Presented here are my top five favourite animated films of 2023, and they’re listed from best to least. These mini-reviews encapsulate why I think they work. Not only do they represent the best in narrative design but also they are worth seeing time and time again.
SPIDER-MAN ACROSS THE SPIDER VERSE
This sequel ups the ante by explaining the multiverse is different from how Marvel Entertainment’s WHAT IF sees it. And just why it matters really concerns how all these realities can collapse upon itself should an individual wield the power to cross these worlds and remake everything!
Instead of trying to improve upon what’s done before, what’s presented here is to add to the visual craziness in soft ways rather than go further with it. But we see the relationship between Miles and Gwen truly develop! It’ll take another film to see how that’ll end, but in what matters here are Mile’s feelings when he discovers he’s not alone. But ultimately, what gets set up here is a how the grand finale will reshape everything that is Spider-Man. It may also include affecting the live-action universe.
THE BOY AND THE HERON
Hayao Miyazaki can do no wrong, and although his latest can be puzzling at times, I’d say just read a biography about him and it’ll make sense! That’s because he put more of his life story into the narrative and without some knowledge, deciphering the moments doesn’t have to be hard.
What’s presented are characters which must be Japanese style Carl Jung archetypes to which Mahito must face. They represent aspects of what he should deal with as he continues to grieve. That’s because he’s been traumatised by seeing the death of his mother and as most people know, it’s not easy to move on afterwards.
And as that leads to a visually stunning look at how he decides to live in a world through a looking glass, not even the monomyth can get more creative when it’s in the hands of this filmmaker. What’s witnessed is a stunning look at how this hero deals with his demons, as his actions are appropriate responses on this film’s actual translated title HOW DO YOU LIVE? instead of the Americanized title. And how it plays out and concludes is magical realism at its best.
This film from Lightchaser Animation Studios had a quick weekend screening in select cities, and those lucky to see it have nothing but high praises. Its poetic design spoke more to those who appreciate Chinese literature, and its true art than auteur–perhaps developed with the thought of imitating Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS. But this historical drama follows the life and times of Li Bai and Gao Shi as they witness the fall of the Tang Dynasty.
SCOOBY-DOO! AND KRYPTO, TOO!
Although this film never got a formal release, there were leaks and I managed to see it online on YouTube before it was taken down. What’s presented is the best crossover of two IPs to date because it delves into looking at how these adventures share similiar DNA. It’s a shame that not a lot of fans of either the animated DC universe and Scooby-Doo franchise can get to see this movie. Not only does the direction put previous attempts of Warner Bros./DC Comic’s superheroes meeting the mystery solving gang to shame, but also, the action is better than an episode of SCOOBY-DOO AND GUESS WHO? That is, it’s not as cookie cutter.
This title makes the list for its sheer notoriety because the studio thinks nobody will like this movie. Ultimately, I feel it’s far better than DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS because what’s made here is less for kids but more of a love letter that respects everything this comic book company is about.
It’s very rare to find an exceptional animated motion picture that delves into how a young girl struggles to be recognized not only by the people around her, but also family. And what’s presented here is almost like ALICE IN WONDERLAND. In this film’s case, the look at the life aquatic with Shenxiu (the heroine). Its Wes Anderson-like quality gives this work a surreal edge, and to figure out whether what she’s going through is merely a dream or something else kept me glued.
But ultimately, the emotional crux is similiar to the anime EVANGELION, and to make that comparison doesn’t come lightly because we want this young heroine to have something to live for, than allow herself to die.