Anime has been an exponentially growing market since its inception and with the help of streaming and network distribution, it has become a global phenomenon outside of Japan as well. A billion-dollar industry that shows no signs of stopping, anime is probably Japan’s biggest and most influential cultural export.
With a seemingly endless supply of shows and stories, even the most dedicated anime fans find it hard to keep up with everything that’s released. Some shows are best forgotten, and then some have cemented their legacies in genre history as some of the best. There are many ways to measure the success of a franchise, but the most obvious would be its business success and financial revenue.
ten Naruto has grossed over $10 billion
naruto is originally a manga series, but its popularity has exploded worldwide thanks to the long-running anime show. Written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, it’s the story of a young ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, pursuing his dream of becoming his village’s next Hokage.
Even though the anime is what helped propel naruto in the mainstream, the manga series is still the highest earner for the franchise. naruto has raised an impressive over $10 billion since its inception.
9 Sailor Moon has grossed over $14 billion
Sailor Moon is a 90s anime designed for all demographics. Its real infamy lies in the fact that it appealed to a young, female audience in a totally male genre at the time. Sailor Moon is about Usagi Tsukino’s battle to protect Earth as the magical superhero, Sailor Moon.
Although not the best-written story of all time, Sailor Moon had the perfect recipe for action, emotion and laughter to hold the interest of young people of the time. Sailor Moon has raised over $14 billion over the years.
8 Neon Genesis Evangelion has earned over $16 billion
Dubbed one of the greatest mecha anime of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion had the ingenious idea of showing the darker, grittier side of mecha combat rather than just the action. Following teenagers who must battle hostile entities called angels using their Evangelion units, the show brought a gravity never seen before to the anime.
Surprisingly, the majority of income from evangelization comes from pachinko sales. Pachinko is a Japanese arcade game that is similar to slot machines as a low-stakes, low-strategy game. Neon Genesis Evangelion has earned over $16 billion since its inception.
seven Yu Gi Oh! Attracted over $20 billion
A card game franchise was always going to have an edge over its other anime competitors, and that’s exactly where Yu Gi Oh! shines. The series is about Yugi Muto solving one of the old millennial puzzles, but the storyline itself takes a huge back seat. The anime is much more interested in promoting Duel Monsters.
Since a reality where the fate of the world depends on a few people using a deck of cards is not exciting, it is not surprising that the vast majority of Yu Gi Oh!Revenue comes from the card game. It’s still a hugely popular game today that has amassed over $20 billion in sales.
6 One Piece has grossed over $20 billion
One of the longest running series of all time which recently surpassed 1,000 episodes, A piece has a huge, dedicated fan base and a story that never seems to end. The anime follows Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew on Luffy’s quest to find the One Piece treasure and become the Pirate King.
The manga was first released in 1997, and it was recently announced that the franchise was about to reach its final arc after nearly 25 years. Manga series and merchandise sales are the highest earners, with over $20 billion.
5 First Of The North Star has earned over $22 billion
Fist of the North Star was a groundbreaking franchise that began in the 80s and helped anime find its footing overseas. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story revolves around Kenshiro, a deadly martial artist who makes it his mission to protect the innocent and helpless from various villains.
A shonen anime that perfectly encapsulates the genre while simultaneously showing the vulnerability of the macho protagonist by showing him crying Fist of the North Star to succeed. Most of the financial success came from pachinko and arcade games, but he still raised over $22 billion.
4 Gundam has attracted over $26 billion
One of the original and longest running mecha anime franchises of all time, Gundam began its journey into the hearts of fans in the late 70s with the original Mobile Suit Gundama defining moment in the mecha genre. Gundam centers on a war between two factions and the teenage pilots who control the armored giants in battle.
As a pioneer of the genre, it’s no surprise that the success of the original series catapulted Gundam in stardom, with OVAs, movies, manga, video games and spinoffs released as recently as 2021. The majority of revenue is merchandise and retail sales, totaling over $26 billion.
3 The massive Dragon Ball franchise has grossed over $27 billion
One of the most popular and well-known anime of all time, dragonball started in the mid 80’s and is still going strong today. the dragonball franchise is a classic shonen anime that follows Son Goku from his youth to adulthood. The franchise takes its name from the mystical Dragon Balls that can grant wishes when all seven are collected.
Watching the show, fans could imagine playing as the characters in the video games, and their wish was granted. Video games now represent a significant part of dragonballand it shows no signs of stopping. dragonballTotal gross sales are over $27 billion.
2 Anpanman raised more than 60 billion dollars
Most non-Japanese anime watchers have probably never heard of this anime, but it’s still an immensely popular children’s anime in its home country of Japan. Anpanman tells the story of a superhero with a face made of cake filled with red bean paste – a traditional Japanese sweet called “anpan” – who protects the world from a germ named Baikinman.
Anyone with children knows that a child’s obsession and devotion to something they love is never-ending, so it’s no surprise that nearly all of the revenue comes from the retail sale of Anpanman some products. This series has generated over $60 billion in revenue over the years.
1 Pokemon has grossed over $99 billion
No one should be surprised to see Pokemon as the highest-grossing anime franchise of all time, grossing over $99 billion with more to come. The anime is so popular it’s still running, they have their own collectible card game, and Nintendo is constantly releasing new ones. Pokemon video games. The real reason for Pokemon the massive sales are not related to these, however.
Licensed merchandising is the main cash cow of the Pokemon franchise. Pikachu is probably the most famous anime mascot in history and almost everyone recognizes Pikachu when they see him, which makes his merchandise easy to sell. Licensed merchandising outsells anime, manga, cards and video games combined.
NEXT: The 10 Highest-Grossing Movies Based On Anime, According To Box Office Mojo
10 Saddest Shonen Anime Moments, Ranked