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The 10 Best Animated Series on Netflix (That Aren’t Anime)

Sometimes, when the world is burning all around us, all you wanna do is hunker down with a good cartoon. Thankfully, we live in an era where it’s more or less recognized that cartoons and animation aren’t just for kids, resulting in a plethora of good shows to watch.

There are plenty of options for adult animation on Netflix, as well as a wealth of animated movies and shows. There’s just something about watching a good cartoon that feels wildly more comforting than non-animated TV, and I’m excited to share these gems with you. Admittedly, I am not as familiar with the first three as I am with the rest of the shows on this list, but from what I’ve seen and heard, they’re absolute gems and worthy of their fanfare. Here are the best animated series on Netflix (that aren’t anime).

Centaurworld

(Netflix)

Imagine the humor of Spongebob, but with a more serious, Bojack-y undertone to it. That’s what I’ve gathered from Centaurworld: a surreal show about a war horse who’s sent to another world, where obnoxious (yet entertaining) centaur creatures sing and dance.

The horse (aptly named “Horse”) was separated from her rider during a hopeless battle, and now, she’s on a quest to get back to her as soon as possible. It’s a fascinating concept that has a lot of potential, and considering the current way the show is going, that potential can only expand into further intrigue.

Hilda

(Netflix)

Hilda is so endlessly charming and sweet, it’s almost too much to bear. The innocence of its adventurous spirit makes you really yearn for those happy childhood days, when everything was full of magic and delight. In that sense, it’s the perfect show for both children and adults.

If you like Moomin, Bee and Puppycat, We Bare Bears, Over the Garden Wall, or anything in that realm, then you’ll probably love this show. It’s probably the most kid-centric on this list, however, so just bear that in mind.

Arcane

Arcane on Netflix
(Netflix)

I know next to nothing about League of Legends, the lore of which makes the backbone of Arcane, but from what I understand, most people who love this show aren’t League fans, either. Think what you will of Riot and League players, this show is something else.

Not only is the art style beautiful and inspiring, but the animation itself is also gorgeous and incredibly fun to watch, and the characters have generated some of the more positive fan responses I’ve seen in a while. Plus, we love seeing lesbians prosper on-screen!

Love Death + Robots

(Netflix)

Gotta admit, I think Love Death + Robots is, overall, an acquired taste. There’s a lot of overt and unnecessary sexualization of women and queer folks, and the violence sometimes feels like it was charted out by a teenage boy. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that it’s a pretty masterful anthology of animation.

Each episode has a different style and a different, self-contained plot, the likes of which are akin to the kinds of sci-fi short stories you might read in college. It’s definitely a trip, and if you’re a fan of darker sci-fi subjects, then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Plus, there’s a new season coming out soon, so…time to get caught up!

The Midnight Gospel

midnight gospel is a trip
(Netflix)

Well, it’s clear here that Adult Swimism has leaked over into other networks, although I’d venture that The Midnight Gospel is a great deal more coherent than most Adult Swim shows. It’s a trippy, philosophical show about a “space caster” who goes around, pondering with anyone he meets.

It feels a bit like watching what happens if you take an Alan Watts lecture, give it form, then split it up amongst a cast of Rick and Mortyish characters (design-wise, I mean). Most people see it as a show to watch while stoned, and while I mostly think weed jokes are annoying, I gotta admit, some of the wiser moments of this show are lost on me when sober.

Big Mouth

Maya Rudolph, Jessi Klein, and Jenny Slate in Big Mouth (2017)
(Netflix)

Yes, yes, I know, “Big Mouth gross,” etc. etc.. It is gross. But that’s kind of the point, and since the creators knew that was the point, they were able to make the rest of the show—the meat, as it were—pretty engaging.

I don’t know if I’d say I love this show, but whenever a new season comes out, I’m always really impressed. It handles serious subject matter, such as consent and trans representation, with grace and maturity. And while it’s certainly valid to knock the show for delving into the topic of teen sexuality at all, I think it covers the subject a whole lot more appropriately than some other “teen” shows out there.

Disenchantment

matt groening
(Netflix)

To be honest, I’m not sure many people like this show, and I think that’s sad. It’s not a bad show, per se; it’s watchable and has all the classic Groening touches. It’s just, when you compare any show to its successful forebears (in this case, The Simpsons and Futurama), you’re inevitably going to be disappointed.

Disenchantment is a perfectly fine show, with a silly cast of characters that really grow on you, and a world and plot that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, I love the fact that its protagonist, Princess Bean, is a queer girl with an unconventional body-type and a knack for screwing things up. Girls like us need some rep, too!

Castlevania

core castlevania trio
(Netflix)

You have no idea how many Google searches it took me to finally deduce that Castlevania, while anime-ish, isn’t technically an anime. Which I’m personally happy about, not because I have anything against anime, but because that means I get to put it on this list.

Castlevania is just…that bitch, honestly. It’s so ridiculous and over-the-top, it reminds me less of its video game origins and more of a different video game series, Devil May Cry. The violence is out of control, the characters are vulgar and hilarious, and each individual character arc is honestly incredible. In particular, Isaac’s entire story had me wrapped around his little finger, and remains one of the best character arcs of any show I’ve ever seen. 10/10, very kissable man.

Tuca And Bertie

Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong voice Tuca and Birdie in the new netflix series.
(Netflix)

Aw, man. I don’t even know how to properly describe my love for this show. Lisa Hanawalt is a really smart and inventive writer, and even though Tuca and Bertie might seem too goofy to handle at times, it really is worth all the love it gets.

Female friendships are so, so important, and this show conveys that in spades. Plus, both Tuca and Bertie’s journeys as individuals are pretty relatable for anyone for whom adulthood is an unattainable concept (i.e. most of us), and the more serious elements of the show are done incredibly well.

Bojack Horseman

(Netflix)

It’s Bojack. If you haven’t watched it, well. That’s too much, man.

Honorable Mention: Neo Yokio

(Netflix)

Okay I KNOW this show was a meme but it’s worth watching for the same exact reason. Who’s to say we’ll ever get another weird anime-type show directed by an indie prep, starring the likes of Jaden Smith, Jude Law, and Jason Schwartzman?

I hate this show and I miss it. Neo Yokio forever.

(Featured Image: Netflix)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at https://madelinecwrites.com/