15 little-known cartoons you might have missed

15. Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron

  • USA, UK, 1985.
  • Adventure, fantasy.
  • Duration: 80 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.3.
Frame from the cartoon “Black Cauldron”

The swineherd boy Taran (with emphasis on the first syllable) dreams of becoming a warrior. One day, he learns that the funny pig Hen Wen knows the whereabouts of the magical Black Cauldron. This artifact is being hunted by the evil Horned King in order to enslave the entire state. Now Taran must take Hen Wen to safety.

In the mid-80s, Disney decided to move away from the proven style. Instead of a positive children’s fairy tale, they released a dark fantasy in which a really creepy villain and an army of zombies appear. Alas, the audience coolly accepted the cartoon. After the failure , Disney almost went bankrupt and returned to more traditional projects. But now “The Black Cauldron” is considered one of the most unusual works of the studio.

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14. Legends of the night guards

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

  • USA, Australia, 2010.
  • Fantasy, adventure.
  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.9.

Soren the Owl and his brother fall from a tree and are kidnapped by the evil Pure Ones. After spending some time in slavery, the young hero escapes and tries to find the ancient Ga’Huul tree, where the night guards dwell. Soren must tell them of the Pure Ones’ plans. But the path will not be short.

Director Zack Snyder is best known for film adaptations of comics: he directed “Watchmen”, “Man of Steel” and “Justice League”. “Legends of the Night Watchmen” based on the books by Katherine Lasky is the only experience of this author in animation. But here Snyder did not deviate from his style. This is an adult, incredibly beautiful and even philosophical cartoon.

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13. Incorrigible Ron

Ron’s Gone Wrong

  • USA, UK, 2021.
  • Fantasy, comedy.
  • Duration: 107 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.0.

In the world of the future, every child has a best friend – a robot that shares all the interests of the owner and helps him publish interesting stories on social networks. Shy Barney has such a friend later than others. In addition, Ron (as the android will be called) is defective. But Barney decides that he will teach his comrade everything he knows.

The debut work of the Locksmith Animation studio will appeal to both children and their parents. On the one hand, this is a simple story of friendship between two outcasts and a reminder that shortcomings partly make us individual. On the other hand, the cartoon discusses the topic of addiction to gadgets and social networks.

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12. Insects. Ant Valley Adventure

Minuscule: La vallee des fourmis perdues

  • France, Belgium, 2013.
  • Comedy, adventure.
  • Duration: 80 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.1.
A frame from the cartoon “Insects. Ant Valley Adventure»

While relaxing in nature, a couple forgets a box of sugar in a clearing. She is discovered by a group of black ants and immediately decides to drag her home. However, they are hindered by enemies – red ants.

This cartoon is based on the short series “Insects”. Unlike ” The Adventures of Flick ” and most other animated works about insects, they did not make the characters anthropomorphic here: the characters communicate with all sorts of sounds, but do not talk and behave more realistically. At the same time, the authors turned the confrontation of ants into an exciting action game.

11. Under the cover of night


  • Spain, France, 2007.
  • Fantasy, adventure.
  • Duration: 80 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.2.

Young Tim lives in an orphanage. He is also very afraid of the dark, and the only salvation for the boy is the light of the stars. One day, the other inhabitants of the house lock Tim’s window, and he has to climb onto the roof to look at the night sky. Suddenly, the boy sees that his favorite star has gone out. Then he goes on the road to understand the causes of the tragedy.

This Spanish cartoon is a journey into childhood fears and fantasies. The whole action is tied to a child’s typical fear of the dark . But at the same time, Tim is immersed in a fairy-tale world when he goes to his goal.

10. Book of life

The Book of Life

  • USA, Mexico, Canada, 2014.
  • Fantasy, adventure, melodrama.
  • Duration: 95 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.2.

Joaquin and Manolo have been in love with the beautiful Maria since childhood. All of them meet years later and do not even realize that the gods Katrina and Xibalba made a bet on which of the boys will be the first to marry the girl. To understand the vicissitudes of love, the heroes have to go through many trials and even go to the realm of the dead.

This cartoon, one of the producers of which was the famous Guillermo del Toro, was released in 2014. And three years later, Pixar came up with “The Secret of Coco” with similar plot motifs. After that, some viewers started talking about plagiarism, but even the authors themselves admit that the stories came out completely different.

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9. Lords of time

Les maîtres du temps

  • France, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, 1982.
  • Fantasy, adventure.
  • Duration: 75 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.3.
Frame from the cartoon “Lords of Time”

Young Piel and his parents end up on the planet Mortis, where they are attacked by giant hornets. Dad and mom die, having managed to send a signal to their friend, Captain Jaffar, before they die. He, along with motley companions, goes to save the boy.

The cartoon, which was created by French animator René Laloux and comics artist Jean Giraud, aka Mobius, is based on the book by Stefan Wool “The Orphan of Perdida”. But the authors of the adaptation greatly changed the plot, for example, by adding those same Lords of Time. The result is a beautiful fantasy work with a shocking twist at the end.

8. The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Le grand mechant renard et autres contes…

  • France, Belgium, 2017.
  • Comedy, adventure.
  • Duration: 79 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.4.

A stork with a broken wing asks a pig, a rabbit and a duck to hand over the baby to their parents. A timid fox steals three eggs and suddenly becomes a mother to chickens. And by Christmas, the animals break Santa Claus and decide to deliver gifts for him.

All these stories are based on the comics of Benjamin Renner, who himself directed the part about the fox. And the short stories are connected with each other in a very unusual way: the animals supposedly act out all the plots in the form of a performance on the stage.

7. Illusionist


  • France, UK, 2010.
  • Fantasy, drama.
  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.5.

The magician Tatishchev performs in Scotland in the late 1950s. He meets a young naive girl, Alice, who believes that he is truly capable of performing miracles. The young admirer leaves behind Tatishchev and helps him with the housework. However, Alice does not even know what forces the hero needs to create the illusion of magic for her.

This beautiful and touching work was staged by the author of Trio de Belleville, Sylvain Chomet. And the plot itself is based on a script written by actor Jacques Tati, partly using his biography.

6. Secret of N.I.M.H.

The Secret of NIMH

  • USA, 1982.
  • Drama, adventure.
  • Duration: 82 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.5.
A frame from the cartoon “The Secret of N.I.M.H.”

Mrs. Brisby’s field mouse has to urgently move with her family – their field will soon be plowed by a tractor. But one child became seriously ill and needed to maintain bed rest. Then Mrs. Brisby turns to the smart mice who escaped from the laboratory for help. The situation is complicated by the evil Jenner, who wants to steal a valuable artifact from the mother of the family.

Artist Don Bluth once worked at Disney on Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood, but was unhappy with the decline in animation quality, so he left the studio and directed the film adaptation of Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of the NIMH. The quality of the production and the serious subject matter proves that Bluth was right in his claims.

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5 Hill Dwellers

watership down

  • UK, 1978
  • Drama, adventure.
  • Duration: 91 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.6.

Rabbit Fiver, who has the powers of foresight, claims that their colony will soon die. However, almost no one believes him. Then the hero escapes with his older brother Nut. Together they are looking for a new place to live.

It should be understood in advance that “Dwellers of the Hills” is an adult and gloomy cartoon filled with allegories of people. But at the same time, he is also very handsome. The background landscapes here are painted in watercolor, and the rabbits and other animals themselves are very realistic.

4. Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells

  • France, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, 2008.
  • Adventure, fantasy.
  • Duration: 71 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.6.

Young Brendan lives in the Irish Abbey of Kells in the 9th century. Fearing Viking raids, the monks build a high wall for protection. But one day Aidan arrives, bringing an incredibly beautiful book from a plundered monastery. It is Brendan who will have to complete the work on the illustrations.

The works of Tomm Moore “Song of the Sea” and ” The Legend of the Wolves ” are known to many. But not everyone saw the debut cartoon of this director. But it is no less beautiful: unusual animation partially copies the same Book of Kells, which is told in the story.

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3. Ernest and Celestine: Adventures of a mouse and a bear

Ernest and Celestine

  • France, Belgium, Luxembourg, 2012.
  • Comedy, fantasy, adventure.
  • Duration: 80 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.8.
A frame from the cartoon “Ernest and Celestine: The Adventures of a Mouse and a Bear”

Celestine Mouse is about to become a dentist, but first she needs to get some teeth. While completing the task, the heroine gets into trouble and meets the poor and hungry bear Ernest. This is how the friendship of two completely different creatures begins: it turns out that both of them are prone to creativity and do not want to live like everyone else.

The cartoon is based on the children’s book series of the same name by Gabrielle Vincent. And most importantly, what the authors of the adaptation did was to turn the visuals into a set of elegant minimalistic drawings. Well, a simple and sweet story of friendship gives pleasant emotions from viewing.

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2. Waltz with Bashir

Vals Im Bashir

  • Israel, USA, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, 2008.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.

Former Israeli infantry soldier Ari Folman meets with an old army comrade. He talks about his nightmares after the war. And Ari himself realizes that he remembers almost nothing about this dark period of his life.

Director Ari Folman literally retold his biography in this cartoon. He really participated in the 1982 Lebanon War and put his experiences into the plot. Thanks to such a personal presentation, as well as an incredible visual range, the work was even nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Film category.

1. Mary and Max

Mary and Max

  • Australia, 2009
  • Comedy drama.
  • Duration: 92 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.

Eight-year-old Mary from Australia begins to correspond out of boredom with 44-year-old Max Horowitz from New York. Despite the difference in age and the huge distance, the heroes will carry their friendship through the years.

Adam Elliot took the idea of his first full-length work from his own life: he talked with a pen friend for 20 years. And at the same time, the director added many relevant topics to the plot: depression, loneliness, discrimination. In addition, the cartoon is notable for its now rare plasticine animation .

What little-known cartoons do you remember? Share your finds in the comments!

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