10 animated movies that recap episodes instead of telling new stories

An age-old tradition for popular animated series is recap movies. Dating back to the late ’70s, the animated series have undergone adaptations that involve removing a ton of existing series, condensing them to just 90 minutes to two hours, and showing them somewhere in theaters. Sometimes that allows a whole new fanbase to find the series far from TV. Sometimes this is done specifically to jog the audience’s memory in time for a sequel movie or series.

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Either way, the movie rarely has a lot of new footage, except perhaps to change something for the inevitable sequel to the movie, but they may be worth watching for people who want to avoid watching a series that lasts nine hours or more. Here are 10 animated movies that are more recaps than new animated movies.


ten Haikyuu !! : End and start

Logo of the animation studio Production IG and a photo of their adaptation of Haikyuu !!  in its fourth season

Haikyuu has a series of compilation movies that just recap the series. The first two, in particular, End and start and Winners and losers, recap the first viral season. The first film hit theaters on July 3, 2015 and showed Hinata going to Karasuno High School, shortly after being defeated by Tobio Kageyama. Hinata is forced to switch from revenge to Kageyama’s complicity. Covering the first half of the first season, the accompanying film was released on September 18.

9 Ghost In The Shell: Self-Contained Complex: The Man Who Laughs

ghost self-contained complex in the shell

The original The loneliness complex the anime lasted for two twenty-six episodes over two seasons, but the series was also adapted into two separate films. The first was The man who Laughs, which focused on the Laughing Man Incident, where the president of a nanomachine company was kidnapped. Lasting two hours and forty minutes, it condensed the entire original first season and was released in September 2005, three years after the original season ended. The second film, Individual Eleven, focuses on the major events of the second season.

8 Code Geass: Initiation

One of the most popular mecha franchises of all time, Code Geass received several compilation films from 2017. Initiation, Transgression, and Glorification released over two years and has seen the story of the main character Lelouch told from his early days to his eventual plan to defeat the entire British Empire. These three films were intended to refresh the memory of the public with a view to Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection, which was established in 2019.

7 Madoka Magica: the beginnings

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Girls

One of the most popular animes of the 2010s, Madoka Magica, was appreciated for his deconstructive take on magical girls. It ran for twelve episodes in 2011, but its incredible popularity resulted in the series getting a pair of films that recapped the original story.

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The first was released on October 6, 2012, while the second was released only a week later, both are about two hours long and fit almost the entire story. This ultimately led to a third completely original film which aired a year later.

6 Death Note: Rewrite

l death notice

Death Note received a pair of specials meant to recap the whole story. Also called Death Note: Director’s Cut, this condensed the whole story to just four hours. The first is called Visions of a God and compiles the battle between main character Light and his opponent L, but he looks at the story from Ryuk’s perspective. The second is L’s Successors, in which Light takes care of Mello and Near’s encounters instead.

5 Mobile Suit Gundam

The original Gundam the series was supposed to last a full year, but was cut short because its marks weren’t that high. It wasn’t until years later, when the series premiered as theatrical films, that Gundam became the franchise it would become over the following decades. The original Mobile Suit Gundam The film sees Amuro confront Char after learning to pilot a Gundam for the first time, as well as White Base’s continued battles with the Zeon until they finally manage to reach Earth.

4 Kiddy Category: Ignition

Category Kiddy was an early 2000s sci-fi series that took up the Dirty Pair formula of taking two genius women and putting them in roles that allowed them to embark on tons of dangerous missions.

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Five years after the series was released, Gonzo is releasing a trilogy of compilation films. It started with Ignition, a ninety minute film covering the first quarter of the appropriate series. Presumably, these were meant to excite people to little girlー and start a franchise ー but the sequel was quite disappointing.

3 Attack on Titan: Crimson Bow and Arrow

Attack on Titan Crimson Bow and Arrow

Easily one of the most popular anime of the 2010s, The attack of the Titans was intended for a film adaptation of the script. After being released in 2013, Wit Studio got the first anime, Crimson bow and arrow, come out the following year. He covered the first half of the series and understandably cut a lot of content from the story as it is only two hours long. The second film aired two years later and adopted the rest of the series, enticing fans for the inevitable original film releases.

2 Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: the end of childhood

Gurren lagann was Gainax’s most popular hit at the time and is still one of the most beloved mecha anime, which means it wasn’t a surprise when the series got a recap movie. They called back the director and screenwriter to create Gurren Lagann the Movie: Childhood’s End, which lasted almost two hours and tried to push the first thirteen episodes into a simplified version of the story.

1 Macross: Do you remember love?

In 1984, Premiere two years later Macross’ TV shows, Do you remember the love was a recap meant to condense the entire series into a two-hour movie. He’s managed to do this by removing some of the slower parts, but they do it by weakening some of the roles of the surrounding cast a bit. Yet he maintained the love triangle between Hikaru, Lynn Minmay, and Misa Hayase during the war between humanity and the warrior alien race, Zentraedi. Thanks to not having to rush production work, animation is still one of the finest jobs ever.

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