BY JOEL NNOGO
Animation as a medium has been largely popularized as a form of kid’s entertainment. The meteoric rise of studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks coupled with the dominance of Disney has in some way linearized the approach to animated feature films. The results can be disappointing especially when you consider how limitless the medium is, especially when contrasted to the bland repetitive live actions coming out of Hollywood. It seems every year we get another boss baby film and the people at the top really have no incentive to change this approach. They are moderately fun, family-friendly and easy to watch
However, there is a treasure chest of animated films that break this mould. They explore concepts that only mature audiences would resonate with while simultaneously delivering top quality animation. Animation as a medium deserves way more respect and here are 5 picks of adult animated films that you need to see asap
PERFECT BLUE (1997)
Satoshi Kon has made a name for himself as a director that likes confusing the audience using visual tricks and straight-up mind fuckery, this is more apparent in his 2006 film Paprika which ended up becoming the direct inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010). However, I have gone with Perfect blue for this list. So, what is perfect blue?
Perfect Blue is yet another intriguing and powerful exploration of the human psyche, this time in the guise of a complex thriller with elements of horror. We follow Mima, a retired Japanese pop idol whose world is turned upside down when she becomes stalked by an obsessed fan. Perfect blue is sprinkled with social commentary on the entertainment industry and it takes the concept of identity to the literal breaking point. LITERALLY
Persepolis has a lot going for it, its unique animation coupled with its amazing storytelling makes it not only a very interesting watch but a very informative one, considering its subject matter.
The story follows Marjane ‘Marji’ in 1970s Iran. We see through her eyes as she experiences the political and social dynamics of growing up in that era. Personally, I didn’t know anything really about the events leading up to the Iranian Revolution. Persepolis manages to make it as observer view as possible, centring mainly on Marji’s life with the events of the era playing as a backdrop. Being a Teenager in 70s Iran…. Spoiler, it wasn’t as fun
MARY AND MAX (2009)
A guaranteed tear-jerker, like I’m not kidding this joint will have you bawling from start to finish. Mary and Max’s only crime is looking like a harmless Wallace and Gromit cartoon but my word is it a hard watch.
Mary and Max follows Mary and Max, of course, two unlikely friends from different corners of the world. Mary, a lonely eight-year-old girl from Melbourne and Max, a lonely severely obese man from Manhattan. Mary finds a phonebook from Manhattan and randomly decides to write to Max, this begins a 20-year relationship.
It’s an emotional story about mental illness and embracing your flaws, all told through rich detail in a distinctive stop-motion animation.
Akira is fun, violent, intriguing and extremely original. Its influence alone on the animation scene cannot be understated. Still ranking as one of the most expensive animated films ever created even considering its 30+ lifespan it is immediately apparent why it holds up as a technical masterpiece. The visuals are lush, the colours are radiant, it looks like a fever dream.
The story follows Kaneda and his biker gang as they get mixed up in a secret military project that threatens a futuristic Tokyo City. If you ever doubted the sheer genius the anime medium could bring, this is a good starting point.
IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (2012)
Who could believe a stick figure could make me question someone’s purpose of existing?
Don Herdzfeldt’s 62-minute avant-garde animated film is difficult to describe. Firstly, nothing out there looks like it, its striking stick figures and monotone patterns sometimes coupled with real footage gives an eerie feel.
The plot centers on Bill, Just Bill and his degrading psyche only narrated by Don himself. The striking visuals and existential tone presented in a somewhat comedic matter is nothing short of amazing. Trying to explain it too much is pretty futile.
As cliché as it sounds, I believe this is one of the few films I can truly call “an experience”. Please find an hour of your time and see this, it could be one of the most unbelievable and meaningful and important experiences that a human being can have with a work of cinema