It’s hardly surprising that many of the best sci-fi movies that don’t contain meaningful human characters are animated movies. Not only is it more common for children’s content to contain non-human characters than movies aimed at adults, but animation also allows for bigger ideas to be explored without appearing so unrealistic.
This is partly because children have larger imaginations than adults and are able to connect to unfamiliar character experiences than adults. However, whether plots following non-human characters are created for children or adults, they tend to possess the same themes. Generally, the themes of these scenarios are used to represent the fall of humanity, or are used to represent a group of people who are ostracized and altered by the rest of society.
There are plenty of live-action sci-fi films that examine such themes around prejudice through non-human characters that are clearly aimed at adults. The difference with these films, however, is that they almost always include human characters as well. In part, they have to include human characters for budget reasons, because it would be very expensive to bring an entire world to life where everyone needs heavy costumes, makeup, or CGI effects.
That said, it makes more sense for some sci-fi plots to exclude humans and imagine new beings, relying on animation to bring the world to life. Animation allows concepts to be as big as they need to be without the ideas looking corny. While most animations are kid-friendly, these animated sci-fi movies are sure to put into perspective what it means to be human, while providing an enjoyable view for a child or adult audience.
The dark crystal
dark crystals creator, Jim Henson, had an apparent interest in non-human worlds. This is evident from this film and other similar works, including his the Land of Gorch series. The notion of dark crystal he himself was actually inspired by an illustration of a Lewis Carroll poem that Henson saw, which featured a group of crocodiles wearing fancy dresses and accessories. Thus, it was clearly intentional that the characters in this movie be non-human. Although this series was not animated, the characters were created using puppets, which still gave creators an almost limitless range of creative possibilities.
The visual outcome of these characters earned the film a lot of praise, especially for its time period. Although the characters were not people, they still reflected very human habits and qualities. More than anything, they reflect a human theme. The theme of this film is all about change and speaking out, pushing back when there is injustice happening to a group or groups of people. It encourages any viewer in the audience to stand up for others and do the right thing, even if it’s hard.
The characters in this Disney animated sci-fi film are simply animals, rather than allowing the sci-fi genre to determine their species. The purpose of these characters being animals is to pay homage to the Anglo-Saxon folktale that inspired the film, which follows a loose chicken. For the chicken to make sense as a character, it seemed like a good idea to make characters around him animals as well. In addition to staying true to its roots, the use of animal characters also makes the story more digestible for a child audience.
Again, the characters all still have human elements that make them relevant to viewers. The most essential theme of this film is the message of accepting who you are and embracing what makes you different, as these qualities often end up being strengths. The characters are all different types of animals, which underscores this point and illustrates how different yet the same we all are.
The whole concept of this film examines the value of community and connection. In other words, living among others like us should be more than just a way to earn money; it should also be a source of acceptance and support.
While still living in a relatively imperfect society, robots are appropriate characters to examine this concept because robots are a human invention and therefore a direct reflection of humans and human behavior. Although the world of this film has different priorities than ours, it functions much the same and serves as a valuable example to the audience, without being too direct.
Mune: Guardian of the Moon
This French film takes place in a different realm with a different species of beings, whose whole world revolves around the sun and the moon. In some ways their world mirrors ours, but in other ways that world is simpler than ours, in that it relies more on the essentials and not so much on the excessive things that are present in our society.
Ultimately, the main theme of this film is to believe in yourself, despite what their position in the world makes them believe in themselves. While this film didn’t have a particularly big global impact, it painted a world much like our own, without being too on the nose, which helps us re-evaluate our priorities in our own lives.
Unlike the other movies on the list, a few humans play a crucial role in this sci-fi flick. The Scientist is responsible for creating the world in which the story takes place, and the Chancellor is the driving force behind it all. They are basically the origin story of the movie. It is not the characters that advance the plot points in the story, however.
The characters that make up the story are kind of animated dolls, brought to life by alchemy. The film’s message emphasizes the importance of considering others and not always putting yourself first. It is an essential component of any community. Perhaps, since we do not always succeed in enforcing this priority in our own societies, we can at least recognize through this theme that there is a need.
If all of these non-human movies prove anything, it’s that the best movies about non-human characters teach us a lot about being human. The best part about these anime movies is that they are accessible to both kids and adults, which makes their treasured themes appealing to both equally. As graphics and make-up capabilities continue to advance, these scenarios can transition from animation to live action. But whatever form they take, they will likely always reflect those same core themes that remind us of what it really means to be human.
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