It started off when one of our iROKOtv fans on Facebook, Bolanle Eunice Ayodele, asked whether we knew of anyone in the Nollywood Industry who had ever produced any animation movie/story. As a self-proclaimed Nollywood geek, I confidently told her there wasn’t, but I felt a sudden urge to ask my colleagues who are also Nollywood enthusiasts like myself – just to confirm that I was right. I was wrong. My colleagues quickly sent me the link to a YouTube video titled ‘African Tales The Movie’ which is a combination of three web series; Mark of Uru, Enemy of the Rising Sun and Business and Pleasure.
What caught my attention about Mark of Uru in particular was the fact that I was watching Nigerian cartoon characters who had authentic Nigerian accents and wore cartoonized traditional wears – to top it off, there was an Igbo-speaking Leopard (or maybe it was a Cheetah – who knows). I truly enjoyed this animation and the moral of the series which was stated at the end – ‘It is from a small seed that the giant Iroko tree has its beginning…’
Mark of Uru reminded me of when I wrote my first post here titled ‘Is Nollywood Dying?’, I mentioned how I see Nollywood breaking boundaries in the future; this is a statement that I shall forever stand by. If you look at the top movies that were released on iROKOtv last year such as Finding Mercy, The Awakening and Murder At Prime Suits, I am sure the majority of you will agree with me that these Nollywood blockbusters illustrate the fact that the Nigerian film industry is beginning to step up its game in terms of releasing better quality movies. But, my opinion is that animation movies such as Mark of Uru could be used as a tool to step up Nollywood as an industry, especially when representing themes of magical realism and voodoo; a theme that is not uncommon in Nollywood movies.
If quality time and money is invested in Nollywood animations, it could be as popular as the Japanese animations (popularly known as Anime). The Japanese animation style is often characterized by colourful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastic themes and is a form of art used to tell stories, targeting most age groups. Imagine the popular folktales such as The King’s Magic Drum, The Story of the Leopard, the Tortoise, and the Bush Rat and many more being cartoonized or an animated version of some Nollywood classics – Would that not be amazing?
Here’s what iROKOtv fan, Bolanle had to say:
“Wouldn’t it be nice if Nollywood producers tilt their productions towards this genre a little, especially our Nigerian folktales, as a means of telling our younger generations stories we used to enjoy under the moonlight since they are glued to their TV sets. Imagine Nigerian children, home and abroad, watching an animated Olurombi story rather than Ben 10. LOL”
I know that making animations requires a big budget – BUT – all it takes is for our Nollywood producers to have that hunger and zeal to make the Nigerian movie industry stronger in its stand. I’ll leave you all with this question; can animation movies help build Nollywood or will taking that direction be setting ourselves up for failure? Let me know what you think.
Watch African Tales below:
Picture Courtesy of screenshots from Mark of Uru