The 18 Coolest Things Happening in Animation Right Now

Young Justice title card

Animation is a big part of pop culture, with shows like "Adventure Time" and "Regular Show" breaking the "children's television" barrier and finding a place in the hearts of adults, leading to a boom of the American Animation industry. Since then, there have been shows like "Steven Universe" and the return of "Samurai Jack." With these returns as well as other great cartoon news, it's starting to look like 2017 is going to be a fantastic year for animation.

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Everything from the return of three different Nickelodeon cartoons to the all the great anime news, it seems like theres a lot of cool stuff happening in animation right now. With all the exciting animation announcements, CBR decided to gather up all the cool cartoon news in one place, maybe even let you know something you weren't aware of.

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Samurai Jack season 5

While it might not be "news" to fans of the critically-acclaimed series, "Samurai Jack" has returned after 13 years of leaving an open-ended story. The fifth season, which was picked up by Adult Swim, is currently halfway through its the episode order and it was stated by series creator Genndy Tartakovsky that this would bring the story to a full close.

Fans were surprised by this news in early 2016 and the first episode premiered in March as part of Adult Swim's Toonami block, which itself is another show revival. Fans were also glad to know that the story would finally come to a proper close and that the series would not be a reboot. The season features Jack 50 years later, time having had no effect on him due to his time-traveling origin. Each episode has explored how the samurai has lost his way, giving up on defeating Aku or returning home as the ghosts of his past haunt him.


Hey Arnold

Back in 2015, Nickelodeon announced plans to revive some of their classic cartoon series, one of which was the slice-of-life fan-favorite "Hey Arnold!" created by Craig Bartlett. In March of 2016, it was officially announced that the film would be released as a two-part TV release. At San Diego Comic Con, character designs and promotional art was revealed, showing off the updated looks of Arnold, Gerald, Helga, and Phoebe.

"Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie" is planned to be released in November this year and is a follow up to "The Journal," the hour-long series finale of the show that gave some explanation as to the whereabouts of Arnold's parents. The movie will answer even more questions and wrap up all the show's loose ends. The movie was originally planned back in 2001, but after the failure of "Hey Arnold: The Movie," the project was scrapped. Thankfully, fans of the series will finally get the ending they deserve this November.


Young Justice title card

Rumors of this began speculating back in February of 2016 when the second season of the show as added on Netflix. Voice actors of the show like Khary Payton asked fans to rally for a third season of the critically acclaimed "Young Justice" series. Eventually, in November of 2016, a third season was officially announced. The show took a new and unique take on the sidekick team by reimagining them as a black-ops team for the Justice League, things like teenage drama and in-fighting usually causing things to go a little off the rails.

The show's first season cast was comprised of Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Aqualad, Miss Martian and Artemis, with Rocket joining near the tail-end of the season's climax. The second season took place years later and featured a new cast of young heroes, with the original cast making smaller appearances. The show featured a long-overarching story that continued between the two seasons and ended with a cliffhanger introducing the likes of Darseid and Apokolips. Fans were elated to hear that the show would continue and it was recently announced that the voice recording sessions have already begun.


Invader Zim opening

Continuing the trend of TV movie revivals of beloved Nickelodeon shows, it was announced that "Invader Zim" would return with a brand new TV movie. Though no exact date was given, a teaser claimed that Zim would be "invading soonish." Regardless of the actual premier date, fans rejoiced at the return of the cult-hit series.

The show followed Zim, an invader of the planet Irk who was assigned to take over the Earth because he was annoying and his leaders wanted to send him as far away as possible. Though Zim is fierce and determined to enslave humanity, he's kind of an idiot, and an incompetent one at that. Zim's many attempts to learn of Earth's weaknesses and exploit them are often thwarted by his own idiocy as well as the idiocy of his literal garbage-brained robot sidekick, GIR. Outside of the teaser and the fact that the original voice cast will be returning, there has been very little news about the TV movie, but hopefully more information is soon to come.


Tangled animated series

Last month, a TV movie premiered on Disney Channel entitled "Tangled: Before Ever After." It served as a prequel to the short film "Tangled: Ever After," which featured the wedding of characters Rapunzel and Flynn Rider of the Disney movie "Tangled." This movie served as the introduction to a brand new series that would continue the adventures of Rapunzel and Flynn (now going by his given name of Eugene) entitled "Tangled: The Series."

After the success and popularity of "Tangled," many fans wanted a sequel. The project for a full-fledged feature film sequel was eventually scrapped — possibly to pursue the much more popular "Frozen" franchise — in favor of a 2D animated series with the two lead voice actors, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi reprising their roles. In a mysterious magical event that sets up the premise of the series, Rapunzel's long locks are returned to her, though not everything is as it was, which the series begins to explore in the few episodes that have already premiered.


Rorshach Watchmen

Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" received mixed reviews, most critics stating that the movie was dull and adapted a bit too directly from the source material. Regardless of it's fantastic opening sequence (seriously, go watch it), the film was considered a major flop. While Snyder has moved on the Warner Brothers' DC movie universe, "Watchmen" remains to have a successful adaptation. Even creator Alan Moore disapproves of the film, though he approves of most things that aren't the original comic, which is understandable after the "Before Watchmen" comics and other attempts to bring "Watchmen" into the regular DC continuity.

Regardless of Moore's thoughts, Warner Brother's has announced that an R-Rated "Watchmen" animated film is in production. Fans may want to be wary though, as the animated film is supposed to be a "faithful adaptation," which might result in too many similarities to the film. One way or the other, it will be interesting to see how the movie is handed in an animated format.


Little Witch Academia

Shifting over to a lighter-toned story, many anime lovers were elated to find out that the Netflix short anime film "Little Witch Academia" would be getting a full-length series. The film, which had a follow up sequel funded by Kickstarter, follows Akko, a young girl who dreams of mastering magic after seeing a witch by the name of Shiny Chariot. Though she does not come from a magical bloodline, she still tries her best while attending Luna Nova Magical Academy to become a witch.

There are two films, both of which are available on Netflix, the first simply titled "Little Witch Academia," and the second, titled "Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade." Earlier this year, the first episode of a full-fledged anime series premiered in Japan and the season has continued since. When the series was announced, it was said to eventually stream on Netflix. While there is still no word on the Netflix premier, the series is receiving positive feedback in Japan.


Ducktales reboot

"Ducktales" is perhaps one of the most remembered and beloved animated series of all time, finding its way into peoples' hearts as it followed the adventures of Huey, Dewy and Louie with their Uncle Scrooge. As the incredibly catchy theme song goes, they "might solve a mystery, or rewrite history," which is just a taste of all the wacky adventures that the ducks find themselves on. The 2017 reboot promises to deliver just as much adventure while giving it an updated tone and animation style.

The voice cast alone is something to get excited about, as David Tennant will voice Scrooge McDuck, Danny Pudi provides the voice of Huey, Ben Schwartz is Dewey, and Bobby Moynihan is Louie. A trailer was released along with the premier of the aforementioned "Tangled: Before Ever After," and the series is set to premier with two hour-long specials in the summer on Disney XD.



Ian Jones-Quartery is a powerhouse of the current animation industry. He has done voice acting, animation, story-boarding, writing, art direction and production on shows like "The Venture Bros.," "Adventure Time," "Steven Universe" and "Bravest Warriors." Even with all this work on his shoulders, Jones-Quartery found time to develop his own animated pilot under the name "Lakewood Plaza Turbo." This pilot would eventually garner several subsequent shorts — all done by different studios — under the rebranded name of "OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes."

After receiving a lot of positive responses and even a few video-game adaptations, "OK K.O.!" received a full-fledged animated series. The show follows KO a young warrior living in a world driven by fighting and power-battles. KO works at a convenience store at the Lakewood Plaza Turbo which is rivaled by the Evil Lord Boxman's Box More store. The show incorporates a lot of "Street Fighter" and "Dragonball Z" styled elements and even features the voice talent of young Goku actor Stephanie Nadolny. The series is set to premier this coming summer.


Nameless City

Faith Erin Hicks' First Second comic series "The Nameless City" takes a lot of inspiration from the likes of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "The Legend of Korra." Because of this, it is exciting and appropriate that an animated series adaptation was recently announced. The series tells of the titular Nameless City, called as such because of the fact that each nation that conquers the walled city has given it a different name, making any moniker meaningless to the native people. Within these walls is a new arrival to the city, Kaidu, and a native known simply as Rat.

As the two get past their differences, they must find a way to save the city from a threat that only they can stop. Creator Faith Erin Hicks both writes and draws the series and her art style is perfect for adapting into animation. The series is set to be produced by Frederator Studios — known for "Bravest Warriors" and "The Fairly Oddparents" — and is planned to have 12 half-hour long episodes.


Voltron on Netflix

Since the moment it hit the streaming world, Dreamworks' Netflix series "Voltron: Legendary Defender" has been a sensational hit. The show has drawn in fans both old and new to the franchise, keeping elements of the original — which was a mish-mash of footage from several Japanese cartoons with new dubbed dialogue — while putting a modern spin on it, both in storytelling and visual style. The show also boasts a unique voice cast with the likes of Steven Yeun and Jeremy Shada as two of the paladin warriors.

Since the show has a 78-episode commitment with Netflix, it has been quick to dish out the seasons. The first season premiered in June of 2016 and the second season came soon after in January of 217. It seems that Dreamworks and Studio Mir — responsible for animating "The Boondocks" and "The Legend of Korra" — are constantly working hard on "Voltron" since fans won't have to wait long for the Season 3 return, which is scheduled to be released this September. Seasons 1 and 2 of "Voltron: Legendary Defender" are currently available to stream on Netflix.


Mega Man cartoon

"Mega Man" has had a bit of a scattered history in animation. There was the 1994 American animated series as well as several anime based on spin-off/alternate version video games like "Mega Man Battle Network" and "Mega Man Star Force." There was also a short "Mega Man X" anime film that served as a prequel to the game. Outside of this, there has been no modern animated take on the original Mega Man games, until now that is. In 2015, Capcom partnered with Dentsu Entertainment U.S.A. to create a 26-episode animated series, recruiting "Big Hero 6" and "Ben 10" creators Man of Action, a writing team consisting of Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Roleau and Steve Seagle.

This Mega Man series will take the key points of the original games' story and add a few new elements to appeal to new audiences. One of these changes includes giving Mega Man an "Astro Boy"-like origin, as the show follows Aki Light, a young robot-boy who transforms into Mega Man when Dr. Wily and his evil robot masters attack his home of Silicon City. The series has landed a place at Cartoon Network and is set to premiere in 2018.


Adventure Time

After the mind-blowing conclusion of "Adventure Time: Islands" — which wrapped up several of the show's loose threads and finally gave us an answer to "where are the other humans?" — it seems the next miniseries will be entitled "Adventure Time: Elements," and will hopefully give fans even more answers. The upcoming miniseries is the show's third, including "Islands" and the prior "Stakes," a miniseries focussing on Marceline the Vampire Queen.

The teaser released for "Elements" revealed that the mini-series will explore the origins of the "Adventure Time" world as well as hopefully conclude the tragic tale of Ice King/Simon and his former fiancé Betty, who has become a mad wizard. The mysterious Patience St. Pim is also set to make appearances and possibly provide exposition on the elementals of the crazy post-apocalyptic world. "Elements" is set to premier on April 24th as part of the show's eighth and penultimate season.



Back in early 2016, it was announced that Adult Swim would be reviving cult-hit anime "FLCL" — pronounced "Fool Cooly" — for two new six-episode seasons. The show was created by Yōji Enokido and Kazuya Tsurumaki and follows the day-to-day life of Naota Nandaba, a pre-teen living in a suburban Japanese town. Naota's life is turned upside down when Haruko Haruhara shows up and ropes him into a war between two alien factions, Medical Mechanica and Fraternity.

The plot of the second and third seasons will return Haruko to Earth years after the first season as she encounters Hidomi, a teenaged girl who wants something more exciting to happen in her boring life. Haruko arrives as Hidomi's new teacher as Medical Mechanica and Fraternity's war wages on. There are also some teasers as to the whereabouts of Naota and Canti, the humanoid robot. The new seasons are set to premier in late 2017 or early 2018.


Big Hero 6 series

After the success of "Big Hero 6," many fans wanted a sequel to the Disney-animated superhero film. In 2016, it was announced that there would not be a feature length sequel and that an animated series would pick up where the movie left off instead. The series is set to premier on Disney XD and has set "Kim Possible" creators Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley to write and direct. Promotional art has shown that the series will be animated in 2D and will feature the most of the original voice cast reprising their roles, though Khary Payton and Brooks Wheelan will replace Damon Wayans Jr. and T.J. Miller respectively.

A teaser, in the heaviest sense of the word, was released, offering very little insight into the series besides a fall premier. The show's style will feature a more anime-influenced look due to its 2D approach and will follow Hiro and the team while they "embark on high-tech adventures as they protect their city from an array of scientifically enhanced villains.” Ahead of its premier, the show has already garnered a second season order.


Rocko's Modern Life

The second show that Nickelodeon announced would be returning was "Rocko's Modern Life," which, unsurprisingly followed Rocko in his modern life as he navigates the adult world with his best friend, Heffer. The fan-favorite show will be will be returning as a TV movie, much like "Hey Arnold!" and "Invader Zim."

The one-hour movie will reunite all the wacky inhabitants of O-Town, the fictional city in which Rocko resided. On the revival, creator Joe Murray said that he was excited to bring back the series and felt the return is less about nostalgia and more about the fact that the characters still feel relevant. He also teased that since the original series (which ran from 1993-1996) commented on life in the '90s, that the TV movie would comment on life in the 21st century. The plot of the movie will follow Rocko as he returns from being in space for 20 years to find a modern society full of technology-reliant people. There is currently no information on the release date of the revival.


Steven Universe Game and Soundtrack

Rebecca Sugar's "Steven Universe" took the world by storm early after its premier back in 2013 for it's depiction of gender politics, life-lessons and the many definitions of love. The show has both adult and children fans that follow the exploits of Steven Universe, a young half-human half-alien boy who spends his time going on adventure with the Crystal Gems, warriors of an ancient alien race who must protect the Earth from alien threats.

One of the show's most popular attributes is the music, specifically the songs the characters break out into and are written by creator Rebecca Sugar. The songs range through various genres and show off the singing talent of the voice cast, which includes British singer Estelle. Since the first few songs showed up in the series, fans have been asking for a soundtrack and at last their wishes are being answered. Prior to this news, a follow-up to the series' popular mobile game "Attack the Light" was announced for console release under the name "Save the Light." Though it is unknown when both products will be released, fans were elated at the announcements.


Gorillaz Series

The Gorillaz are a virtual band created by Blur singer Damon Albarn and "Tank Girl" co-creator/artist Jamie Hewlet. The band is comprised of animated members known as Murdoc Niccals, 2-D, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. The band first premiered in 1998 with their first animated music video "Clint Eastwood." From there, the band has premiered a number of other animated music videos and shorts that built a loose narrative to the world of the Gorillaz.

Since the beginning of the ambitious project, Albarn and Hewlet have pushed for a full-fledged animated Gorillaz project, hoping for a feature-length film of the strange, hip-hop infused alternative band. After many failed attempts, it was recently announced that a 10-episode TV series is in the works. This news comes hot off the trails of the release of their newest music video "Saturnz Barz" off their upcoming album "Humanz." The Gorillaz use animation technology and stand-in musicians to perform live and have recently announced a tour for their upcoming album.

Which animated series are you looking forward to the most? Tell us in the comments!

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