Best French Cartoons From Totally Spies! to Arcane

We typically associate animation with American or Japanese productions. After all, companies like Disney, DreamWorks, Studio Ghibli, and Toei Animation are all powerhouses that have created some of the most beloved animated shows and movies ever. But it’s time to shine a light on another country’s animated achievements. Of course, we’re talking about France. French animation companies have been responsible for creating a plethora of beloved cartoons, and they’ve been doing it for longer than any of us have been alive. In fact, a French man named Emile Cohl created the very first animated cartoon ever when he produced Phantasmagoria in 1908. So, to honor the rich history of French animation, let’s take a look at some must-watch French cartoons.

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Asterix (1967-)

Asterix may be the most famous French comic ever produced. The series was first featured in Pilot magazine in 1959 and remains in publication to this day. The story follows the Gaul warrior Asterix and his friends as they fight against the Roman Republic. The comic was a huge success, resulting in numerous film adaptations, board games, video games, and a theme park. The first Asterix film was released in 1967 and many more followed. The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, Asterix and Cleopatraand Asterix in Britain are some of the highest reviewed animated Asterix films, and each is worth a watch for animation fans. If you’re craving more Asterix, then it’s time to get excited. Netflix is ​​working on a CG animated Asterix series set to be released in 2023.

The Adventures of Tintin (1991-1992)

Like Asterix, The Adventures of Tintin is a beloved comic series. Tintin was created by belgian cartoonist Herge (Georges Remy) and was originally published in French. The story follows Tintin, a young reporter who travels the world with his dog Snowy and best friend, Captain Haddock. The comic spawned two animated television shows, but 1991’s The Adventures of Tintin was the most well-received. The series was produced, written, and animated by the French company, Ellipse, and the Canadian company, Nelvana. It covers twenty-one Tintin books and follows the original comics faithfully. Whether you’re a seasoned Tintin fan or a newcomer to the franchise, The Adventures of Tintin is a great watch.

Rupert (1991-1997)

Sticking to the comic theme, we’re moving on to Rupert Bear. Created by Mary Tourtel in 1920, Rupert Bear follows the titular bear as he goes on adventures around the world. Although the comic is British, the 1991 TV series, Rupert, was produced by the previously mentioned French company, Ellipse, and Canada’s Nelvana. The series ran until 1997 and featured 65 episodes of faithfully adapted Rupert Bear stories. Younger children may get more out of this show, but don’t let that stop you from checking Rupert out.

Oggy and the Cockroaches (1998-)

You can think of Oggy and the Cockroaches as the French version of Tom and Jerry. The show focuses on mostly silent slapstick humor and features a cat named Oggy as the main character. Oggy tries to live a simple life filled with TV watching and housework, but his days are often interrupted by three mischievous cockroaches. Oggy and his friends are constantly battling the chaos-causing cockroaches in entertaining and uniquely presented ways. The art of Oggy and the Cockroaches is one of the show’s defining features. Episodes frequently use mixed media and various art styles in a way that is always visually interesting. If you haven’t watched Oggy before, you can check out some of the episodes on the show’s official YouTube channel.

Totally spies! (2001-)

Although the show is set in Beverly Hills, California, Totally spies! is a French production. The show follows Sam, Clover, and Alex, three teen girls who work as spies for the World Organization of Human Protection (WOOHP). The trio have to juggle their jobs as super-spies while also dealing with typical teenage problems. The show was originally marketed towards an audience of young girls but was found to be equally popular among girls and boys across multiple age groups. It’s not hard to see why the show was a success. The over-the-top stories, exciting action, and lovable characters make Totally spies! very endearing. The series originally ran for six seasons but a seventh is currently in development, so if you’ve never checked out Totally spies!, now would be the perfect time.

Code Lyoko (2003-2007)

Code Lyoko is a staple of 2000s animation. This French animated series was created by Thomas Roman and Tania Palumbo and aired for 97 episodes over four seasons. Code Lyoko follows a group of friends as they fight against an evil artificial intelligence named Xana that is contained within a supercomputer. Xana is a massively powerful entity that can influence both the real world and the virtual world of Lyoko which is tied to the same computer as it. Throughout the show, the friends uncover the secrets of Xana and the supercomputer and save the world constantly. The show was noteworthy for combining both 2D and 3D animation with the real-world scenes animated in 2D and the virtual Lyoko scenes in 3D.

WITCH (2004-2006)

WITCH began as an Italian comic book series but was quickly adapted into an animated TV show by the French company, SIP Animation, and The Walt Disney Company. The series was heavily inspired by the Japanese Magical Girl genre and embraces an anime-like art style. WITCH follows a group of teenage girls who use elemental powers to protect the world from danger. Despite the show’s name, none of the characters are actually witches. At least not in the traditional sense. WITCH gets its title by using the first letters of the heroines’ names: Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin. Overall, the show offers compelling action and stories that can be enjoyed by kids of any age (and plenty of adults too).

Wakfu: The Animated Series (2008-)

wakfu: The Animated Series is based on an MMORPG game called wakfu. However, despite this fact, the animated series actually began airing well before the game was officially released. wakfu is one of the best television adaptations of a video game and a great show overall. The show tells the story of Yugo, a young boy with magical powers searching for his birth family. With a fun fantasy setting, captivating story, and great characters, it’s easy to get engrossed in this honorary anime. If you haven’t watched wakfu before, now’s the perfect time. The fourth and final season is currently in development.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (2015-)

Ladybug and Cat Noir may not be as popular as Wonder Woman or Batman, but they’ve become superhero icons just the same. Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is one of the most famous examples of French animation from the 2010s. The series centers around Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste, two French teenagers who transform into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir. Romantic struggles surround the two heroes, as they have feelings for each other in different ways. Marinette loves Adrien but not Cat-Noir, and Adrien loves Ladybug but not Marinette. Miraculous has romance, action, and a solid story that will no doubt keep you entertained.

Arcane (2021-)

Yes, that’s right. The critically acclaimed Netflix animated series, Arcanewas produced by a French company. Arcane is set in the universe of the League of Legends video game and follows the conflict between two sisters, Jinx and Vi. The show was very well-received and managed to appeal to both fans and non-fans of League. The animation, voice acting, and story are all very well done, and the show has already been confirmed to have a second season in production. Do yourself a favor and watch Arcaneanother stellar example of French animation.

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