The Year Ahead In Animation

The Year Ahead In Animation

Even as the industry was being hit by layoffs and a general sense of uncertainty, animation was in top form throughout 2023. Between established tentpoles including Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and the Mario movie, and the original fare of Scavengers Reign and Fired on Mars, it was a pretty good and consistent year. There was a little something for everyone, and it felt like near everything got its time to shine and find its audience. Now that 2024’s taking its first steps, the question isn’t so much “can 2024 match that same energy?” as it is “what will 2024’s output tell us about the industry and its future?”

What we’re waiting for:

  • Nostalgia’s going to be coming back in a big way, largely thanks to Disney and Warner Bros. Between X-Men ‘97 and animated film versions of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Watchmen, companies are going to be leaning hard on audience affection for old characters and storylines. They won’t be alone on that front: Kung Fu Panda 4 is making nostalgia its whole Thing, as are the likes of Despicable Me 4 and Inside Out 2.
  • As Hollywood had a big unionization drive, animation got in on the action too: animators at WB and Cartoon Network formed their own union to join the ranks of ShadowMachine and Titmouse’s offices in LA and New York. This year will also see the Animation Guild enter its own negotiations with the AMPTP—here’s hoping those talks go well and we aren’t faced with the third months-long strike in less than a year.
  • Anime has been growing in popularity for years, and 2024 can build upon that success. Along with popular series like My Hero Academia and Blue Exorcist returning for new seasons, there’ll be brand new blood in the form of Go! Go! Loser Ranger (which is exactly a sendup of what you think from that title), Kaiju No. 8, and the wholly original Metallic Rogue. There’s also Delicious in Dungeon over on Netflix, which has the distinction of premiering weekly episodes starting tomorrow, January 4.   

Unconventional wisdom:

After a year consistently stacked with banger after banger, 2024’s animation slate may not be quite as spread out in terms of sheer greatness. It may be that the good stuff is especially good towards the summer or the end of the year, not entirely unlike with movies. And depending on how things go with the animation industry’s unionization efforts, things may be further impacted by delays and layoffs.

Companies to watch:

  • Warner Bros.: When it’s not canceling anything for tax write-offs, WB has some solid stuff under its belt. At time of writing, its other Looney Toons movie The Day the Earth Blew Up is on track to release at some point this year, courtesy of GFM Animation. Presumably, WB also plans to release new seasons for its hit adult series Harley Quinn and Rick & Morty this year, along with the anime spinoff for the latter.
  • Disney: Animation-wise, Disney appears to be putting much of its faith in Marvel. Along with the aforementioned X-Men ‘97, new debuts are expected in Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Marvel Zombies, and the Eyes of Wakanda shows. And its sizable returns include the final season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch and possibly the second season for Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi.
  • Netflix: The streamer has strong animated releases on a reliable basis. Along with the new He-Man series Masters of the Universe: Revolution, Netflix also has season two of Arcane, the Tomb Raider anime, and another season of Sonic Prime waiting in the wings. In terms of movies, animation fans can look forward to The Witcher: Sirens of the Deep, Orion & the Dark, and the long-awaited Ultraman: Rising. Oh, and the newest Wallace & Gromit film, don’t forget that.

A longshot bet:

It’d be nice to just wish for more adult-oriented animation and less cancellations. But honestly, both of those are just part of a larger desire for entertainment to take animation far more seriously. Given that we just got done supporting actors and writers as they demanded better working conditions and respect, that same support needs to be extended to the animation industry as it works on addressing its own set of issues.

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.