Most of us probably grew up watching several kinds of animated movies and TV shows that we loved as a kid. When it comes to animated movies and series, we relied heavily on foreign production because animation isn’t really the strong suit of the Philippine entertainment industry. Compared to live-action movies and series, which were mostly a hit in the country, animation was uncommon since it costs more time and money to be able to produce.
What’s ironic is that since the 70s, Filipino animators have been doing animations for foreign companies and characters, but sadly in the hundred years of Philippine cinema, only less than 10 animated movies and less than 3 animated series were produced. Thankfully, local animators today are stepping up to make animations for the Philippines and not just for foreign companies and characters. Hence why it birthed the creation of Filipino animated movies and series that showcase not only the great talents of Filipino animators but also underscore the country’s rich culture and stories.
With that, let’s take a look at the list of must-watch Filipino animated movies and series that need more hype from us:
1. Barangay 143
Barangay 143 is the first-ever Filipino anime series that was aired on Philippine TV. This Filipino-Japanese-Singaporean anime is about a Filipino-Korean basketball player named Bren Park who had recently lost his family in a tragic accident, leading him to quit basketball. But then finds out that his real father was actually a Filipino. Bren Park travels to Manila to search for his father, and in the process joins the basketball team of Barangay 143 in Tondo, Manila.
Barangay 143 was produced by ASI Animation Studio and Shin-Ei Animation. In 2016, it was confirmed that its first season will be aired on GMA Network in 2018, and worldwide on GMA Pinoy TV. Since its release on Netflix in October 2020, it became part of the top ten most watched titles on Netflix Asia, which currently has two seasons available in Netflix. The voice cast of Barangay 143 include GMA stars Migo Adecer, Julie Anne San Jose, Ruru Madrid, Kelley Day, John Arcilla, Cherie Gil, and more. Barangay 143 is an example of a “gawang pinoy, para sa pinoy,” and is an absolute must-watch for Pinoys who love basketball-themed anime like Slam Dunk and Kuroko’s Basketball.
Unlike other animated series on this list, Trese was not created by our own local animators because it was produced by a Singaporean and Indonesian-based studio. But it is based on a Filipino comic series of the same name by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Trese follows Alexandra Trese (Liza Soberano), a female detective that solves supernatural crimes and mysteries in modern Metro Manila. What makes Trese unique and interesting is the incorporation of creatures from local mythology into the plot such as the tikbalang, aswang, and kapre — which we don’t always see in animated TV series. In June 2021, Trese was released on Netflix in the U.S., and was also released worldwide the next day.
3. Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story
Hayop Ka! or “You Animal!” is an animated Filipino movie set in the Philippines. This romantic comedy movie revolves around Nimfa Dimaano (Angelica Panganiban), a cat who works as a perfume salesperson who has a boyfriend named Roger (Robin Padilla), who works as a janitor. She then meets a dog named Iñigo (Sam Milby), who is a distinguished businessman, then later finds herself stuck in a love triangle between her boyfriend and the rich businessman. Its star-studded voice cast also includes other well-known celebrities in the country such as Piolo Pascual, Arci Muñoz, Empoy Marquez Yeng Constantino, and Eugene Domingo.
Despite its seemingly “kid-friendly” animation, Hayop Ka! is not a genre that’s recommended for younger audiences because of its adult narrative and humor. Hayop Ka! was directed by Avid Liongoren, and according to him, this film took three years to make. But we can say that it was worth it since it received generally positive reviews, and even won ‘Best Animation’ in Gawad Urian Awards. It’s also the first adult animated movie in the country, which was also the first-ever locally produced animated film that was exclusively distributed by Netflix.
4. Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia
The Philippines is home to rich folklore — with known mythical creatures such as the aswang, diwata, mangkukulam, manananggal, and more being present in stories and movies we grew up listening to and watching. In 2008, Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia was released, and was the country’s first all-digital full-length animated feature film, which was produced by Cutting Edge Productions.
Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia centers on Bubuy (Nash Aguas), who goes on an adventure to Elementalia, the home of different mythical creatures, to try and save his abducted grandparents. He is accompanied by a manananggal named Ana (Katrina “Hopia” Legaspi) and opens a portal going to Elemantalia.
What better way to represent our diversely abundant Philippine culture than to tackle stories about our very own local legends? Urduja is an animated movie based on the legend of the known warrior Princess Urduja of Pangasinan. This plot is not something you always see from local animators, that’s why it’s immensely intriguing to watch. On top of that, Urduja is proudly made by an all-Pinoy group of animators using the hand-drawn animation process.
In terms of the plot, Urduja revolves around Princess Urduja (Regine Velasquez) falling in love with a Chinese pirate named Limhang (Cesar Montano), who landed on the Tawilisi shore. This animated film also consists of a star-studded voice cast, including: Eddie Garcia, Johnny Delgado, Jay Manalo, Michael V., Ruby Rodriguez, and more.
Paglisan is a Filipino animated musical film about a middle-aged couple, Crisanto (Ian Veneracion) and Dolores (Eula Valdez) who have been going through a tough time in their marriage, with Crisanto dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and Dolores having depression. It centers around the hurdles that Crisanto and Dolores go through given their circumstances, and their attempts to mend and save the relationship despite the bumps along the road.
Among the list of animated movies and series here, Paglisan comes as very unique because of the way its 2D animation was done, which appears like a moving sketch or painting with how the colors were mixed together. Paglisan stood out to the Pinoy audience and even took home top awards, including ‘Best Picture,’ ‘Best Screenplay,’ and more at the 2018 Cinema One Originals Film Festival.
7. RPG Metanoia
RPG Metanoia prides itself as the first-ever 3D animated film in the Philippines, and was produced by Ambient Media, Thaumatrope Animation, and Star Cinema. This fantasy-adventure movie follows Nico (Zaijan Jaranilla), an 11-year old boy who’s not too skilled at sports or playing outdoor games, yet is good at online games and spends most of his time locked in his room playing MMORPG (Massively Multi-players Online Role Playing Game) called “Metanoia.” He then turns into a hero in the online world, but one day, it was invaded by a virus that terrorizes even the real world.
It’s so satisfying to know that the Philippine entertainment industry is stepping up by creating animated movies and TV shows that showcase the talent of our very own Filipino animators. It may have taken quite some time for us to see much of these kinds of results, but it’s definitely doing something to revolutionize the Philippine animation industry in the country — and who knows, maybe in the future, Filipinos will even be more recognized both locally and globally for creating notable animated films and series that are well-received and loved.