For some reason, animated films aimed at adults aren’t as popular or broadly socially accepted as TV shows that appeal to the same age group. This may have something to do with Disney’s dominance in animation for children in the early days of animation as well as Pixar and DreamWork’s consoderable skill at making animated films which appeal to both kids and adults.
Regardless of why, I’m here this week to dedicate our journal to my favourite animated films for adults. So without further ado, grab yourself some popcorn, make sure the kids are in bed and read on.
Watership Down (1978)
Seems like everyone’s got that one mate whose parents accidentally left this on for them to watch which scarred them for life. To be fair to them, talking bunnies are usually pretty safe, but not in this harrowing tale.
Based on Richard Adams 1972 novel of the same name, Watership down follows the story of a group of rabbits who leave their warren after visions of destruction plague their runt seer Fiver. What follows is a greuelling, painful voyage across Hampshire to find a new home. Encountering tyranny, freedom as well as themes of the individual and corporate state, this tale is even thought of as “Perhaps... too dark”(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/richard-adams-watership-perhaps-made-dark/) by its creator, thanks Rich.
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
With a recipe of Philip K. Dicks creation containing drugs, multiple personality disorder and beautiful rotoscoping, A Scanner Darkly makes a delicious broth, before you even mention its tasty garnish of talent. Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson all star in this surreal, dream-like tale of a cop who loses himself in drug abuse and mental illness.
This was the first time I ever really saw rotoscoping of this quality before, it absolutely blew me away and you have to check out the trailer to really appreciate it.
Waltz with Bashir (2008)
This is a documentary film about Israeli director Ari Folman’s recollections of the 1982 Lebanon War during which over 3000 Palestinian refugees were murdered by the Christian Lebanese militia with the consent of the Israeli forces.
Waltz is pretty tough going content-wise but it is a really important and powerful storytelling experience that draws upon a mixture of traditional and flash animation which you will thank yourself for watching.
A memoir by Marjane Satrapi which follows a little girl’s struggle to express herself and survive the repression during the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979.
A bold and expressive monochrome cartoon style proves to be a punchy and engaging medium through which to tell such an important and infrequently explored story for a Western audience.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
One of the greatest sci-fi animated movies ever and an anime masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell takes you into the distant 2029(!) where information warfare, artificial intelligence and cybernetic organisms abound.
The sprawling, dirty, technologically rich fictional New Port City in which the movie is set has its real-life inspiration from Kowloon Walled City, an incredibly densely populated city in Hong Kong. It is a grisly, dystopian look at the future of our civilisation and an utterly compelling watch too. With a new live action one out this year starring Scarlett Johannson, you have no excuse not to brush up on the original now!
Sausage Party (2016)
We should all know this one, after all, it only came out last year. For those of you that missed it, this is a 3D animated film by the people behind This is the End, most notably Seth Rogen. It follows the story of anthropomorphised foodstuffs as they undergo a journey from shop to house and come to the realisation that humans aren’t giving them a new home but, gulp, eating them.
It’s a fun movie bursting with toilet humour and sexual innuendo that mocks the Disney trope of projecting feelings onto inanimate objects. You, as well as the characters here, quickly realise why it’s messed up when you give feelings to your food...
Princess Mononoke (1997
I almost picked Grave of the Fireflies as my Ghibli representative but it’s just too darn depressing I cried all over my keyboard just contemplating it and decided that it wasn’t worth the fees in water damage.
I plumped with Mononoke because it’s rightly popular but not overtly aimed at kids. The classic Studio Ghibli environmental message is as strong as ever in this lush, colourful movie with themes of corruption, betrayal and helplessness at its core. Those of you that enjoyed Spirited Away will adore this.
This movie is so brave from a visual standpoint. It had my jaw on the floor when I first saw the trailer, I had to watch the whole thing immediately.
Paprika is like an anime version of Inception. Set in the near future where scientists can not only observe but actually enter their patient’s dreams, Doctor Atsuko Chiba begins using the dream machine illegally to try and help her psychiatric patients. What follows is a bonkers, surrealist sci-fi adventure unlike anything you’ve likely seen before in animation.
Excuse us, time for our stop-motion fix. After hearing that this is from the creators of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, you know you’re in for an absolute treat.
It’s a very endearing, very human and very thought provoking story about a man whose perception on humanity changes once he meets a woman in an unassuming Cincinnati hotel. It’s one of those that you watch and just need to sit by yourself for a bit to process, you know?
A Japanese science-fiction anime that was doubtless a huge number of Westerners first taste of anime but also marks a massive landmark for Japanese animation itself too. Many consider Akira the greatest animated and the greatest science fiction movie ever made, dual accolades that are hard to argue once you’ve feasted your eyes on it.
Set in a cyberpunk, dystopian Neo-Toyko in the distant future, the year 2019(!!!), Akira follows members of a biker gang that crosses a violent state defence force as well as a psychic-producing facility. This movie left a huge legacy in its wake, boasting citations of major influence on The Matrix, Looper and even Stranger Things, to name a few.
I know that this list has already outed me as a bit of a sci-fi geek (which I embrace!) but do yourself a favour and read the excellent Manga series. It provides more backstory and extended narrative than you can shake a laser rifle at.