5 Reasons Why Animation isn’t ‘Just for Kids’

Screen-grab from Allahyar and the Legend of The Markhor's trailer

Okay, so I thought this one should have been obvious, but animation isn’t just for kids. I mean this in every way, shape and form. Animated films, series, comic books, or animation as a career.

And again, I thought the ‘why’ behind this should have been obvious too. It is a challenging task, and really good animation is really rare. Also in the case of visual media, animation can go where live action can’t. For example, an animated series can have the gigantic appeal that a live action film doesn’t.

‘But why are you going into this dirge?’ You maybe wondering. Well, because there is an upcoming Pakistani animated film that I am a bit excited about. It’s called Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor, and if you haven’t read my piece about it, read it.

Recently Uzair Zaheer Khan, the writer, director and producer of the film spoke about the issues he’s had to face in making this film. Atop that list, of course, is that people dismiss animated films. Apparently, because if something isn’t live action, it isn’t fit for adults.

And not that I can claim to speak as an adult. I mean, I’ve been an overgrown child for the best part of five years. But I do think that animated projects have a lot of value, for all generations. So I thought that I’d make a list of some of my favourite animated ventures. Most of these I have already seen, and have left an indelible mark on my mind. The last two are local ventures that I haven’t seen released yet.

But I love whatever has been released so far, and am excited about them. And yes, Allahyar is on the list; this is my way of convincing you to watch it.


Wolf Children

I discovered this little gem well into adulthood. My roommate actually told me about it, calling it her favourite film. I would definitely call it one of mine as well. It follows the story of siblings who are part wolf (just go with it) but the film is surprisingly relatable.

It somehow captured all the struggles I had gone through as a child, and then some. And it also demonstrates a heartfelt rendition of the mother-child relationship. It projects the unbelievable strength of a parent, and the misunderstood battles of a child. And all while reimagining the notion of human beings that turn into animals.


Spirited Away

My studio Ghibli phase started when I was eleven. It still hasn’t passed; I don’t think it ever will. And while I love many of their famous films, this one is my favourite.

Initially, I had waned to include one of their more underrated works on this list. But if we’re talking about animation, then this film has to be the one to represent the studio. Essentially a coming of age movie, this is a conceptually brilliant film. Easily one of the most incredible ideas I have ever experienced.

I doubt you haven’t seen this one, but if you haven’t, you really should.


Hunchback of Notre Dame

Justice for the oppressed, a critique of authoritative megalomaniacs, and one of the few representation of the Romani. And, it’s a Disney film.

I know, I still can’t believe it either. But this happened. This exists. And technically, this would be up there among the best of the Disney canon. I would point out that there are some annoying side characters (three to be exact). And some of the comedy hasn’t aged well. But the grand scale of the animation, the score, the central premise, they all work.


The Glassworker

So, can we take a minute to appreciate the beauty of animated features? I remember when Moana was released, people said things like, “it’s pretty but…”

No, no. It isn’t pretty. It is stunning! There is a difference. And the same needs to be said about this upcoming film. I mean, I am sure that the story is compelling, but look at this!

The trailer alone, is breathtaking. And I think that the look of the film is enough to go watch it.


Allahyar and the Legend of the Markhor

And finally, the film that inspired this post. Now, I have already written about it and I stand by everything I said. I will just add one more thing to it, we should watch it because of the intent behind it.

And I know what you’re thinking; ‘shouldn’t we base our opinions about a film on the technical prowess? Irrespective of the intentions of the filmmaker?’

Well, yes, and no. I would say a film has to be judged as a film. But cinema is as much about the story being told as it is about the production values. And that is why I already love this film. The story of father and son, of unlikely friendships and the relationship between man and nature. It is pretty compelling stuff.


Animation Doesn’t have an Age Restriction

Now here’s the thing. Of course you could continue to dismiss animated films are ‘kids’ stuff’. Really, nothing I say can actually change your mind. What I will say is that often animated films have dealt with some mature themes. And more often than not, they involve a lot of hard work. There is an art to bringing such interesting and well done productions together. And to look down upon them because of unfounded biases is just childish.

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