YEAR IN REVIEW: Top Animated Movies of 2021

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top animated films of 2021 But Why Tho

Animated films deserve love too, so we decided to round-up our favorite animated films in 2021. For our Top Animated Films of 2021 we looked across IP, genre, and studio. Now, we do have some stipulations for making our list. Unlike our animated series list, we thought it best to celebrate all animated films regardless of style or country it originated from.

To make the top animated films of 2021 list the film had to have released in the United States in the calendar year of 2021 (sorry Belle) and was available to audience either in theaters or on streaming platforms. This means that films with theater only runs and not currently available can still make the list. Additionally there was no rating or age-group specific requirement as well to be on the Top Animation Films of 2021 list. Without further ado, here are our top animated films of 2021.

10. Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon

Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs, and John Ripa
Writer: Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim
Where to Watch: Disney+

“Raya and the Last Dragon travels to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.”

9. Gintama the VERY FINAL

Gintama THE VERY FINAL - but why tho

Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures
Director: Chizuru Miyawaki
Writer: Hideaki Sorachi (manga)
Where to Watch: No US VOD/Streaming release currently

“Two years have passed following the Tendoshuu’s invasion of the O-Edo Central Terminal. Since then, the Yorozuya have gone their separate ways. Foreseeing Utsuro’s return, Gintoki Sakata begins surveying Earth’s ley lines for traces of the other man’s Altana. After an encounter with the remnants of the Tendoshuu—who continue to press on in search of immortality—Gintoki returns to Edo.”

8. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

THE WITCHER: Nightmare of the Wolf

Studio: Studio Mir
Director: Kwang Il Han
Writer: Beau DeMayo
Where to Watch: Netflix

“The world of The Witcher expands in this anime origin story: Before Geralt, there was his mentor Vesemir — a swashbuckling young witcher who escaped a life of poverty to slay monsters for coin. But when a strange new monster begins terrorizing a politically-fraught kingdom, Vesemir finds himself on a frightening adventure that forces him to confront the demons of his past.”

7. Encanto

encanto - But Why Tho

Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith
Writer: Jared Bush and Charise Castro Smith
Where to Watch: In Theaters (On Disney+ 2022)

“Encanto tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope.”

6. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Where to Watch: Netflix

“A meeting and romance starts between two people with communication issues – a boy who wears headphones and uses haiku poems, and a shy girl who wears a mask and only does online videos.”

5. Wish Dragon

Wish Dragon

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Writer: and (dialogue)
Where to Watch: Netflix

“In Sony Pictures Animation’s Wish Dragon, Din, a working-class college student with big dreams but small means, and Long, a cynical but all-powerful dragon capable of granting wishes, set off on a hilarious adventure through modern day Shanghai in pursuit of Din’s long-lost childhood friend, Lina. Their journey forces them to answer some of life’s biggest questions – because when you can wish for anything, you have to decide what really matters.”

4. Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish

Top Animated Films of 2021

Studio: bones
Director: Kotaro Tamura
Writer: Sayaka Kuwamura
Where to Watch: No US VOD/Streaming release currently

“Tsuneo, an ordinary college student and avid diver, unexpectedly becomes the caretaker of a wheelchair-bound young woman in order to raise money for this dream to go diving in Mexico. This young woman, who calls herself Josee after her favorite book character, is sullen and demanding, but as Tsuneo helps Josee interact with the outside world and learns more about Josee’s unique perspective, their feelings grow into love. The two begin to support each other in ways beyond just romance.”

3. The Summit of the Gods

The summit of the gods - Top Animated Films of 2021

Studio: Folivari
Director: Patrick Imbert
Writer: Magali Pouzol, Patrick Imbert, andJean-Charles Ostoréro
Where to Watch: Netflix

“A breathtaking adaptation of the manga series by renowned manga artist Jirô Taniguchi and writer Baku Yumemakura, THE SUMMIT OF THE GODS follows a young Japanese photojournalist, Fukamachi, who finds a camera that could change the history of mountaineering. It leads him to the mysterious Habu, an outcast climber believed missing for years. Fukamachi enters a world of obsessive mountaineers hungry for impossible conquests on a journey that leads him, step by step, towards the summit of the gods.”

2. Mitchell’s Vs The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines - Top Animated Films of 2021

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Director: Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Writer: Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Where to Watch: Netflix

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines, an animated action-comedy about an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of their biggest family challenge yet…saving the world from the robot apocalypse. No big deal, right? It all starts when creative outsider Katie Mitchell is accepted into the film school of her dreams and is eager to leave home and find “her people,” when her nature-loving dad insists on having the whole family drive her to school and bond during one last totally-not-awkward-or-forced road trip. But just when the trip can’t get any worse, the family suddenly finds itself in the middle of the robot uprising!”

1. Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba: Mugen Train

Demon Slayer Movie - But Why Tho - Top Animated Films of 2021

Studio: studio ufotable
Writer: Koyoharu Gotoge (screenplay by studio ufotable)
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

“Falling forever into an endless dream… Tanjiro and the group have completed their rehabilitation training at the Butterfly Mansion, and they arrive to their next mission on the Mugen Train, where over 40 people have disappeared in a very short period of time. Tanjiro and Nezuko, along with Zenitsu and Inosuke, join one of the most powerful swordsmen within the Demon Slayer Corps, Flame Hashira Kyojuro Rengoku, to face the demon aboard the Mugen Train on track to despair.”

With childrens’ films, adult animation, existing IP and new original works, our top animated films of 2021 list is stacked with films across country, genre, and style. With the beauty of animation in full swing, we did end up with a few honorable mentions like Stranger by the Shore and Luca that barley missed the cut. Did your favorite make out top animated films of 2021 list? Let us know on social media: @butwhythopc.

Synopsis for the films on the Top Animated Films of 2021 list were taken from product information. 

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