I’m not exactly great at box office prediction or analyses. OK I’m not exactly great at even knowing what the Box Office numbers are for any given release. But even I know that for an industry to thrive, it must make a profit. Therefore, if we want our beloved animes to hit local theaters, they gotta bring in the dough. Last year, I attempted to glen some type of trend from the 2017 numbers and what I ended up with was a cautiously optimistic outlook, especially for family oriented romantic dramas.

Sadly, 2018 failed to produce anything as impactful as Your Name or A Silent Voice. We had some reasonably successful series tie ins on the international market with movies for My Hero Academia, Bungo Stray Dogs and Re:Zero all drawing audiences across oceans, but these remained niche and clearly targeted at viewers who were already fans of the series.

Let’s see where we stand in comparison with last year’s numbers. (I wrote about this in 2017 as well, if you’re interested you can find it here.)

First let’s start with the state of anime in Japan. In 2017, 3 of Japan’s top 5 spots were taken by Disney movies! The only anime being no. 3 Detective Conan. There was a reasonable scattering of anime movies in the top 25 but nothing exceptional. In fact, Disney was quite present throughout. Way to go Disney!

Let’s see this year:


Way to go Detective Conan. I knew this show was popular but two years in a row in the top 3 and first this year! Nice! We have no Disney at all, in the top 5, two animes and an actual domestic live action movie. Japan’s box office looks to be much more centered on domestic releases this year, but there are overall less animes in the top 25. As expected, those that made it are family oriented.

The Incredibles 2 (I love the Incredibles) made it to no 7 which gives me hope for My Hero Academia… I don’t know what to make of this one. I’m going to call it a stalemate. Let’s see the International box office instead. My brain will explode if there is an anime there!


Yup…9 out of 10 American and all action. Way to go Incredibles 2 again! I’m going to play blind optimist and say most of these movies could have been anime adaptations, of 90s shounen… That’s a good sign?

I tried to find the highest grossing anime on the international Box Office and I think it may be My Hero Academia at no 138…(For reference, your name as No 26 last year…) This sort of shows the power of the US market as Japan’s No 1: Detective Conan, didn’t even make the list.


All right, let’s not despair yet, I just said the US market is where it’s at. Also I should remind you that like last year, I’m using Box Office Mojo here so these are estimated amounts. Ok let’s see what was watched in the good ol’ U. S. of A:


And…super heroes… it was super heroes. Some in space…  Just switch out Ready player one for Solo and Operation Red Sea for A star is Born (did you guys know it did so well?) and you pretty much have the international box office.

Compared to last year, it’s pretty much the same. We had a bit more ladies with Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman taking the top spots but Disney and superheroes it was. Not much to report there. I’m not going to screen cap it, but My Hero Academia is at No 134.

There’s no point in sugar coating it, 2018 just wasn’t as strong as 2017 when it comes to anime on the international market. The general consumers don’t seem to have changed their tastes much or at all, with top billing going to stories that would do well as animations, better even without the constraints of physics, but simply don’t draw a crowd without big name actors. As for the actual animation, the need to be CG and very much PG to stand a chance.

The closest anime counterpart to these Box Office giants is most probably the MHA movie which did in fact quite well when you consider that it’s tied to a TV show! However, the numbers seem to tell me that we actually took a step back to overcoming the strong animation bias and the lack of passionate interest even on the domestic front is a little disheartening.

But, I’m not despairing yet. After all, 2017 was an exceptional year so the comparison is unfair to begin with. Moreover, animes were always a TV medium rather than a silver screen draw. There is still potential as Netflix is continuing to buy up licenses for popular shows and international streaming platforms for anime are going strong.

Besides, statistics are useless 83% of the time. Let’s concentrate on something that really matters! And that’s this: Despite coming out quite late in the year (September 28 to be precise) and me writing this in late November (a mere two months later), The Natsume Yuujinchou movie is No. 50 on the Japan Box Office.  That only a few below No. 44 My Hero Academia which came out on August 3…So Success! A wonderful year for anime and audiences are smart! YAY.

Natsume scared


14 thoughts

  1. I don’t think we even get anime in the cinema in Austria, if it’s not for special interest nights. Exceptions only for Miyazaki, and kiddy franchise stuff like Pokemon. I’m sure we’ve had Your Name, but anything below that level makes most of its money through Dvd/Blue Ray sales around here, I’d guess.

    Also, rooting for Natsume (how cool would it be to see that in a theatre!)

  2. I’ll never get the appeal of Detective Conan, or rather, the amazing amount of popularity it has. I mean it’s good, I like a bunch of the series, but man is it something.

  3. It would be interesting to see the profit as a percentage of the costs to make them. Sure, the Avengers made a ton of money but it also cost a ton to produce.

Leave me a comment and make my day!