The best foreign animated films

Published: January 21, 2015

These are in my opinion, the best animated foreign films for adults. These films are a prove that animated films can stand up to live action films, in terms of story, depth, and maturity. Most of these are not meant to be seen with children.

  1. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

    Very sad and beautiful film about a young boy and his little sister, as they struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. This movie may be hard to watch and emotionally draining, with it's realistic animation and character development. This is the most touching and beautiful animated film I have ever seen, and many find it hard to watch it more then once. I think this movie deserves to be seen at least one time, this is truly poetic a piece of art will surely make you feel sad and may bring you to tears.

    This movie shows that animation can be more then just for children, and not just silly cartoons.

  2. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

    Amazing science-fiction film that influenced, The Matrix. It's a stylish film set in the future, following a cyborg cop as she has to deal with a powerful hacker name "The Puppet Master". This film has great storytelling, filled with philosophical ideas, and intricate plot. It's a view into an advance futuristic society, dominated by cyberspace and high technology. With it's tasteful nudity, graphic violence, and complex ideas, this film is for a mature audience that enjoys to think and wonder about the ideas it brings up. 

  3. Akira (1988)

    Another complex sc-fi with a sophisticated story. It's a violent movie, that shows what happens when a secret military project falls in the wrong hands. This is a highly influential film, and has made a huge impact. It's hard to believe this move came out when it did, as it seems ahead of it's time. This movie is set in a futuristic Japan, rebuilt from the desctruction cause by World War 3. We follow a young man that is part of a biker gang, who starts developing psychic powers. He struggles to control it and try to figure out what is going on with him as he becomes godlike.

  4. Princess Mononoke (1997)

    From legendary directer Hayao Miyazaki, this film is an amazing work of art. It's a complex film that blurs the line between good and evil, and nothing is clear cut. It's a film that's truly mature and beautful for adults, yet still great for children. We see why the characters are doing what they do, and what actions they cause. This film has a great message to respect our environment and to protect it, which is the core idea of this story. 

    Both the English and Japanese subtitles are done greatly and is personal preference in the way you can watch it.

  5. Spirited Away (2001)

    Another film from director Hayao Miyazaki. This film has a lot of depth and benefits greatly from watching it a few times. It may seem like a wonderful children's fantasy at first glance, but it's much more. It's very imaginative with unique characters that make this film very creative. We follow a 10 year old girl that accidently wanders into a imaginative world, filled with gods, witches, monsters ,and demons.

    It's a magical masterpiece that shows why Miyazaki is the best at what he does. This film has won multiple awads and has become the largest grossing film in Japanese history. Both English Dub and English subtitles are done nicely.

  6. Millennium Actress (2001)

    This film is visually breathtaking and very surreal yet realistic. This story is about an actress who goes through her memories and career, as it blends from fantasy to reality. It takes elements of her life and the roles of some of her films and twist them as we explore her search for love. We see what happens through each stage of her life, and what personal challenges and self-realizations she underwent.

    We follow a director and his team of cameramen as he interviews the now elderly actress, who was very famous in her younger days. Together they explore her past and go through a wonderful journey.

  7. Memories (1995)

    A collection of three seperate science-fiction short stories by three different directors. All of them wonderful, that offer a different feeling with beautiful atmosphere. "Magnetic Rose" is the first story about an abandoned spaceship that contains a world made from one woman's memories. "Stink Bomb" is about a young lab assistant that transforms into a human biological weapon accidentally, and is on his way directly to the big city Tokyo. Last of these stories is "Cannon Fodder", it depicts what life is like in a city where it constantly fires cannons at an enemy it cannot see.

  8. Paprika (2006)

    A machine let's a therapist enter his patients' dreams to help them. Only it's stolen and chaos emerges as a young female therapist has to stop it. Very thought provoking film with amazing visuals, and mesmerizing soundtrack. The film has dark themes, although they are balance with light moments with come at the right moments.  

    This film blends the real and dream aspects in such a way that it can be done best through animation. It's done beautifully in a way that makes you wonder if what you are seeing, is dream or reality.


  9. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

    A wonderful heartwarming story about three homeless people, a young girl, a transvestite, and an older man who find a newborn baby on the street. Follow their journey while they try to find it's parents and deal with their own complicated lives, on Christmas Eve. Hana, the transvestite who sees the baby and longs to be a mother convices the others to keep it overnight, before starting their adventure to find the baby's home.

    Each character has complex personalities that show the workings of human shame and desperation, as we learn more about each of them and how they ended up homeless.

  10. Perfect Blue (1997)

    This film is about an actress who is stalked by an obsessive fan, and deals with her past. This is a  psychological thrillers that looks at the illusion of fame and the dark side of obsession can do. It's a very interesting film that's very intense and grabs your attention.

    Perfect Blue is a film for people who enjoy Afred Hitchcock, David Lynch, or Dario Aargento films. With a mature plot that is stylish and immersion, as you follow the main characters decent into paranoia madness.

    This film is much more enjoyable with Japanese dialogue and English Subtitles, over English dub.

These amazing films should be given a chance, even if you are not a fan of anime or think animated films are just for children. They are mature films that are every bit as good as live action films. With beauty, complexity, and deep stories that with stay with you.