Top 10 Must-Watch Anime Movies Since 2020

Anime has seen an explosive surge in popularity in recent years, transcending the confines of television screens to achieve widespread success at the box office.

Anime films offer a blend of creativity, stunning visuals, and poignant storytelling, with the cream of the crop getting deep into the boundless imaginations of their creators throughout the 2020s.

These cinematic gems often strike a chord with audiences of all backgrounds, whether they’re newcomers to anime or seasoned aficionados of the genre.

Even before reaching the halfway point of the 2020s, there’s already an impressive array of anime masterpieces on offer. From standalone tales set in a beautiful world to those that further universes of beloved anime series like Demon Slayer and Dragon Ball, there’s an anime movie out there to grab every viewer.

Top 10 Must-Watch Anime Movies Since 2020

10. Drifting Home: A Nice Coming-of-Age Fantasy Gem

Drifting Home (Credits: Netflix)

“Drifting Home” stands as Hiroyasu Ishida’s enchanting coming-of-age fantasy flick, chronicling the journey of two childhood companions whose bond faces turbulence following the passing of one of their grandfathers.

Their escapade leads them to an eerie “ghost housing complex” slated for demolition, only to find themselves adrift in the vast expanse of the ocean alongside the structure.

The film “Drifting Home” has garnered acclaim for its poignant portrayal of heartache and emotional turmoil, coupled with breathtaking visuals courtesy of Studio Colorido. It serves as the ideal cinematic choice for a rainy day, offering a nostalgic yet compelling narrative to immerse oneself in.

9. A Whisker Away: An Enjoyable Feline Fun

A Whisker Away (Credits: Netflix)

Hailing from the same studio behind Drifting Home, A Whisker Away offers a delightful blend of fantasy and romance.

The story revolves around a young girl’s whimsical quest to capture the attention of her crush by transforming into a cat. As she immerses herself in feline form, she discovers newfound joy in their shared moments, ultimately opting for a life as a cat alongside her beloved rather than remaining human without him.

Directed by Junichi Sato, known for his work on Sailor Moon, the film boasts a talented voice cast drawn from popular titles such as My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, and Tokyo Ghoul.

A Whisker Away promises a heartwarming and uplifting tale, brimming with charm and visually striking animation reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s renowned craftsmanship.

8. One Piece: Red – A Musical Odyssey Worth the Hype

One Piece: Red (Credits: Toei Animation)

For those daunted by the prospect of diving into the vast sea of over 1,000 episodes, fear not! The latest cinematic installment of the One Piece franchise, “One Piece Film: Red,” offers a thrilling adventure accessible to all.  #Set on an island infused with the harmonies of music, the stage is set for a grand concert by the songstress Uta.

As crowds flock, including the notorious Straw Hat Pirates and the formidable Marines, the stage is also ripe for chaos, especially with the revelation that Uta is the adopted daughter of none other than Shanks, one of the feared Four Emperors of the New World.

 Amidst the chaos, “One Piece: Red” dazzles audiences with its top-notch animation, exhilarating fight sequences, and infectious musical numbers.

The melodies not only complement the narrative but also get into the depths of Uta’s character arc, infusing the film with unexpected layers of beauty and emotion. With its blend of action, music, and intrigue, this fifteenth installment of the One Piece saga truly lives up to its hype.

7. Inu-Oh: a Beautiful Mix of Folklore and Rock Music

Inu-Oh (Credits: Netflix)

Inu-Oh offers a unique blend of music and storytelling, presenting a rock opera centered around a cursed dancer and a blind musician. Despite facing societal ostracism, the duo mesmerizes audiences with their electrifying performances across 14th-century Japan, ascending to newfound heights of fame.

Immersed in Japanese folklore and history, Inu-Oh grabs viewers with its distinctive visuals and pulsating soundtrack. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the film resonates deeply with its poignant message, following the journey of two outcast protagonists as they bravely pursue their dreams against all odds.

6. Jujutsu Kaisen 0:  A Dark Fantasy Delight

Yuta
Yuta from Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (Credits: Mappa)

Accompanying the narrative of its anime series, Jujutsu Kaisen presents a prequel film that get into the origins of its dark fantasy world. The movie chronicles the journey of a high school student who harnesses control over a cursed spirit, thus becoming a formidable member of the Jujutsu Sorcerers.

Set before Yuji Itadori’s introduction to the realm of cursed spirits, the film features beloved characters such as Satoru Gojo, adding depth to the storyline. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 exemplifies the potential benefits of prequel movies for anime adaptations.

While serving as a standalone film, it also offers fans of the series a richly woven narrative and enhanced backstory. Whether as an introduction to newcomers or a rewarding experience for dedicated fans, the film promises an enthralling journey into the world of Jujutsu Kaisen.

5. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero: Brings Nostalgic Action to the Big Screen

Gohan Beast | Dragon Ball Super: Superhero (Credits: Tori Animation)

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero emerges as the 21st anime installment derived from the cherished Dragon Ball franchise. Centered around Piccolo and Gohan, the narrative get on their mission to thwart the menacing plans of the notorious Red Ribbon Army.

While many anime-based films often diverge from the canonical storyline, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero distinguishes itself as a pivotal addition, enriching the main anime’s narrative with a crucial backstory.

Fans and critics alike have warmly embraced the film, lauding its infusion of nostalgia and abundant fan service. Boasting the hallmark Dragon Ball combat sequences and trademark humor, the movie swiftly ascended to prominence at the box office, clinching the title of the second-highest-grossing Dragon Ball film to date.

4. Suzume: Strange Supernatural Story Was a Box Office Smash

Suzume (Credits: CoMix Wave Films)

“Suzume” unfolds as a modern action narrative, following the exploits of a 17-year-old girl gets on a mission to avert calamity in Japan.

Tasked with sealing enigmatic doors that sporadically manifest, she contends with the looming threat of a supernatural “worm” capable of unleashing devastating earthquakes. The film promises a visual experience, blending stunning artistry and animation with a nuanced, albeit somber storyline.

Remarkably, “Suzume” has emerged as one of the highest-grossing anime films, raking in an impressive $316 million USD worldwide.

This resounding success underscores its widespread acclaim and appeal. Furthermore, the film earned a coveted nomination for Best Animated Feature at the prestigious Golden Globe Awards, although it ultimately succumbed to the acclaimed offering from Studio Ghibli, “The Boy and the Heron.”

3. Belle: A Stunning and Modern Adaptation of Beauty and the Beast

Belle (Credits: Netflix)

“Belle” intricately blends elements of science fiction and fantasy, drawing inspiration from the beloved fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” and its iconic Disney rendition.

Through its narrative, viewers are introduced to Suzu, a young girl residing in a rustic village, who finds refuge in a vast virtual realm where she assumes the persona of her online alter ego — the melodious songstress, Belle.

The film adeptly crafts parallels to the timeless tale of “Beauty and the Beast,” skillfully avoiding mere replication while paying homage to its essence. “Belle” stands out among the plethora of anime films, particularly appealing to enthusiasts of Disney’s timeless classics.

Garnering widespread acclaim, the movie enthralls audiences with its breathtaking animation, intricate world-building, and impeccably nuanced character arcs, delivering a truly enchanting cinematic experience.

2. Demon Slayer Mugen Train: Sets Records During the Pandemic

Rengoku (Credits: Ufotable)

Following the success of the first season of the anime series in 2020, Demon Slayer’s movie made its debut amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, garnering widespread acclaim.

It swiftly soared to become the highest-grossing film of the year, marking a remarkable feat for a non-American production, and additionally clinched the title of the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time.

The movie gets into Tanjiro’s ongoing odyssey as a demon slayer, as he set on a perilous journey aboard a train in pursuit of a demon responsible for the disappearance of 40 individuals.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train unfolds with a poignant plot and gripping narrative, ensuring viewers are consistently enthralled. With its signature animation style that fans adore from the anime series, the film rightfully earns its acclaim as a monumental success at the box office.

1. The Boy and the Heron: Studio Ghibli Gets Darker Than Ever

The Boy and the Heron
The Boy and the Heron poster (Credits: Studio Ghibli)

In 2023, Studio Ghibli, under the direction of Hayao Miyazaki, made a triumphant return to the world of anime movies with the semi-autobiographical masterpiece, The Boy and the Heron. This film marked a notable departure for the studio, getting into darker themes than ever before.

The narrative follows a young boy grappling with the loss of his mother and his father’s subsequent remarriage, only to find solace and companionship in the form of a talking Grey Heron in a fantasy realm where the living and the deceased coexist.

The Boy and the Heron swiftly garnered acclaim as one of the finest animated films of 2023, swiftly solidifying its status as a modern classic. Alongside its rave reviews from critics, the movie garnered numerous accolades, including the prestigious Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and the coveted Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.