May 16 2012

7 Animated Movies Clearly Not Aimed At Children

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Movies

With the exception of anime (which I am leaving off the list, or we would be here all day), the biggest misconception people make when it comes to animated films is that they are all made with the intent of having  children as their target demographic. In some cases, that could not be further from the truth. Animation is an incredible medium in which to tell a story, and some directors realized that, at the time, they could do more (and get away with more) using animation than they  could shooting the same story, live action.

Also, the certain simplistic animation techniques that could be implemented were time saving and money saving (rotoscoping), even if the ends results were, at times, not pretty. And though the animation could be weak at moments, the intricacies of these tales often revealed themselves over time, and not upon initial viewings. As a child, I went at some of these with the “it’s animated, so it must be made for me” mentality, and the end result was me being traumatized by a few of these. In hindsight, though, now I can see just how subversive and brilliant some of these films are. Ofcourse, as is the case with any medium, some of these are shocking just to be shocking, so the beauty here is digging deep, and finding the diamonds among all the coal.

Fritz the Cat

Yes, you will see a few Ralph Bakshi films on this list, as I am sure you were somewhat aware. If I were a bit lazier, I could have done ONLY Bakshi movies, and been done with this list in ten minutes, but I decided to focus on only a few of his films, and try to capture a bit of a wider range. But as far as cartoons aimed at adults, he is the innovator, and Fritz was the forerunner.

For the uninitiated, Ralph Bakshi was pretty much the anti-Disney. He made independent, adult-oriented animated films. And though he has many to his name, and a bit of a cult legacy, it all began with his first film. An animated version of the much loved Robert Crumb comic strip, Fritz the Cat, which was released in theaters in 1972. It was also the first animated film to ever receive an X rating.

Yes, Fritz the Cat was an X rated cartoon that was released in theaters, although not many.

The best way you can describe Fritz the Cat if you watched it right now is it is a sex and drug fueled comedy that fears no taboo and takes pleasure in crossing lines that few would fear to tread. It is racially insensitive, politically incorrect, and honestly, a little uncomfortable to watch. Well, at times, a lot uncomfortable to watch. Rape scenes in cartoon are not cool, which is why there are so few of them in old Looney Tunes cartoons anymore.

Are there awards for most racist thing ever? Because this pic would win one.

That being said, this movie was a wake up call to people who really did think that animated films with talking animals were only done by Disney.

In Fritz’s world, animated character would literally be “done” by Disney.


While Fritz the Cat was just a little too over the top for me, Bakshi would go on to blow my mind eleven years later, with…

Fire and Ice

Inspired by the “too awesome I cannot find the proper words to sum it up” fantasy artwork of the immortal Frank Frazetta, and an actual collaboration between the two artists,  Fire and Ice was a somewhat typical sword and sorcery movie. Regardless of that, when you see that movie at nine years old, and up to that point all you knew were Mickey and Donald, it can be a pretty life changing moment . My father is an artist, and was a huge fan of Frazetta, which is why I was lucky enough to see this movie with my older brother and my Dad when I was so young.

This is Frank Frazetta’s art. Death Dealer might be one of the greatest paintings ever. If I had a van, this would SO be on the side of it.

Fire and Ice it had everything that made movies awesome to me: Axes, Ice Queen’s, Ogres(or orcs or trolls or subhumans whatever you choose to call this particular version) breast physics, feminine, long haired heroes (I was a weird kid), badass sidekicks with a vague moral compass who chooses to fight for good, killing, ice mountains, lava lakes, buxom calendar girl type damsels, and animation. Hell, most of those STILL meet my requirements for a perfect film.

Also, finding out Robert Rodriguez bought the rights to the film and is remaking it is what inspired this list. The film has begun to show it’s age, and I can only imagine what type of madness Rodriguez will inject into the it when he gets his hands on it.

This already has that Robert Rodriguez feel to it.

Also, funny trivia fact: Thomas Kinkade  (who recently passed, and was famous for all those Bob Ross type nature paintings that end up on candles) painted quite a few of the backgrounds in this film. So Ralph Bakshi, Frank Frazetta and Thomas Kinkade walk into a bar. Sounds like the opening of a nerd joke that has no punchline.

Watership Down

Let’s go see an animated movie about talking rabbits, they said.

It will be adorable, they said.

They lied! But what the movie lacked in cute, it made up for in badass, so it is OK.

Ever since Thumper in Bambi, I have loved animated, talking bunnies (please do not comment about the differences between rabbits and bunnies. I know….), so it only made sense to us that I would want to see a movie that was FILLED with animated, talking bunnies. Well, imagine my horror when the bunnies started killing each other. Well, it isn’t that simple, but it does get there.

It is a movie about a pilgrimage some rabbits make, and the hardships they encounter. From the politics between the rabbits themselves, to issues as heavy as death, the movie is unexpected, but utterly engrossing.

Now despite the fact that the film messed up my young mind at the time, watching it now, it captivates me. I still feel like it handles death with more grace than most movies do, and that scene when Simon and Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes is playing just a truly breathtaking moment in a film, and it is a moment where you completely lose sight of the fact that this movie is animated. Rarely do animated movies summon emotions like this in a viewer for as long of a time as this film does.

in hindsight, the movie poster should have acted as a warning to my young mind.

You know that feeling you got when Bambi’s Mom gets shot? Yes, this movie is that feeling, the whole time. But that does not make it a bad film. It is emotional and exhausting at times, but there are also moments of true beauty and brilliance, and it is worth the journey just to see how it plays out.

BUT, it is said, you cannot talk about Watership Down without talking about….

More Unreal Posts

52 responses so far

  • Nick

    Haven’t heard of some of these, I’ll check them out.

    A couple of other animations not aimed at children:

    Chico and Rita – a love story and the rise of Latin music

    Waltz with Bashir – about the Israel/Lebanon war

  • Tyson

    Beavis & Butthead to America.. Sough Park, Bigger Longer & Uncut…

  • rearadmir0l

    Ummm…. Urotsukidōji , Legend of the Overfiend.
    We grabbed it at the local Blockbuster, thinking “Hey… We liked Ninja Scroll, lets try this!”

    WOW. As wikipedia says ( which we didnt have in ’92):
    Hideki Takayama took great artistic liberties with the Urotsukidōji story, mixing elements of horror, violence, and sadistic scenes of rape not present in the original work

  • mark johnston

    not animated, but puppetry- surely belongs on this list of not for children if in a style associated with children….

    Meet the Feebles

    –how Mr. Jackson ever got all those billions for the tolkien series after making feebles amazes me. Surely they watched every movie he ever made before giving him 285 million dollars… and feebles was one of them…..

  • drpepper92

    Good picks. Watership Down was a favorite of mine ever since I saw it as a kid. I ended up loving the novel as a grown up. I can’t say the same for the Plague Dog’s book. I cannot get through it because the two characters depress the shit out of me. I totally feel We3 was made so the author could get over what he experienced while reading Adams’ effed up novel.

    And yes! Heavy Metal rules! Fifth Element recycling and all. Not just the cabbie was copied but the whole thing, the chic (even her looks) popping out of nowhere needing help, the city’s look, hell even the Evil Orb was lifted from HM.

    I love both flicks though.

    I have to recommend Vampires in Havana (1985), on Netflix Instant. I saw it as a college student and I remember it being a lot of fun.

    Rock and Rule (1983) was also a favorite growing up. Mutants, sex, drugs and some very cool songs by Lou Reed, Cheap Trick and Debbie Harry.

  • RemyCarreiro

    ^ I love Peter Jackson’s old stuff, Bad Taste was pretty awesome as well. Muppet killing sprees need to be seen by more people.

  • john v.

    A buddy of mine used to get seriously offended when people called Heavy Metal a cartoon. He would say, “It’s an ANIMATED FEATURE!” It became a running joke.

  • Straenge

    I always felt Heavy Metal was very under-rated for it’s time but another honorable mention I think would be Gandahar which was even better then Wizards, imo.

    I am also glad I was not the only one that saw the similarities between Heavy Metal and the Fifth Element. Actually, one could say the same with Gandahar and Avatar.

  • Sara C.

    Another great article, Remy! Seriously love your posts. Have you seen American Pop? It’s another Bakshi (personal idol of mine, back when I wanted to grow up to be an animator), and it’s a fantastic history of American music told by following four generations of the same family. Killer soundtrack, as you might expect.

  • nimmy

    Another movie for this list would be Felidae, a cat investigateing cat murders.

  • RemyCarreiro

    Regarding the list (and the beyond stellar recommendations), it started as five movies, then it went to six, and then seven, and then I HAD to stop myself, or I could have gone on for days. I kept it Disney free because I felt like too many lists use the “Bambi’s Mom” trope and I wanted to avoid that. Great calls on Rock N Rule and American Pop. Thought I might lose some people with the music, but I adore both of those films for entirely different reasons. Grave of the Fireflies was another one that was tough for me to leave off, but that would have opened the door for Anime, which would have made this list another 200 entries too long.
    @ Sara C, thank you very much. Feel like some of you have become like family over the last few months (as silly as that sounds) and I appreciate the constant support. Does not go unnoticed. We are all very like-minded, which makes this place more like a neighborhood full of cool people than an actual website.
    @ Nimmy, you just intrigued the hell out of me. Must go find that film right now….

  • Mr Jim

    Grave of the Fireflies. Man, that is a depressing film.

    Also, although I haven’t seen it: When the Wind Blows.

  • Loon

    I don’t know if anyone pointed this out, but Crumb hated the movie version of Fritz the Cat and actually kill the character off with an ex-girlfriend stabbing him in the back and head.

  • trashcanman

    Pretty much could have put all of Bakshi’s films on here. Fun fact: Wizards actually was made specifically for children. That’s how Bakshi does children’s films. I know, right?

    • Danny Lafontaine

      lol children yeah right

  • Jake Fortner

    Really don’t like Fritz the Cat. I’m not one of those”I didn’t get it, therefore I don’t like it” kind of guys, either. I thought it was interesting, and I like what it was trying to do with it’s sick and biting satire of beatnick culture in the 60s, but, much like Fritz’s creator Crumb’s opinion, I found it to be unfunny for the most part (like you said, it’s very unsettling) and I thought it was very pessimistic. Like, drowning in it. It was constantly showing you a repulsive look on life for fun, but it never felt insightful, just angry.

    I’d probably recommend it though just for how very different it is, but I’m not a fan. Good list though!

  • Remy Carreiro

    I agree with you guys and Crumb, Fritz that was put on film lost ANY of the charm of the comic character, and ended up just being smutty and racist for the sake of being shocking. @Jake Fortner, very well put.

  • Murderface

    The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Sex and violence, Rob Zombie style. Best animation ever.

  • bloodandmetal

    ninja scrolls is the best animated movie everrrr..even after all these years its still looks amazing..

    theres a storm coming….

  • Giauz

    Wizards sucked. I’m sorry, but it was a mess (bad animation, wooden dialogue, a straightforward story but choppilly put together, and it put racy bits in just to crap on the movie even more). Also, there is no way it was aimed at children (I cringed just watching by myself, about age 22 at the time).

  • Asogan

    Robotech anyone? Sure it’s an anime rehashed for US audiences but as a kid I was shocked at all the death. And kissing and stuff. And I still despise Min Mei.

  • James

    Twice Upon a Time. More recently, I would recommend 9, with Elijah Wood.

  • Wayne Talbot

    I wouldn’t count Waking Life an animated movie, as its a movie acted out then rotoscoped. Shouldve included something like Starchaser:the legend of Orin or maybe even the likes of Akira or Ghost in the Shell

  • ergreth

    Why do people think if its animated its for childeren? People are stupid

  • dreamstrider

    Don’t forget about Cool World

  • Reynaldo K. Cruz

    Secret of Nimh.

  • Remy Carreiro

    @Wayne, even if people do not consider rotoscoping animation, it is still animation. I wasn’t doing any anime or manga titles or we would have been here all day. Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Grave of the Fireflies, Perfect Blue. I almost put Starchaser, but that film is so bad I am afraid I would be laughed off the web.
    @ Reynaldo, great call. I adore that film….

  • Dama

    There was this movie with brad pitt that jumped back and forth between animation and reality I dont remember what its called but I know that was not for children. It was really good though.

  • Ali M

    Great article and a few I am going to have look out for, particularly Plague Dogs. I’ve not heard of that before and yet Watership Down is a huge favourite of mine so I must look that out.

    A film that stayed with me since I saw it as a teen over 20 years ago is When The Wind Blows, a book about the before and after effects of a nuclear strike on a middle aged couple. Just heartbreaking stuff and a fantastic soundtrack by David Bowie.

    I saw this article thanks to Geeks Are Sexy website and will be bookmarking for further reading.

  • lcaneer

    ‘Light years’ is a very good, unknown sci-fi animation.

  • AnimeJsaysBAH!

    Just wanted to make one nit-picky correction. In Heavy Metal, it was a WW2 pilot fighting the zombies. They only wished they had bombers like that during WW!. Otherwise, great article. Still trying to hunt down some of these films.

  • Dude

    So much anime out there, better animation and all and not aimed at children. Picture this, 100 penises flying trough the air, dodging swarm of bullets, just to impregnate girl who he loves, … anime … all is possible

  • Tiggy

    “Animated Movies Clearly Not Aimed at Children” the first thing I thought of was Felidae, which is a German film, based on a series of books, containing graphic violence and an accurate depiction of cat sex. (I have actually seen this movie)

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  • Remy Carreiro

    ScreenCrave showing Unreality some love. Thanks, guys!^

  • Cocksteady

    Just a small nitpick – “Bright Eyes” was only done by Art Garfunkel. No Paul Simon was used in the making of this song…

  • Remy Carreiro

    ^ Nah, good call. Not a nitpick, a correction, and a justified one.

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  • I’m A Girl

    I’ve seen Persepolis, Heavy Metal, The Illusionist, and The Triplets of Belleville. Really enjoyed the highly stylized French films Belleville and Illusionist, that guy is incredible. Heavy Metal really changed my perceptions of what animated movies were, right at the crux between childhood and teenagerdom. Ever since then I have always lover differently animated movies with less than childlike premises. Sometimes I watch them in secret for fear that I would be judged by the content of things I watch, since they’re so out of the “normal” realm.

    Another that haunted my childhood was a little known movie known as The Elmchanted Forest. It played on Disney way back in the day and there are no known copies of it available on DVD or VHS, but I remember the imagery really stuck in my mind. I think it was Portuguese, but dubbed in English. It was way more than just some flowery Disney film, it tripped the line between fantasy and fantastical.

    And anything by Don Bluth is absolutely terrifying. Rats of Nihm anyone? Read the book and saw the movie as a kid, nightmares for weeks!

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  • james garvey

    Rats Of NIHM not making this is a great oversight. Intrigue, Murder and Animal Testing.

  • Mistylyn Horkai

    I think the germen animated film Felidae should be recognized. Its about cats and how in the 60s and 70s they used cats for medical research. The movie not only depicts the torturous ways of a research lab but also the effects it has on the animals, the main test cat is Claudandis and because of his torture he kills the less significant of the species. it has a mild sex scene where the main character mates with a female. it is one of my new fave’s. Here is the movie link to youtube,

  • Zaggnita

    Actually, I have watched Heavy Metal, Fire and Ice, and Wizards when I was a kid. I’m talking when i was like…er…6-8…somewhere in that range. I turned out okay. I still love those movies to this day. Oh Reynaldo, good one on Secret of Nimh.

  • Brandon Roberts

    yeah what moron rated watership down pg yeah lets give kids nightmares great idea

    • Danny Lafontaine

      not all PG movies are for kids

      • Brandon Roberts

        Fair enough. I’m just saying it may be confusing

  • Danny Lafontaine

    Disneys the black cauldroun Disneys the nightmare before christmas coraline 9 rango

  • Danny Lafontaine

    rock and rule Antz

  • Danny Lafontaine

    Disneys the hunchback of notre dame Disneys oliver and company Scooby Doo on zombie island

  • Danny Lafontaine

    i think Scooby Doo on zombie island belongs in this list because it was a lot darker then the other Scooby Doo cartoons and the villians actually died

  • Danny Lafontaine

    i think osmosis jones belongs in this list because it was originnally going to be rated PG-13 but was changed to PG but its still not a kids movie it was really vilonte the main villian draxx murdered a bunch of germs it had lots of sexual innueondoe and swearing like f*** and theirs a song in the movie that has the word hoe in it and the main villians death is pretty graphic his skin burns off and he evaporates

  • Danny Lafontaine

    coonskin American pop hey good looking heavy traffic heavy metal

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