One must have noticed with awe that not a lot of animated war movies have been made as yet. The simple reason for this, we feel, is that cartoons are meant to be for children while war movies are supposed to be for adults.
But it’s not that there have been no animated war movies made. There have been a few over the years but all with very adult content. Each of which have been near exceptional films.
The choice to animate these movies, as opposed to film with live actors is a peculiar one but one that is also effective. Something about the illustration of combat makes these films seem all the more surreal and nightmarish.
Find below the best six animated war movies:
Victory Through Air Power (1943)
In 1943, Walt Disney released Victory Through Air Power, a full-on propaganda cartoon that advertised war bonds for the war effort using cartoons to animate the war effort and the Japanese threat of Kamikaze pilots.
When the Wind Blows (1986)
This British cartoon depicts an elderly couple in rural Britain attempting to survive a nuclear blast. Produced during the height of the Cold War as a parable to warn against nuclear war, this is one of the most intense and disturbing war films you’ll ever see.
The elderly couple, guided by a pamphlet distributed by the British government, which suggests such life saving measures as hiding behind mattresses stacked against the wall, slowly succumb to radiation poisoning before they eventually die. How dreadful!
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
In this Japanese film, two young children, both siblings, attempt to flee the American firebombing of their city after the death of their mother.
The second World War is in its final throes and Japan is collapsing as a civilization. Without anyone to care for them, the brother and sister bounce around from relatives, to a camp, and finally, to the streets, as they battle starvation and disease. This is about as disturbing a film as you’ll ever see and the end is shattering.
Waltz With Bashir (2008)
Waltz With Bashir. In this film, an Israeli soldier struggles to piece together his memory about a massacre that he may or may not have participated in. By speaking to his comrades, he’s able to start to re-collect his memory, which has horrible consequences.
It should be noted, like most of the films on this list, the animation used in this film is not your traditional cartoon style of bright colors, instead, the film’s animators use shadows and darkness to create a visual palette which would be difficult to re-create in real life.
A powerful, and stirring film about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
Although not fully a cartoon, the movie was filmed with real actors on soundstage, the filmmakers used such heavy CGI to render each frame of the film that nothing is life-like and everything becomes a mix between fantasy and reality.
The action on-screen is also over the top and of a cartoon, such that the entire film could be considered a sort of animated war movie.
The Wind Rises (2013)
This film is certainly not an average subject matter for a cartoon. The film is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A6 Zero fighter which was used by the Japanese in the Second World War. It’s a love story, and a story of invention, set against the backdrop of the second World War. With smart dialogue and characters and in-depth storytelling this is currently the largest grossing film in Japanese history!