The best animation films you may never have heard of

Sometimes the best films fly under  the radar. We bring you some classic animation films that will forever change the way you look at the genre. 

Simba, Carl, Alex and Sheriff Woody Pride: Do these names ring a bell? Yes! These are names of famous characters from epic animated movies like The Lion King, Up, Madagascar and Toy Story respectively. Now, have you heard of Bigwig, Ari Folman and Madame Souza? We thought not. These are characters of “not-so-well-known” animated movies. Let’s take a look at a list of the lower-profile but nevertheless mind-blowing animated films!

Grave of the Fireflies

Director: Isao Takahata

Release Date: April 16, 1988

Synopsis: The film showcases the journey of a 14-year old boy Seita, who dies of starvation shortly after the end of World War II. Later that night, the janitor removes the body and looks through Seita’s belongings, and finds a can, which he throws away in a field nearby. From the can emerges the spirit of Seita’s younger sister, Setsuko, joined by Seita and a cloud of fireflies. The film shows Seita’s spirit narrating their stories of World War II.

Spirited Away

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Release Date: July 20, 2001

Synopsis: While moving houses with her family to the suburbs, 10-year old Chihiro Ogino’s takes a wrong turn, which leads them to a magical world of gods, witches, and monsters. The story narrates the tale of her journey in and out the magical world where her parents are transformed into pigs.


Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi

Release Date: June 27, 2007

Synopsis: The story follows the journey of a rebellious young woman named Marjane Satrapi. When Marjane’s parents fear her outspokenness and send her away to Vienna, she feels isolated and falls into depression. The movie highlights Marjane’s formative years during the Iranian revolution.

Waltz with Bashir

Director: Ari Folman

Release Date: June 12, 2008

Synopsis: The movie is set against the backdrop of Lebanon War in 1982, when Ari Folman was a 19-year old soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. The movie depicts Folman looking for his lost memories of the war as a result of amnesia. The story captures his quest for knowledge of the occurrences on one night during the Lebanon War.

The Iron Giant

Director: Brad Bird

Release Date: August 6, 1999

Synopsis: The film is about a forlorn nine-year old boy named Hogarth who is brought up by his single mother. Hogarth, following the trail of destruction left behind by a giant robot that fell from space, finds it and befriends it. The story talks about the Iron Giant and Hogarth’s relationship and how the little boy does all he can to save the robot, hunted by the US Government.

Watership Down

Director: Martin Rosen

Release Date: 19 October, 1978

Synopsis: The film features a group of rabbits that though live in a natural environment, possess their own culture, language and mythology. The movie follows the warren’s journey as it attempts to escape the annihilation of their home by humans and looks for a place to build a new home all the while stumbling on hazards natural and man-made.

The Triplets of Belleville

Director: Sylvain Chomet

Release Date: June 11, 2003

Synopsis: The story takes us through what Madame Souza, an elderly woman, does to rescue her grandson Champion. Champion, a Tour de France cyclist is abducted by the French mafia and is taken to the city of Belleville. Madame Souza and her pet Bruno travel to Belleville, where she stumbles upon the renowned Belleville triplets, who eventually help her reach out to Champion.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Release Date: September 5, 2004

Synopsis: Sophie, an 18-year old hatter, is cursed by the Witch of the Waste, who transforms her into a 90-year-old lady. At the same time as Sophie goes to Howl’s Castle to be cured of her curse, her country goes to war. The story talks about how she fights the war and saves her land while helping the witch attain a change of heart.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Release Date: March 11, 1984

Synopsis: The film tells the story of Nausicaä, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets drawn into a clash with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use a primeval mace to exterminate a jungle of mutant giant insects. Nausicaä must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures.


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