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Added by Andy Goulding on 28 Dec 2011 07:12
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Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animated Films

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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.5
People who added this item 49 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
People who added this item 256 Average listal rating (204 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8.1
People who added this item 112 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.5
People who added this item 2769 Average listal rating (1838 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 7.1
People who added this item 57 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
People who added this item 47 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.8
People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Krabat (1978)
People who added this item 81 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
People who added this item 199 Average listal rating (125 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
People who added this item 75 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
People who added this item 78 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
People who added this item 114 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (37 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7
Probably the least-seen of Isao Takahata's films, 'Goshu the Cellist' is part of the director's brilliant mid-period before he co-founded Studio Ghibli and made his most famous masterpieces. Along with 'Chie the Brat', 'Goshu the Cellist' is a mini-masterpiece that demands rediscovery. Unlike the mesmerizingly wayward 'Chie the Brat', that pulled in all sorts of directions, 'Goshu the Cellist' is a deeply focused, scaled-down piece of storytelling adapted from a short story by Japanese author Kenji Miyazawa. It tells the story of a mediocre cellist who takes a step towards greatness with the help of some seemingly troublesome animal spirits. Largely set in Goshu's woodland hut as he practices his cello at night, Takahata uses this limited space to great effect, particularly in an early scene in which Goshu's playing propels a formerly smug cat all over his cabin. The artwork, though more simplistic than Takahata's Ghibli works, is no less appealing or inventive. He throws in moments of anarchic abstraction which contrast breathtakingly with the gorgeous woodland scenery and cute animals. Particularly memorable is a baby raccoon who appears to be a prototype for Takahata's brilliantly bonkers 'Pom Poko' twelve years later.
People who added this item 171 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
This French animated film, which found itself a suprise nominee for Best Animated Feature Oscar, is a terrific throwback to the wonderfully quirky animations of the 80s and 90s, the like of which used to be shown regularly on the UK's Channel 4 back when it was still good. Although this story of a heroic jewel thief, a band of dangerous crooks, a little girl and a cat who leads a double life, does have its flaws in some elements of plotting and pacing, it overcomes these little niggles with the sheer force of its immense charm. The angular drawings, the bold animation, the simple but neat animation gimmicks and the classic cliches of the crime genre all serve to make 'A Cat in Paris' an awesomely nostalgic experience for animation fans like myself who grew up intrigued, excited and a little creeped out by these unusual cartoons that differed so much from Disney and Warner Bros.
Swedish animator Per Ahlin spent seven years developing this curious reimagining of Shakespeare's 'The Tempest', which was at the time the most expensive animated film made in Sweden. 'The Journey to Melonia' has much going for it, but given it's lengthy production process one wonders if they might not have spent a little longer actually making up their minds what to do with the script. Taking the major characters from 'The Tempest', Ahlin begins with what looks like a semi-faithful adaptation, then takes it towards a more conventional action adventure plot with elements of sci-fi before finally veering towards a confusingly self-referential direction when the characters find a copy of 'The Tempest' in an abandoned theatre and begin staging a version of the source text that the film is based on. If it all sounds like a bit of a mess, it is and you can't help wishing Ahlin had opted for a straight adaptation of the play instead.

That said, there's much to recommend 'The Journey to Melonia'. It's big budget is visible on screen but not in an overwhelmingly glossy way. The characters looks like appealing newspaper cartoons come to life and the colourful surrounding and lively animation is great. Also, though I was a little taken aback by them at first, some of the more outlandish character designs are far more imaginative than most animators would have attempted. Aeriel, for instance, is here part albatross, part human, while Caliban (one of Shakespeare's most fascinating villains, although here he is more of a put-upon hero) is a creature made out of fruit and vegetables and eventually ends up lumbering around as a Godzilla sized monstrosity. The wild plot lurches and superfluous supporting characters (Captain Christmas Tree Foot anyone?!) are almost mesmerising and keep you glued to the screen to see where it's going. And where it ends up is a pro-revolutionary ideal in which Prospero is chastised for his enslavement of Ariel and Caliban and everyone celebrates a world without leaders. Now there's a message I can get behind. Viva la Revolution!
People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Based on the critically lauded TV show 'Batman: The Animated Series', 'Mask of the Phantasm' is one of the best Batman films, animated or not. A Batman love story no less, 'Mask of the Phantasm' is filled with the incisive psychological content and strong, uncompromising storytelling that made the series so great. Despite it focusing on Bruce Wayne's inevitably doomed love life, 'Mask of the Phantasm' never once threatens to become sentimental and uses the dark, tainted romance to generate plenty of action and intrigue. I've never been a big fan of superhero films but for some reason Batman has always been an exception to that rule. I love the noirish moral ambiguity and psycholgical edge of the franchise at its best and 'Mask of the Phantasm' represents just that.
People who added this item 74 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
$9.99 (2009)
This Australian/Israeli stop-motion production is the feature debut of Israeli director Tatia Rosenthal and is based on short stories written by Israeli author Etgar Keret, who also collaborated on the screenplay. Examining the theme of the meaning of life and hope through the bizarre stories of the inhabitants of a Sydney apartment, '$9.99' is wonderfully animated and features a fine voice cast that includes Geoffrey Rush and Anthony Lapaglia. Like an animated version of Robert Altman's 'Short Cuts', the plot weaves together many different stories involving the interlocking lives of the apartment dwellers. Some of the stories retain a realistic quality, while others are surreal, fantastical or just all out strange. The most prominent is the story of a selfish angel with a bad attitude, the result of the suicide of a homeless man early on in the film. But there's also a bone-chillingly odd thread that really got under my skin, which involves the relationship between a man and a girl who doesn't like body hair. The climax of this tale is extremely creepy and feels like just a step too far into the weird. When the stories thematically knit together at the end, the film reveals its shortcomings in not quite being able to marry together the disparate atmospheres of the different tales. But for the most part '$9.99' is a real fascinating curio and well worth seeking out.
People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.9
Michel Ocelot's films always have a storybook charm to them but are often diverse in approach. 'Tales of the Night', though it shares a storytelling style with its predecessors, is a far cry from the luscious unconventional CG of 'Azur and Asmar' or the charming traditionally-animated simplicity of the Kirikou films. Instead, Ocelot here goes right back to the roots of animated features and pays tribute to the silhouette films of Lotte Reiniger with this spot-on homage. Pieced together from five episodes of Ocelot's TV series 'Dragons and Princesses', the film adds one newly-created story and some connecting material to make a beautiful feature for cinemas. The premise here is the same as Ocelot's earlier 'Princes and Princesses', a young boy and girl meet up each night in a small theatre where, with the help of an old cinema technician, some costumes and a computer, they stage plays of fantastical stories. As with Reiniger, it's easy to forget you're watching silhouettes as the animations are so expressive and the result is as lovely and engaging as any of Ocelot's more eye-catchingly lush creations.
People who added this item 50 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Based on an extremely popular children's book, 'Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild' (known in English-speaking territories as 'Daisy, a Hen Into the Wild') broke box-office records for South Korean animation. Although its posters make it look like a cutesy fable for the tiniest of tots, 'Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild' is actually a brutally honest, deeply moving and frequently extremely sad tale of a selfless, devoted mother who, having escaped a miserable life in a farmyard, adopts a little duckling whose parents have been killed by a one-eyed weasel. In its unflinching approach to the story, 'Leafie...' combines elements of 'Bambi', 'Animal Farm' and 'Watership Down', although it is quite unlike all those films in visual style. Choosing to adhere to a 2D look, director Oh Sung-yoon combines traditionally cartoony characters (some cute, some grotesque) and painterly backgrounds which make for beautifully evocative settings.

'Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild' was a real surprise, as I sat down to watch it expecting an easy-going piece of Saturday night escapism and instead got an intensely emotional experience that left me feeling oddly sad when it ended. Although there are elements of the uplifting in Leafie's self-sacrificing approach to adoptive-motherhood, the film's overwhelming effect is one of haunting melancholy and the effect stayed with me long afterwards.
People who added this item 1064 Average listal rating (672 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
One of a handful of traditionally animated films made by Dreamworks, 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' is a surprisingly good film from a studio whose work (a few exceptions aside, as we shall see) often leaves me cold. A 19th century Western following the fortunes of a stallion who becomes separated from his herd and encounters humans for the first time, 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' is unusual in that its titular hero is not anthropomorphic but instead portrayed with relative realism. Spirit is given a voice by Matt Damon but this is only heard in narration. While it may have been more interesting to portray Spirit's emotions through gestures alone, the narration is not detrimentally distracting from the often exciting action scenes. Far more distracting is Bryan Adams' typically sappy music which appears far too regularly. Most laughable of all is a rocker called 'Get Off My Back', which mars an otherwise amusing scene in which Spirit continually ejects an unwanted rider.
People who added this item 283 Average listal rating (158 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
'Tekkonkinkreet' is a gritty, gripping, beautifully stylised story of two homeless orphans, Kuro and Shiro (Black and White) who help each other survive on the streets of Treasure Town. Despite the magical sound of that plot description, 'Tekkonkinkreet' is actually a violent, sometimes gloomy, fast-paced thriller which makes great use of its distinctive artwork (clearly the work of Studio 4°c, who also made 'Mind Game') to create a world of its own. The heart of the film is the relationship between the two brothers, which spawns many desperate action sequences and scenes of yearning despair.
People who added this item 1262 Average listal rating (751 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
Paprika (2006)
Satoshi Kon's final film before his untimely death is a mixed bag which reportedly inspired Chris Nolan's 'Inception'. The story of a research psychologist who develops a device to enter patients' dreams, 'Paprika' has a confusing plot jammed with ideas. Some would say there is too much going on but through sheer relentlessness 'Paprika' achieves a wonderful sort of dreamlike logic of its own. The colourful, busy images we are presented with are so beautifully rendered that often the viewer doesn't mind if they've lost the plot thread and can just drink in the visuals.

Where 'Paprika' really falls down is in its characterisations. The characters here are flat and unrealistic, mere pawns in Kon's gorgeous game. Particularly jarring is an unlikely eleventh hour romance which should have been hinted at throughout but instead comes out of nowhere and never fails to leave viewers going 'Wait...what?!'.

'Paprika', then, is best enjoyed as an art film but it is also more playful than such a serious tag would suggest. There's also a particularly fine plot thread about movies which makes several references to classic films, particularly pleasing for a film buff like myself. While it doesn't reach the heights of Kon's previous two masterpieces, 'Paprika' is still a sad reminder of what a unique talent we lost when Kon succumbed to pancreatic cancer aged just 46.
People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (119 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
This French CGI animated film, which tells the story of a mutated flea and the Parisian humans who befriend him and must ultimately protect him, has an easy charm and visual attractiveness that compensates for its rather weak story. The characters are all likable and amusing but the greatest pleasure comes from gazing at the beautifully rendered animated version of Paris and its inhabitants. It may be missing something to make it really special but 'A Monster in Paris' is unusual and appealing enough to give it the edge over most of the obnoxious mainstream animations.
People who added this item 70 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
People who added this item 936 Average listal rating (635 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
It was always going to be a challenge to make a feature length movie starring Mike Judge's iconic TV addicted duo Beavis and Butthead, partly because their hysterically funny antics are best suited to the seven minute vignettes Judge created for the wildly popular MTV series, and partly because many people found the giggling pair extraordinarily annyoing even in that short space of time!

I've always been a vocal proponent of Mike Judge as one of the overlooked geniuses of American satire. His work is always dense with painstakingly accurate characters who never stray from their personalities for the sake of a laugh. His other major series 'King of the Hill' is an absolute masterpiece of character comedy which is rarely given its dues while his live-action films have all been equally sharp and underrated. But Judge will likely always be best known as the man who created Beavis and Butt-Head and that is no small feat. The MTV series, which many mistook for dumb, was actually one of the cleverest creations of recent times. Judge was presenting American youths with an exaggerated image of themselves. MTV addicts spent most of their time sat watching music videos going round and discussing/mocking them. But when Beavis and Butt-Head came on, the viewers sat and watched two characters watch music videos and discuss/mock them.

So does Beavis and Butt-Head work if you remove the hilaious music video segments and open out the small town aesthetic to give them a larger playground. The answer is yes, to an extent. 'Beavis and Butt-Head Do America' sets up an amusing if well-worn cross-country road trip plot and then relies on the strength of its two leads to carry the rest. There are some fairly ingenious little musical inserts here and there but the most impressive thing is how Judge sustains the laughter for so long without letting irritation or boredom creep in. That said, there is still a sense that Beavis and Butt-Head are more effective in their shorter adventures on a smaller canvas. Variety's review at the time of the film's release probably summed it up best: 'The good news is 'Beavis and Butt-head Do America' doesn't suck. The bad news is it doesn't rule, either.'
This little-seen version of Lewis Caroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' was a joint British/French production, directed by Dallas Bower but dominated by the wonderful if slightly creepy (as befits the material) stop-motion puppets of French animation pioneer Lou Bunin. Framed by live action sequences and starring a live action Alice, the film is thoroughly charming if flawed (the songs, for instance, are half-realised at best) and deserves to be more widely recognised.

Unfortunately a bullying Disney also planned to release their own version of 'Alice in Wonderland' (which emerged two years later) and embroiled the makers of this version in an unsuccessful but damaging legal dispute. While neither film proved to be a commercial success, Disney's version found latter day fame through television screenings and rereleases, while Bower and Bunin's film has sunk almost without trace.
People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
The Key (1961)
Lev Atamanov is best known for his feature length version of 'The Snow Queen' but the real lost gem in his canon is 'The Key', a didactic story about the importance of giving something back to the world rather than just coasting along and enjoying yourself. There's a real Russian feel to the message here which puts an unusual spin on the story. Disney would never make baddies out of the fairies who come to bless a new child's birth with the gift of eternal happiness but Atamanov gets inside the idea of what this oft-used plot device would actually mean, as well as examining how one person's idea of happiness could be another's idea of hell. Atamanov moves away from the more traditional animation of 'The Snow Queen', embracing the minimalistic UPA style that was in vogue at the time and which suits the satirical material better.
People who added this item 2065 Average listal rating (1353 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
This list will probably annoy a lot of people for its intentional exclusion of so much popular animated sci-fi. It's just down to personal preference but generally I've never been a fan of the sort of dystopian future sci-fi action films that so many people adore. So you won't find any 'Ghost in the Shell' or 'Patlabor' here. But even I can see that 'Akira' is a classic.

The first time I saw this cyberpunk action film I was mesmerised by its beautiful visuals but found the storytelling to be too chaotic and unfocused. But on subsequent viewings I've realised that the enigmatic, event-filled plot is actually one of the film's major assets, especially in terms of rewatchability. But what keeps me coming back to 'Akira' is the startling look of the film. Unlike the stiff, cheap look of much anime, 'Akira' features full, fluid animation and immense detail that draws you into its world. Filled with energy, invention and, crucially, a smattering of humour (how seriously most of these sci-fis take themselves is one of the major turn-offs for me), 'Akira' an unforgettable, if sometimes disorienting, experience.
People who added this item 74 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.9
Roujin Z (1991)
Putting a new satirical spin on the Japanese giant robot sci-fi film, 'Roujin Z' sees an electronic hospital bed that cares for it patients needs rampaging through the streets when its unwilling elderly test subject decides he wants to go to the beach! Although the animation is as limited as many other animes (motionless characters with trembling lips), the artwork is reliably interesting and the plot is ambitiously satirical, silly and serious all at once. Written by Katsuhiro Otomo of 'Akira' fame, 'Roujin Z' shows the same expertise in writing as that more famous film did, forsaking the usual ice-cold stony-faced wannabe cool for multi-faceted characters, lively comedy and the defiant appointment of an ailing, elderly man as the film's central hero. Director Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who made such a fine job of the 'Tale of Two Robots' sequence in 'Robot Carnival', brings the same sense of energy to this film, albeit with a slightly less anarchic focus.
People who added this item 178 Average listal rating (97 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Felidae (1994)
This highly unusual German animation is a semi-successful attempt to create a sort of sleazy film noir using cats as its main characters. There are moments when the animation style and the murderous and sexual content seem distinctly at odds with the animation style and some of the character designs are less than subtle (neighbourhood bully Kong is one of the most lasciviously overstated brutes in animation history) but 'Felidae' is often gripping and sometimes visually exciting, as in the nightmare sequences that have contributed strongly to the film's cult following. By the end most animation fans should be entertained, even if the story never quite comes together.
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As an obsessive lover of the medium of animation, I have always loved the masterworks of Disney, the modern classics of Pixar and the breathtaking Japanese animated films of Studio Ghibli. Most people are familiar with the films from these three sources but to stop at that is to miss out on whole other worlds of animated brilliance. This is my attempt to compile as definitive a list of the lesser known animated feature films I love as possible. The only rule is that they cannot be the work of any of the three studios named above and I must deem the films worthy of inclusion (you'll notice many famous absences, including the overrated 'Shrek' series and the horrendous mess that was 'Happy Feet'). I intend to keep adding to this list as I see more of these gems so if you have any suggestions or recommendations please leave a comment and I will endeavour to follow them up.

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