Welcome back to my most important animated films list! As mentioned in Part 1, this is not a list of the greatest animated films ever. All here would qualify for that, but these films are here to illustrate their innovative nature and major impact still felt in the industry today.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
In the mid-1980s, animation was struggling. The industry craved for its impressive past era after reaching a critical and commercial blow with Disney’s The Black Cauldron in 1985. Something needed to be done. 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? showed that if done right, animation could return to its glory days. The wide variety of classic cartoon characters in the film must have led people to strive for the days of classic animation, and they succeeded. What followed was The Disney Renaissance, a return to form that greatly impacted the entire animation industry. Other studios followed suit, creating great works for theaters and television alike. Thanks, Roger Rabbit!
Unlike Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, this 1988 dystopian sci-fi anime epic had a huge impact in the United States upon its release. It introduced American audiences to one of the first mature and big-budget anime films, featuring highly detailed character animations, top notch voice acting, and a high-concept plot involving children possessing telekinetic powers. This film is responsible for the birth of anime’s acceptance in the United States as a highly respected and artistic medium. Cartoons were no longer just fun and games, they could be incredibly serious, violent, and painstakingly detailed. Although sci-fi anime films existed before Akira, this one left an undeniable impression unlike any before.
Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story rocked the world unlike few animated films before or after it. Pixar’s early masterpiece was the first full-length computer generated film. This alone is enough to warrant mention, but it’s the film’s strong and well-developed characters that made it one of the best and most innovative animated films ever. Toy Story introduced a whole new world to us: that of living toys, who experience the same emotions as the humans that play with them. There’s a reason Woody and Buzz are one of the most popular film duos of all time, and its not because they are computer generated; friendship has never been so beautiful. Many computer generated films followed, but few captured the great cinematic abilities of Pixar films including Toy Story and many that followed.
More great animated innovations are sure to come, but without these six films (Part 1 and Part 2), animated films would be slightly less developed today.