our proof below.
My first impression of SIP was, “No way this isn’t a Pixar film.” Made in Nigeria by Magic Carpet Studios, it’s the story of a freelance artist stuck at his home workstation, struggling with endless deadlines and a coffee addiction — if this isn’t the most relatable plotline in the 2022 we live in. The only difference is the main character decides to be a better person, stop missing deadlines and, because he’s on a roll, break up with coffee. But coffee did not gree o. It came to life to literally force itself down the poor artist’s throat, and that’s how a whole fight between a man and his coffee started. SIP runs almost completely without dialogue, but at 11 minutes, it’s short, sweet and funny in a dark way.
Malika – Warrior Queen
Adapted from a comic book series of the same name, by YouNeek Studios, this animated film is so good we had to recommend it twice. Everything slaps, from the animation and colouring to sound effects and voice acting by faves like Adesua Etomi-Wellington and Deyemi Okanlawon. But the fight scenes, in particular, were well-choreographed.
Malika – Warrior Queen showcases Northern Nigerian culture in a powerful, modern light. Queen, and military commander, Malika is a compelling lead character who reminds one of the iconic Amina of Zaria. Her demeanour, strength and courage despite how young she is, will be especially inspiring to young African girls. When the end credits start rolling out, you’ll want to join the band of people furious at EbonyLife for not ordering a full season.
Another no-dialogue, highly-relatable animation short from Magic Carpet Studios, the graphics and everyday humour of Super Dad is reminiscent of popular western cartoons like Gumball and Loudhouse. It’s also interesting to watch a man take care of his baby, a role some believe to be entirely for women.
Adapted from a children’s book, Halima’s Vote delivers the message of “voting with a conscience” clearly. The visuals are simple but rather pleasant to watch, kinda like those Bible cartoons we watched as children. The conflict between Halima’s husband, the de facto leader (more like political thug) and the village is interesting, considering Halima is lowkey a progressive feminist. Watching her find her voice — while singing, of course — is deeply satisfying. Basement Animation Studios received funding from the MacArthur Foundation to make Halima’s Vote, but if you don’t stay for the good message, the songs in this Disney-esque musical should hold your attention.
A Kalabanda Ate My Homework
As the title implies, this is an extremely funny short film. Made in Uganda by Creatures Animation Studio, A Kalabanda Ate My Homework delivers clean and well-paced animation similar to 3D Nickelodeon cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While the story doesn’t exactly give room for context — I mean, what the heck is a “kalabanda”? — it manages to remain engaging till the end.
League of Orishas
Lovers of anime, this is for you. This animated series brings the Yoruba orishas to life, and what’s more amazing than being able to tell our ancient mythology in modern ways? League of Orishas is all about 3D orishas fighting different element-bending battles for different reasons. It reminds me of Dragonball but with less-quality graphics. Anthill Studios might have some way to go in terms of matching anime quality, but League of Orishas is an enjoyable watch still, and already has a second episode (looking at you, Malika – Warrior Queen).
From the maker of the eerie bird that raised Saro back to life in Kunle Afolayan’s Anikulapo, AMI is an animated film to watch. While the characters and world around them look like something out of Grand Theft Auto, it’s the animation of the car chases, in this action thriller set in Lagos’ political underbelly, that really impresses. AMI is a good-quality Yoruba film but fully animated. What’s not to love?
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