grave of the fireflie

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.

Mindgame (2004)

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.

Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

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. 

Wizards (1977)

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 (1995)

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). 

Ghibli Movies according to the Internet (SPOILERS)

When Marnie was there: When Anna was Accidentally Gay for her Grandma

My Neighbour Totoro: 1st ever Ghibli Movie

Spirited Away: 2nd 1st ever Ghibli Movie

Princess Mononoke: Scary Deer Jesus

Pom Poko: Balls

The Cat Returns: Everyone’s Unexpected Furry Awakening

From Up On Poppy Hill: You May be My Brother But I’d Totally Do You

Ponyo: The Little Mermaid But With Kindergartners

Grave of the Fireflies: Greatest Movie Ever Made That You’ll Never Watch Again

Only Yesterday: Greatest Ghibli Movie Ever Made That Barely Anyone Has Ever Watched (j/k: Best Ending Ever)

Whisper of the Heart: I Wish My Teenage Life Was This Idyllic

Kiki’s Delivery Service: Too Many Bloomer Shots

Laputa: Castle in the Sky: Falling From Terrifying Heights: The Movie

Howl’s Moving Castle: The One With The Hot Bishounen

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Fucking Moon People

One of the biggest tells that The Academy doesn’t respect animation is that “Animation” is considered a genre unto itself.

Animation is so much broader than a single genre:

You’ve got Westerns

You’ve got Action/Horror

You’ve got Murder Mysteries (or whatever the heck this show was…don’t look into it if you’re faint of heart, believe me. There’s animal death.)

Then there’s your crime dramadies/buddy films

And a LOT of Social Commentary

There’s Zombie Movies

Super Hero flicks

And of course, there’sChicken Run

PLUS the post that inspired this, going over all the great genres JUST IN DISNEY FILMS

Conclusion: Animation is a different medium, not a genre.

Studio Ghibli Sentence Meme
  • “Now I have something I want to protect. It’s you.”
  • “I’m not afraid to die!”
  • “You cannot change fate. However, you can rise to meet it, if you so choose.”
  • “They say that the best blaze brightest when circumstances are at their worst.”
  • “Fear and anger only make it grow faster.”
  • “I think I can handle it.”
  • “Here’s another curse for you - may all your bacon burn.”
  • “Don’t worry! Stay right where you are, I’m coming to get you! You’re gonna be fine, I won’t let him hurt you.”
  • “I need something of yours. How ‘bout your eyes?”
  • “We gotta get out of here! We’re gonna get in trouble!”
  • “You, you sabotaged me! Look! Look at what you’ve done to my hair! Look!”
  • “No more killing. It has to stop!”
  • “You sound ghastly, like some 90-year-old woman.”
  • “Guys, don’t take that food! We’re gonna get in trouble!”
  • “Fight ‘em! C’mon!”
  • “Smile so we can make a good impression.”
  • “We each need to find our own inspiration. Sometimes it’s not easy”
  • “I finally get a bouquet and it’s a goodbye present. That’s depressing.”
  • “Life is suffering. It is hard. The world is cursed. But still, you find reasons to keep living.”
  • “Sorry, it looks like you’re involved.”
  • “Oh, my baby! Are you all right? Are you emotionally traumatized?”
  • “Now I’m trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it.”
  • “Leave before it gets dark.”
  • “Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can’t remember.”
  • “Cut off a wolf’s head and it still has the power to bite.”
  • “It’s all so familiar yet I know I’ve never been here before. I feel so at home.”
  • “Now I’m trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it.”
  • “I suggest you surrender. There is no ship coming to rescue you.”
  • “I had no idea that my rage could drive me to kill.”
  • “These days, there are angry ghosts all around us - dead from wars, sickness, starvation - and nobody cares.” 
  • “A heart’s a heavy burden.”
  • “Please! You must stop!”
  • “Well, well, well… hello kitty.”
    “You can’t be busy - you’re five!”
  • “So you say you’re under a curse? So what? So’s the whole damn world.”
  • “ I have really had enough of your incredible stupidity.”
  • “Lamebrain! They made an escape! Now step on it!”
  • “I didn’t want them to kill you.”
  • “It’s fun to move to a new place. It’s an adventure.”
  • “Welcome the rich man, he’s hard for you to miss. His butt keeps getting bigger, so there’s plenty there to kiss!”
  • “You shouldn’t be here! Get out!”
  • “He said Mom was ugly, now go get him!”
  • “Kill him and you’ll be famous.”
  • “I’ve seen him do this once before when a girl dumped him.”
  • “S/He’s alive. There goes that dream.”
  • “That was the night I died.”
  • “I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.”
  • “You don’t remember your name?”
  • “Don’t be afraid, I just want to help you.”
  • “Poor kids. I’ll really miss them.”
  • “I don’t fight for honor. I fight for a paycheck.”
  • “ No, No, No! Don’t do this! Help! Help! Crazy lady with the shovel!”
  • “She was once quite beautiful, so I decided to pursue her, then I realized she wasn’t, so then, as usual, I ran away.”
  • “You’re in love. Don’t deny it, you’ve been sighing all day”
  • “She never woke up again.”
  • “You blubber heads! I’m not runnin’ a luxury cruise! Now get to work!”
  • “Why does everything that’s good for you have to taste so bad?”
  • “Whatever you don’t want me to clean, better hide it now!”
  • “This is our little secret. You tell anyone and I’ll rip your mouth off.”
  • “I give up. I see no point in living if I can’t be beautiful.”
  • “If I lose my magic, that means I’ve lost absolutely everything.”
  • “ It’s… you’re scaring me. I have this weird feeling you’re going to leave. ”
  • “There’s a demon inside you.”
  • “Don’t get alarmed but I’m being followed. Act normal.”
  • “Don’t worry, I’ve got four-wheel drive.”
  • “This is what hatred looks like! This is what it does when it catches hold of you! It’s eating me alive, and very soon it will kill me!”
  • “Smooth. Very smooth. You definitely know how to make a good first impression.”
  • “Everyone fears their own mortality.”
  • “Play with me or I’ll break your arm!”
  • “I gotta get out of this place. Someday I’m getting on that train.”
  • “Wait give us a minute! This is clearly harassment.”
  • “Why do fireflies have to die so soon?”
  • “There you are, sweetheart. Sorry I’m late. I was looking everywhere for you.” 
  • “When you’re going to kill a god, let someone else do your dirty work.”
  • “Why did you stop me from killing her?”
  • “When I saw you, I just wanted to find a way to protect you.” 
  • “One thing you can always count on is that hearts change.”
  • “Tell me while you’re still alive!”
  • “This is a tomb for the both of us.”
  • “If nobody comes in, I’m gonna have to eat pancakes forever and be fat, fat, fat! And what am I supposed to do about that?”
  • “Even if you were a woman, you’d still be an idiot!”
  • “What do you say we give 'em a little demonstration of how fast we can run, huh?”
  • “HAM!”