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You may not know it, but there is one studio behind a lot of the longest running and most popular titles in anime. That studio is Toei Animation. They’ve been making anime for a long time, and especially in the 1990s, they released a lot of anime that would become what we call “classic” today. They’re commonly behind anime that are really long, with multiple seasons and a lot of episodes over many years. And they have produced a lot of anime that have shaped the way the anime world is as we know it today!
So how does one begin to choose from Toei Animation’s massive list of what’s what is best to watch? Well, it’s certainly no easy task, especially with some really big names on that list. Luckily, we at Honey’s Anime have done our best to create a list of the Top 10 Anime by Toei Animation! These are the titles that we feel really shine the most - they have the most diehard fans, have had the most influence on anime today, and continue to be popular despite many of them being old now. These anime have withstood the test of time (or we think they will in the future!). And get ready to be surprised; you’ve probably heard of a lot of them without realising they were all Toei Animation!
10. Air Gear
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Sep. 2006
Air Gear revolves around the idea of a high tech kind of roller skates called Air Trek that allows the wearer to perform death-defying feats and tricks, and ignore the rules of gravity. These Air Treks have led to the birth of gangs and rivalries that centre on their use of the skates, and have created an entire underground culture around them. When a young man named Ikki sees a beautiful girl wearing a pair, he borrows some Air Treks of his own to try to find her. Ikki finds himself pulled into the world of Air Trek gangs, eventually forming one of his own and always trying to catch the girl that is one step ahead of him.
Air Gear is a light-hearted anime from Toei Animation that combines comedy, science fiction, action, and even ecchi into one entertaining story. It’s a unique conglomeration that doesn’t really sound like it would work out, but somehow it does! The result is an anime that is entertaining and fun to watch even for casual anime fans, with a unique take on what a sports anime can be. Air Gear may not be the most famous anime that Toei Animation has created, but it is fun and easy for anyone to watch, and has a very original story.
9. Lovely Complex
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2007 – Sep. 2007
Love Com is the romantic comedy story about a girl that is taller than average and a boy that is shorter than average. Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Ootani’s love-hate relationship is notorious at their high school, and their friendship is full of both jokes and shouting matches. But when Risa begins to feel for Atsushi in a more romantic way, she worries that they won’t be able to take that step in their relationship. Thus it becomes her goal to make Atsushi see her in a new light, and to prove to everyone that a relationship between a tall girl and a short boy can work just fine!
Love Com is a fun and light-hearted romance anime that is easy to watch and enjoy. It’s sure to have you laughing and cringing along with the characters in the show at Rosa’s desperation and Risa and Atsushi’s dynamic. But you’re also going to be rooting for Risa to succeed in her plans and win Atsushi over to her side! Love Com is an anime with great main characters and a plot that is fun to watch without demanding a huge emotional investment; it’s just entertaining and will keep you watching all the way to its end.
8. World Trigger
- Episodes: 73
- Aired: Oct. 2014 – Apr. 2016
World Trigger is set in a world where a gate has opened to another dimension, and dangerous beings called Neighbours wreak havoc. They are impervious to traditional weapons, so the Border Defence Agency was born to help combat them using special weapons called Triggers. Even years later, the Agency is still hard at work and the Neighbours are still a dangerous force. World Trigger follows a few students who are learning how to use their Triggers to protect society. One of the main characters, Yuuma Kuga, is even a Neighbour in disguise!
A lot of the series that Toei Animation has success with are long-running titles that started over a generation ago. But World Trigger is a huge exception and is only a few years old. It’s gone on to be so popular that handheld and mobile games have been released based on it, there’s plenty of merchandise available, and it lasted 73 episodes long. It’s a fun science fiction story that gives the viewer plenty of action and excitement while telling a very interesting coming of age story in this unique world. Yuuma is an intriguing character that you can’t help but want to know more about as well. World Trigger had a lot of hype in Japan when it was airing, but the hype was definitely worth it.
7. Kyousou Giga (Kyousougiga)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2013
Kyousougiga begins with a high priest named Myoe, who has the ability to draw anything and make it come to life. Using his power, he creates an entire city called Kyoto (meaning “Mirror Capitol”). He also drew a rabbit named Koto as a God of Kyoto which also came to life and managed to make Myoe fall in love with her. Koto and Myoe later adopt a war orphan, and along with two more children whom Myoe draws, start a family together in Kyoto. When Myoe and Koto eventually have to leave Kyoto behind, Myoe leaves the city to his children. And that’s just the beginning of their adventures in the Mirror Capitol!
Kyousougiga isn’t an average anime; it was created as a web series and released on Nico Nico Douga and YouTube originally in 2011. It wasn’t released as a traditional anime on TV until nearly two years later. It’s a bright and colourful animation with a very original story that will keep you hooked and wondering what will happen next. And when the mystery of a strange girl that shows up in Kyoto begins to unfold, Kyousougiga does a good job of keeping the viewer guessing and wanting to know more. You may have never heard of Kyousougiga before due to its unusual initial release on the internet, but if you missed this gem from Toei Animation before you should check it out now!
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr. 1998 – Oct. 1998
At the start of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi Moto is just a shy high school boy. But when he receives the pieces of an ancient Egyptian puzzle called the Millennium Puzzle from his grandfather, everything changes. Yugi puts the puzzle back together and is suddenly possessed by the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh! But the Millennium Puzzle is not a secret, and many people want to take to and to uncover the powerful secrets it guards within. It’s up to Yugi and his friends to protect the puzzle and to defeat anyone who may come to try to claim it.
Yu-Gi-Oh! was a name on the lips of all elementary school kids in the 1990s, and has retained some of its popularity today. It was also a card game, and because of the game’s widespread success, the anime got a lot of attention as well. And for good reason; Yu-Gi-Oh! is really fun to watch! It’s over-the-top, a great laugh, and full of cool battle sequences that revolve around cards. While originally aimed at kids, Yu-Gi-Oh! has found success with viewers of all ages. It continues to be a name most, if not all, anime fans recognise and is an entertaining older anime to watch even today.
5. Interstella5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (Interstellar 5555)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: May 2003
Interstella5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem begins with the kidnapping of four alien musicians by a group of humans, who wipe their memories and identities and disguise them as humans as well. The four are named the Cresendolls, and go on to earn a lot of money playing pop music that lacks any creativity but appeals to the masses. But a space pilot named Shep is in love with the Cresendolls’ bass player, Stella, and still knows her true identity. At one of their concerts, Shep manages to free three of the band members - everyone but Stella. The three musicians then try to rediscover their own stolen identities, and to rescue Stella as well!
Interstella5555 is actually a movie, not a series, so it doesn’t take a major time commitment to enjoy it. It’s a very original and fun concept and is well executed. It’s actually based on Daft Punk’s second studio album “Discovery,” and while Toei Animation is the studio behind Interstellar 5555, the other producers are actually French. And of course, Daft Punk had a hand in the production as well and provided all the music. Interstella5555 interestingly has no dialogue at all and very few sound effects, using the music and animation alone to tell the story. That’s quite a lot to get you intrigued, we hope!
4. Digimon Adventure (Digimon: Digital Monsters)
- Episodes: 54
- Aired: Mar. 1999 – Mar. 2000
Digimon Adventure is about a group of kids who are transported into the Digital World. This world is in danger of being taken over by evil, so it’s up to the kids to try to save it. Each one of the characters is paired with a unique Digimon, a digital monster that will help them fight. These “digi-destined” kids are the only hope for the Digital World! Using a special device that each of the children possess, the Digimon can transform into a powerful form that can combat the evil powers.
Nearly everyone has heard of Pokemon, but most anime fans also know Digimon! They came out at similar times, and some fans argue that Digimon Adventure actually had a better story and characters in its anime. Digimon Adventure went on to have several sequels and spin-offs, along with many games. The series was aimed at children but became popular with adults as well thanks to the fun plot, exciting battles, and colourful characters and monsters. Digimon Adventure brings characters that actually grow and age, complicated plot lines, and many varied stories.
3. Dragon Ball Super
- Episodes: 131
- Aired: Jul. 2015 – Mar. 2018
Dragon Ball Super is set seven years after Dragon Ball Z, in a world now at peace. Their safety and security aren’t to last though as an evil force awakens once again known as Beerus, the God of Destruction. But there is hope; there is a prophecy that Beerus will be destroyed by a “Super Saiyan God.” Wanting to avoid this fate at all costs, Beerus begins a ruthless hunt for the God in the prophecy. Their journey brings them to Earth, and eventually to Goku Son who proves to be one of the most powerful warriors on the planet.
Dragon Ball Z had been around for a long time, and many adult anime fans grew up watching it. It gained popularity in Japan and in the West as well, and its English dub is still shown on several animation channels outside of Japan. It’s a name that a lot of non-anime fans also recognise. Plus a lot of things in Dragon Ball are referenced in other forms of pop culture and society in general, showing the anime’s long-term influence. Dragon Ball Super brought something really special to the table from Toei Animation when it was released, helping to keep the old series alive by providing an anime that was unforgettably good.
2. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 200
- Aired: Mar. 1992 – Feb. 1997
Few names in anime are as recognisable as Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. It follows the story of a high school girl named Usagi who lives a very average life, and is known for being clumsy and not doing well in school. But Usagi is much more than she seems, even to herself; it turns out she is actually destined to become the Protector of Earth known as Sailor Moon! Using a magical brooch that allows her to transform and use her new powers, Usagi and the other girls that represent each of the planets have to fight to save their city from monsters invading from the Dark Kingdom.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon was, and still is, an international favourite. It aired on television not just in Japan but across the world, capturing the hearts of young girls and boys alike in the 1990s. It continues to hold its popularity, being a popular choice for cosplay, collaboration goods, restaurants, and more. It even features at theme parks like Universal Studios in Japan! Sailor Moon is easily one of the most popular and famous anime that has been created, and her power in the anime world doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So many fans love the story, the characters, and the strong side of femininity that Sailor Moon stands for. There’s a reason the anime was and continues to be, so popular!
1. One Piece
- Episodes: 839
- Aired: Oct. 1999 – Ongoing
One Piece is an anime about pirates! The main character is Monkey D. Luffy, a young man with the valiant goal of becoming King of the Pirates. On his journey, he collects quite an eccentric and colourful crew to assist him and meets even more unique and amazing people along the way. Many of the characters including Luffy himself have eaten from the Devil Fruit, a strange fruit that gives them amazing superhuman powers. Luffy and his crew set sail on the ultimate adventure to try to find the legendary treasure called “One Piece,” and nothing can prepare them for everything they face along the way!
One Piece has found immense global success and is already well over 700 episodes long. It has so many overlapping and interlocking stories and characters that it can be intimidating to get into. But the long-term payoff is great! There’s always something fun and new happening in One Piece, and with so many different stories it’s hard to get bored. It’s funny and light-hearted at times, and dark and enticing at others. And the animation is always colourful and unique, stretching the imagination with character design and keeping your attention. One Piece may be the most popular anime in Japan, and it’s easy to see why once you let yourself get pulled into its immersive world.
Well, that was a serious list of celebrities in the anime world. Toei Animation is behind some of the hardest hitting and biggest names in the industry, producing anime that other studios can only hope to mimic the success of. These titles are popular not only in Japan but in the West as well and continue to attract more and more fans no matter how old they are. Some have gone on for hundreds of episodes, some have become movies, and some are still waiting to see what the future has in store for them. But what they all have in common is that they’re from Toei Animation, and you won’t regret watching them.
Have you seen any of the anime on this list? Did we miss your favourite from Toei Animation? Do you think the order should be adjusted? Which of these are you excited to watch now? Were any of them a surprise to you being from the same studio as the others? Whatever you want to say, please let us know in the comments below!
Hey all! So it’s time for another Top 10 - this time I’ll be looking at Toei Animation. I’ve written a few of these lists, so I feel like every studio I look at is “one of the giants”, but Toei has been around longer than most (and is also definitely a giant of anime!).
It was officially founded in 1948 as Japan Animated Films, and the studio has been producing under the name of Toei Animation since 1956. Responsible for some really big hits, Toei was also the studio behind Daft Punk’s “Interstella 5555” which you should definitely check out if you’re a Daft Punk fan!
The list is made up of anime which Toei produced (no subcontracting), and is a mix of old, almost-old and some newer series too. At number 10 is Pretty Cure!
10. Pretty Cure (Futari wa Pretty Cure)
- Episodes: 49
- Aired: Feb 2004 - Jan 2005
Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro are two schoolgirls whose lives change forever after meeting Mipple and Mepple, refugees from the Garden of Light. The two become friends when they are given magical powers, and vow to fight the Darkness that has taken over the Garden.
Pretty Cure is a massive media franchise which started in 2004 with Futari wa Pretty Cure. Though Pretty Cure doesn’t have reviews lauding it for its plot depth, it’s a commercial machine, inspiring no less than 11 spin-offs and sequels! And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without video games, toys and even musicals; the franchise is a big earner for Toei.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2007 - Sep 2007
Mononoke are evil spirits which inhabit cities and the countryside alike. A mysterious wanderer known only as the Medicine Seller has the power to vanquish these evil spirits. Armed only with his powerful exorcism sword, the series follows the travels of the Medicine Seller throughout Feudal Japan.
Mononoke is one of those series which is so rewarding, but so often overlooked. It’s been lauded for its edgy look and engaging supernatural-slash-murder-mystery storyline. Toei is a studio which is known for its long-running crowd-pleasers like Dragonball and One Piece, but Mononoke shows that the studio is just as capable of creating something experimental and artistic too. Mononoke is definitely worth the watch!
8. Slam Dunk
- Episodes: 101
- Aired: Oct 1993 - Mar 1996
When Hanamichi Sakuragi entered Shohoku High, he didn’t expect to be joining the basketball team - mainly because his latest love interest rejected him for a basketball player. Sakuragi has a change of heart, however, when he meets Haruko, a beautiful girl obsessed with basketball. Determined to win Haruko’s heart, Sakuragi devotes himself to the sport, but he must compete for her attention with the team’s star player Rukawa.
Slam Dunk was a massive hit in Japan, and is one of those rare sports anime which manages to break out and be ranked among other genres. It’s based on the manga which is credited with popularising basketball in Japan, and was a success for Toei with its popularity leading to the release of 4 movies.
7. Mazinger Z
- Episodes: 92
- Aired: Dec 1972 - Sep 1974
When an insane scientist called Dr. Hell releases killer robots called Mechanical Beasts on the world, only one man has the power to stop him. Hunted by Dr. Hell, this man Juzo Kabuto manages to build his own robot before he is killed in cold blood. Now it’s up to his hot-headed grandson Kouji to take revenge and save the world!
If you’re into mecha anime, Mazinger Z is probably the basic formula for that show you really love. Back in the 70s, it was the first show to have the pilot actually inside the mecha, and replace children with teenagers as the mecha pilots. This might not seem like a big deal, but imagine watching Evangelion with Shinji as a 9-year-old child, happily cheering on his giant robot against the Angels. Nope? Anyway, for Toei this is another commercial and critical success, with the show elevated to cult-status in its native Japan.
6. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46
- Aired: Mar 1992 - 1993
Usagi Tsukino is a typical moody middle school student who’s bad at school and constantly being told off by her parents. Her problems are about to get a lot bigger than a few flunked tests though! After meeting a talking cat called Luna, Usagi is given the power to transform into Sailor Moon. Along with the other three Sailor Soldiers, she is tasked with defending the Earth against villains from the Dark Kingdom, led by the evil Queen Beryl.
Sailor Moon is one of those shoujo anime which appeals to both genders fairly equally. Adapted from a popular manga, the anime spawned spin offs, 3 movies and no less than 39 video games! It was a massive success for Toei, so much so that the anime was re-adapted back into a manga!
5. Saint Seiya
- Episodes: 114
- Aired: Oct 1986 - Apr 1989
Seiya is a saint; one of the goddess Athena’s 88 legendary warriors. Armed with the mythical pegasus cloth, Seiya and the other saints protect Earth from other jealous gods, in a fight that has lasted for thousands of years. The series begins when a traitor is rumoured to be amongst the 88, and it’s up to Seiya, Hyoga, Ikki and Shun to find them and defeat them!
A classic that was many people’s first foray into anime, everyone’s heard of Saint Seiya (right?). Despite being a hit for Toei, and the original 114 episode run was cancelled, but its popularity led to the final unfinished arc being released as OVAs. As well as being popular, it was also a commercial success, with movies and over 10 soundtracks released!
4. Digimon Adventure
- Episodes: 54
- Aired: Mar 1999 - Mar 2000
Seven children are transported to the Digital World and discover they are the “Chosen”. Befriended by inhabitants of the digital world called digimon, the kids embark on an adventure full of crazy creatures and awesome transformations, all the while protecting the Digital World from the dark and evil Digimon.
Despite being basically a media vehicle for the tamagotchi-style digimon toys, Digimon is a respectable series in its own right, and is the main reason for the success of the merchandise. For Toei Digimon become another runaway success, with the franchise still releasing new material in 2015 after 6 seasons, 9 movies and video games galore.
3. Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star)
- Episodes: 109
- Aired: Oct 1984 - Mar 1987
The year is 199X. After the nuclear apocalypse, humanity has returned to a more primitive lifestyle; tribes living in the abandoned ruins of once-great cities struggle for food and water. In a land where the strong prey on the weak, one man dares to be different; enter Kenshiro. On a quest to find his lover Julia, he tirelessly fights the evil that now plagues the earth with the ancient martial art of Hokuto Shinken!
Known for its manly men, high-pitched attack screams, and exploding heads, Fist of the North Star needs no introduction. Though its animation is a little dated, the series is iconic, partly thanks to Kenshiro being so damn cool! For Toei, the series was a runaway success, with a second series being released straight after the original run. As well as a movie and an OVA, the series was also the inspiration for a questionable live-action film
2. One Piece
- Episodes: 700+
- Aired: Oct 1999 - Present
Before his death, the pirate king uttered the location of the world’s greatest treasure. Known as the One Piece, it will confer infinite riches upon its finder, and most importantly, the title of Pirate King! It’s also sought after by every self-respecting pirate captain out there, including 17-year-old Monkey D. Luffy. The series follows this not-so-average pirate and his crew on their swashbuckling adventures!
Based on the most popular manga of all time, One Piece’s anime adaptation is an absolute mammoth of the anime world, which many of us grew up with. An anime favourite the world over, it’s been a commercial success for Toei, still going strong after 700 episodes and 13 movies!.
1. Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: Apr 1989 - Jan 1996
Earth has finally returned to peace after the defeat of the demon king at the hands of Goku. That is until enemies start arriving from outer space! Starting with Goku’s brother Raditz, Dragon Ball Z is a legendary epic that sees Earth’s hero face ever stronger enemies, teaming up with a host of insanely cool and powerful characters along the way.
How can anyone adequately describe Dragon Ball Z? True it’s a story of endless epic fights, but at the heart of it is Goku, an implacable character who always tries to make friends of his enemies. Though it’s the continuation of the Dragon Ball anime, Dragon Ball Z eclipsed the original series as one of the most popular and recognisable anime out there.
As usual the series is bolstered with spin-offs and movies which add life to the Dragon Ball universe created by the manga. Despite being released almost 30 years ago, Toei is by no means done - a new series called Dragon Ball Super has begun airing in 2015 after years of rumours!
Finally, I got to put my favourite anime at the top of the list! I can’t describe how much I love Dragon Ball! I used to draw a lot when I was little, and I was obsessed with drawing Vegeta. I was also an absolute boss at the video games (not blowing my own trumpet or anything…) Got any comments? Stick them below!