These top 10 anime from ufotable are practically all of the projects the studio has worked on since it was founded back in 2000. This company of around 150 employees (as of 2013) is definitely a newcomer when it comes to the world of producing anime. Though it has only been around for 15 years, it has released some great work and has carved a niche for itself.
An important note: ufotable is the primary producer, of the shows listed, unless otherwise stated.
Action, adventure, harem, magic, slice of life, and superhero are just some of the genres ufotable has worked on. The list below covers these genres and many more. You’ll even find some quirky shows such as the anime that comes in at #10!
10. Gyo (OVA)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: February 15, 2012
Japan is under attack by the dead brought back to life! No. It’s not what you’re thinking. Zombies aren’t the problem. It’s actually the re-animation of lifeless fish fused with metal legs! This attack is much more shocking (and arguably smells worse).
In the midst of this disgusting attack, Kaori returns to Tokyo to look for her boyfriend. During the chaos she lost touch with him. She’s worried he’ll be killed by these murderous, scaly creatures. Or worse, he’ll be infected with the mysterious disease these fish have been spreading to people.
This 70-minute OVA, by ufotable, didn’t win them any major awards from critics. It did however showcase their willingness to take on interesting. The premise is obviously intriguing and the creators were willing to throw some very gross scenes in your face. So, there’s something to respect about a studio confident enough to put this type of project together and fully commit to the vision. Even though it’s not a great anime, it is definitely memorable and has kept people talking about ufotable.
9. Dokkoida (Dokkoida?!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 5, 2003 to September 20, 2003
Dokkoida is Earth’s protector and possibly one of the greatest heroes in the universe! Though you wouldn’t know it just by looking at the young man beneath the mechanized suit. Suzuo is a 19 year old desperately looking for a part-time job.
During this time he meets a young girl named Kosuzu aka Tanpopo. She secretly works for the Galaxy Federation Police and is searching for an earthling to try out a prototype suit. The suit will give its wearer the strength and abilities to take on intergalactic criminals. With his hopes crushed of ever finding a job, he eagerly takes the opportunity to try out the prototype and become a superhero.
Tanpopo, however, failed to explain to Suzuo that upon donning the suit he’d be obliged to work for the Galaxy Federation Police and use his new power to arrest intergalactic criminals. Reluctantly, he warms up to his new job. But, things won’t be easy for Suzuo. Especially when the criminals he catches take on new identities and become his new neighbors!
Dokkoida was an important series for ufotable because it was aimed toward a younger demographic. Few of the anime produced by ufotable, later on, were aimed specifically at pre-teens. But with Dokkoida, the studio proved (early on) that they weren’t afraid of taking on “wacky” or strange projects. They were capable of making a product for a wide range of fans.
8. Coyote Ragtime Show
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 4, 2006 to September 19, 2006
In this world, space traveling outlaws are known as “coyotes”. None is more famous than the space pirate Bill. Before his death, Bill pulled one last heist with the biggest payoff anyone had ever heard of. Unfortunately, no one knows where he hid it. That is no one but a fellow “coyote” named Mister.
With ten days left of time to serve, for a traffic violation, Mister breaks out of prison with the assistance of Bishop and Katana. Obviously, he wants to find that pile of money before anyone else can figure out where it’s hidden. But before he can start on that journey he has a responsibility to find and look after Franka (Bruce’s daughter).
Franka is only interested in getting the inheritance left to her by her father. Several other people, all with their own agendas, are after Mister. He’ll have to evade androids, federal investigators, bounty hunters, and much more. But if he pulls it off, he’ll have found the treasure and overcome obstacles more dangerous than anything Bruce ever faced.
Coyote Ragtime was an original series created by ufotable. Later it would be adapted into a manga series, though that was ultimately unsuccessful. This show is continues to show ufotable’s fearlessness. They’ll tackle any project head on. It’s almost as if they choose projects just to prove to fans, and to themselves, that they can create whatever they want.
7. Futakoi Alternative (Twin Love Alternative)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 7, 2005 to June 30, 2015
entarou is a young, college dropout left with big shoes to fill. His father was the head of the Futaba Detective Agency. Unfortunately, he passed away three weeks ago and the business has been left in Rantarou’s unproven hands. Lucky for him, he has two assistants to help him. These twins, Sara and Souju, quickly warm up to him and begin to develop romantic feelings toward him.
It doesn’t look like Rentarou will have much time to settle into his new role as investigator and business owner. He has to deal with some big problems left behind by his father. While that’s going on, he juggles everyday issues such as his home constantly getting destroyed and avoiding attacks from the Yakuza.
You know… your typical, run of the mill problems. No one said this job would be easy. But, he will have to take on these dilemmas if he wants to step out of his father’s shadow and earn the respect of people who are waiting for him to screw up.
We have a story about a young man who inherits a detective agency, his home is constantly destroyed, the Yakuza is after him, and his assistants are twins who fall in love with him… yup this definitely seems like a plot right up ufotable’s proverbial alley. This is another one of those series that does well enough to keep ufotable afloat while keeping its fans on their toes. No one ever quite knows what to expect when it comes their projects.
6. Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 8, 2007 to March 28, 2007
Manami Amamiya is a young girl with her eyes set on bringing about change to her new school. Seioh Private High School is an all-girls school with a strong tradition in excellence. However, that tradition matters less and less as the number of students decrease year after year. This is happening to schools all over.
Birth-rates are falling hence employers are scrambling to find workers. A strong education from a prestigious school is no longer valued when the majority of people can skip high school and still create a successful career.
Seioh has fallen into a slump and Manami is just the person to get it back on its feet. Her motto of “go straight forward” (simple enough) is the kind of direct message that students can get behind. “Manabi” (Manami’s nickname) quickly becomes the student council president and sets in motion plans to create a successful student festival and improve the daily lives of all students at Seioh.
This is clearly a slice of life show with a clear-cut message: make the most out of your high school years. Students in Japan (and in general) tend to put too much stress on themselves during their high school years. They worry about getting high marks in all subjects, entering a prestigious college, and building the foundation for a lucrative career.
These are definitely important things to work on, to an extent. Manabi Straight takes away the pressure of these responsibilities. It’s a world where students can focus on the here & now and live their high school life to the fullest.
This is the first anime on the list that was a joint venture with ufotable and another animation studio. In this case, it was co-developed by MediaWorks. This is one of the few times MediaWorks had a hand in developing an anime series. But, they probably figured it would be a smart financial move since they were the ones who published the manga back in 2005 and would later publish the game (for Playstation 2) in 2007.
5. Kara no Kyoukai (The Garden of Sinners) Franchise
- Episodes: 8 (films)
- Aired: December 1, 2007 to September 28, 2013
Though several story arcs and subplots take place throughout the films, the predominant narrative is centered on Shiki Ryougi and her relationship to Mikiya Kokutou. A string of school girl suicides has taken place in town and people are befuddled by the reasons for these deaths. There doesn’t appear to be any obvious connection between all of the girls. The only common factor is that all the girls jumped off of the same skyscraper: The Fujou Building.
The suicides and Shiki’s role in uncovering what’s really going on are the main plot of the first film. After that the narrative deals with the relationship between the two main characters, a tragic accident, supernatural forces, and many other intriguing elements.
Kara no Kyoukai is based off of a Japanese light-novel series with the same name. The author, Kinoko Nasu, also created the Fate/stay night and Tsukuhime. These universes share common elements such as magic, counter force, and mystic eyes. So don’t be surprised to see some characters or abilities inspired by these other works.
Another detail it shares with Fate/stay night is that they are both ufotable’s money makers. Kara no Kyoukai was first produced back in 2007. Since then, each new addition to the series has been warmly welcomed by fans and critics alike. This is the point, on the list, where shows stop being about ufotable making a statement with shows they choose to produce. Now, the anime are commercially successful and generally praised the community.
4. Tales of Symphonia The Animation Franchise
- Episodes: 11 (OVA)
- Aired: June 8, 2007 to October 24, 2012
Sylvarant is a world that has slowly been dying over the years. The land has become barren and humanity is on the brink of destruction. The only hope lies in a young girl, Colette, from a small town called Iselia. Along with Kratos (a mercenary) and Raine (a half-elf), she begins her journey to restore Mana to the world. Mana is the spiritual energy tied to all living things. She’ll have to visit elemental shrines spread out across the land. Once the seals have been released at the shrines the world can begin to regenerate.
However things are not so black and white. During her quest she learns that restoring her world may come at a great price. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (at least that’s what the laws of physics tell us). That seems to be the case for Colette and her group. Bringing Sylvarant back to life may mean having to destroy another world in the process. The connection between Sylvarant and this alternate world is a mystery she’ll have to solve if she hopes to save her people while preventing the annihilation of another world.
It seems like ufotable enjoyed the collaboration they had with MediaWorks in producing Manabi Straight. So much so that they were willing to try a new partnership for Tales of Symphonia. This time they took on two partners: Geneon Universal Entertainment and Frontier Works. ufotable animated the series while the other two companies took on the responsibilities of production and distribution.
Geneon would later change its name to NBCUniversal Entertainment. Frontier Works is mostly known for their distribution of anime related products such as OVA’s, radio dramas, drama CD’s, and anime soundtracks.
3. God Eater
- Episodes: 6 (so far)
- Aired: July 12, 2015 ~
God Eater takes place in a world ravaged by the arrival of monsters known as Aragami. These beings cannot be harmed by any of mankind’s weapons. The only hope for battling these creatures and restoring humanity lies in the creation of a new weapon called “God Arcs”. These “arcs” are made from “Oracle Cells”, cells from the Aragami.
A special force was created around the utilization of these weapons. The ones who specialize in fighting off the Aragami and mastering the use of “God Arcs” are known as God Eaters.
God Eater is based off the similarly titled PSP video game franchise. Players take on the role of the central character (originally nameless, but known as Yuu Kannagi in later games). The player makes his way through the ranks of the God Eaters, eventually reaching the rank of First Unit Leader. Though the anime has a different protagonist, both universes share characters, events, and similar story arcs.
God Eater is one of ufotable’s current anime and probably it’s most high profile production. With Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works wrapped up God Eater is using the momentum to push ufotable into continued mainstream success.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 12, 2011 to Jun 24, 2012
This 4th Holy Grail War takes place ten years before Emiya Shirou’s battle. Just as with the previous three wars, Masters and Servants are paired up to fight each other for the greatest treasure known to man: The Holy Grail.
Center stage is Emiya Kiritsugu aka the Magus Killer. Later he will become Shirou’s adoptive father and play a prominent role in his development of magic and ideology. But, for now, he is Saber’s Master and has a very jaded outlook on life. Once, he had hopes of becoming a “hero for justice”.
Now, he does not hesitate to use vicious methods to take down anyone that would stand in his way. Deep down his goal is to bring about peace. But, he has lost his path and he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice to obtain The Grail and realize his dream.
Just like the other series from the “Fate” franchise this show is packed with action, magic, drama, and character development. There’s never a dull moment in the battle for The Holy Grail. This being a prequel to Fate/stay night, we’re able to see the events leading up to the 5th Holy Grail War and are given insight as to the motives of central characters within that story.
This series brought together Aniplex and Notes in a collaboration that would prove very successful. Notes also goes by the name Type-Moon. You might recognize this company as the ones who developed the visual novel for Fate/stay night. This series is one of ufotable’s best shows to date.
1. Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2 Seasons)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 12, 2014 to June 28, 2015
The Holy Grail War is a battle between seven masters using their seven heroic spirits. These spirits are: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, and Berserker. The last person standing claims the Holy Grail for themselves and is granted all of its power.
Fate/stay night focuses on the 5th Holy Grail War and on Emiya Shirou in particular. Shirou is a novice mage who only has the briefest of introductions into the world of magic. But, he’s about to be thrown into the world’s greatest battle for the most powerful magical artifact, the Holy Grail.
The Holy Grail War has begun and Shirou needs to find the strength to survive and claim the Grail. If not, he and the entire world may fall prey to the will of whoever takes the Grail and uses its power for their own desires.
The 5th Holy Grail War is the most intense one yet. Shirou’s connection to the previous war is something he’ll have to figure out if he wants to truly understand himself and his opponents. Will he come to the same conclusion as Kiritsugu when it comes to becoming a “hero for justice”? Or will he find the strength to stay true to his beliefs and master the abilities his teacher tried to protect him from?
FSN: UBW brought back the powerhouse team of ufotable, Aniplex, and Notes. These three produced an even more popular and more successful series than their previous venture. This is easily ufotable’s most well-known series. They didn’t create it all by themselves, but it has brought enough attention to the company so that they can tackle even bigger projects and continue to stay in the mainstream spotlight.
Majokko Shimai no Yoyo to Nene
Machi Asobi Awaodori(Japanese traditional dance Matsuri) Poster
ufotable definitely has variety when it comes to their body of work. They’ve released some anime that are meant for mainstream consumption. But, they also have a few that were geared to a small subculture and sometimes even gained a cult following.
Though not everything they release deserves a 10/10 rating, their projects have been becoming more consistent in terms of production value and storytelling. I’m eager to see what how God Eater turns out and I look forward to their future projects.