8 Underrated Animated Films That Will Melt Your Heart, We Promise

by Renee Isabella Aguila   |  Feb 28, 2023
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Facebook/La Tortue Rouge, Instagram/isleofdogs
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Looking for more animated films to watch? Well, we’ve got some recommendations for you! In the last couple of years, there are quite a number of animated films that became underrated. From hidden gems to cult favorites, there are several animated stories that are as heartfelt and amazing as the popular ones you’ve seen. Feel free to check out our list of underrated animated films right below:

8 Underrated Animated Films That Will Melt Your Heart

1. Summer Wars

A sci-fi comedy anime film released in 2009, Summer Wars follows the story of Kenji Koiso, a math genius who’s a moderator in the virtual world, OZ. He’s invited by his crush Natsuki Shinohara on a summer trip. But unbeknownst to him, this trip requires him to pretend to be Natsuki’s fiance. While on the trip, Kenji receives a mysterious coded message on his cell phone from an unknown sender who challenges him to solve it. Kenji is able to crack the code, but little does he know that his math expertise has just put Earth in great danger.

This underrated film genuinely has a lot to offer in terms of its story. Besides that, you’ll love the contrast of the characters such as Kenji’s introverted personality and being lovestruck juxtaposed against the free-spirited Natsuki. Released during a time when social media was rising, it gives insight into the impacts of social networking on society. There’s a lot to think about and fall in love with in Summer Wars.


2. The Red Turtle

From Studio Ghibli, The Red Turtle is another film most people haven’t seen. It tells the story of a man who becomes shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. Washing ashore there, the man occasionally experiences delusions, so he sets out to build a raft to leave the island. However, something at sea seems to thwart his efforts at leaving. He discovers this to be a giant red turtle, thus beginning a tale of companionship between the two. 

What makes this film unique is that there’s no dialogue at all. You’re in for a visual experience with The Red Turtle as the film communicates to its viewers through body language and other visual cues. As an Academy Award nominee, surely you’ll be mesmerized by the allure and heartbreak this movie will give you.

3. My Life as a Zucchini

Another Academy Award nominee, My Life as a Zucchini is a stop-motion animated comedy-drama with an unusual art style. Set in Switzerland in the 2010s, a young boy named Icare lives with his alcoholic mother. After a series of unfortunate events, Icare’s mother dies and the boy is brought to an orphanage. There, Icare learns what it means how to trust in and love other people again. 

You’ll definitely have fun with the movie’s silly and colorful art style. At the same time, you’re in for an emotional ride when Icare gets to know each of the other kids in the orphanage. It gives a realistic view of how children process tragedy and rejection in their life. But don’t get the idea that this is simply a tragic story when it uplifts the concept of youth by the film’s end. 

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4. Anastasia

In this film, we’re introduced to the Russian princess, Anastasia “Anya” Romanov who had lost her memory as a child. She is the last surviving member of the Romanov family when the evil wizard Rasputin put a curse on them during Anastasia’s childhood, rendering her with memory loss. Upon turning 18 years old, Anastasia seeks to find some trace of her family in this animated musical adventure.

The film brings a little bit of everything in it to entertain viewers of all ages. There’s adventure, romance, drama, and magic that make this movie on par with Disney films. Plus, Anastasia manifests a lot of girl power by being strong, independent, and having a lot of spunk that makes her an unforgettable lead character.

5. Meet the Robinsons

One of Disney’s underrated films is Meet the Robinsons. It follows a young orphan named Lewis who is a skilled inventor. Desperate to be adopted, Lewis makes invention after invention to try and impress potential foster parents, however, these usually end in disaster. Close to giving up, Wilbur, a time traveler,  whisks Lewis away to the future, beginning their out-of-this-world adventure. They meet Wilbur’s family and attempt to stop a guy in a bowler hat from ruining the future.

With the movie emphasizing to “keep moving forward,” it’s a feel-good film about not letting setbacks stop you from growing. It has some clever humor and a unique set of characters that are sure to steal your attention. Additionally, its gorgeous visuals would make you want to travel to the future as well. 


6. The Little Prince

You’ve probably heard of The Little Prince as a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It’s usually given as a reading requirement in your high school Literature classes. Well, this film is a modern adaptation of the book that combines both stop-motion and computer animation. It follows a young girl who has met the book’s aviator who has become elderly. The aviator shares with the little girl about his adventures with the little prince. 

As a book aimed at all ages, its message is to “take time to enjoy life.” You’ll enjoy the friendship between the little girl and the aviator and finally see the little prince’s story come to life in this animated feature. Another thing to note about this adaptation would be the background music for key moments in the story which certainly makes watching The Little Prince more immersive.

7. Isle of Dogs

In the fictional retro-futuristic Japanese city of Megasaki, Mayor Kenji has banished all dogs to Trash Island due to a canine influenza pandemic. A 12-year-old boy named Atari sets off alone to the island in search of his bodyguard dog, Spots. There, Atari befriends the other dogs and begins an epic journey that will decide their fate. 

Told mostly from the perspective of the dogs, Isle of Dogs is a film that aims to break the status quo. You’ll learn about justice, equality, and what it means to have empathy. Moreover, you’ll have a fun time guessing which star celebrities voice some of the characters in this movie as actors like Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeff Goldblum play some roles in this film. 

8. Prince of Egypt

Last but not least is the Prince of Egypt. This is adapted from the Book of Exodus in the bible, following the life of Moses from being a prince of Egypt to being a prophet of God. Moses guides the Israelites to freedom by parting the Red Sea and giving them the Ten Commandments. Surely you’ll be entertained by this familiar tale knowing that it’s also a musical that you’ll love to sing along to. 

The movie aims to tell a beautiful story of friendship and brotherhood. You’ll get to learn more about identity, faith, and hope in this well-crafted adaptation. Do note that one of its songs also won Best Original Song during the 71st Academy Awards which certainly makes this musical film one to watch at least once in your life.

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