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The Best Anime Studios In The World & Their Best Titles

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In this article, we go through the biggest and best Japanese anime studios that produce the best anime series and movies for the world to enjoy.

MAPPA Studio

MAPPA Studio is an acronym for Maruyama Animation Produce Project Association. It’s best known for being the studio behind several modern blockbuster animes and obscure, notable works that appeal to old-school anime fans.

Established on June 14, 2011, by Masao Muriyama, a co-founder and producer of the notable studio Madhouse, MAPPA Studio has since become a powerhouse in the anime industry. It’s based in Suginami, Tokyo.

With talented directors such as Sayo Yamamoto at the helm, the studio became known for its attention to detail and fluidity, thanks to its expertise with motion capture. Dynamic camera work and unusual artistic styles are also signatures of the studio. 

MAPPA Studio produces shōnen type anime directed at teenagers and young adults looking for thrill, adventure, and fighting, including:

  • Chainsaw Man
  • Jujutsu no Kaisen
  • Yuri!!! On Ice
  • Attack on Titan: The Final Season
  • Hajime no Ippo: Rising
  • Vinland Saga Season 2

Artists and animators at MAPPA use software like Maya and Adobe After Effects to achieve their visually stunning style. But the said style differs significantly from one anime to another. 

The studio is criticized for the harsh conditions it imposes on its employees, mainly due to its quick growth and production of multiple projects concurrently. 

However, it has won several awards for its outstanding work. Those awards include the Best Animation award at the 26th Japan Movie Critics Awards for “Kids on the Slope.”

Toei Animation

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Toei Animation is the studio behind some of the highest-grossing anime series in Japan, including:

  • Dragon Ball
  • One Piece
  • Sailor Moon
  • Digimon

Kenzō Masaoka founded it in 1948 (as Japan Animated Films) and was later named Toei Animation in 1956; and is considered one of the biggest companies in the history of anime production. It has since employed several famous directors, including Hayao Miyazaki (one of the best anime artists of all time), Isao Takahata, and Yasuji Mori

Based in Nerima City, Tokyo, the studio has around 1300 employees who use software such as Adobe Animate and Anime Studio to achieve its distinct style.

It’s known for its art style that evolves with time and differs from one anime to another

For example, it used the “big eyes, small mouth” and soft, delicate style in “Sailor Moon” to achieve the magical girl aesthetic.

The studio also experimented with other styles. Consider the more realistic and bold style seen in “Dragon Ball” and the exaggerated body proportions, facial expressions, and character outlines in “One Piece” to match the series’ blend of comedy and action. 

But sometimes, the studio struggles with animation quality, especially when producing several projects simultaneously. For example, One Piece’s Wholecake Arc saw an animation hit due to the production of the movie “Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

Toei has won several awards for its contribution to the anime industry. For example, they were awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Anime at the 29th Japan Academy Prize for their work on “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F.

Pierrot

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Pierrot was established on November 25, 1979, by three former employees of Tatsunoko Productions. It’s based in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan, and has employed several notable directors, including Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii.

The studio is known for producing popular anime series catering to the taste of teenage boys and young girls, including:

  • Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War
  • Naruto
  • Tokyo Ghoul
  • Yu Yu Hakusho
  • Akazukin Chacha
  • Black Clover
  • Boruto
  • Creamy Mami

It also employs around 160 employees with experience in different art styles, which range from highly detailed to simplistic. 

For example, “Tokyo Ghoul” features a more gothic, horrifying, grotesque, and highly-detailed art style that defies “Akazukin Chacha”’s simplistic and childish style intended for younger audiences.

To achieve the high realism they’re known for, Pierrot animators use TVPaint and Toon Boom. They’ve received several nominations for their work in the industry, including the Best Theme Song award for “Bleach” at the Tokyo Anime Awards.

Madhouse

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Madhouse was established on October 10, 1972, by former Mushi Production staff members Masao Maruyama, Osamu Dezaki, Rintaro, and Yoshiaki Kawajiri (one of the best anime artists ever). It’s based in Nakano, Tokyo, and is known for producing popular anime series and films, including:

  • Death Note
  • One-Punch Man
  • Hunter x Hunter
  • Perfect Blue
  • Ninja Scroll
  • Overlord

The studio has since employed a few famous directors, notably Satoshi Kon, who directed the thrilling anime movie “Perfect Blue.” 

Madhouse employs around 70 employees, including contractors hired to work on specific projects. As such, the talent present in the studio is diverse, and the art style varies significantly from one project to another.

For example, “Death Note” follows a more realistic, detailed, and gothic art style befitting the anime’s genre. On the other hand, “One Punch Man” is more comedic, simplistic, and tongue-to-cheek at times but with thrilling, dynamic action scenes. Nonetheless, the studio is recognized for its attention to detail and high-quality animation.

The studio’s older productions use traditional cel animations, but recent projects often involve a variety of sophisticated software, such as Adobe Animate and TVPaint, to achieve their distinctive look.

The studio has gone on to win several awards. “Death Note” won Best TV Animation at the 2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair, while “Perfect Blue” won Best Asian Film at the 1997 Fantasia Film Festival.

Bones Studio

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Former Sunrise staff members Masahiko Minami, Hiroshi Osaka, and Toshihiro Kawamoto founded Bone Studio on October 28, 1998. It’s based in Musashino, Tokyo, and is known for producing acclaimed shōnen with engaging storylines, including:

  • My Hero Academia
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

The studio has about 80 talented employees that use sophisticated digital animation software such as Toon Boom Harmony to create distinct high-quality animation and engaging action scenes. 

The employees also have experience with a range of styles, and it shows once you compare their projects. 

For example, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is more realistic and emphasizes detail, vividity, and immersion. They never fail at creating engaging fighting scenes and paying attention to the most minute details—even Edward’s nails once he regains his arm.

On the other hand, “My Hero Academia” has a softer and more simplistic character design, but a great deal of care is put into its animation and fast-paced action.

The studio has won several awards for its spectacular work, too. “My Hero Academia” received several awards and nominations, including the Crunchyroll Anime Award for Best Animation in 2017 and 2018, while “Fullmetal Alchemist” won the Tokyo Anime Award for Best TV Animation in 2004.

Ufotable

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Although Ufotable was established long ago, back in 2000, by former TMS Entertainment staff member Hikaru Kondo. It’s best recognized for its recent shōnen and seinen masterpieces:

  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • God Eater
  • Fate/Zero
  • Fate/Stay

The studio is based in Suginami, Tokyo, and hosts around 220 employees. It’s renowned for its technical excellence and dedication to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in animation. 

Demon Slayer,” for example, exemplifies the fluid animation, dynamic camera work, and visually appealing aesthetics only possible thanks to the studio’s skilled employment of digital composting and high-detail visual effects. 

Similar to other studios, the studio uses the industry-common software, Adobe After Effects and Autodesk Maya.

Some of the awards the studio won include the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Director for Takahiro Miura for “Fate/Zero” and the Newtype Anime Award for Best Studio for “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.”

Kyoto Animation

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Kyoto Animation, also called KyoAni, is based in Uji, Kyoto. It was founded in 1985 by husband and wife Hideaki and Yoko Hatta

The studio receives praise for treating its staff positively. It promotes a balanced workplace, encourages women to pursue careers in the industry, and offers regular salaries to employees rather than hiring them on a freelance basis.

It’s also famous for its emotionally impactful, character-driven stories emphasizing personal growth. 

Kyoto Animation has a core staff that avoids the practice of outsourcing projects to external studios. As such, the art style and character design are consistent. The employees are also experts at attention to detail, animating most things other studios would otherwise skimp out on.

For example, a phenomenal amount of work was put into animation, lighting, and detail in “K-On!’s” second season intro. It shows in Yui’s hair and body movements, the amplifier, her guitar, and the background characters. 

The studio uses Adobe After Effects and computer-generated images to achieve this level of detail.

The studio’s projects often fall into drama, slice-of-life, and comedy. They’ve made several shōjo, shōnen, and seinen animes and movies, including:

  • K-On!
  • Violet Evergarden
  • A Silent Voice
  • Liz and the Blue Bird

The studio won several awards for its contributions to the industry. “Violet Evergarden” won the Tokyo Anime Awards’ Animation of the Year in 2021.

Wit Studio

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This Japanese studio was founded on June 1, 2012. It’s based in Musashino, Tokyo. Wit Studio. It specializes in producing highly-detailed animes that emphasize emotionally impactful storytelling with beautiful, vivid backgrounds and fluid characters.

Some animes they made include:

  • Spy x Family
  • Vinland Saga
  • Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan” won the Tokyo Anime Award for best animation.

CoMix Wave Films

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CoMix Wave Films, based in Chiyoda, Tokyo, was founded in 2007. This studio specializes in anime films more than series, preferring to produce short feature films dabbling in topics of romance and drama instead.

It invokes feelings of calm through an atmospheric art style featuring life-like characters, realistic yet subtle movements, and vivid landscapes. The lead animation director Makoto Shinkai truly knows how to create visual spectacles.

Some anime films this studio produced include:

  • Suzume
  • Weathering with You
  • Your Name
  • Flavors of Youth

Your Name” won the Grand Prize at the 2017 Animation Kobe awards.

Studio Ghibli

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Studio Ghibli is another well-known Japanese studio recognized for producing many iconic, immersive-realism, kid-appropriate anime movies. 

It was founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Tahakata on June 15, 1985, alongside producer Toshio Suzuki, and is based in Koganei, Tokyo. It also employs about 180 individuals.

The studio’s anime films are recognized worldwide and often praised for their imaginative storytelling, attention to detail, and beautiful animation. Some of its productions include:

  • Spirited Away
  • Princess Mononoke
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Grave of the Fireflies

Studio Ghibli primarily uses traditional hand-drawn animation techniques to achieve its distinctive look. It’s known for its intricate and beautiful animation style, vibrant colors, highly detailed landscapes, and character designs that balance elements of magic and realism. 

The films also tackle subjects of childhood wonder, mystery, and the thrill of adventure.

It won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003 with “Spirited Away” and the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year in 1998 with “Princess Mononoke.”

A-1 Pictures

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A-1 Pictures (a subsidiary of Aniplex), based in Suginami, Tokyo, was founded by former Sunrise producer Mikihiro Iwata in 2005. It has around 160 employees and is recognized for its popular fantasy and adventure shōnen series:

  • Fairy Tail
  • Sword Art Online
  • Seven Deadly Sins
  • Black Butler

It’s difficult to describe the studio’s art style, as it differs from one anime series to another. 

Although it has a large employee base, the studio still contracts freelancers to help with projects and plays with a wide range of genres, from romantic comedies to slice-of-life dramas, making it difficult to tie a particular series as belonging to it.

However, there’s no denying that the studio is excellent at what it does. It pays meticulous attention to the smallest details, from facial expressions to hair and clothing animation. 

Their works are as equally immersive as they are visually appealing. The software is kept secret, but it could be the industry standard; Adobe Animate, After Effects, or Autodesk Maya.

That’s the only way its productions could win several awards. For example, “The Seven Deadly Sins” won the Best TV Animation Award at the 2015 Tokyo Anime Awards Festival.

Trigger

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Trigger was founded on August 22, 2011, by former Gainax employees Masahiko Ohtsuka, its current representative director, and Hiroyuki Imaishi

Based in Tokyo, Japan, the studio hosts about 100 employees. It’s responsible for “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” and other anime series, including:

  • Kill la Kill
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Promare
  • Kiznaiver

The studio uses animation software such as Autodesk Maya and Toon Boom Harmony to achieve its easily-recognized flashy, over-the-top visual effects. It doesn’t shy away from employing bold, vivid colors, exaggerated movements, and dynamic action scenes to instill a sense of excitement and thrill within the viewer.

Its projects often feature elements of science-fiction, comedy, drama, fantasy, and action designed to attract younger audiences. Through that, it has won several awards, including the Newtype Anime Award’s Best TV Anime for “Kill la Kill.”

What makes Trigger an interesting studio is that they have a Patreon page, where fans of Trigger can support the studio and get exclusive access things live drawing sessions.

Production I.G

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Mitsuhisa Ishikawa founded Production I.G in 1987. One of its headquarters is in Musashino, Tokyo.

The studio uses both traditional and modern animation styles to achieve a distinct style. Since they’ve worked on several series, it’s always evolving. However, it’s fluid, dynamic, and vivid. Plus, it prioritizes realism in characters, which are intricately detailed and highly expressive.

Some animes this studio worked on include:

  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Haikyu!!
  • Psycho-Pass 3

Kinema Citrus

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Former employees of Production I.G. established this studio in 2008. It’s based in Suginami, Tokyo, and is led by Munaki Ogasawara

The studio’s art style is intricate, characterized by bright colors and detailed backgrounds, suitable for the fantasy and action genres they usually work on.

Using both traditional and digital animation styles, they produced several animes, including:

  • Made in Abyss
  • Star Wars: Visions (consists of works from multiple animation studios)
  • Black Bullet
  • Barakamon
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Made in Abyss won the Tokyo Anime Award Festival’s Animation of the Year award in 2017.

White Fox

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Gaku Iwasa founded White Fox in 2007. This studio is a minor player in the industry, known for its clean and fluid animations, which emphasize character and environmental expressiveness and detail. 

Their productions are underrated masterpieces. White Fox’s most famous adaptations include:

  • Steins;Gate
  • Re:Zero
  • Akame ga Kill!

Steins;Gate” won Newtype Anime Awards’ Best Screenplay and Best Director awards.

SHAFT

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1975 saw the founding of SHAFT in Suginami, Tokyo, by Hiroshi Wakao. The studio quickly gained popularity during the mid-2000s thanks to its distinct avant-garde art style and cinematography inspired by the director Akiyuki Shinbo

It uses experimental animation techniques, abstract visuals, sharp color contrasts, and extreme changes in background art to retain its surrealistic narratives. The studio also employs a lot of symbolism and wordplay in their works.

Some of this studio’s productions include:

  • Monogatari (series)
  • Nisekoi
  • March Comes In Like a Lion

Bakemonogatari” was chosen as the Best Anime Series of 2009 by the Tokyo Anime Award Festival.

CloverWorks

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This studio was established back in 2018 as a subsidiary of Aniplex

Based in Suginami, Tokyo, it uses innovative techniques such as rotoscoping, motion capture, and composting to create highly-realistic and visually stunning animation sequences. Hiroyuki Shimizo is its chairman.

Some of this studio’s animes are:

  • The Promised Neverland
  • Horimiya
  • Dakaichi

The Promised Neverland” won the Tokyo Anime Awards’ Animation of the Year.

Gainax

Gainax was founded in 1984 by former Daicon Film animation group members. The studio, based in Musashino, Tokyo, is responsible for producing critically-acclaimed anime series recognized by their highly-stylized animation, striking composition, and use of pop culture references.

Some of this studio’s best productions include:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • FLCL
  • Gurren Lagann

Neon Genesis Evangelionsold record amounts of laser discs and made over $12 billion in revenue by 2002.

Aniplex

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Aniplex is both an animation studio and a music production company. Established in 1995 by Sony Group Corporation, the studio has produced over 150 anime series with substantially different art styles. Some are traditional, while others are modern. 

It was involved in the production and distribution of many animes, including:

  • NieR:Automata Ver1.1a
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica

It also won several Best Animation of the Year and Best Anime of the year at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival and Japan Academy Film Prize, respectively.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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