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by Eli Kroes

The realm of 'adult' animation is an interesting one. For a lot of people, it begins and ends with the Adult Swim channel or 'The Simpsons.' Some associate the genre with gross-out borderline-porn flicks like 'Fritz the Cat.' To be sure, this is only a small chunk of the animation that's not intended for children. In fact, the earliest cartoons were meant for an adult audience, and there is a lengthy list of terrific animated features you don't have to be twelve to enjoy. 'Adventures in Animation' will feature reviews of such films...

'Fantastic Planet' - 1973, Directed by Rene Laloux

What better place to start investigating adult-oriented animation than with one of the most fascinating sci-fi relics of all time? 'Fantastic Planet' is one of those anti-human futuristic movies that attempts to show where we're headed without being too preachy. In the story, the species is reduced to tiny pets of a gigantic alien race. We're to assume that planet Earth is long gone, and these aliens rescued some humans to raise them like cats or dogs. The aliens, or 'Draags' as their species is known, call the humans 'Oms' which is a pun off the French word for 'man.' (The film's original language is French, but the English dub is terrific.)

Aside from these domesticated humans, there are also groups of 'wild' Oms living in the forest. The film follows a pet Om as he escapes from his Draag master to the land of the wild Oms. He also steals a learning device and shares it with his new friends.

The thing is, you're never really rooting for the Oms. They're kind of jerks, and they keep messing with the Draags who really don't treat them all that poorly. It makes you think about how humans treat their own domesticated animals, but also about how it's not all that spectacular to be 'free.' 

The story is only one interesting facet to this strange film, though. The illustration is incredibly imaginative and colorful, and reminds me of those old Monty Python cartoons. Laloux went on to do a few other cool animated features, but none hit as hard as this one. It also has a killer soundtrack which sounds straight out of some 70's exploitation flick.

It's semi-out-of-print, but copies ARE out there. A wild journey for sure.

Photo by Animation Stuff.