As opposed to popular belief, animated feature films, or ‘cartoons’ as ignorant people prefer to call them, are absolutely not just for children. They are works of art, and apart from the usual mainstream productions, there are so many offbeat animated films you need to watch today!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the works of Disney and Pixar, and some of my most favourite animated films are the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, Despicable Me, Madagascar and others too. But when it comes to offbeat animated films, there is so much more depth, food for thought and great storylines that can be incorporated into something that is so often, frustratingly reduced to the word, cartoons.

Some of the movies on this list are phenomenal works of art with deep and melancholy storylines, but hey, they need not always be made for children, and being different is what makes them eligible to be called offbeat animated films!

1. Legends Of The Guardians : The Owls Of Ga’hoole

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A young barn owl is kidnapped, and forcefully recruited to serve as soldiers or peckers for an evil society of owls. His, and his fellow prisoners escape is documented in this fantastic tale.

A visual spectacle, from the master of visual spectacles, Zack Snyder! He maintains his consistency of delivering some breathtakingly detailed and captivating scenes for this one.

2. Corpse Bride

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Victor Van Dort is about to marry a young woman, but fate had some very different and interesting plans as he ends up married to a resurrected woman, who was murdered right before she was about to be married.

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A wonderful animated feature film from Tim Burton, whose works fascinate me and shall I say, I am a huge fan!

3. Spirited away

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One of Studio Ghibli’s most well known productions, it tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, who ends up inside a magical spirit world with her parents, courtesy to a wrong turn taken by her father.

Created by one of Japan’s most acclaimed and respected animation directors, Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away was the winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards.

4. The Little Prince

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A feature film adaptation of a 1943 novel of the same name, The Little Prince is the story of a young girl who is on a strict life plan devised by a mother, and her eccentric elderly neighbour, The Aviator.

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It is the most successful French film of all time, and the story is profoundly compelling, while the movie itself is melancholic and pensive.

5. Wolf Children

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The story of a young woman who falls in love with a werewolf, who dies later, leaving her behind with two children who too are werewolves. It revolves around the main character’s struggles to raise two werewolf children by herself.

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I’m just going to say, this one is going to make you cry.

6. The Boxtrolls

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A boy named Eggs is raised by cardboard box wearing trolls who collect trash, who are being hunted and exterminated by Archibald Snatcher. Eggs attempts to clear the names and reputations of his guardians, The Boxtrolls who are mistaken for killers and vermin.

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It features voiceovers from Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley and the beautiful, Elle Fanning, and was nominated for the Academy Awards.

7. Rango

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Set in a miniature wild western town called Dirt, run by an evil Tortoise mayor who is depriving the town of water. It also features characters such as an evil Hawk, a rattlesnake named Jake and more!

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The title character is voiced by Johnny Depp. Hey isn’t that enough?

8. The Adventures Of Mark Twain

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9. A Cat In Paris

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The story of a young Parisian girl who was rendered mute after her father passed away, and who is led on a series of adventures in one night, by her cat.

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A Cat In Paris was nominated for the Academy Award, and is one of the finest animated feature films from France.

10. Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Directed by another feature film legend, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is  based on a Roald Dahl book, and encompasses the story of Mr. Fox, who has annoyed three farmers with his repeated thefts.

The characters are voiced by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson and holds a 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

11. Mary and Max

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A dark yet uplifting film, Mary and Max tells the tale of Mary Daisy Dinkle, an unfortunate child who is teased and bullied at school and born into a difficult family; and the story of Max, an old man who has various mental and social issues, who receives a letter from Mary, who randomly picks out his name from the address book.

“The film deals with themes including childhood neglect, friendship, addiction, alcoholism, recovery, the obscurity of life, teasing, loneliness, mental illness, autism (Asperger syndrome in particular), obesity, suicide, depression, isolation, and anxiety.” according to Wikipedia

12. The Wind Rises

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Perhaps if a movie critic calls a film, “Perhaps the greatest animated film the world has ever seen.” that should be reason enough to watch it, although this also happens to be a Studio Ghibli production, who have a track record of producing spectacular animated feature films.

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The Wind Rises has won multiple accolades across many different countries.

13. Sita Sings The Blues

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A controversial yet hard hitting feature film from Nina Paley, it has drawn criticism for it’s portrayal of Lord Ram, and has instead focused for on Sita as the female protagonist. Nina Paley tells a story parallel to the Ramayana, her own, when her husband moves to India for work.

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14. Anomalisa

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offbeat animated films15. Coraline

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This one might not be for the kids, but the adults surely need to give it a shot. Coraline is based on acclaimed novelist, Neil Gaiman’s book, and belongs to the animated dark fantasy horror genre!

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Coraline holds a 90% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for the Academy awards, BAFTA, BAFTA Children’s Awards, Golden Globes and more, winning the BAFTA Children’s Awards for Best Feature Film.

16. Howl’s Moving Castle

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Another classic from Hayao Miyazaki, it tells the story of a young girl in a world where magic and technology both exist, and tackles several themes such as compassion, feminism, and a critique of modernity.

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Two different versions of Howl’s Moving Castle are available, in Japanese and English, the latter voiced by Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall and Christian Bale.

17. Waltz With Bashir

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A dark and brooding animated film from Israel, it depicts the writer’s own struggles of attempting to remember his experience as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War.

Waltz With Bashir has been nominated for multiple awards including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and holds a 96% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

These are some of my favourites? Which are yours?