Top 10 Best Anime Movies of 2021

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2021 saw a lot of great original anime that managed to steal the attention of most anime fans, such as 86 and Megalobox 2, and also the new season of popular series like Jujutsu Kaisen and World Trigger. In between all of those series are the occasional anime movies. Some were released in Japan, while others could be seen worldwide. This article focuses on anime movies that could be seen across the globe, be it through official theatrical releases or through streaming services. Out of more than 50 of them, these are ten of the best anime movies in 2021.

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10. Detective Conan Movie 24: The Scarlet Bullet

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There’s been a new Detective Conan movie every year since 1997 and The Scarlet Bullet marks the 24th movie in the franchise. This time around, the story revolves around the new hyper-speed Tokyo maglev train called “The Japanese Bullet” that is introduced as part of the celebration for the Tokyo World Sports Game (WGS). Lurking behind the shadow is a sinister plan to avenge a grudge from 15 years ago that will involve the unmanned maglev, the leader of the WGS committee, the undercover FBI agents, the highest-ranked Shogi player, and of course, the little detective, Conan Edogawa. Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet is a movie that is filled to the brim with mystery, action, and suspense. This movie proved that the franchise managed to constantly put out good quality movies even more than two decades after its inception.


9. Cider no You ni Kotoba ga Wakiagaru (Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop)

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Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is a story about a shy Haiku-enthusiast boy named Cherry who has a communication problem, and a popular streaming girl called Smile who wears a mask all the time to hide her bucktooth. These flawed and quirky characters meet and interact with each other through an unexpected little adventure of recovering a missing piece of memory for an old man that would not only elevate the story but also change both of their lives forever. There are lots of things that can be praised about this movie, such as the unique characters, the mesmerizing and highly stylized visuals, and also the sweet romance. That being said, it’s slow-burn nature might not be suitable to viewers who are accustomed to fast-paced storytelling.


8. Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash

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Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway’s Flash was the latest movie from the Gundam franchise, the newest story from the vast Universal Century (UC) timeline, and the first of a planned trilogy. The story follows Hathaway Noa, the son of Bright Noa, the captain of the iconic White Base from the original Mobile Suit Gundam. In this story, years of The Earth Federation’s role as the sole ruler of humanity leads to all sorts of abuse of power to the people who they consider to be second-class citizens. To combat these rampant injustices, Hathaway Noa takes on the mantle of a terrorist called Mafty in order to spread chaos and fear to the Earth Federation’s officials. There are other series from the Gundam franchise where the main character is part of an independent organization apart from the official military. But for the UC timeline, the stories are usually told from either the Federation or Zion’s perspective. So expect to see a thrilling story, breath-taking action sequences, and mind-blowing visuals from Hathaway’s Flash.


7. Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time

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The Rebuild of Evangelion series was initially created to be the retelling story of the iconic original Neon Genesis Evangelion series that ran from 1995 to 1996. However, the tetralogy proved to take longer to finish than its original series with the difference of 13 years between the first and final film. After waiting for such a long time, the fans of the Evangelion franchise finally get the closure that they deserve through Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time in 2021. The movie takes place several years after the end of the third movie. The events from the previous movie leave Shinji feeling depressed and emotionless for a while, but he soon realizes that he needs to get back on his feet and face his fears. Thus, he steps back into the cockpit and tries his best to reset his mistakes, and finally, put an end to everything. The previous Evangelion movies have some differences compared to their original series, but this final movie tells an entirely new ending than its original source material. Add the new and improved animation, and you get one of the best movies of the year.


6. Sword Art Online: Progressive Movie – Hoshi Naki Yoru no Aria (Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night)

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that Sword Art Online (SAO) is the one that brings about the isekai craze into the world. It may not be the first of its genre, but it is certainly the one that makes a trend out of it. Nowadays, SAO has turned into a multimedia franchise with so many different stories and styles. The anime itself has grown into three seasons with over 100 episodes in total. That being said, most fans would consider the first season of SAO, particularly the Aincrad arc, to be the best storyline of the bunch. Well, the Sword Art Online: Progressive movies are an extended version of that particular storyline. The story explores the tale of Kirito and Asuna as they tackle the early levels of the Aincrad. To add another twist to the story, SAO Progressive will see everything unfold from the perspective of Asuna, rather than Kirito. It will dive into a more detailed gaming element of SAO with improved visuals and exciting animation. Progressive is definitely one of the best Sword Art Online stories that ever graced the screen.


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5. My Hero Academia The Movie 3: World’s Heroes Mission

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This third My Hero Academia movie takes place within the Endeavor Agency Arc of the original series and it is bigger and more ambitious than all of the previous movies. Not only that, but this movie also expands the world of My Hero Academia way beyond what is already shown in the manga. The story of World’s Heroes Mission is about an international terrorist organization called Humarise that seeks to dispose of people with quirks all over the world. In order to stop them, the biggest international joint effort involving heroes from around the world, including several UA students, are dispatched to sweep various places on earth in order to find the trigger bombs and capture the Humarise members. This movie showcases so many different heroes and also the lives of people from different parts of the world. Not only that, but we also get to see Midoriya placed in a conflicted position as he tries to find the best course of action. And as you can expect from this franchise, the action sequences are simply mind-blowing.


4. Kimetsu no Yaiba Movie: Mugen Ressha-hen (Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train)

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The Demon Slayer: Mugen Train movie is a direct continuation from the latest season of Demon Slayer where we saw Tanjiro and friends training and recuperating. In Mugen Train, the trio goes demon hunting on a train with one of the most powerful and charismatic swordsmen in the series, the flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku. Unbeknownst to them, the demon has actually been watching them ever since they set foot on the train and began preparing various deadly traps. As if there’s not enough suspense already, there will be numerous twists and turns that will leave you speechless throughout the movie. What most people might not realize is the fact that the story of Mugen Train happens in the course of a single night. And yet it managed to present so many interesting story elements that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Combine that with the mind-blowing animation and you get one of the best anime movies in 2021.


3. Gintama: The Final

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In this final chapter of Gintama that has gone over the official manga and tv series ending, Gintoki, Takasugi, and Katsura blast through the enemy’s lair in order to save their beloved teacher. For those who are not familiar with all of the chaos that has happened thus far, this movie is dedicated quite a generous amount of time, in the beginning, to recap the story, in the style of Dragon Ball! Why? Because this is Gintama and hilarious parody is what they do. This movie will put you directly into the middle of the chaotic action from the very beginning while still delivering nonsensical one-liners, crazy antics, and slapstick comedy at the same time. In addition to that, there’s also a stirring and heartbreaking story to tie it all up together. So whether you are a fan of Gintama or just somebody who wants to see a good movie with tons of action, drama, and comedy, you should definitely watch Gintama: The Final.

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2. Ryuu to Sobakasu no Hime (Belle)

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Belle is the brainchild of director Mamoru Hosoda, the man behind certified classics such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. In 2019, Hosoda came up with the Academy Award-nominated movie called Mirai, and in 2021, he released the movie “Belle” to overwhelmingly positive responses from critics and fans alike. The story of Belle can be described as Beauty and The Beast meets Summer Wars. The movie revolves around Suzu, a shy girl who turns into a beautiful diva called Belle. However, instead of using the magical power like in the original Beauty and The Beast, Suzu gains her transformation in a virtual world called “U”. Belle presents its story through two distinct visual styles. The story of the shy Suzu takes place in the real world and is shown in the familiar anime style of Hosoda’s films. On the other hand, the story of Belle the diva is shown through CGI animation with countless mesmerizing visual effects. Both of those combined with an inspiring and heartwarming story is the reason why it is one of the best movies in 2021.

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1. Eiga Daisuki Pompo-san (Pompo: The Cinephile)

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Gene Fini loves movies with every fiber of his being. That’s why he decided to work as an assistant to the famous producer named Joelle Pomponnet, better known as “Pompo” to those close to her. As a producer, she has the talent and the instinct to spot great movies. However, for some reason, she only made action-packed B-movies throughout her career. That is until she writes a movie script and gives it to Gene and tells him to direct their first original movie. Pompo: The Cinephile is a love letter to the world of cinema. It tells the story of passion and hard work required to create a great movie, along with other crucial elements such as funding, logistics, directing not only the actors but also the staff, editing, and every other facet of movie-making. The unique visual style that they use to tell the dual story is nothing short of stunning and inspiring. This story about the arduous process behind creating a movie is easily one of the best anime movies of 2021.

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Final Thoughts

The great thing about the anime movies in 2021 is the fact that you’d get the representation of almost everything in here. There are original stories, sequels, the start of a new series, and even the end of some beloved franchises released in 2021. All appear across different genres and demographics. So is there anything here that caught your attention? Or maybe you have watched some of the movies on this list? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about them in the comment section below.

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