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!