Animation has been an overlooked art form ever since its inception. Creatively, it is an unlimited medium, but it has been placed in some restricted boxes by commercial interests. When it’s done right, however, animation for adult audiences may be a great genre. Adult-oriented animation is always amazing, whether they focus on deeper human problems than kids’ movies dare to or merely feature graphic material you will never see in a family-friendly production. However, it was not until the ’70s that adults’ animated feature films had their spot at the table. Since then, although still relatively rare, there have been many excellent examples of what can be achieved when people over the age of 18 are aimed at by cartoons. Animation targeted at adult audiences is frustratingly rare because with a cartoon featuring talking animals, studios have a greater chance of making a profit. So, here are the best classic adult animated movies.
1. Heavy Metal (1981)
For his daughter, an astronaut takes home a glowing green orb. The green orb, though, wipes him out and, for its purposes, corners the girl. The malevolent sphere, identified as the Loc-Nar, claiming to embody supreme evil, terrorizes the little girl by displaying a series of weird and fantastic stories it has inspired. The presence of Loc-nar dominates every world and story, the sum of all evils projecting as a glowing green sphere whose presence infects all times, all dimensions, all galaxies. It looks to others as a treasure, a green jewel they must own. As a god, others worship it. Few could escape. Its powers persist both through death and beyond death. It appears to be invincible, from war to war and from world to world.
Heavy Metal is a science fantasy film directed by Gerald Potterton, produced by Ivan Reitman and Leonard Mogel in 1981, who also the publisher of the Heavy Metal magazine, which was the basis for the film. The animation captures the source material’s spirit. Heavy Metal is an anthology movie, leaning heavily into the graphic brutality and extreme nudity permitted by its R rating. Visually, this film has been extremely influential, with it being identified as an influence by directors from Guillermo del Toro to David Fincher.
2. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
The human body can be enhanced or even entirely replaced by cybernetic parts with the progress of cybernetic technologies in 2029. An often-mentioned word is ghost, referring to the body-inhabiting consciousness. Major Motoko Kusanagi is an assault team commander for New Port City’s Public Security Section 9 in Japan. Following an order from Section 6 Chief Nakamura, she successfully assassinated a diplomat from a foreign country to prevent the defection of a programmer named Daita. The interpreter of the Foreign Minister is ghost-hacked, presumably in an upcoming meeting to assassinate VIPs. Kusanagi’s unit follows the traced phone calls that sent the virus, assuming the perpetrator is the mysterious Puppet Master.
Its reputation might’ve been tarnished by its whitewashed live-action remake, but the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell film by Mamoru Oshii remains a timeless cyberpunk animation classic. Kazunori Ito wrote this movie on the basis of Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same name. The animation is beautiful and some challenging themes are touched on by the plot. The effect of the film on The Matrix trilogy was so powerful that the Wachowskis apparently pitched the idea to studios by screening Ghost in the Shell and telling executives that they wished to do that basically but in live-action.
3. Heavy Traffic (1973)
An animated feature that begins, ends and sometimes merges with live-action. A white dropout struggles, drawing inspiration from the harsh, gritty world around him, to create comics and animated films. Still sharing his run-down apartment with his middle-aged parents, an Italian father who is an oafish slob and a Jewish mother who is a ditzy nut-case, he is criticized and looked down on by his friends, hypocrites trying to run with violent gangs and the Italian Mafia, and a shallow black girl with pimps and pushers who makes her living downtown. iThis cartoonist has an opportunity to pitch a film concept to a movie mogul, but the plot is too outrageous.
Heavy Traffic is a 1973 American live-action comedy film directed and written by Ralph Bakshi for adult animation. The first of his movies to combine live-action and the distinct animation style of the director. Heavy Traffic is Bakshi’s early masterwork, which hailed him as a writer/director who could use the format of animation to tell a story strictly for adults, irreverent, surprising, violent, surprising, visually creative, and, above everything else, a blast to watch.
4. Fire and Ice (1983)
The evil Queen Juliana and her son, Nekron, send forth a wave of glaciers from their stronghold at Icepeak, forcing humanity to retreat south toward the equator. In order to request his surrender, Nekron sends a delegation to King Jarol in Firekeep, but this is a ruse orchestrated by Queen Juliana for the sub-humans of Nekron to kidnap the daughter of Jarol, Princess Teegra; Queen Juliana feels that Nekron should take a bride to produce an heir. Nekron, however, is enraged and rejects Teegra and his mother’s plan for the notion of peace.
Fire and Ice, directed by Ralph Bakshi, is a 1983 American animated epic high fantasy adventure film. The film is a Bakshi-Frank Frazetta collaboration. In his unofficial fantasy trilogy, Fire and Ice represents the final film. The film continued Bakshi’s use of rotoscoping techniques in the animated characters to achieve a realistic movement. In the final product, which is ostensibly an adult D&D game, the risk largely pays off. Fire and Ice, one of Bakshi’s most purely enjoyable films ever made, is a fun instalment in his filmography that has aged better than some of his earlier work.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Halloween Town is a world of fantasy filled with different holiday-related monsters and supernatural beings. In organizing the annual Halloween celebrations, Jack Skellington, respected by the citizens as the Pumpkin King, leads them. Personally, however, Jack has gotten tired, year in and year out, of the same regimen and wants something new. The next morning, wandering in the woods, he stumbles across six trees containing doors that lead to other towns representing different holidays and enters one which is shaped like a Christmas tree which leads to Christmas Town. Awed by the inexperienced holiday, Jack comes back to Halloween Town to demonstrate his findings to the residents, but they fail to comprehend the Christmas idea and compare everything to their Halloween ideas.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is an American stop-motion animated dark fantasy musical film directed by Henry Selick in 1993 and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. Santa is in great trouble here, aside from the fact that it is filled with a plot that sees Halloween creatures trying to create their own Christmas. Santa has been treated this way in no other film, almost getting killed by a monstrous creature full of bugs. It’s a scary idea, and from top to bottom, the film itself is creepy.
6. Wizards (1977)
A nuclear war devastated the Earth and it took 2 million years for the radioactive clouds to allow sunlight to reach the surface once again. The apocalypse has been survived by only a handful of humans, while the rest have changed into mutants who roam the radioactive wastelands. Eventually, the original descendants of humanity, fairies, elves and dwarves, resurfaced and lived for three millennia in peace in the idyllic land of Montagar. While her people were celebrating 3,000 years of peace, the queen of the fairies, their ruler Delia, fell into a trance and left the party. The fairies, puzzled, followed her home and found that she had given birth to twin wizards.
Wizards is an American post-apocalyptic science fantasy film animated in 1977, written, produced and directed by Ralph Bakshi and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Wizards is among his most cohesive efforts. The film, a post-apocalyptic fantasy tale, details a dispute between two brothers. The film is quite a niche in its adult audience target market, mixing cartoonish elves and fairies with grotesque mutant figures and footage of Adolf Hitler’s speeches. The film also represents the first entry in the canon of Bakshi that is not focused on urban street trials-and-tribulations.
7. Rock & Rule (1983)
In search of a very special voice whose frequencies can unleash a strong demon from another dimension, Mok, an ageing and legendary rock musician, is driven by his declining popularity to conquer the world with vengeance and immortalize himself in the process. He returns to his hometown of Ohmtown after roaming around the world searching for the right voice, a small, storm-ravaged village renowned for its unique power plant. Meanwhile, Omar, Dizzy, Angel and Stretch are performing in a small rock band at a nightclub. Mok hears Angel singing as she performs her romantic ballad to a mostly empty audience; he knows that when a ring he’s wearing responds to her voice, Angel has the voice he needs.
Rock & Rule is a Canadian animated musical science fantasy film, released in 1983 starring the voices of Don Francks, Greg Salata and Susan Roman. A movie with some smooth and trippy animation, an excellent score of rock and roll, and an adult tone that set it apart from children’s animated movies. It reads like a blend between the production of Ralph Bakshi and the film Heavy Metal, and that’s what it is, in essence.
8. Gandahar a.k.a The Light Years (1987)
Suddenly, the peaceful people of Gandahar are targeted by an automata army known as the Men of Metal, marching through the villages and capturing their victims by turning them into stone. They gather the resulting sculptures and then move them to their base. The Council of Women is ordering Sylvain to inquire in the capital city of Jasper. He meets the Deformed on his journey, a race of mutated beings who were accidentally created by Gandahar’s scientists through genetic experimentation. They are also targeted by the Men of Metal, despite their resentment, and offer to support Sylvain. Sylvain then saves Airelle, a woman from Gandah.
The English-dubbed Light Years maintains what would always have been a grim, self-important tone, as well as the topless, blue-skinned vixens that keep it from being the ideal family film. Gandahar is originally an animated French science fantasy film. Gandahar is based on The Machine-Men Versus Gandahar, a novel by Jean-Pierre Andrevon. The world-building, particularly the rich exoticness of the Gandahar civilization, is really impressive. Bioengineered solutions, for example, genetic altering birds to be image-transmitting scouts, breeding massive crabs as protectors and training mysterious beasts as planes, fulfil almost all of their needs.
9. Watership Down (1978)
The world was created in the Lapine language mythology by the god Frith. The animals were just grass eaters, living in peace. The rabbits multiplied, and a food shortage arose from their appetite. The rabbit prince, El-Ahrairah, was commanded by Frith to control his subjects but was scoffed at. Frith gave unique gifts to every animal in retaliation, turning some into predators to hunt the rabbits. Satisfied that El-Ahrairah has learnt his lesson, Frith offers the gifts of speed and cunning to rabbits. A rabbit seer named Fiver has an apocalyptic vision at the time, in a warren near Sandleford, and takes his older brother Hazel to plead the chief for evacuation. The boss dismisses them, and directs Captain Holly, head of the Owsla Police Force of the warren, to stop anyone attempting to leave.
Watership Down is a 1978 British animated adventure-drama film written, directed and produced by Martin Rosen and was a critical hit based on the 1972 Richard Adams novel of the same name. It is in the undercurrent of death and destruction in the film where the film exposes its horror. This is certainly not made for the younger crowd, as its terror is palpable and its powerful message could just go over their heads. This is certainly an animated film targeted at an adult audience.