The Quick Report

Best Animated Movies for Adults

Some people hear the words “animated movie” and assume that must mean it’s for kids. And while cartoons are great for youngsters, the medium of animation is much richer and more exciting than just “kid stuff.” Here are the 15 best animated movies for adults!

Princess Mononoke

A screenshot from Princess Mononoke

Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

While cartoons have been seen as “childlike” in the West for decades, Japanese animation ranges from kid-friendly fare to darker, more adult-oriented tales. Studio Ghibli exemplifies this complexity well, with its somber and serious Princess Mononoke serving as a fantastical and moralistic treatise on humanity’s interaction with nature.


Image Credit: First Run Features

This bizarre reimagining of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was directed by Czech visionary Jan Švankmajer. It blends live-action actors and stop-motion animation for a surreal, unsettling screen presence that is anything but kid-friendly. It’s a fun reexamination of a story many adults are likely already familiar with.


A screenshot from Injustice
Image Credit: DC Animation

Injustice is an animated movie that retells the dark alternate history of the video game series of the same name. It goes a bit like this: after Lois Lane is killed by the Joker, Superman loses his cool and turns into a villain. And what can you do when Superman himself is a bad guy? Not much, it turns out.

Ghost in the Shell

Image Credit: Shochiku

Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg federal agent tasked with stopping The Puppet Master from hacking into the digitized brains of other cyborgs. This existential and moving anime film touches on cyberpunk themes and questions the existence of the soul, the purpose of morality, and what separates humanity from machines.

Mad God

A screenshot from Mad God
Image Credit: Shudder

Painstakingly created by legendary animator Phil Tippett over 30 years, Mad God is a nightmarish stop-motion horror movie with more style and creativity than you can imagine. It’s a vicious, perhaps even cynical film that shows empathy for its characters while still confronting them with the surreal unreality of their surroundings.


A screenshot from Akira

Image Credit: Toho Co., Ltd.

Akira changed the game in 1988, showcasing animation so fluid and visually arresting that the rest of the industry still hasn’t quite caught up. It’s a bleak sci-fi action movie that shows a vision of the far future—Tokyo in 2020, of course! The film oozes style and offers a thought-provoking narrative about humanity’s cruelty to itself.

The Wolf House

Image Credit: Globo Rojo Films

Chilean film La Casa Lobo, known in English as The Wolf House, is ostensibly a fairy tale about the dangers of leaving your cult’s compound to live among regular people. It’s presented as a fictional propaganda film for Colonia Dignidad, the Chilean Neo-Nazi camp that was created by German emigrants after the Second World War. The Wolf House’s bizarre meta-narrative nature makes it a deeply fascinating and unsettling film.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Image Credit: Bitter Films

It’s Such a Beautiful Day looks like a stick-figure Flash animation on first blush, but reducing this affecting film to its raw components is an insult. The movie follows Bill, a man suffering from an unnamed neurological condition that is impacting his daily life. A split-screen view shows animated stick figures on one side of the screen and stylistically over-exposed live-action scenes on the other.

Spirited Away

Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

Spirited Away is legendary due to its magical storyline, beautiful visuals, and charming characters. A young girl finds herself in a world of yokai and kami after her parents are suddenly transformed into giant pigs in an abandoned amusement park. Themes of consumerism, a return to a simpler era, and Japanese philosophies on waste and environmentalism make this more than a simple fairy tale.


Image Credit: Tohokushinsha Film Corporation

Sometimes you just want to push the engine as high as it will go and see what kind of speeds you can hit. That’s the ethos behind Redline, a sci-fi anime film that focuses on a race across a dangerous planet. If you’ve seen Death Race or Mad Max: Fury Road, that’s the kind of spirit on display here.


Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Charlie Kaufman’s films are known for being surreal and blunt in equal measure, offering unique insights into the nature of the human condition. His only animated feature, Anomalisa, is no exception, focusing on a lonely man who falls in love with a woman while they’re both staying at an odd hotel.

Loving Vincent

Image Credit: Attitude Film Distribution

Loving Vincent has a straightforward plot, but it more than makes up for this with its astonishing animation. Each frame of the film is an oil painting in the style of van Gogh, making any still frame from the movie a literal work of art. If you’re even remotely a fan of van Gogh’s paintings, you need to see this one.

The End of Evangelion

Image Credit: Toei Company

Fans were a little disappointed with the hasty, rushed ending of the beloved anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The follow-up film reimagines the final few episodes and things take a much darker turn than anyone could have imagined. Our giant robot-piloting heroes confront the end of humanity as we know it amidst the backdrop of overtly religious, existentialist themes. Was humanity ever meant to understand the vast cosmos?

Perfect Blue

Image Credit: Rex Entertainment

Mima Kirigoe retires from her role as a J-pop star to follow her dreams of becoming a famous screen actor. However, she has run-ins with a stalker who is obsessed with her J-pop persona and begins to regret her choice to pursue acting. Perfect Blue is regarded as one of the best anime films ever made and is director Satoshi Kon’s most well-known work.

Read More: 10 Underrated Sci-Fi Movies You Must See

Grave of the Fireflies

Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

Hauntingly beautiful and tragically sad in ways few films manage to be, Grave of the Fireflies is a mournful meditation on war. Set in Japan at the end of the Second World War, it follows teenager Seita and his young sister Setsuko in the aftermath of an air raid that claims their mother’s life. Be warned before you watch this movie, it will make you cry.

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