If you’ve been paying any attention at all to anime news, you know Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is on fire. It’s slaying at the Japanese box office. Currently it’s the second highest grossing anime film in Japan, and the third highest grossing worldwide. At the time of publication, only your name. and Spirited Away stand between it and global anime film domination. (And it’s already done better than your name. in Japan!) By the time you read this? Who knows!
That means Mugen Train has already left a lot of your faves in its rearview mirror. Which ones? Here are just a few old favorites… though, to be fair, these are still historically successful no matter what! And they’re definitely worth remembering, in case you’re in need of a film to watch.
Stand by Me Doraemon
This film’s sequel is currently doing battle with Mugen Train at the box office, but the original Stand by Me Doraemon is already a record holder. This tearjerker remains in the top 20 anime films within Japan, and within the top 10 globally. Takashi Yamazaki (Lupin III: The First) and Ryuuichi Yagi garnered major accolades for the Doraemon adaptation, which appealed to audiences of all ages.
Grossing nearly $195 million worldwide, it was the top anime film of 2014. But how will its sequel, in which Nobita has to save his own wedding day, fare against Mugen Train? Only time will tell.
At this point, there’s only one Studio Ghibli film that Mugen Train hasn’t left in the dust: the highly acclaimed Spirited Away. But it has pulled tidily ahead of Ghibli’s second biggest film, Howl’s Moving Castle, in both the domestic and global box office. The 2004 fantasy is an adaptation of the 1986 novel by Diana Wynne Jones… and while there are a few things that are vastly different between book and movie, it’s still just as magical in both forms.
Howl’s Moving Castle was the top film of its year, and has grossed nearly $257 million globally. It’s probably not at all surprising that Ghibli dominates the rankings, with half of the top ten most successful anime films ever made hailing from the studio.
More than 20 years after it premiered, Pokémon: The First Movie remains in the top ten highest grossing anime films ever made. That’s not surprising, of course. Like Mugen Train, it rode high on the success of its related series. It ended up earning almost $173 million globally — add that to the pile of earnings from all those games, cards, and toys!
Ash and his friends are off on a whole new set of adventures, but very few of them have come close to the success of the original outing. Fans still vividly remember our first meeting with Mewtwo, plus that emotionally charged scene with Ash and Pikachu. And also the the bit with Pikachu slapping Pikachu… we checked, and that did indeed happen.
As Mugen Train continues its fight to become the most successful anime film ever made, what movies will you be looking back on?
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