Weekend Watchlist | Animated Edition

By The Pitt News Staff

In this edition of Weekend Watchlist, the screening recommendations are all the best and brightest of animation.

Aggretsuko (Netflix) // Sarah Stager, Contributing Editor

Unlike most shows and movies on this list, “Aggretsuko” doesn’t have super intricate animation, an epic storyline or even much of a plot at all. It’s essentially a slice-of-life comedy about our main character, 25-year-old red panda Retsuko (Kaolip, Rarecho), who gets stressed out by her office job and horses around with her colleagues. But wait! There’s more!

Every time Retsuko gets too irked by her intractable boss or a particularly annoying trainee, she visits a karaoke bar and vents her frustrations with a bout of death metal. As her audience, you get to feel like you are screaming into the void with her — the perfect vibe when you’re boiling with rage because your roommate once again left her crusty dishes in the sink and they’ve been sitting there for a full week. With well-sketched characters, perfect comedic timing and an incredibly cute animation style, “Aggretsuko” serves as the perfect way to let off your own stress as the semester hurdles on, and you cling to it for dear life.

Song of the Sea (Netflix) // Nadiya Greaser, Staff Writer

“Song of the Sea” is a delicate, hand-drawn love poem to director Tomm Moore’s Celtic history. The gently mythical film follows two siblings, Ben (David Rawle) and Saoirse (Lucy O’Connell) as they go on a quest to find Saoirse’s voice and save the nature spirits from the Owl Witch. “Song of the Sea” is a story about children that is not necessarily for children. Its eerily beautiful folk songs, sumptuous watercolor visuals and careful parallels between the mythic and the mundane defy easy categorization as a children’s movie, in favor of something more complex and deliberate. The movie is so beautiful, and the soundtrack so intimate and inviting, that the minimal dialogue is a strength, not a deficit, and Moore uses a Miyazaki-esque silence to languorously stretch the film from moment to moment.

Moore favors gentle resolution over dramatic conflict, and avoids a simple ending. Instead, he leans into grief and loss and love, carefully subverting and transforming his villain into something sweeter and less familiar.

Tangled (Disney +) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

“Tangled” is better than “Frozen” and I will die on this hill. It is completely absurd that “Tangled” does not get the recognition that it deserves, and I will champion Disney’s animated tale of Rapunzel until the day I die because it is that damn good. “Tangled” is Disney’s interpretation of the classic fairy tale story of the princess Rapunzel, who lives locked away in a tower and never cuts her hair. In this film Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) was abducted from her royal parents as a child because of the magical healing abilities her hair possesses when she sings. Her abductor and surrogate parent, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) keeps Rapunzel locked away in the tower for 18 years using Rapunzel’s hair to keep herself young. Until one day the common thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) comes upon the tower while he’s escaping some royal guards. Together he and Rapunzel go on a journey that changes not just their perceptions about the world, but themselves.

This movie is not just beautifully animated, it’s the most expensive animated movie made ever, it’s nuanced and beautiful and tragic. The characterization is top-notch, the cast’s vocal chops are to die for, and it’s one of the darker Disney movies when you think about it. There is no other Disney animated movie that I could praise more for its storytelling.

Next Gen (Netflix) // Heaven Infinity, For The Pitt News

The ultimate question: watch a movie with substance that makes you feel smart or watch a kiddie animated film to forget that you have adult responsibilities? If you watch the 2018 Netflix Original film “Next Gen” you won’t have to choose! “Next Gen” is set in a “Black Mirror”-esque future where robots live amongst humans. The story follows Mai Su, a purple-haired cool girl, who rebels against the new robot norm. Despite her robot hatred, she has a run in with a top-secret robot named 7723 who’s the product of a sinister plot, and who she must team up with to save her world from sure disarray. The movie is based on the online Chinese comic “7723” by Wang Nima and, of course, has a star studded cast. Big-name voices like John Kransinski, Constance Wu, Michael Peña and David Cross bring these animated characters to life on the big screen. “Next Gen” is a movie that will not only entertain your inner child, but will engage your big brain with high tech robot talk, societal norm talk and most importantly, friendship. As the movie tag line says, friendship is the ultimate upgrade.

Legend of Korra (Netflix) // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

If I had a nickel for every one of my friends who watched “Avatar: the Last Airbender” without getting to “The Legend of Korra,” I would have two nickels, but it’s pretty weird that it happened twice, right? This “Avatar” spinoff follows Avatar Aang’s successor, Korra, a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe, as she navigates adolescence and her intense responsibility. If you aren’t familiar with the “Avatar” concept, many people can maneuver water, fire, earth or air through bending powers, and thus congregate throughout the world based on their respective element. The Avatar can bend all four, and because of this is typically tasked with saving the world.

I’m not sure if I would go as far as to say I like “Korra” better, for fear of retribution — but this series has a lot going for it. I find this show much more well-paced than the original, and the villains from each of the four seasons are much more compelling and pose a greater challenge for Korra to overcome. Korra herself is kind of a pain, but it’s hard not to love her and the new Team Avatar. Plus, the show constantly makes references to its predecessor, even with the inclusion of characters from the original. So if you were silly enough to skip out on “The Legend of Korra,” log onto Netflix immediately and cozy up with this absolute gem.