All-Time Highest-Grossing Japanese Anime Film Ranking: From the Classics to New Worldwide Hits
Japan, the anime superpower, enjoys the production and release of many anime films every year. Here is an all-time list of the highest-grossing anime films in Japan.
- Get Great Value on Your Japan Trip with d POINT!
- The Japanese Anime Film Scene
- Animate Is the Best Place for Anime Goods!
- Watch a Movie at AEON CINEMA!
- All-Time Ranking of Anime Films in Japan
- 5. Princess Mononoke
- 4. Howl’s Moving Castle
- 3. Your Name
- 2. Frozen
- 1. Spirited Away
- Get Great Value on Your Purchases in Japan with d POINT!
Get Great Value on Your Japan Trip with d POINT!
d POINT is a point program with no sign-up or annual fees operated by Japan’s largest telecommunications company, NTT DOCOMO, INC. You can earn points just by showing your d POINT CARD when making purchases at d POINT Member Stores such as leading convenience store chains, McDonald's, cafes, and supermarkets. Accumulated points can be used for purchases at 1 JPY per point.
This article introduces an all-time ranking of anime films in Japan by box office revenue, together with Animate, a retail chain where you can purchase a variety of items related to anime, manga, and games, and AEON CINEMA, Japan’s largest cinema chain by number of screens. Both Animate and AEON CINEMA are d POINT Member Stores, so you can get d POINT benefits by shopping or watching movies!
There is information below on how to register for d POINT, so be sure to do so!
The Japanese Anime Film Scene
600 to 700 domestic movies are released in Japan annually, and in recent years, anime films have been the highest box office earners. In 2019, four of the top five movies were anime.
A variety of anime films for audiences of all ages are shown in Japan, including film versions of popular anime series such as Doraemon and Pokémon, spin-offs of late-night anime series, and original anime films. Anime culture continues to expand in Japan, with various events and collaborative projects organized around movie releases.
Animate Is the Best Place for Anime Goods!
Animate, which has more than 120 outlets across Japan, is a retail chain specializing in products related to anime, manga, and gaming.
In addition to selling anime character goods and cosplay items, it has cafes with designs and menus featuring popular anime and games, and it also offers a variety of events such as talks by famous voice actors, so it is a great place to find out about the latest in Japanese anime, including the popular series of the day.
Watch a Movie at AEON CINEMA!
AEON CINEMA is the cinema chain with the largest number of movie screens in Japan—785 at 92 locations across the country. It is a part of the AEON Group, which operates major shopping centers and supermarkets around Japan, so it is usually located within an AEON shopping mall, where you can enjoy shopping together with the movies.
The theaters have the latest movie equipment, so you can see vivid images on large screens and experience powerful, moving sounds. There are even 4DX screens with high-tech motion seats that move in synchronization with the film and special effects such as wind blowing, so you can completely immerse yourself in the movie.
All-Time Ranking of Anime Films in Japan
The following is an all-time ranking of anime films released in Japan.
5. Princess Mononoke
A Studio Ghibli movie released in 1997. Directed by the world-famous director Hayao Miyazaki, it was a massive production that was under conception for 16 years and took three years to produce. Its box office revenue in Japan was 19.3 billion JPY, making it the highest-grossing blockbuster Japanese film at the time.
Set in Japan in the Middle Ages, it is a film with a grand scope encompassing a variety of themes such as the relationship between man and nature, conflict, and discrimination, as told through the stories of Ashitaka, a boy who has been cursed by a demon, and San, a girl who was raised by wolves.
I’ve seen the film many times and am always moved by the beautiful images of nature, powerful music, and the story with a poignant message.
4. Howl’s Moving Castle
This is also a feature anime film by Studio Ghibli and is based on the fantasy novel of the same title by the British author Diana Wynne Jones. It was released in 2004 and grossed 19.6 billion JPY.
It is a tender, touching story of a young woman named Sophie, who has been turned into an old woman by a witch, and the wizard Howl, who lives together with her.
The story is chock full of action with fight scenes and romance, but I was personally fascinated by the heroine, Sophie. It is uplifting and empowering to watch Sophie, who lacks self-confidence and tends to be pessimistic, mature through her life with Howl and regain her self-confidence. This is not just a fantasy film but a profound work that offers great insights, and I am always delighted with new discoveries every time I see it.
3. Your Name
This is an animated feature film from director Makoto Shinkai, released in 2016. It was a huge hit both in Japan and abroad and grossed 25.03 billion JPY at the box office.
It is a love story between a female high school student, Mitsuha, who lives in the mountains of Hida, and a male high school student from the city, Taki. Though initially strangers, they grow to love each other through the strange experience of their bodies switching. The story development is wonderful, and the detailed depiction of the scenery is so beautiful that it became hugely popular to take pilgrimages to the places that the various scenes were modeled on. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting all the major spots in Tokyo and hope to visit Hida City in Gifu Prefecture, which was the model for the heroine’s hometown of Itomori.
This is an animated film by Disney inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. It became a worldwide sensation upon its release in 2013.
The film was released in Japan the following year and was popularized by its nickname “Anayuki” (short for the film’s Japanese title “Ana to Yuki no Ojo”, or Anna and the Snow Queen). It recorded 25.5 billion JPY at the box office. The original song “Let It Go” became a huge hit around the world and was so popular that at one point, it seemed to always be playing somewhere. It was sung in Japanese by Takako Matsu, who recorded the Japanese voice for the protagonist Elsa, and became such a social phenomenon that the refrain, “Ari no mama de”, was selected as one of the words of the year in 2014.
All of the characters in the movie are wonderful, but my favorite is Olaf, the cheerful snowman who dreams of experiencing summer. Olaf is always making everyone laugh with his comical expressions and actions, but the manner in which he strives to help those he loves and his kind and compassionate words are so touching that you can’t help but wish to have someone like him in your life! Frozen is a typical Disney princess story packed with elements that girls love, but its stunning visual beauty realized by 3D computer animation and the rapid story development of a musical make it an outstanding entertainment film that people of all ages can enjoy.
1. Spirited Away
A 2001 release by the director Hayao Miyazaki. This No. 1 all-time box office hit grossed 30.8 billion JPY! It was highly acclaimed abroad, winning the Golden Bear at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, which solidified Hayao Miyazaki’s status in the world of anime.
Spirited Away is an adventure story about a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro, who wanders into a strange town during a move and strives to return to her original world while working at a bathhouse. The movie tells the compelling story of Chihiro’s development from a timid and shy girl through her various experiences in her alternate world.
With beautiful and vivid depictions of buildings, natural scenery, and the emotions of each character, it is a wonderful work that continues to enchant viewers nearly twenty years after its release, and it is recommended for people of all ages.
Get Great Value on Your Purchases in Japan with d POINT!
Follow the link below to register for d POINT, which was introduced earlier. It can be used at Animate, AEON CINEMA, and other d POINT Member Stores, so be sure to register!
If there was a movie that piqued your interest, you should make sure to see it, even if you usually think of anime as kids’ entertainment. You may be pleasantly surprised with wonderful new experiences!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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