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Top 10 highest-grossing anime franchises in history

Anime has undoubtedly become a global phenomenon, with numerous franchises dominating the industry and reaping significant financial success. From iconic characters to sprawling narratives, these franchises have captured the hearts of millions worldwide, transcending cultural boundaries and leaving a lasting impact on pop culture.
Let's dive into the top 10 anime franchises that have not only won the hearts of fans but also achieved significant commercial and financial success over time.

1. Pokemon: The Ultimate Titan (Approx. $100 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Pokemon Official Website

At the forefront of the anime universe stands Pokemon, an absolute titan in both the industry and the realm of multimedia franchises. With its imaginative world of superpowered creatures, Pokemon has become a cultural juggernaut, boasting a staggering net worth that exceeds $100 billion. While the anime series, movies, and video games contribute significantly to its revenue, it's the licensed merchandise that truly drives its success, outperforming all other avenues combined.

2. Hello Kitty: Merchandising Magic (Between $80-$84.5 Billion)

Image Courtesy: IMDb

Although Hello Kitty may seem more like a merchandising mascot than an anime character, its extensive line of products has propelled it into the realm of highest-grossing anime franchises. With estimated earnings ranging between $80 to $84.5 billion, Hello Kitty's simplistic charm has captured the hearts of diverse demographics, making it a staple in pop culture worldwide.

3. Anpanman: A Japanese Phenomenon
(Between $44.9 Billion to $60 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Nippon TV Official Website

Anpanman may not be as well-known outside of Japan, but it's a beloved children's anime with a massive impact on its native audience. Centered around a superhero made of a traditional Japanese sweet, Anpanman's revenue primarily stems from retail sales and ticket admissions to the Yokohama Anpanman Children's Museum, showcasing its enduring popularity among young viewers.

4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Mecha Madness
(Approx. $23 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Mobile Suit Gundam Official X Account

With its sprawling sci-fi world and iconic humanoid robots, Mobile Suit Gundam has solidified its status as a cornerstone of the mecha anime subgenre. While the anime adaptations have garnered praise, it's the model kits, known as Gunplas, that have been the primary source of revenue, demonstrating the franchise's ability to adapt and resonate with audiences across generations.

5. Dragon Ball: Enduring Legacy
(Between $23 Billion to $27 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Dragon Ball Official X Account

The adventures of Son Goku and his comrades in Dragon Ball have captivated audiences for decades, earning the franchise a spot among the highest-grossing anime of all time. With its signature blend of action-packed sequences and vibrant characters, Dragon Ball's success is fueled by a myriad of sources, including video games, merchandise, and blockbuster movies.

6. Fist Of The North Star: Martial Arts Marvel
(Approx. $22 Billion)

Image Courtesy: IMDb

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Fist Of The North Star stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of martial arts-themed anime. While its sporadic releases continue to attract fans, it's the revenue generated from pachinko machines that underscore the franchise's lasting legacy and financial success.

7. One Piece: A Pirate's Odyssey (Approx. $21 Billion)

Image Courtesy: One Piece Official Website

As one of the longest-running anime series, One Piece has navigated its way into the hearts of viewers with its epic tale of pirates and adventure. Boasting over 1,000 episodes and a dedicated fanbase, the franchise's revenue is bolstered by merchandise and video game sales, signaling its enduring popularity as it approaches its final arc.

8. Yu-Gi-Oh!: Card Game Craze (Approx. $20 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Website

Yu-Gi-Oh! has revolutionized the anime landscape with its innovative integration of a card game narrative. While the anime serves as a platform for promoting the titular card game, it's the staggering sales of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards that have propelled the franchise into the realm of highest-grossing anime.

9. Sailor Moon: Magical Girl Marvel (Approx. $13.9 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Sailor Moon Official Website

Sailor Moon emerged as a cultural icon for the shoujo demographic, spearheading the magical girl subgenre within anime. With its empowering narrative and captivating characters, Sailor Moon's revenue is driven by merchandise sales, showcasing its enduring influence on pop culture.

10. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Mecha Masterpiece (Between $12 Billion to $17 Billion)

Image Courtesy: Neon Genesis Evangelion Official Website

Neon Genesis Evangelion transcends the boundaries of traditional mecha anime with its dark, cerebral narrative and exploration of psychological themes. While its impact on the genre is undeniable, the franchise's revenue is diversified through home media, box office sales, and pachinko machines, solidifying its status as a mecha masterpiece.

These highest-grossing anime franchises stand as shining examples of the industry's global influence and commercial success. From merchandise sales to multimedia endeavours, these beloved franchises continue to shape the landscape of anime and inspire generations of fans worldwide.