Animated Films for Grown-Ups

My list of good animated films for grown-ups appears today at The Morning News. Thanks to all the readers who sent in suggestions, especially Ahtitan (who is quoted in the article, under Grave of the Fireflies), Cam, Yael, Matt, Dave, Sean, John, and by long-time buddy Matt Olsen (previously seen here). Jake also wrote in to endorse The Venture Bro. and Archer; the focus of the piece was feature-length films, but I love both of these shows.

I will be on NPR’s KUOW Presents at 2:30 PST this afternoon, ruminating yet more about animated films. I’ll toss a link up here when the feed is available.

Update: Feed links can be found on this page.

10 thoughts on “Animated Films for Grown-Ups

  1. Miyazaki has actually done another since Howl’s Moving Castle, called Ponyo. Certainly worth watching, although the English-dubbed release suffers from abysmal music. However, if you watch it on DVD, there’s a hidden track that has the English dialog with the Japanese music — much better.

    I’d also highly recommend some of his earlier works if you’ve missed them. I personally prefer Nausicca, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky over Howl and Ponyo.

  2. Good list, Matt. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to convince ‘adults’ that animation can say things that no other genre can. Waltz With Bashir is an excellent example: that film, if it had been done live-action, would have been ridiculous, and all the subtlety of those first-person accounts would have drowned in a sea of quick-cuts and special effects.

    For the record, my Miyazaki order: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Nausicca, Howl, Kiki, Porco Rosso, Totoro, Castle, Ponyo.

  3. This is awesome (and you mentioned me! YAY!) – and I have to admit I have seen way too few of these movies. Need to amend that at some point.

    Spirited Away is the only Miyazaki I’ve seen so far, and it was really odd to see the trailer dubbed to English. Sounded wrong, somehow. It’s such a *Japanese* movie, that I can’t help but feel it sounds weird to have everyone speaking American English. And, well, it’s a weird movie, but this was the wrong kind of weird, yaknow? (I felt similarly about the Triplets of Belleville trailer, because it’s a very *French* movie, but it doesn’t matter as much since there’s so little dialogue anyway.)
    Ah well, at least the Waltz with Bashir trailer wasn’t dubbed. :)

    Oh, that reminds me, before I started nitpicking I was going to comment, about Waltz with Bashir, that I liked what you said about how it was received both as pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli (depending where you’re looking from), when actually it’s pretty much neither. Or both. It’s a description of events. My father, who actually served in that war as a medic, said that a lot of the descriptions rang true. And that’s a pretty good marker of how good a job this film does, for me.
    I also really like what Scopes Monkey Matt said about how animation was the only right way to do this. It’s true. A live-action would just be cheesy, and a lot like many other war films; the animation is a wonderful way to reflect the kind of story this is (i.e. someone chasing his memories).

  4. Our first Miyazaki film was Warriors of the Wind, which we saw in 1988. We found it on VHS later, and then it was later redubbed released as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. When I saw the Morning News image for Grave of the Fireflies I immediately recognised it as coming from Nausicaa so I first wondered if this film had been known by yet another name. But I viewed the video I saw that it was indeed from the Fireflies film, except for the section from 0:41 – 0:44, which was lifted straight from the Nausicaa film.

  5. Amazing list, thank you from an animation fan in Denmark who has trouble finding fellow adults who appreciate her weird interests … I have no quarrels with the entries, and of course you will always miss some … so if I can just one it will be among others ‘Tokyo Godfathers’, which can boast a true Christmas spirit although it’s not about Christmas. Oh, and by the way – if any of you want to see how long and touching a story a short animation can tell, try out this little gem: – in some ways it is reminiscent of the very moving introduction i Pixar’s ‘Up’ …

  6. Excellent list indeed and a very rounded selection. I only found you from so could not contribute to your list but may I suggest you check out michel ocelot’s absolute gem called Kirikou and the Sorceress (or even his latest Azur et Asmar) both amazing pieces of work which I am sure u ll appreciate. Thanks for the list.
    An animation fan from Greece

  7. Ooooh, personally I advise against Kirikou and the Sorceress. It feels refreshing at first — it certainly is not your average animated film — but it is slow, poorly drawn, and goes nowhere.

  8. Great list and I would add 2 more:

    Time of Eve
    By Yasuhiro Yoshiura

    A six part anime series that was featured on Yahoo Japan, later re-released as a feature film. It’s a spectacular riff off of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.


    Paprika (2006) by the late great Satoshi Kon

    Mindbendingly surreal. It tends to split audiences between the haters and the stunned.

  9. The last link is an example of a surprisingly mediocre list of animated films which has the occasional interesting comment from Terry Gilliam. I find it hard to believe he was involved in curating it.

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