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10 Great Animated Films That Can Be Enjoyed More By Adults Than Children

21 July 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Gavin Miller

best animated films for adults

Animated films are often thought of as kid’s films, but in many cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many animated movies are in fact targeted at children, but then there are also those which cross into more mature territory, as well as those that cross the bridge and can be greatly enjoyed by both the older and the younger, Studio Ghibli and Pixar have carved out a reputation for these kind of films that can be enjoyed by all ages. This list is for the animated films made for grown-ups.

These films go places that many animated films wouldn’t dare go, and as many films on this list prove, animated movies can be equally emotional, equally exciting and equally amazing as live action cinema. It’s always a treat for cinephiles to see a movie go above and beyond; when a mature animated film can do that, it speaks louder than ever because of the genre’s typical content restraints and kid-friendly reputation. While some of the films on this list could be enjoyed by children, there can be appreciated more by teenagers and adults due to their subject matter, themes and sophisticated craft.


10. The Wind Rises

the wind rises

Hayao Miyazaki’s latest near-masterpiece is not a fantasy film like the director’s most iconic and popular works, but instead an often solemn and always mature look at a point of important Japanese history, as well as a life study of a young man named Jiro and his love for planes. Miyazaki evokes complex emotions here, combining surreal vignette-like dream sequences with realistic sequences depicting Japan during World War II, as well as a very moving romantic subplot that plays into the story in heartbreaking ways.

The Wind Rises is a fitting swan-song to one of the greatest animators, as he has said that it will be his last film. While mature children could enjoy The Wind Rises, there’s so much complexity in character, event and emotion here that grown-ups will appreciate even more.


9. Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell is a complex science-fiction tale set in the year 2029. Seeming to have taken inspiration from Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell tells a story of cyborgs and computer hacking, all beautifully and intricately animated.

While it may take a couple viewings to fully understand the complicated story, Ghost in the Shell is not a kid’s movie; it’s a dark sci-fi thriller and has its share of grisly violence. A must-see anime film, this is an intelligent, visually fascinating tale that young adults in particular can really enjoy.


8. The Triplets of Belleville

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

The Triplets of Belleville is a delightfully quaint and odd French animated film. It has no dialog, but the interesting animation style along with the wonderful music and unique mood make for an experience that puts you through a lot of emotions while being highly entertaining and ceaselessly engaging.

While children with long attention spans and an appreciation for non-American CGI animated film could really get into and enjoy The Triplets of Belleville, those with a greater understanding of the art of animation and a more mature movie-watching frame of mind will get more out of this beautiful film.


7. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Don’t get me wrong – Fantastic Mr. Fox is a wonderful film that can definitely be enjoyed by kids and younger audiences. That being said, the film is so idiosyncratic and so different from mainstream animated fare, that the film can be enjoyed equally by grown-ups. Wes Anderson brought all of his directorial trademarks into the mix here – his favorite actors, the colors, the music and the charm are all here in this delightful and funny animated tale.

Watching this film with more appreciation for the art of animation and understanding Wes Anderson’s quirks makes it a more complete and even more impressively realized experience. Kids will like the film because of the story and zaniness, but young adults and adults will understand what Anderson does differently, and why his special craft here matters so much.


6. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut

south park bigger, longer and uncut

A feature film of the popular television comedy South Park, this gleefully, hysterically obscene film is a raunchy, biting satire and one of the funniest animated films ever made. That being said, it’s definitely not meant for kids. Adults and young adults with a good sense of humor however, can appreciate the film’s satire of and commentary on America’s society and how we perceive problems in media and in our youth.

Maybe that makes this film sound way too deep… it’s anything but serious, but there is much potent satire to be found here, and Matt Stone and Trey Park’s writing is clever, intelligent and comedically unparelled.



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  • Terry Shannon

    A fairly solid list. You could easily have expanded out to 20-25 films. Watership Down and pretty much everything by Ralph Bakshi could make this list.

  • Gene E Hook Jr

    Where is the Plague Dogs?

  • Totoro

    Waltz with Bashir should have made it.

    • Kiddo might have not seen it as yet

  • Sanjeev Tiwari

    Rango ?

  • Stephen Hoover

    The Illusionist.

  • Marcos Obando

    What about L’Illusionniste?

    • Nick Weston

      Beautiful film

  • Anthony Terán

    When The Wind Blows

  • Jay Anthony

    Perfect Blue? Tokyo Godfathers?

    • RealBull

      Those two were amazing. It’s sad that they weren’t mentioned.

  • Leon Horka

    Fun fact: The ending of Akira was hinted by filmmaker Alexandro Jodorowsky to Ohtomo.

  • Theangelsofblood

    Starship Troopers: Invasion, or one of the Resident Evil (animated) films.

  • Max Decroix

    Good list, you can also add all of Kon Satoshi works here (Millenium Actress, Perfect Blue. Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika). I would include Jin Roh, Mindgame and Tekkon Kinkreet.

  • Nick Weston

    The Illusionist I would add to that list. Brilliant and heartbreaking

  • telekomanda

    grave of fireflies cannot be enjoyed by either one… it destroys you, great movie, but won’t be feeling good after watching it…

    • Davide Pasqualini

      That’s actually the purpose my friend

  • Libertina Grimm

    what do you mean 10? there are like 100000 movies and series that can be enjoyed more by adults or only by adults. they’re called anime

    • Joaquin Ferrazzi

      lol, you fucked up there, there arent even 15000 anime in total, let alone 100000 movies

      • Libertina Grimm

        lol I didn’t count them obviously I was just exaggerating to show there are plenty of anime

  • Jayce Fryman

    I’m thinking Heavy Metal in all of this.

  • Setna Strona

    What about Raplh Bakshi’s cartoons?

  • Adam McDaniel

    I’d add SECRET OF NIMH to this — a film that plays to adults as well as kids.

  • Brett Lovejoy

    I’m surprised Watership Down didn’t make the list.

  • What about 1973’s “La Planète Sauvage”?

  • Roger

    The Animatrix

  • lll

    Jan Svankmajer Bordel!

  • Reyni

    Where is the masterpiece “It’s such a beautiful day”??? :'(

  • Нена Петровић

    Great list! What about Paprika?

  • jkapsi

    I thought this was gonna be my first list that I have seen every item. Unfortunately missed 2. Noted for the future!

    • Nancy Hall

      I find myself adding to either to my Netflix queue or to the endless movie list in my head after reading some of these lists. I don’t think I’ve encountered one, yet, in which I’ve seen everything.

  • Benjamín Figueroa Riveros

    Fritz the cat

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    I can’t believe “South Park” is among all those masterpieces.