Put on your shiny, baggy pants and your midriff shirt. It’s time to go back to 1999 for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past.

Now, it’s hard to for me to believe that it’s been three years since the column started, and we haven’t touched this cultural gem that scarred a whole generation of children and is guaranteed to leave you emotionally wrecked. It is not only one of the best-animated films of the century, it was a fantastic gateway for kids and adults alike to understand the truly meaningful questions that sci-fi is meant to try and answer.

In the height of the Red Scare, ‘The Iron Giant’ follows Hogarth, a little boy who investigates a meteor crash that a farmer claims is a space invader. Turns out the farmer was right because Hogarth finds a giant robot…. from space. Good thing it’s friendly.

The robot becomes the perfect science fiction foil for humanity, and Hogarth has to navigate him through a world of fear and death. With the government after the robot and prepared to do significant damage to eliminate the “threat”, Hogarth and the robot go on a fantastically terrifying adventure that leads to an ending that is… well… I said emotionally scarring before, but the truth is that it is meant to help children grow emotionally. Shielding them from pain doesn’t do them any favors, which is the same for the robot as he learns from Hogarth. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is easily on the top ten list of poignant moments in animated film history.

‘The Iron Giant’ is strong sci-fi, incredibly animated, with a story that pulls at all the right heartstrings. It’s also directed by Brad Bird of PIXAR fame.

If you haven’t seen ‘The Iron Giant’ yet, there’s your whole list of reasons to do so.