A list of adult animation recommendations

Initially I was going to plan an article talking about the ugliness of adult cartoons. More about Western cartoons and how bland and flat they look. And they always go for cheap-shot comedy. But the more I wrote, the more I felt my motivation drain away. I looked at what I wrote and it seemed like a bunch of nonsense to me. So I dropped it.

However, I was planning to make a list of animated films and series for adults that didn’t give me the feeling of pulling my eyes out and dropping it in bleach to rinse them. Nor does it want to make me blow my brains out if I encounter another “comedy” series where the characters talk a lot in an effort to come across as smart instead of annoying and where everyone is unpleasant.

(Yeah, I have a lot of issues with those shows.)

So here are my recommendations for adult animation, both in a serial form as in a main feature form. But nothing anime or anime-related, because I feel like it’s everywhere and sometimes it’s just a marketing’s excuse to create something with an original look.

Kill it and Leave this Town

According to Wikipedia, Kill it and Leave this Town “concerns a hero, fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, who hides in a safe land of memories, where time stands still and all those dear to him are alive.” From that short synopsis, you wouldn’t realise that that’s the plot of the film. Rather, it feels more like a series of short vignettes rather than a full on story. It is not a direct film with a plot from a to b in that regard

Kill it and Leave this Town is a Polish animated film and also Mariusz Wilczynski’s debut film. Despite its simple-looking style, it is in fact a much more complex film than that. Throughout the film, there’s this atmosphere of a foreboding nature and dread. Like you have trouble breathing and don’t know how to improve on that. The imagery is uncomfortable, visceral and grabs you by the throat. It might be best to avoid this film if you’re feeling bad though Like, skip it whenever Russia invades Ukraine for example, a mistake I made.


Flee is a Danish animated film, based on the life of the Afghan Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym). It details Amin’s life in Afghanistan, how he grew up in Kabul and how he became a refugee when mujahideen forces invaded the city. The film is literally told by Amin Nawabi during interviews he had with the director and then animated. Throughout the film, we see Amin struggle with his status as refugee as well as the fact that he’s gay.

Whilst the animation can feel choppy at times, the medium does help elevate the interview. We get a glimpse into the life of this kid who had to flee his own home to survive. And thanks to the visuals, we are a witness to the horrors of being a refugee without papers. The lengths the family had to go through to find a place they could call home and wasn’t a hell for them, is heartbreaking. Amin’s sisters almost suffocated fleeing to Sweden in a container. It’s an intense portrait of people trying to make a living in a world that doesn’t care for them.

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent is the story of a postman, Armand Roulin, who has the task of delivering the last letter of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, Theo. Throughout the journey, Armand learns of what kind of person Vincent Van Gogh was through accounts of the ones who knew him. The film paints, literally and figuratively, a portrait of a person in a lot of turmoil who doesn’t know how to relieve himself of it.

What’s so special about this film, is that the finished version is animated with oil paintings, imitating the style of Van Gogh. Actors were brought in to film the parts and those frames were then shot on a black canvas to be painted over. A film-making process that took 6 years to complete. Whether you’re a fan of Vincent Van Gogh or not, it’s still a recommendation just to see this accomplishment.

The Final Exit of the Disciples of Ascensia/Barber Westchester

When I was going to write that article about adult cartoons being ugly, I was going to explain how bland and flat they were. Fortunately, Jonni Philips’ style doesn’t fall into that category. Her style, whilst unpolished, is very rough and unique. It looks deceivingly simple, but there’s much conveyed with it.

The films of Jonni Philips cut like a knife, highlighting the oddballs who can’t seem to find their place in the world. Unlike its mainstream counterparts, the characters are messy and heavily alienated from the society they’re in. And in the end, there’s no final solution for their problems. Nothing gets resolved. The pain they’re in, doesn’t disappear nor does it get better. It’s a reflection of real life in, ironically, absurdist worlds where space is a conspiracy conjured up by NASA.

The Midnight Gospel

I’m pretty sure a lot has already been said about this show. Co-created by Pendleton Ward of Adventure Time fame, it sees the character Clancy travel virtual worlds in search of persons to interview for his podcast. The series is based on actual podcast episodes by Duncan Trussel, who also voices the main character of Clancy. Each episode deals with spiritualism, our view on life and death and meditation. Underscored with psychedelic animation and surreal landscapes.

The guests bring their own viewpoints on life based on their own experiences. And it’s brought with complete sincerity. And whilst the animation can be distracting at points, it creates this experience of being part of something philosophical. You get the sense that something is going on. You don’t know exactly what, but you can feel it’s important, despite the atmosphere being laid-back.

J’ai Perdu mon Corps

J’ai Perdu mon Corps, or I Lost My Body for you yanks, is a French animated film about a hand that goes in search for its owner. Throughout the course of the film, we get to see the person this hand belongs to, a shy young man who had to leave his home-land and falls in love with a girl. And just like everything in love, nothing is easy.

It’s a story about someone who’s not a bad person and looking for someone in a country that’s unwelcoming to him. There’s a sense of anxiety and dread in the film, especially when the hand travels throughout the city getting attacked from left and right. It’s a very humbling tale about still finding joy in the world, even after making mistakes.


Genndy Tartakovsky is one of the few people who sticks out head and shoulders above his peers in the cartoon world. The creator of Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack knocks it out of the park with Primal. We follow the cave man Spear riding his dinosaur Fang throughout a hostile pre-historicish land where they battle weird creatures and horrors.

The series is reminiscent of classic Heavy Metal comics and Conan the Barbarian. Spear himself seems to be heavily inspired by the latter. Save for some grunts and some Arabian, the series is devoid of dialogue, using the visuals to tell a story. Besides the violence, there are also moments of silence and atmosphere. A clear reminder that the creators respect the audience as well as their intelligence. It’s a must-watch for anyone who loves cartoons and what can be done with the medium.

Mad God

It would be a bit unfair to every other animation film to compare it to Mad God. Mostly because I use Mad God as the golden standard for every animation film. Mad God is the brainchild of Phil Tippett, who has overseen the special effects of a lot of Hollywood films, ranging from Jurassic Park to Twilight. The film is everything I ever want to see in a work of art: an uncompromising vision of an artist, a unique perspective and an unconventional style.

Mad God presents a world of horrors and filth. It uses stop-motion and live-action footage to create a bleak setting where straw people are being shat out and crushed, mad scientists experiment on your body and an eternal pointless struggle. It might all seem random on first glance, but there’s a certain cohesion in the film. Despite everyone’s actions in this film, everyone tries to make sense in a world gone mad. Not unlike our own lives, where we try to keep on going and try to give our lives meaning and hope. Kind of like the people in this film.

And there you have it, my list of recommendations I probably add some films and series in the near future, but this will be it for now.

I hope you will enjoy what this list has to offer.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: