Drawing on the appeal of African animation


Panellists discussing “African Animation is Great’ all agreed that more African
animation is needed on screens, especially animation aimed at children.
The South African widescreen production Khumba has proved that African stories
can be successful internationally. Apart from drawing large audiences in South
Africa, the film is a roaring success overseas. African stories are the most
successful in countries like America, Japan and France.

Another success story originating from South Africa is Supa Strikas, created by
Strika Entertainment. The series, which relates the adventures of the world’s
greatest football team, first appeared as a comic in 2000 and was later
developed into an animated TV series.

Richard Grenville, representing Strika Entertainment, said the series had to be
internationalised and therefore it was developed to “speak different languages’.
Although some of the characters might speak in a Canadian accent in the
dubbed versions, the product still has an African (and specifically) South African
identity and all the characters are black. “A production such as this must be
defined by the place where we live,’ says Grenville. “Africa should get more
mature in animation – the DNA of productions should be African.’

Stuart Forrest, CEO of Triggerfish, the South African studio that produced
Khumba, says that animated productions such as these should not be limited to
the continent of Africa. “The world should be educated about who we are and
what we are all about. We must try to push out the myth of the savannah which
is perceived worldwide to be Africa. That’s one of the reasons why Khumba’s
story takes place in the Karoo.’

An important aspect of animation per se is that animals should be included in the
storyline. This seems to add universal appeal, ensuring that a production can
cross borders. Numerous successful productions by the likes of Disney and Pixar
attest to this.

Animation for adults has a small niche market since the medium is generally
perceived to be aimed at children. However when adult animation productions
are dubbed into different languages, it can have great cross-cultural appeal.

Another benefit of the animation medium is the opportunity it offers to extend
the longevity and marketability of the brand through the creation of toy lines and
other related merchandise. Animation therefore not only offers creative and
business opportunities in its own right, but also opens the way for
supplementary revenue streams – all the more reason for Africa’s studios to
explore the medium.


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