Adult Animation That’s Making a Difference

January 30, 2023

If you’re an animation fan, it’s safe to assume that you’ve definitely experienced your fair share of “animation’s just for kids!” type rhetoric. In a way, it’s true: children’s programming absolutely shines in the animation world, especially in Ontario. But similarly to children’s programming, animated productions targeting adults are just as innovative, impactful, and entertaining, with their own prosocial messaging and focus on what it means to be a human. 

Below I have compiled a list of some of my favourite animated adult television series. The way that each series celebrates and fully takes advantage of the medium of animation makes each show unique, and fully encapsulates why I Iove the medium of animation so much. 


The Midnight Gospel

The Midnight Gospel is an American animated series that follows spacecastor (a podcaster, but in space!) Clance Gilroy as he travels through different plants by using an unlicensed multiverse simulator. On each planet, he interviews residents and gains new perspectives on morality, consciousness, self, spirituality, existentialism, and more. The combination of philosphy mixed together with the fluid animation abd beautiful, vibrant colours and thoughtful character design make The Midnight Gospel an unforgettable watch.


You can watch The Midnight Gospel on Netflix! 


Smiling Friends

This series is a raunchy, over the top, ridiculous show stars Pim and Charlie, two employees at Sming Friends who’s job is to, well, make people smile. It’s easy to write off Smiling Friends as one of those gross-out adult humour animated shows, however, Smiling Friends truly understands its medium, and takes complete advantage of it. Throughout the season there are many instances where mixed-media animation is employed, where main characters Pim and Charlie may find themselves facing a 3D, oozing monster. These visual gags are not only hilarious but also add to the overall absurdity of the Smiling Friends universe.


You can watch Smiling Friends on on Adult Swim!


Tuca and Bertie

If you’re a fan of Bojack Horseman, look no further than its bright, colourful sibling Tuca and Bertie! Titular characters Tuca, a toucan, and Bertie, a song thrush, are witty, loveable, and above all, relatable. This series focuses on Tuca and Bertie’s friendship, relationships, and being an adult. Despite tackling mature themes, Tuca and Bertie maintains a sense of joy and optimism that is completely addictive. 


You can watch Tuca and Bertie on Netflix! 



Now here’s a classic! Nana is a 2006 Japanese animated series based off of the manga by Ai Yazawa. Nana follows the story of two girls both named Nana after they have a chance meeting on a train heading to Tokyo and decide to become roommates. This series is widely praised for its relatable depiction of entering adulthood and the relationships that come along with it. Nana has accumulated a cult following ever since its debut, and has had a notable resurgence in popularity on social media over the last few years. 


You can watch Nana on Hulu! 


To quote Guillermo del Toro, animation is a medium, not a genre, nor is it an interest of kids and family only. And as a medium, animation allows the human imagination to transcend any physical limitations. I definitely suggest giving each of these series a try, as they truly exemplify the diversity, passion, innovation, and creativity that can be found within animation. 




Guillermo del Toro quote 


Posted in Blog.

Karlie (she/her) is a 3rd year Media Production student with an affinity for horror movies, creative writing, manga, and spaghetti-not necessarily in that order. In her free time, Karlie likes to make art, listen to music, read, explore new corners of Toronto, and hang out with her spoiled tuxedo cat named Jasmine. Karlie is excited for her second year as a blog writer for SpiritLive!