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AFA's Most Wanted: The 15 Most Exciting Animation Projects In Production Now

In this new age of streaming, animated movies and TV are bigger than ever. And unlike other parts of the entertainment industry, if anything the pandemic has only made it grow more. With new projects announced all the time, there is an awful lot of animation in production to look forward to.

Once a year (at least) AFA likes to publish our list of titles that have us most excited, and the time has come. As always, the list is presented in no particular order. What animation are you most excited for, dear readers? Let us know in the comments below one via our social media channels!

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Sequel

WHY WE’RE EXCITED: The original Spider-Verse was the most innovative and groundbreaking animated feature from any major studio in the 2010s. So of course a sequel is going to top many fan’s most-wanted lists. The sequel is set to explore the growing bond between Miles and Gwen Stacy and will feature many more alternative spider-people than the original. The change in directors could have been an area of concern, but the team taking their place is as impressive as those behind the first movie, Let’s do this one more time…

ETA: October 2022

My Father’s Dragon

WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Two words: Cartoon Saloon. Following hot on the heels of Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s wonderful Wolflwalkers, the Irish studio will bring their latest feature to the world via Netflix. Adapted from a popular children’s book series, this was originally set to see Moore reteamed with his Secret Of Kells co-director (and studio Co-founder) Nora Twomey, but latterly became Twomeny’s second solo directorial outing. As with her first, The Breadwinner, My Father’s Dragon will see Twomey branch out beyond the studio’s typical Irish mythology- but this time for a much lighter-hearted family fantasy

ETA: 2021 TBC

Chicken Run 2

WHY WE’RE EGG-CITED: Chicken Run, released back in 2000, is still the highest-grossing stop-motion feature film in history. Although Aardman animation has had considerable success with films since they have never quite caught the public’s imagination in the US as they have in their native UK and elsewhere in the world. Although the original ended perfectly and never really needed a sequel, it will be fun to revisit Ginger, Rocky and the rest of the gang after all this time. With Aardman’s deal with DreamWorks long expired, this is being co-produced by Netflix, who are well known for giving filmmakers artistic freedom- we’ll be getting unadulterated Aardman this time around!


Turning Red

WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Pixar’s upcoming original feature will star a 13 year-old girl with the unfortunate habit of turning into a giant (and utterly adorable) red panda when she gets too excited. And you thought your teen years were awkward. The film will be written and directed by Domee Shi, director of the Oscar-winning short Bao. Turing Red is set to be Pixar’s first film solo directed by a woman, and their first by a person of Asian descent (Shi is a Chinese born Asian-Canadian) This should be for Asian audiences what Coco was for Latin-American viewers and what Soul was to the Black community. However, the themes of adolescence and family it seems to be drawing from are sure to make it universal.

ETA: 2022


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: We still know very little about Hayao Miyazaki’s comeback film. We know it’s an action-adventure and it will be traditionally animated. The title is taken from a classic Japanese novel that will be important to the film’s main character. That’s about all we know about this film (which is still some way off) but it’s all we need. It’s a new Hayao frickin’ Miyazaki film and that’s enough reason to be very excited indeed.



WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Fans of Jorge Guitterez have been waiting a long time since the 2014 release of The Book Of Life. This year we should finally see what he’s been cooking up at Netflix, and it sounds like a doozy. This epic limited series is based on Mesoamerican mythology and has been described as something like “ A Mexican Lord Of The Rings”. The titular Maya- described by Guitterz as a bad-ass warrior princess- must go on a quest to assemble legendary heroes to form a team and save her world.

ETA: 2021 TBC


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Nickelodeon has seemingly finally realised that they have a giant hit on their hands with Avatar the Last Airbender, especially with the series having recently found a new audience through Netflix. They announced the setting up of Avatar Studios to create new stories set in the universe of Avatar and Kora. The first confirmed project of the new studio is a theatrical animated feature. We don’t know anything more about it just yet, but we’re super excited at the prospect of returning to the world- whatever form it may take.



WHY WE’RE EXCITED: We’re including these together, as they were announced at the same time and feature two of DC Comic’s Big Three (only Wonder Woman is missing).Fans of the classic Batman: The Animated Series pricked up their ears when they heard that executive producer Bruce Timm would be returning to Gotham for this new incarnation of the iconic superhero. The series is also being produced by JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves (director of the forthcoming live-action The Batman) making their animation debut. The new show looks like it’s hoping to be very much in the spirit of TAS, even if it’s not directly related. By contrast, the new Superman show is giving us a very different take on the Man Of Steel than we have ever seen before. Skewing younger, the show will put an emphasis on the friendship between Clarke/Superman and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson. This particular take on Lois in particular is going to be a “ fearless, whip-smart” young woman- a very 21st-century version of the iconic character.



WHY WE’RE EXCITED:  In his newest movie anime visionary Mamoru Hosoda seems to be returning to the cyberspace-based sci-fi and teenage angst that he explored in his early films The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. Not only that, but Hosoda has enlisted some of the foremost gaijin animation talents to help him bring his new film to life. Belle will feature contributions from Disney veteran Jin Kim, London designer Eric Wong and Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. The film is opening in Japan this summer but there’s no confirmation of a US or UK release just yet.

ETA: July 2021 (Japan), TBC (International)


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Masaaki Yuasa is one of the most original talents working in anime today. His films and series vary wildly in tone from the quirky fantasy romance of Ride Your Wave to the psychedelic nightmare that is Devil Man Crybaby. Yuasa’s upcoming feature Inu-Oh is an animated biopic that tells a fictionalised version of the life of a real 14th-century Japanese performer. We’re not entirely sure what to expect from this, as it sounds like nothing he has done before. But with Yuasa, that’s half the fun.

ETA 2021 TBC


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Del Toro’s stop-motion adaptation of the classic tale has been a long time coming. The visionary director’s unique imagination is tailor-made for animation, so the combination of filmmaker and material here is a match made in heaven. GDT’s take on Carlo Collodi’s original novel promises to be a darker and more sinister one than Disney would ever allow for.

ETA 2021 TBC


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Walt Disney Animation Studios is teaming up with pan-African comic book publisher Kugali to go somewhere they have never been before. The title translates roughly as “the future”, which gives you an idea of what to expect from the series. This Afro-futurist tale is set in Lagos, Nigeria and will cover themes of class, innocence and ‘challenging the status quo’. Disney’s first collaboration of its kind, it’s going to be fascinating to see what its African creators will be able to achieve with Disney’s considerable resources.

ETA 2022


WHY WE'RE EXCITED: Sony's animation strategy is unlike any of their competitors. They're the first of the major Hollywood studios with plans to make films for adult audiences. The first R-rated film to be announced is Fixed, an adult comedy from animation hero Genndy Tartakovsky. The film will star an average family dog, in love with the dog next door. When he learns that his owners plan to take him to the vet the next day to be neutered, he plans one last ultimate night out with his best friends. Tartakovsky's talents turning to a film for adults is a very intriguing idea indeed.




WHY WE’RE EXCITED; LucasFilm have invited some of Japan’s top animation talents and studios to create shorts based in the Star Wars universe. Similar experiments such as The Animatrix and Batman Gotham Knight have had some fascinating- if mixed- results. Excitement levels will vary depending on who the participating creators turn out to be but regardless it will be an unmissable chance to see what anime studios can bring to a galaxy far away.

ETA: 2022 TBC


WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Disney’s cancellation of Blue Sky’s Nimona little more than a year before release was a great injustice. Luckily, another of Nimona creator Noelle Stevenson’s comic series is headed for the screen, courtesy of HBO Max. The Lumberjanes comics are utterly charming, suitable for all ages and full of imagination, winning acclaim for their varied female characters and positive LGBT+ representation. They had already been optioned for a live-action adaptation but animation is clearly a better fit.