Best 90s Animated Movies That Aren’t Disney


The world of animation is far from being just limited to Disney, even though it kind of feels like that sometimes. Nowhere was this sentiment felt more than in the 1990s, when Disney was in the middle of its Renaissance. The company did make some bonafide classics during the decade. However, they weren’t the only animation studio releasing wonderful and unique films at the time. If you’re looking to watch a 90s animated film the Mouse didn’t bring to life, we’ve got you covered.

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FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

ferngully

Image via 20th Century Fox

Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Get ready for some nostalgia with this pick. FernGully: The Last Rainforest is probably a name that might not sound familiar, but the chances that you probably watched it when you were young are high. A curious fairy named Crysta (Samantha Matthis) encounters the logger Zak (Jonathan Ward), shrinking him down to her size. However, the loggers and the evil pollution monster Hexxus (Tim Curry) are trying to destroy the forest and, in turn, threaten the fairies’ entire world. It is up to Crysta and Zak to rally the fairies to save their colony before it’s too late.

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Cool World (1992)

cool-world

Image via Paramount Pictures

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime

Okay, controversial opinion time: Cool World gets a lot of unnecessary flack. Although legendary animator Ralph Bakshi’s original vision for the film was tampered with, the end result is still an enjoyable romp that deserves a second shot. Artist Jack (Gabriel Byrne) is currently in prison and is spending his time creating a series of comic strips based on his visions of a mysterious cartoon world. When he’s released, he finds himself transported to Cool World and meets hardened detective Frank (Brad Pitt) and the femme fatale Holli (Kim Basinger). Unfortunately, the lines between the two universes are beginning to merge, putting Cool World in immense danger.

Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso

Image via Studio Ghibli

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

It wouldn’t be a best 90s animated movie list without a Studio Ghibli shoutout. It was difficult choosing between this and the similarly-beloved Princess Mononoke. However, only one of these films has an aviator pig with a mustache, and that film is Porco Rosso. Marco Pagot (Shūichirō Moriyama) was once a successful air-bound bounty hunter, but a mysterious curse has turned him into a pig. Now donning the name Porco Rosso, he takes to the skies to fight air pirates, even if he is becoming disillusioned due to Italy’s new regime. However, he begins butting heads with American ace Curtis (Akio Ōtsuka), leading to an epic battle in the skies. It is one of the few historical works by the famed Japanese studio, but if you’re looking for something considerably lighter than Grave of the Fireflies, give this one a watch.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

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Image via Warner Bros.

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

This film is widely considered to be one of the best Batman films, whether live-action or animated, and for good reason. Taking place during the events of Batman: The Animated Series, it follows the titular hero (Kevin Conroy) as he faces off against a brand-new villain that is killing off crime bosses throughout Gotham. However, not everything is as it seems, especially with the mysterious Phantasm hot on Batman’s heels. With an intriguing plot and stunning animation, it’s no wonder that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best examples of Batman media ever made.

The Swan Princess (1994)

the-swan-princess

Image via New Line Cinema

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

With its bizarre amount of direct-to-video sequels, it can be difficult to remember that the first Swan Princess film is actually quite good. While not nearly as romantic as it thinks it is, it is still a heartfelt story of embracing your inner beauty. After being told that her suitor Derek (Howard McGillin) only likes her for her beauty, Odette (Michelle Nicastro) is kidnapped by the powerful sorcerer Rothbart (Jack Palance) and is transformed into a swan. Unaware of the other’s continued existence, Odette and Derek have to find a way to defeat Rothbart before he claims both their kingdoms as his.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

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Image via Kôdansha

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Forget that clumsily written and woefully cast live-action adaptation from a few years back. Ghost in the Shell is arguably not only one of the best anime films of the 90s, but one of the best anime movies period. Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka) is an elite cyborg agent who can track and kill ghost-hacked bodies, less-than-affectionately called shells, with ease. However, it’s an encounter with the mysterious biohacker the Puppet Master (Iemasa Kayumi) that causes Motoko to reevaluate what really separates humans and machines on more than a physical level. While action-packed and violent, it’s also a poignant philosophical tale that will stick with you long after watching it.

The End of Evangelion (1997)

end-of-evangelion

Image via Toei Company

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Rebirth films of the classic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion may have recently ended, but The End of Evangelion helped pave the way for its resurgence in theaters. Attempting to rewrite the final two episodes of Evangelion, the film follows Shinji (Megumi Ogata) as he begins to question his existence and purpose after the death of Kaworu (Akira Ishida). The End of Evangelion takes the controversial existentialist themes of the original series finale and cranks it up to 10. However, it also ends on a strangely positive, or as positive of a note it can be given the circumstances. If you are looking for world-class animated storytelling with a healthy dose of violence and dread, this film is an essential watch.

Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect-blue

Image via Rex Entertainment

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

People who think that animated movies can’t be scary clearly haven’t heard of Perfect Blue, or maybe they think that Black Swan was an original story. Either way, it is an essential watch if you want to learn more about what the medium of animation can accomplish. Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao) is a member of the successful girl group CHAM!, but wants to extend her career as an actress. As she is attempting to break free of her image, however, she begins being stalked by what she thinks is a disgruntled fan. However, the truth is much more complicated and darker than she expects, leading her down a path of inner destruction.

The Prince of Egypt (1998)

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Image via DreamWorks Animation

Where You Can Buy It: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Even if you aren’t religious, you can’t deny that The Prince of Egypt is a wonderful adaptation of the Book of Exodus and a great movie in general. Moses (Val Kilmer) finds himself cast out of Egypt after accidentally killing a slave driver. While in exile, he received a prophecy from God that he will one day become king of Egypt and will free the Hebrews from their slavery. After being granted God’s shepherding staff, he sets off on his quest, amassing a loyal following along the way. You don’t have to know anything about Exodus to appreciate the beautiful storytelling and catchy songs.

The Iron Giant (1999)

the-iron-giant-image

Image via Warner Bros.

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

I’m not crying thinking about The Iron Giant, you are. This iconic film centers around the timid Hogarth (Eli Marienthal), who is having a hard time adjusting to the anxieties brought upon by the Cold War. However, that changes when he discovers the titular Iron Giant (Vin Diesel), a 50-foot alien robot that reacts defensively but still has a heart of gold. With authorities hot on their trail, the unlikely duo join forces with beatnik Dean (Harry Connick, Jr.) to try and prove that not everything that is unfamiliar and different is inherently evil. Here’s to hoping that the Giant will one day be acknowledged again by Warner Bros. outside of their IP-promoting shlock.

KEEP READING: Every Disney Animated Movie Ever Made Ranked from Worst to Best


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