Despite their propensity for telling unique, fun, and colorful stories, anime TV shows can often get a lot of undeserved criticism or be unfairly labeled as “childish.” They are even less well treated than animated films, being often more limited in time or in budget. However, the occasional show gets the silver screen treatment.
In fact, many movies based on a popular anime series have been released – and that’s not referring to live-action remakes of classic cartoons. These are full feature films produced by the teams responsible for the original show, although there will only be one film per franchise. These movies can be a bit daunting for newcomers, but they’re more than worth taking the time to watch, and maybe even delve into the series that preceded them.
ten A Clumsy Movie (1995) – 6.9
Available to stream on Disney+
Based on the TV show, Goof Troop, this film was originally conceived by the showrunners as a way to give Goofy deeper and more emotional moments. And they succeeded, some fans arguing A wacky movie is Disney’s most profound film. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a serious movie. This movie is still a riot with great musical numbers.
The film is set three years after the show, with Max now in high school and Goofy still trying to relate to him. The film has a classic coming-of-age set-up with the characters embarking on a road trip. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well, being released by Disney as an obligation. But it did well enough to receive a direct-to-DVD sequel called An extremely hilarious film.
9 The SpongeBob Movie (2004) – 7.1
Available to stream on Paramount+
Sponge Bob SquarePants has had several theatrical outings at this point, but arguably the most enjoyable is the first. While not the end of the series, the film was meant to be something of a grand finale. It was the last Spongebob the media before the creator took a long break, after all. It is popular for fans to believe that the film is the last Spongebob story, although other media have since come out.
The plot sees a second Krusty Krab open and Mr. Krabs in peril. SpongeBob and Patrick volunteer to find King Neptune’s crown in order to save him. Meanwhile, Plankton enacts a nefarious plan to control Bikini Bottom’s mind. This big adventure is a lot of fun and a perfect companion to a show considered one of the best kids cartoons of the 2000s.
8 The Chipmunk Adventure (1987) – 7.2
There were four Alvin and the Chipmunks films released in the late 2000s. But when it comes to critical reception, none of them could beat 1987’s The Chipmunk Adventure. This film featured the Chipmunks and Chipettes on a concert tour. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a cover for a diamond smuggling plot.
The film was written and directed by members of the voice cast. It’s a musical adventure, so it contained nine songs in total. Although its release was delayed, it still grossed over $8 million at the box office. It is a fun time for parents and children alike.
7 The Transformers: The Movie (1986) – 7.2
Available to rent on Amazon Video
transformers: the movie has quite a legacy. Although the cartoon has always been popular, it was arguably the movie that put it on the map. This added weight to the Autobots and Decepticons battle beyond good versus evil. It featured gravitas with Orson Wells voicing the towering Unicron.
Stan Bush’s Song Touch featured prominently in the film, which many remember. The death of Optimus Prime, considered a legendary event, was particularly memorable. Sadly, the movie didn’t do well when it was released, but the decades have been kind to it, with many fans fondly remembering it.
6 Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) – 7.3
Available to stream on DIRECTV
Aardman’s work in stop motion animation is extremely well known, with many short films for Aardman fans. Although they are best known for their Wallace and Gromit short films aired on television, the television spin-off Shaun the Sheep makes the leap from the small screen to the big screen. The film became a critical success and even received a sequel.
The film opens with Shaun living at Mossy Bottom Farm. But he quickly becomes bored with his life and tries to incapacitate the farmer so he can escape. Unfortunately, he makes the farmer amnesiac and has to go to town to bring him back. The movie is endlessly charming and full of laughs for viewers of all ages.
5 The Simpsons Movie (2007) – 7.3
Available to stream on Disney+
Given how much The simpsons is, it’s surprising that it took until 2007 for it to get the cinematic treatment, but America’s biggest animation family finally got there with The Simpsons movie. The film helped improve the show’s reception and received mostly positive reviews upon release.
The movie looks a lot like a much longer version of a typical episode. In fact, aside from a small cameo, the film only features the show’s normal voice cast, which is rare. The film’s plot sees Homer accidentally polluting Lake Springfield and causing the city to be bombed by the EPA. The film spirals from there, with many different storylines and references to the series.
4 South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999) – 7.7
Available to stream on Paramount+
South Park is one of the most enduring animated comedies ever made. Although it started in the 90s, it still gets new episodes to this day. The series has changed a lot since its heyday, and the creators admit they would do things differently now. That being said, the 1999 film Bigger, longer and uncut still has many of the same themes as today’s episodes.
It’s true that the 1999 film focuses less on bigger characters these days like Butters and Randy, but the film still takes pictures of censorship and politics, which are the main antagonists of this film. He even had a pedigree, like “Blame Canadawas nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The film is an important part of this loud, controversial and beloved show.
3 Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001) – 7.8
cowboy bebop recently made headlines due to its live-action remake by Netflix. Before that, it was a great 1999 anime series with a movie set in the 2000s. Unlike most anime movies, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is the canon of the series and takes place between episodes 22 and 23. It was highly rated, as was the series it is based on.
As the original Cowboy Bebop stands on its own, this film is an episodic affair. It still features all the action and likable characters from the original cowboy bebop, and even extends further into Faye. It takes place on Halloween and incorporates more Arabic elements for a different look from the main series. Fans of the anime who haven’t seen it should give it a try.
2 Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) – 7.8
Available to stream on Starz
There are many dragonball films very well received but it is undeniable that the most recent film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is the franchise at its peak. It features a simplified narrative with epic battle scenes. It also turns one of the show’s most controversial characters into a fan favorite.
The film also heavily expands on the backstory of the Saiyans and Goku’s origins. These events have had many different interpretations over the years, but this film aimed to streamline things. This resulted in a strangely personal conflict for Goku, Vegeta, and Freeza. It’s a movie that will be tough for the next one to top, that’s for sure.
1 Batman: The Mask of Phantasm (1993) – 7.8
Available to stream on HBO Max
Batman: The Animated Series is an all-time classic animated show, but this definitive Batman was in a weird place conceptually. It was originally lit green as a companion to Tim Burton’s Caped Crusader movies. However, he forged such an identity for himself that he was allowed to spread his bat wings and get his own movie.
The film features a deadly new serial killer called the Phantasm prowling the streets of Gotham. While investigating the mystery, Batman stumbles further into his own past as well as that of the Joker. The film is epic and atmospheric, with a deeply interesting story that culminates in spectacular fashion. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t do very well at the time of its release, but reviewers on IMDb see the movie in a more favorable light.
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