Anime has established itself as one of the most creative storytelling formats. The majority of Japanese animated films raised the bar for animation in films by focusing on interesting characters and unusual scenarios. Since most studios are still dedicated to using traditional hand-drawn imagery along with cutting-edge technologies to craft stories that defy conventional expectations, anime offers a world of limitless possibilities.
Anime fans have spoken up loud and clear, propelling a number of animated films to the top of the global box office. The most well-liked anime films are now finally being released in the United States at the same time as Japan, which helps them gain momentum and achieve record-breaking box office results. Japanese studios have been paying attention, and the long-standing barriers of language and localization are progressively disappearing.
These are the highest-grossing anime films ever, ranging from the magical worlds of Studio Ghibli to the action-packed adventures of series like Dragon Ball, One Piece, Pokémon, and Demon Slayer.
Table Of Content
- 1 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (2020)
- 2 Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire (2019)
- 3 Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018)
- 4 Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)
- 5 Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
- 6 Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (2021)
- 7 One Piece Film: Red (2022)
- 8 Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
- 9 Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)
- 10 Ponyo (2008)
- 11 Princess Mononoke (1997)
- 12 Spirited Away (2001)
- 13 Stand by Me, Doraemon (2014)
- 14 Suzume (2022)
- 15 Tales from Earthsea (2012)
- 16 The First Slam Dunk (2022)
- 17 The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
- 18 The Wind Rises (2013)
- 19 Weathering with You (2019)
- 20 Your Name (2016)
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (2020)
A popular anime right now is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Ufotable turned the Mugen Train story arc in to a single movie after two lucrative seasons. The end result is one of the most extravagant animated films ever made, and it also shatters every Ghibli Studios box office record with a revenue of $507,127,293. The film is directed by Haruo Sotozaki and is based on the Koyoharu Gotouge manga. Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, and Hiro Shimono provide the voices for the characters.
We join Tanjiro Kamado and his companions as they board the enigmatic Mugen Train along the Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku to battle a potent demon terrorising the passengers. Despite being a conventional Shonen offering, the film managed to surpass a remarkable milestone because to the IP’s enormous popularity. That doesn’t imply the plot is weak, though, as the movie incorporates a number of teachings on fortitude, selflessness, and bravery together with gorgeous animation and intense action scenes.
Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire (2019)
In Japan, Detective Conan is a hugely successful show that has been running for many years in a variety of formats. Several films have also been produced that follow the main plotlines of the show. Tomoka Nagaoka and Takahiro Okura’s final installment in the Detective Conan series, The Fist of Blue Sapphire, features a voice cast that includes well-known Japanese actors including Minami Takayama, Wakana Yamazaki, and Rikiya Koyama.
This movie is the 23rd in the Case Closed movie series, which is based on the manga. The movie follows the genius detective Conan Edogawa and his friends as they race against a criminal organisation to find a hidden treasure. The movie brought in $115,570,314 at the box office as the final Heisei era film, demonstrating the IP’s enduring significance around the world.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018)
For years, fans have pleaded with Akira Toriyama to include Broly in the Dragon Ball canon. In the Dragon Ball Z OVA series, where he has appeared in three films, the character made his debut outside of the usual continuity. Every time he appears on screen, the renowned Super Saiyan has shown himself to be a deadly opponent. With the debut of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, which was directed by Tatsuya Nagamine and included a screenplay written by Toriyama, he finally gave in.
Another surprise resulted from the inclusion of Broly in the canonical Dragon Ball narrative; Bardock, Goku’s father, is suddenly included. Masako Nozawa, Ry Horikawa, and Bin Shimada’s voices are excellent as always. By adding Paragus, Broly’s father, who discovered his son was an abnormality after his power readings exceeded those of King Vegeta’s offspring, the tale borrows heavily from the original OVA series. During its theatrical run, the movie earned $122,747,755.
Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)
Hideaki Anno is a person who is controlled by his demons. He battled profound sadness while he wrote the Neon Genesis Evangelion original plot. He would revisit the narrative a few years later with a new film series called The Rebuild Anthology. He committed to making three films to tell the story, but felt it needed a fourth to wrap things up. Anno provided the final chapter of the story nine years after the previous installment, following a second depressive episode.
The beloved Evangelion series comes to an end in Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. We finally get one last look at the world of Sinji and his friends and how he cope with the loss of Kaoru from the previous film in this film, which was written and directed by Anno and stars the talents of Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, and Yuko Miyamura. It’s a tale that brings the saga to a satisfying conclusion, ultimately grants Shinji his happily ever after, and reveals to viewers that Anno is at last at peace with himself. The movie was a runaway success, earning $92,246,218 globally.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, another blockbuster under his direction, is an adaptation of the Diana Wynne Jones book. The plot is on Sophie, a young woman afflicted with an older woman’s body, as she goes on adventures and interacts with the mysterious wizard Howl. Some of the talented voice actors in the cast include Takuya Kimura, Chieko Baisho, and Akihiro Miwa.
Miyazaki went above and above to create a huge epic with a potent steampunk look. The film features breathtaking visuals, likeable characters, and a story that explores a variety of themes, including love, self-acceptance, and the horrors of war. Hollywood veterans Billy Crystal, Josh Hutcherson, Christian Bale, and Lauren Bacall are also included in the localised sub. It was a big box office success, with a total revenue of $237,536,126.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (2021)
MAPPA is raising action stories to an unavoidable art form for the senses, much like Ghibli is done for drama. Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which is based on the same-named manga, serves as a prelude to the events of the first season of the anime. Sunghoo Park, who also directed the movie, adapted Gege Akutami’s comic for the screen.
As we trace the beginnings of the majority of the series’ components, including the well-known Saturo Gojo, the Jujutsu Society, the Spirit Demons, and more, the story builds up the current events in the programme. Junya Enoki, Yuma Uchida, and Asami Seto make up the voice cast. Yuta Okkotsu, a high school student with a harmful curse, is the protagonist of the novel. The movie was an international big hit, earning $196,290,952 in total.
One Piece Film: Red (2022)
Red is the sixteenth full-length movie in the One Piece film franchise. Like Dragon Ball, these films had a side-story beginning that wasn’t constrained by the book or the show’s timeline. The films eventually merged with the television programme, though, by adapting brief storylines, adding fresh plotlines, or even wrapping up unfinished plotlines. The voice cast for Red, which includes Mayumi Tanaka, Akemi Okamura, and Kazuya Nakai, is performed by Takashi Otsuka and Tsutomu Kuroiwa.
We watch as the Straw Hat Pirates go to see Uta perform on the island of Elegia in this movie. Uta exposes her relationship to Luffy and her scheme to make the world happier. Her singing abilities allow Uta to escape a group of mercenaries who attempt to kidnap her. While trapping everyone in the Sing-Sing World, Uta’s powers and those of the Marines conflict. Tot Musica, who is revealed to be the mastermind of the scheme, must now be vanquished by Luffy and Shanks. It’s a fantastic movie that made a lot of money, earning $246, 570,00 at the box office.
Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
It’s difficult to estimate exactly how popular Pokémon was when it first came out in 1996. The toys were the best-selling things at numerous chain stores, and the show already had a sizable following all over the world. When the first movie was reve aled, it generated excitement akin to that of blockbusters like The Phantom Menace. In a time before the internet, there were long lines outside movie theatres if you wanted to see a popular movie on its release day.
Takeshi Shudo wrote the screenplay for Pokémon: The First Movie, which was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama. Rica Matsumoto, Ikue Tani, Mayumi Iizuka, and Yji Ueda all contribute to the movie. In the film, Ash Ketchum battles Team Rocket, who manages to procure for their master the tools necessary to clone the legendary Pokémon Mew and produce Mewtwo, resulting in a battle between the two monsters. Despite earning an astonishing $172,744,662, the movie received negative reviews from American viewers since the localised version diverged from the original plot.
Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)
In the early 2000s, American viewers were ravenous for Pokémon content. The second film in the series debuted on theatres worldwide just one year after the first one with a brand-new adventure that put Ash at the centre of an unusual quest. Pokémon: The Movie 2000, which was written and directed by Takeshi Shudo, demonstrates the franchise’s ongoing appeal on a global scale.
As usual, Rica Matsumoto, Ikue Otani, and Mayumi Iizuka’s dependable voice cast does a good job. The film tells the tale of two legendary Pokémon birds engaged in a titanic conflict that endangers the fragile balance of nature. With its compelling plot and endearing characters, the movie won over Pokémon fans and brought in $133,949,270 over its theatrical run.
Do you still find it strange to see Miyazaki’s name on this list? Since the man keeps putting hits after hits into this list and we are far from finished, you had best be comfortable with it by now. You’ll probably never see a sweeter movie than Ponyo. The narrative centres on Ponyo, a cute fish girl who longs to be a human after meeting Sosuke, a young boy. As they yearn to be together, their love tale crosses boundaries.
Resuming his role as the director and writer, Hayao Miyazaki tells a beautiful story about friendship and enchantment in this enchanted movie. Tomoko Yamaguchi, Yuria Nara, and Hiroki Doi are among the talented voice actors. Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Liam Nesson, Frankie Jonas, and Noah Cyrus were among the A-list actors that joined the game thanks to the American dub, which didn’t hold back in its portrayal of the material. A staggering $204,826,668 was earned by the movie during its theatrical run.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Princess Mononoke can be credited with many achievements, but, together with Akira and Ghost in the Shell, it is most notable for being the movie that popularised anime in the West. Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed this vast epic, which stars the superb voices of Yji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, and Yko Tanaka. It is yet another standout production from Studio Ghibli. It’s a movie that has warmed the hearts of some of Hollywood’s most imaginative minds, including Neil Gaiman.
In the legendary setting of the story, people and woodland spirits compete with one another. We follow the exploits of Ashitaka, a teenage warrior thrown into a battle while having his right arm consumed by a curse. He is joined on his mission to preserve his life and his town by a girl named San who is associated with the Forest Spirit. With a budget of $170,005,875, the stunning animation, intricate characters, and environmental themes made this movie the animated breakthrough smash of 1997.
Spirited Away (2001)
Another success for Hayao Miyazaki is Spirited Away, which solidified his reputation as a leading figure in the anime industry in the eyes of the general public. This masterpiece was written and directed by Miyazaki. The voice actors feature legendary voices from Mari Natsuki, Miyu Irino, and Rumi Hiiragi. With a $395,580,000 box office haul, Spirited Away is infamous for holding the record for the highest-grossing Japanese animated film for 19 years.
The movie tells the tale of Chihiro, a little child imprisoned in a magical and frightening spirit world. Chihiro must try to repay her debt and win back her parents when they are changed into pigs for stealing food from a feast intended for the Gods. In the process, she must assist other deities in finding solutions to their issues. With a gripping and innovative plot, gorgeous animation, and the director’s ability to build rich and immersive fantasy worlds, this film transcends age and cultural barriers.
Stand by Me, Doraemon (2014)
Another product with an enduring following in Japan is Doraemon. The show, like Detective Conan, has been around for a while and shows no indications of ending any time soon. For beginners, Stand by Me, Doraemon serves as a starting point to the franchise. The 3D animated movie incorporates a number of different short story elements. It merges them into a single storyline that highlights some of Doraemon’s most memorable experiences and those he shared with his human buddy Nobita.
Wasabi Mizuta, Megumi hara, and Satoshi Tsumabuki provide the film’s iconic voice cast, which was written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki and Ryichi Yagi. We follow Nobita and his robotic cat companion Doraemon as they experience the highs and lows of life and friendship. Bullying, self-defense, and bravery are just a few of the issues that the movie touches on. It received praise for condensing numerous components of years of continuity into a single narrative. With a global box office take of $183,442,714, Doraemon had a successful run.
Makoto Shinkai is the author and director of Suzume, another masterpiece. The story is set in Kyushu, where Suzume Iwato, a 17-year-old girl, meets Souta Munakata, a young man on a mission to find and shut doors. They find one that leads to a field lighted by stars, but it is blocked by a statue of a cat that starts to move. While educating himself on his responsibility to stop a powerful worm from emerging, Suzume assists Souta in closing the door.
She travels with him across Japan, locking doors and fighting the worm. Once they get in Tokyo, Suzume steps up to save Souta by sealing the worm. The story examines themes of self-discovery and sacrifice. With a total revenue of $322,547,496 it became one of Japan’s biggest box office hits, demonstrating once more that Shinkai has the ability to craft works of art.
Tales from Earthsea (2012)
Not every Studio Ghibli film is a box office success for Hayao Mizayaki. Some of the best animated stories come from their carefully curated talent pool. The original version of Tales from Earthsea was directed by Goro Miyazaki and included voice acting by well-known Japanese voice actors as Bunta Sugawara, Junichi Okada, Aoi Teshima, and Yko Tanaka.
Heavy hitters including Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, and Mariska Hargitay appeared in the localised dub of this movie. The plot takes place in a fantastical land as we follow the exploits of a young prince named Arren and a wise wizard named Ged as they work together to battle an evil sorcerer who poses a threat to the stability of the realm. Despite its simplistic plot, the movie features some of the most magnificent sights ever created, which helped it earn a $75,000,000 worldwide at the box office.
The First Slam Dunk (2022)
The popularity of this item is evident in the movie The First Slam Dunk. The final game of the squad is the setting for the movie, which is portrayed from the perspectives of all the other show characters, especially Ryota Miyagi. Takehiko Inoue, the author of the Slam Dunk manga, wrote the screenplay, while Kazuto Arai, the director, pursued this project for more than ten years.
An anime about basketball is called Slam Dunk. The coming-of-age tale features a lot of humour and romantic moments. The movie should only be a delight for devoted fans of the programme, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a box office success in 2023. The movie has received positive reviews and has made $246, 570,000 at the box office. The film is one of the most captivating releases of the year thanks to its distinctive aesthetics and the casting of Kenji Akabane, Yoshimasa Hosoya, and Hiroshi Kamiya.
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
Another smash blockbuster from Studio Ghibli, The Secret World of Arrietty explores what happens to the possessions you leave behind at home. The Borrowers, a little race of creatures that require the missing items you have at home to survive, hold the key to the solution. This wonderful tale is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki. Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, and Tomokazu Miura are among the cast members.
We follow the exploits of the diminutive Arrietty and her family, who steal goods to survive and live covertly beneath the floorboards of a house. They live by a single, uncomplicated rule: they must never interact with the people they share an area with. All of it alters when Sh, a sick youngster, learns about Arriety and they start to get along. With a $149,411,550 box office haul, the movie succeeded in capturing viewers’ attention.
The Wind Rises (2013)
The Wind Rises is the first film by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki to appear in the ranking, but it won’t be the last. Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, and Hidetoshi Nishijima provide the voices for Miyazaki’s written and directed movie. It’s an emotional tale that combines aviation science with a love of the sky. Jiro Horikoshi, an enthusiastic aeroplane designer, is followed on his trip in this movie, which is set in pre-World War II Japan.
We get a peek of Jiro’s goals, his struggles, and the moral quandaries that surround his works as the narrative develops. It’s also a heartwarming love story, as Jiro pursues a relationship with Nahoko, a tuberculosis patient. This is only one of the many films that demonstrate Miyazaki’s unmatched storytelling talent and his capacity to draw in audiences, bringing in $136,533,257 at the box office during its theatrical run.
Weathering with You (2019)
Don’t tell Makoto Shinkai that you think he’s the new Hayao Miyazaki since the filmmaker doesn’t enjoy the comparison. One of his numerous works with a powerful tale intended to elicit a range of emotions is Weathering with You. Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, and Shun Oguri lend their voices to the Shinkai-written and -directed movie.
The narrative is set in a soggy Tokyo as we follow Hodaka, a young man who meets Hina, a girl who appears to have the ability to control the weather. They get along well and explore the complicated, bittersweet nature of love while navigating a world of paranormal events. The movie includes a lot of Shinkai’s trademark magnificent cinematography and a moving story that connected with viewers and brought in $193,715,360 during its theatrical run.
Your Name (2016)
The film Your Name cemented Makoto Shinkai’s place in the cultural zeitgeist. The intricate tale centres on Taki and Mitsuha, two teens who inexplicably switch bodies and form an intense bond that spans both time and space. This one is also written and directed by Shinkai. Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi contributed their vocal talents to this critically appreciated film.
Although the story has a complicated plot, it explores emotions in a way that no other movie has dared to. Your Namefeatures stunning images and an emotive narrative that combines romance, imagination, and cosmic awe into one cohesive whole. It’s challenging to describe the experience of watching this film, and you’ll be doing your senses a favour by discovering that for yourself. The director’s message resonated, as seen by the film’s $382,238,181 global gross.