Anime dominates Japanese box office in 2021

Annual sales numbers are coming in from the Japanese box office now that 2021 is nearing a close, and anime is among the top-grossing films for Japanese audiences.

Anime News Network reports four selections from Japan’s top 10, including the top three, are anime films, while the fourth and fifth highest-grossing films are live-action adaptations of manga. 

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time tops the list at ¥10.28 billion (almost $90 million), followed by Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet, which upended Thrice Upon A Time’s five-week reign at the top of the nations box office when it released in April. Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle came in third.

The Scarlet Bullet actually leads Thrice Upon A Time globally, grossing $95,659,97 — enough to make it the 17th highest-grossing anime film in the world. Thrice Upon A Time is the 19th. 

Neither comes close to last year’s number one, however. Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train broke international sales records for anime movies, earning over ¥40 billion domestically in 2020 and currently sitting at a worldwide gross of $503,063,688.

Live-action adaptations of the manga series Tokyo Revengers and Rurouni Kenshin took the fourth and fifth spots, while My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission closes out the list at the tenth spot, with a ¥3.37 billion domestic haul. World Heroes’ Mission also became the 11th anime film to surpass $10 million in the North American box office.

The figures report sales up to Dec. 12, so Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (released Dec. 24) is not represented. 

The report also includes the highest-grossing foreign films, led by F9 at ¥3.66 billion. That’s just enough to eke World Heroes’ Mission off the combined top 10 list. While Marvel blockbusters Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, Eternals, and Black Widow made the list, Spider-Man: No Way Home won’t release in Japan until Jan. 7 — so look for that to top 2022’s list.