Underwatched Animated Films I Recommend You See at Least Once in Your Life
EDIT: i didn’t expect this post to get so many notes. for the record, these are just my personal recommendations, not a definitive list of best underrated animation. i also did not include anything made by Disney. I know that they made some movies that didn’t get as much attention as their other hits, but lists of underwatched Disney films are pretty common, so I thought I’d make one of films by studios that aren’t household names.
Angel’s Egg (1985)
This movie is a nearly silent film with painstakingly beautiful frames and environmental details. All I can say is that it is a real piece of art worth watching and can be watched on YouTube here.
Les Triplets de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville) (2005)
An incredibly quirky, strange and humorous French film, also with almost no dialogue. The colors, creative storytelling, and almost caricature-like designs make the Triplets a must-see. The setting and timeframe is left sort of abstract, but it’s a clear transition from last-century rural France to the hustle and bustle of urban America. Lots of homage is paid to cartoons from the 1920s.
This movie, quite like the title says, blew my mind. It’s also incredibly strange and out-there, but the awkward imagery gives way to real emotion and huge payoff by the end. The colors and animation are delightful, and always tailored to the situation. It is an amazing intersection of an altered state, a love story, a struggle to get home, an existential trip, and an unlikely group of friends. I almost always cry when I watch this. Seriously, can’t stress this enough. There is absolutely nothing like Mindgame.
Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat) (2011)
Rabbi’s Cat is a French film based on a French comic by the same name. The comic artist also directed the movie. Honestly, the dialogue in this is unmatched. Both Cat and Rabbi are witty and have the best banter. The setting is one of the most unique and real-feeling I’ve ever seen a film take place in: a Jewish community in Algeria. It’s wonderful and incredibly charming, could not recommend more.
This movie hits me on a number of levels. I have so much love for the two orphans, Black and White. The story quickly becomes raw and almost difficult, as it touches on a lot of the feelings we see in things like Grave of the Fireflies, but in a much more abstract way and on a much grander scale. Also less sad, but there are very sad parts also. I guess the best way to describe this movie is intense. While there are a lot of sweet, domestic moments, none of the gruesome reality is sugercoated for you.
The visuals are all completely stunning; the art is on another level. Treasure Town is a rich, fantastical environment and the characters flow through it effortlessly, like water. You gotta see this at least once in your life.
Chico and Rita (2010)
An American/Spanish romance between an aspiring piano player and a young singer. The film opens in Cuba and has a vibrant and unique visual style while exploring a multitude of music styles and cultural backdrops. It’s touching and sweet, but does not erase the hardships of being a black music star in America or living through the Castro regime.
Ralph Bakshi is notorious for underappreciated gems. Wizards is set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world where magic is real and man has survived the radiation to evolve into fairies, elves, and dwarves. It’s a classic nature vs industry story with Bakshi’s unique spin. My favorite character is Necron 99, the assassin robot turned pacifist. I’ll warn you though, Bakshi films aren’t everyone’s taste (he’s responsible for Fritz the Cat, which against my better judgement I recommend as well).
Wizards was completed during the dark age of animation, and its fascinating to see how Bakshi gets around these limitations to produce something that grossed more than twice its budget.
Memories is a three part anthology based on three different manga short stories, Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. While the entirety of the movie is beautifully animated and worth the watch, the best of these is the first one. It is a mysterious, tragic sci-fi horror short film set in space and worked on by Satoshi Kon (so of course its amazing).