Don’t get us wrong: by no means do we intend to imply that animated movies are for the kids. If anything, we are devout believers in the universality of the audience of the genre. But it isn’t unknown that the animated movies have an instant appeal to the kids. Which is why they are often peppered with simple stories and great lessons, to imbibe humane virtues in kids without making it seem like a burden. Teaching and preaching, as they’d say. But as adults, with that refined sense of comprehension, we are better able to look beyond what the magic and enamour of the CGI.

We are not saying that a grown-up’s choice of animated movies has to be a didactic, or layered plot. Movies like Finding Nemo, Up, Ratatouille, among others rank high not just on the adorable meter, mind you. They sure contain important moral lessons for the kids, but on a good day, they can also manage to fill up a victim of mid-life crisis with hope, awe and some great unseen insights

Then there are animated movies like Corpse Bride and Nightmare, best described as ‘queasy’ for the lack of a better word. Secretly, we all also love the Smurfs and the Minions, but let’s not make this a confession post. Without further ado, here are our handpicked selection of animated movies that’d make sense to an adult, with metaphors that are meaningful than trivial. And no, none of these belong with the likes of Sausage Party. That’s one way you know this list isn’t trash.

The Classics

1. Mulan (1998)

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Synopsis:

At its core, it is a simple story of a girl who goes beyond limits to save her ailing father from being drafted into the Chinese military. She is a fast thinker, and resourceful, fighting the patriarchal regime.

What makes it worth it?

This was Disney’s closest attempt to have a dialogue on feminism. It is almost as if Disney took a U-turn: the prince is not saving the sleeping beauty. A daughter is standing up for her father, and i the process fighting the system. It is also the first animated cross-dressing incident. It was released in 1998, so I will forgive the deluge of political correctness. Definitely food-for-thought for adults.

2. Porco Rosso (1992)

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Synopsis:

Before we had planes to be hijacked, there were ships that pirates would attack. So when in the 1930s Italy wealthy cruise ships are terrorized by pirates, Porco Rosso rises to the occasion. TO make things curious, Rosso turns out to be a former World War I flying ace who was somehow turned into a pig during the war. The hero gets 2 friends as his sidekicks, and together they prove their mettle.

What makes it worth it?

Well, for starters, it is a fun reminder of the original definition of piracy. Jokes apart, the hero is really unlikely: I would imagine an infallible person, especially in an animation, but it isn’t the case. It is actually a very raw and real depiction. The fiesty, quirky female sidekick is like the Hermoine of this world: braver and more resourceful than her male counterparts. That instantly makes her a favorite.

The Ones adapted from novels

1. Persepolis (2007)

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Synopsis:

It is based on Marjane Satrapi’s phenomenal memoir of the same name. A free-thinking Iranian girl tries to live through the repression that followed the revolution. It is a beautiful story, and the graphic novel is a force to be reckoned with. She’s in permanent rebellion with the regime, with the more privileged, and with her own self.

What makes it worth it?

It is a coming-of-age tale. And while I was apprehensive that the cinematic adaptation might ruin the sanctity of the book, the execution in black-and-white is immensely moving.

2. Coraline (2009)

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Synopsis:

The genre is completely different: this one is a dark fantasy horror movie based on Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel of the same name. The adventurous girl Coraline discovers a secret door, and we all know how it goes from there. In this case, there’s no Narnia, but an alternate world.

What makes it worth it?

Look, there’s the fear of ghosts, but the real fear is the fear of the unknown. Gaiman wrote a story which feeds on the fear of something we don’t understand the working of.

Post- Apocalyptic Anime

1. Akira (1988)

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Synopsis:

The story is set in dystopian Neo-Tokyo. The fictional tale follows the city 31 years after being nuked, and a bike gang leader is set to expose the secrets of the government. In the present context, with uncertainty about leadership, this movie is a great watch as the protagonist fights anti-government activists, greedy politicians, irresponsible scientists and a powerful military leader.

What makes it worth it?

It is a seminal anime work, it set a standard for upcoming anime. The animation is, for the lack of better word, jaw-dropping. The movie defines the zeitgeist, and you cannot say that for a lot of movies.

2. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

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Synopsis:

The movie follows a brother and sister trying to survive after Allied forces firebomb their Japanese hometown in WWII.

What makes it worth it?

The protagonists are kids, sure. But the heart-wrenching fabric of the movie makes it for a perfect sob watch. The title is itself such a foreshadowing. Wars are always full of tragedies, and this is one of them.

The Emotional Rollercoasters

1. Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

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Synopsis:

A deal with the devil is an actual thing. A peasant woman is banished from her village. She then strikes this deal and gets magical powers. But itis never as simple as that, is it?

What makes it worth it?

The artistic aesthetic and the emotional imperatives tore my heart- so I suggest you undergo the same experience.

2. Chico and Rita (2010)

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Synopsis:

A Cuban pianist becomes smitten with a sultry singer, leading to a passionate but star-crossed romance that reaches across six decades. We often talk about the broken lives of jazz music, and the consequent mess of the broken lives of jazz musicians. It is like the successful representation of a long, star-crossed love affair, the one that ‘One Day’ failed to create.

What makes it worth it?

Cuban vibes from the Havana of the 40s and 50s.

Some surprises

1. Waking Life

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Synopsis:

The movie is a dream about reality- what we call “existence” is really a zone between what life is and what we imagine it to be. It is certainly not a movie everyone will appreciate all the time- but you’ll be addicted if you acquire the taste for it.

What makes it worth it?

Remember the Before series? Richard Linklater is known to give his work an absorbing character- this one is no exception. Also recommended A Scanner Darkly, another Linklater creation.

2. Loving Vincent (2017)

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Synopsis:

We all know that the problematic idea of a tortured genius often includes Van Gogh, one of the most exceptional painters. We don’t know till the day what mental illness Gogh was suffering from. Set in 1890 France, this movie explores this and does justice to the painter’s life and talent.  

What makes it worth it?

It is the world’s first fully painted feature film. After a long time there is some experimental departure from the norm in the world of animation. To add to it, it is an autobiographical animation of a great, great artist.

Adult. Psychedelic adult. Cult

1. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

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Synopsis:

The movie is an experimental black comedy-drama divided into three chapters. It follows the story of a stick figure called Bill. Bill, see? It can get no more generic than this. But while the movie brings its own brand of offbeat humour, the premise is a serious one. Bill is showing symptoms of a degenerative brain disorder.

What makes it worth it?

It is Don Hertzfeldt’s work, by and by. A one-man army, if you will. The movie deserves to have a larger cult following. It has the holy trifecta: critical acclaim, numerous awards and our recommendation.

2. Yellow Submarine (1968)

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Synopsis:

The town of Pepperland is under attack by some nasty, music-loathing creatures. The leaders enlist the help of the Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr) who ride a yellow submarine to the occupied Pepperland, where the Blue Meanies will face the musical excellence.

What makes it worth it?

You’re still asking? The Beatles!

So, watch these movies because animated movies are not only for kids but adults as well!

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