In film and tv recommendations

RECS: Must-Watch Animated Movies/Shows (Non-Disney Edition)

Lately I've noticed that there's somewhat of a stigma around animated movies. A lot of people think animation is primarily child-focused, and can't be suitable for a mature audience or an 'inferior' medium to let's say life-action. There seems to be a public opinion that animation automatically means a film or show is targeted towards kids, and the word 'animation' almost has a negative connotation. However, in my experience, most animation isn't that. Sure, there's child-focused cartoons, but you'd be surprised how many of them contain adult themes. I've compiled a list with some of my must-watch animated shows and movies (that aren't Disney productions, we all know I tend to love those a little too much), for those of you who don't know what goodness can be out there in terms of animated shows and cinema.

(image source: Nickelodeon)

Avatar: the Last Airbender
Episodes: 61
Length± 20 minutes

First up on this list is Avatar the Last Airbender. This show is an absolute classic (at least, if you grew up in the early 2000's like me.) In my opinion, everyone should have at least seen this once. ATLA has the most exquisite world-building and character arcs I have ever seen, and even forms the basis of inspiration for a lot of other more recent books and movies. The concept is kind of difficult to explain in a few sentences; the story centers around a world that's divided into four nations - earth, air, fire, water. In this world, there are benders: people who can manipulate the elements, and there is one person who can bend all four: the avatar. However, the Avatar has been missing for the last 100 years, and the world is now at war with the fire-nation. This is where the show picks up, focusing on the new Avatar: Aang. This show was ahead of its time, diverse, highly original, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is an absolute must-see when it comes to animation. Also not unimportant: the recent spin-off called The Legend of Korra features a female protagonist and lgbtq+ representation! The show has 64 episodes, each around 20 minutes long, and every season focuses on a different element. This is honestly such a classic, and everyone should watch this show at least once if you enjoy world-building as much as I do! Also, on a last note: for those who've already watched this, the story continues in comic-book form, and is still ongoing!

(image source: Netflix)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Episodes: 64
Length± 20 minutes

This show ties with Avatar for the title of my favorite animated show of all time. I just think the combination between characters, as well as the insanely well-written story (that is unlike anything I have ever seen by the way) is absolutely worth watching. This show will blow your socks off with its originality as well as its heartfelt moments. The story follows to alchemists, Edward and Alphonse, on their journey to restore their bodies after committing the ultimate alchemic taboo: human transmutation. There's honestly a lot more to it, but saying more would mean spoiling the show at this point. FMA has everything you could possibly wish for: strong character arcs, heartfelt moments, action, adventure, and political intrigue. The manga the story is adapted from is also written by a woman, which translates to the many well-written female characters. I just adore everything about this series. It's around the same length as ATLA, and wraps up nicely within 64 episodes. The best part: both Brotherhood, the original Anime (which is good too, just a completely different adaptation in comparison to the manga) as well as the movies, are all available on Netflix to watch.

(image source: Studio Ghibli)

Howl's Moving Castle
Length± 129 minutes

So, technically, if we're going to take this super literally, this is a Disney movie because they provided the Western distribution for this movie, however, this is one of the two Studio Ghibli movies on this list. Let me start off by saying that if you've never seen a Miyazaki movie, you are sorely missing out. Howl's Moving Castle, in particular, is adapted from the YA novel by Diana Wynne Jones, and follows Sophie who encounters wizard Howl in his moving castle after a curse turned her into an old woman. While there's been quite a few changes in comparison to the original novel, Miyazaki manages to twist this into its own beautiful story, the Ghibli way. The art and animation has that distinct Ghibli feel, and the story is a lot deeper than most kids are able to grasp, which makes this movie absolute perfection.

Image result for anastasia poster
(image source: 20th Century FOX)

Length± 94 minutes

This is another classic, and quite frankly, my brand. Released in the year I was born (1997) I've grown up watching this and rediscovered it again in the past years. Anastasia is super famous, yet I still seem to encounter people who've never seen it. Also, I know we're still in summer right now, but this film always gets me so excited for the winter months. Anastasia tells the story of the Russian Romanov line and their of the missing princess Anastasia. In Don Bluth's rendition of this historical tale, orphan Anastasia (or Anya) meets con-man Dmitry in St. Petersburg, where he convinces her to pose as the missing princess Anastasia in exchange for a large sum of money. Anya has no recollection of her past, but could it be that she is the actual princess? This movie has a bomb of a soundtrack, and a beautiful animation style. It's one of my all-time favorite movies and it's recently been made into a Broadway musical too which has rekindled my love in full.

(image source: Amuse)

Your Name
Length± 106 minutes

Your Name, or "Kimi No Na Wa", is one of the most recent films on this list. With previous titles such as 5 Centimeters per Second, director Makoto Shinkai is a staple name in the animation field. My favorite movie of his, however, is undoubtedly this one. It features high school students Taki and Mitsuha, who both live in vastly different environments when they find out they've been switching bodies. But how will they cope with two vastly different realities. Aside from the PHENOMENAL (seriously, phenominal!) animation, Your Name delivers such a unique and emotional story set in modern-day Japan. I highly recommend this movie for anyone who wants to watch something extraordinary and quick. I can promise you, this movie will resonate with you.

(image source: Netflix)

The Dragon Prince
Length± 20 minutes

Directed by the main director of ATLA, The Dragon Prince is a Netflix Original, featuring a new (and awesome) animation style. It took me some time to get into, but once you're in, you're in. The Dragon Prince is another animated diverse treat, and features... you guessed it... Dragons! When the king of Katolis is mudered, two young princes discover a Dragon egg. They bond with an elf assassin in order to return the dragon to its mother. The Dragon Prince combines a different array of genres and puts it all into one show. Definitely recommend watching a few episodes before you judge all of it, but this definitely deserves a spot on the list!

(image source: Kyoto Animation)

A Silent Voice 
Length± 130 minutes
Triggers: Suicide

A Silent Voice is unlike any of the other productions on this list, in the sense that it's so realistic. The story centers around teenager Shoya Ishida, who bullied his deaf classmate, Nishimiya Shoko in elementary school to the point where she moved away. Now, in high school, he seeks to redeem himself and make amends with Shoko. This movie is kind of heavy, but it never fails to leave a lasting impression on me. Be careful watching this though, because there's a trigger warning for suicide!

(image source: Studio Ghibli)

Spirited Away
Length± 125 minutes

This last movie on the list is another famous classic by Miyazaki! This Studio Ghibli film is kind of on the deep side (much like all of their movies,) and showcases a side of Japanese culture mixed with fantastical elements you've never seen before. Spirited Away follows Chihiro, who moves to the Japanese suburbs, but on the way there is transported into a fantasy world filled with gods, monsters, and witches. I'm fully in love with the entire aesthetic of this movie and, much like a lot of the media mentioned, I can appreciate the deeper story a lot more now that I'm older. This film also has a twist that is so beautifully executed, it will leave you speechless.

(image source: Netflix)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Length± 20 minutes
This last one is simultaneously the newest one on the list, but no less fun! She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a remake of the original She-Ra, but with a modern twist. She-ra, a powerful princess, joins a rebellion to free her land of an evil power. This show is super diverse and wholesome, and also contains a lot of fun and exciting elements! Much like The Dragon Prince, it's ongoing at the moment, so there's still time left to catch up before the new season drops on August 2!

These were all of my recommendations. Let me know if you enjoyed posts like this (because I really enjoy writing them!) and thank you so much if you've read this all the way to the end. Also, make sure to tell me any recommendations you have, because I'm always looking for new animated shows or movies to discover! See you guys soon,

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