13 best animated movies for adults to watch on Netflix, Amazon, HBO and more

The world of animation is as limitless as it is remarkable, brimming with more classics than any a single person might want to see in a life time. The range of animated movies readily available throughout streaming, well … not as extensive. However outstanding however! When you’re not too hectic capturing up on the current streaming releases to strike VOD this weekend, why not saddle up for some actual Saturday early morning animations?

We’ve combed through the most popular streaming services and cherry-picked 13 of our really preferred animated functions. From Satoshi Kon’s Centuries Starlet to The Roadway to El Dorado, and current releases like Kids of the Sea and New Gods: Nezha Reborn, there’s lots of interesting, strong, and medium-defining animation out there to select from.


Where to enjoy it: Stream on Hulu

Kaneda skids his motorcycle in Akira

Image: Funimation

Let’s simply cut to the chase here: Akira unambiguously slaps, complete stop. Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 post-apocalyptic sci-fi impressive, adjusted from his prominent manga series of the very same name, is a qualified “must-see” movie for any critical anime fan. The story of bicycle rider gang ne’er-do-well Kaneda and his best-friend-turned-psychic powered bane Tetsuo has actually loomed unconquerably huge over the cumulative creativity of Japanese popular culture in the years given that the movie’s release. Japan was even initially intending on arranging the 2020 Olympic video games around Akira’s renowned visuals (up until COVID-19 took place). With a live-action Hollywood adjustment constantly captured in production hell and a brand-new Akira anime series presently in advancement, now’s as ideal a time as any to either review or experience for the very first time among the most enduring examples of anime movie theater ever produced. —Toussaint Egan

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Where to enjoy it: Stream on Disney Plus

Kida in a blue spirit form

Image: Disney

Atlantis: The Lost Empire was expected to alter the face of Disney animation, however it wound up silently vanishing. Following adventurous scholastic Milo Thatch who devotes his life to discovering the lost city of Atlantis, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a captivating experience with an enjoyable and vibrant cast. It’s action-packed with a great deal of humor and heart that simply runs by the guideline of cool with its lumbering steampunk/dieselpunk visual and beautifully rendered ancient civilization. This surprise gem enthralled a generation of kids who matured enjoying it on house video and now it’s right here on Disney Plus. —Petrana Radulovic

The Black Cauldron

Where to enjoy it: Stream on Disney Plus

The story of The Black Cauldron is, to be completely frank, dark as fuck. Based Upon Lloyd Alexander’s dream series The Chronicles of Prydain, directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich’s 1985 dream drama was soaked in production troubles and would go on to almost sink the business when the movie made just $21 million versus its apparently $40 million-plus spending plan; at the time it was the most pricey animated movie ever made. Tthe movie’s previously mentioned spooky-ass plot discovers a young bard and princess’ questing to reject the Horned King, a frightening Skeletor-meets-Mumm-Ra lookalike, from acquiring the Sauron-like powers of the Black Cauldron and changing the land of Prydain into a ghoulish hell on earth. In other words, not what audiences had actually concerned anticipate of Disney animation approximately that point. In any case, The Black Cauldron is a remarkable footnote in Disney’s remarkable history and benefits an expect the large novelty of its presence alone. —Toussaint Egan

The Castle of Cagliostro

Where to enjoy it: Stream on Netflix

Lupin and his partner Jigen speed down the highway in a yellow beetle car in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro.

Picture: Manga Video

Hayao Miyazaki’s function length launching is a rollicking enjoyable break-in caper that takes Monkey Punch’s lascivious and shrewd criminal mastermind and changes him into a gentleman burglar with a heart as huge as his next rating. As Polygon’s Tasha Robinson composed in her evaluation of Lupin III: The First in 2015:

It’s true that Cagliostro is the most well-known Lupin story since of Miyazaki’s credibility, which ultimately assisted get the movie global circulation, attracting curious audiences who may otherwise have actually declined Lupin. However it’s simply as real that Cagliostro assisted make Miyazaki the early credibility that drew financiers to Ghibli. It isn’t simply a stellar installment in the ongoing Lupin adventure, it’s a Lupin story so specific and carefully calculated that it assisted define the character for decades to come.

Children of the Sea

Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix

a girl swims in the sea

Image: GKIDS

Ayumu Watanabe’s Children of the Sea is a feast for the senses. Adapted from Daisuke Igarashi’s manga of the same name, Watanabe’s film follows Ruka, a young girl who befriends two boys who possess a strange and otherworldly power over the ocean. As Ruka grows to acknowledge and understand the same power within herself, Ruka is drawn into the mystery that will thrust her into the most beautiful and harrowing depths of the sea. From our review,

The movie portrays water in such a breathtaking way that it’s difficult to not get drawn in. Every gil, dorsal fin, and flipper feels so vividly drawn that it’s like being in the actual ocean. As the film progresses, the underwater scenes grow in complexity, highlighting the ocean’s natural beauty. But these scenes feel earned rather than overwhelming, as if the entire film has been building up to the unification of the ocean and the audience.

Grave of the Fireflies

Where to watch it: Stream on Hulu

A grubby child stands outside under a torn paper umbrella in Grave of the Fireflies

Image: Studio Ghibli

Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most devastating and remarkable films Studio Ghibli has ever produced. Based on Akiyuki Nosaka’s semi-autobiographical short story of the same name, the film follows Seita and Setsuko, two siblings who struggle to survive after their hometown of Kobe is firebombed during the last months of World War II. Prior to his death in 2018, Takahata rebuffed the popular and critical characterization of the film as an “anti-war” movie, instead describing it as a story of human perseverance and enduring love in the face of inevitable tragedy and despair. However you want to split the atoms of that hair, Grave of the Fireflies stands as an indisputable classic. Whether you consciously recognize it or not, I guarantee that if you come to this movie with an open heart and mind, you will not be the same person you were before for having watched this film. —TE


Where to watch it: Stream on Amazon Prime

The ghost of Ava, suspended in a holographic sphere, sings a climactic ballad in Magnetic Rose

Photo: Madhouse

Produced by Katsuhiro Otomo following the release of 1988’s Akira and his work on 1991’s Roujin Z, Memories is an anime sci-fi anthology film made up of three stories based on Otomo’s own original manga stories published in his collection of the same name. The first and the most well-known of the three shorts is “Magnetic Rose,” which finds a group of spaceship salvagers responding to a distress signal in the depths of a cosmic graveyard, only to discover a uncanny terror beyond their wildest imagination. The anthology’s other two films, “Stink Bomb” and “Cannon Fodder,” the latter of which is directed by Otomo himself, are fine and entertaining on their own, but never quite measure up to the pedigree of the first. That said, Memories easily ranks as one of the best anime anthologies ever produced and absolutely merits a watch if you’ve never seen it before. —TE

Millennium Actress

Where to watch it: Stream on Amazon Prime

Chiyoko stares at a portrait of her younger self among the ruins of a devastated city

Photo: Madhouse

Millennium Actress is the second of four features produced by late Japanese director Satoshi Kon, and arguably his greatest work. A love letter to cinema, the film is a magical realist odyssey experienced from the perspective of Chiyoko Fujiwara, an actress reflecting on career at the behest of a passionate documentarian working to create a tribute to her life. From references to 1954’s Godzilla to Kurosawa’s 1957 classic Throne of Blood, to achingly beautiful and surreal sequences of Chiyoko and company jumping back and forth through as she recollects over her past, Millennium Actress is one of the most beautiful and unique anime films ever produced. —TE

New Gods: Nezha Reborn

Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix

New Gods: Nezha Reborn: A hero in red armor stands in a factory with a flaming sword

Image: Netflix

New Gods: Nezha Reborn is a steam/cyberpunk-ish take on the Ming dynasty novel Investiture of the Gods that follows the story of Li Yunxiang, a young motorbike delivery driver who discovers that he’s the reincarnation of Nezha, the child-god nemesis of the powerful Dragon Clan which reigns over the land with an iron fist. It falls to Li to master his newfound powers and face off against his pursuers in order to settle his ancestor’s 3,000 year old grudge. From our review:

New Gods: Nezha Reborn draws heavily on pan-Asian folklore and myth for its narrative spine. Nezha in particular has been a popular character for centuries, evolving from god to general to child to spirit in myths as disparate as the 16th-century novel Journey to the West, China’s 1979 animated hit Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, and the 2019 Chinese CGI feature Nez Ha, also currently streaming on Netflix. (That film takes a much more slapstick-driven approach to Nezha’s heavenly guardians in particular, and the visual approach starts off cartoony and child-centered compared to Nezha Reborn. But it eventually develops its own resonant emotional drama, and its own staggering action sequences. The two films make an enjoyable double feature, simply to see two radically different interpretations of the same classic characters.)

The Road to El Dorado

Where to watch it: Stream on Peacock

tulio and miguel, mighty and powerful gods

Image: DreamWorks Animation

This hilarious experience buddy-comedy set in South America (not to be confused with the other hilarious adventure buddy-comedy set in South America that came out in 2000) absolutely tanked at the box office. But The Road to El Dorado has grown into a certifiable cult classic at this point, finding a second life via the internet, be it shitpost groups, reaction gifs, or the rich shipping culture. It’s a movie caught between the animated musicals of the Disney Renaissance (there are songs, but with one exception no one sings) and the more comedic leanings of the next wave of animated movies, that just oozes with fun. —PR

Shrek & Shrek 2

Where to enjoy it: Stream on Hulu

Shrek holding hands with his wife Fiona in Shrek 2

Photo: DreamWorks Animation

There is no denying the sheer impact the Shrek series has had on 21st-century pop culture. The first motion picture was an oddball, a deeply cynical and totally obvious “fuck you” to the Disney empire that DreamWorks didn’t even really have faith in, and yet it singlehandedly shifted the tone in Wester animation into edgy comedies. It’s also deeply funny! The original feels like a very directed jab at Disney, but the second movie, which chooses the glamor and glitz of Hollywood as its target and thus doesn’t seem as … personal, really shines. Also, no one needs an excuse to watch the “I Need a Hero” scene. —PR


Where to watch it: Stream on Apple TV

a girl riding a wolf

Image: GKIDS

Cartoon Saloon has actually been making gorgeous, evocative movies since 2009’s The Secret of Kells. Wolfwalkers continues the studio’s rich, folklore-inspired tradition and tells the tale of a young apprentice hunter in Ireland who meets a free-spirited wolf girl in the woods. The animation is beautifully stylized like woodblocks with warm, autumn-tinged colors. And the story itself, of man versus nature, of confronting prejudice and the unknown, is powerful in and of itself. Only available on Apple TV Plus, Wolfwalkers feels like the very best sort of fairy tale. —PR

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.