The Top Anime From Toei Animation That Aren’t Dragon Ball Z or One Piece

toei animation


Toei Animation is one the few Japanese anime studios that doesn’t need to be introduced. The studio was founded by Zenjiro Yamamoto and Kenzo Masaoka in 1948. It is also one the oldest standing. Although initially named Japan Animated Films, it was renamed Toei Animation in 1998 and has worked with several now-household names throughout the years, such as Studio Ghibli’s Miyazaki Hayao and Matsumoto Leiji of Yamato Space Battleship fame.


Its televised debut was with Ookami Shonen Ken (Wolf Boy KenToei Animation was founded in 1963. They have produced a wide variety of shonen-based titles that are still popular, as well as fan-favorites. One PieceAnd Dragon Ball Z. However, the studio has far more than just these shows under its belt — and while not entirely free of controversy, there’s still plenty to celebrate with its diverse collection of anime. Here are some of our favorites.

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Dragon Ball (1986-89).

A young boy named Goku with a tail like a monkey is living completely alone in the wilderness until he meets a teenage girl named Bulma, who’s on a quest to seek out the seven mythical Dragon Balls. These artifacts can be used to summon any kind of dragon, and they are believed to do so once they have been gathered. Goku refuses his Dragon Ball possession but agrees to go with Bulma to help her find the rest. It is a grand adventure that will bring together many friends and foes, including martial artists and shapeshifters as well as aliens and terrorist organisations.


While Dragon Ball ZThis might be the most famous and beloved televised anime to ever be made. Dragon BallIt arguably has more cultural and historical weight. It’s not just the predecessor to DBZHowever, it’s a very impressive series by itself and is quite different to its follow-up. While DBZ It is much more focused on the hypermasculine aspects of sci-fi (often to the point that it becomes parody). Dragon BallThis is a much more whimsical and imaginative action-adventure film, with martial arts-centric fights more often than superpowered ones. Frequently risqué but always oddly charming, Dragon BallSimply put, it is an anime for all ages.


Sailor Moon (1992-1997)

Tsukino Usagi, a middle school student who is kindhearted and shrewd, rescues a black cat from some young boys. The cat soon reveals itself to be Luna, a magical companion who’s in search of the missing moon princess. It quickly becomes clear that Usagi is going to be Sailor Moon, the leader and protector of the sailor fighters. Gradually, Usagi and her friends form a team of other Sailor Guardians — Mercury Mars Jupiter Jupiter and Venus. They fight against their foes to ensure justice is done.


Pretty Guardian Sailor MoonWhile it didn’t create the magical-girl genre itself, it redefined it and popularized it. It also introduced and strongly influenced an entire generation of young anime fans both in Japan as well as abroad. Its legacy cannot be overstated, and the show managed to appeal to both younger and older audiences thanks to its relatable characters, surprisingly sophisticated relationships and easy-to-understand themes that nonetheless didn’t attempt to patronize. The show is just as beloved today as it was 30 years ago. Sailor MoonWhat is the shojo demographic? Dragon BallThe shonen title became a classic.


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Digimon Adventure & Digimon Adventure 02 (1999-2001)

1999 is the year. At a summer camp, seven kids are given Digivices. These Digivices allow them to travel into the Digital World, a mysterious realm that is home all kinds of Digimon. Each child forms a bond with a Digimon. All Digimon can evolve into larger and more powerful beings. The children discover they are the DigiDestined, who were prophesied to save all of the Digital World’s destruction.

The debate continues about whether or not to allow for the emergence of a new generation. PokémonOr DigimonThe original is better, but it is not certain which anime is better. Digimon AdventureIts immediate successor, Digimon Adventure 02It is an unforgettable experience. A perfectly-sized cast features character dynamics far more complex than they might initially seem. Digimon is a children’s story with adult sensibilities in that its themes are rich enough to be considered timeless. It also introduced the isekai genre to generations of anime fans, even though the term itself wouldn’t be coined until circa 2012 with the rise of Online Sword Art. More than just a name. Pokémon rip-off, Digimon is a distinctively engaging series that’s very much its own beast.


Mononoke (2007)

A feudal Japan had a Medicine Seller, a figure who wandered the land seeking out and exorcising the mononoke, a group of malign spirits. However, it’s not as easy as simply slaying or banishing these spirits with a spell or weapon — instead, Medicine Seller must uncover each mononoke’s Form, Truth and Reason before he can do battle with them. Moreover, since these mononoke exist in the human realm by binding themselves to negative human emotions, Medicine Seller’s investigative work is frequently dangerous and always involves more than what can be seen on the surface.

For the anime fan who believes they’ve seen it all or feels as though there are few truly unique shows to be had, MononokeIt is worth your time. Not to be confused with Studio Ghibli’s film Princess MononokeThis series is the epitome Avant-Garde and unlike any other Toei Animation productions. Part psychological horror, part historical supernatural mystery MononokeThis anime is a visual feast with its unusual art style and rich details. It’s not necessarily an easy watch, but it certainly is a singular one, and its particular style and tone have yet to be replicated in any other anime series to date.


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Kyousou Giga (2013)

One monk named Myoue discovers, years before the beginning of the series that anything he draws can come to life. He is banished for his frightening ability to create an alternate world — the “Mirror Capital,” Kyoto — and lives there with Koto, Yakushimaru and Kurama, their three children. Their children take over the city after Myoue, Koto, and their two wives suddenly disappear. This situation becomes more complicated when Koto, a young girl also called Koto, arrives at the Mirror Capital accompanied with two other familiars and a large hammer and announces that she too is looking for Myoue and his wife.

Kyousou gigaAlso known as Kyousougiga) may be difficult to describe, with a dizzying plot and equally dizzying energy, but it’s that very vitality that makes it such a compelling show. The likes of are familiar to anime fans. The Eccentric Family (Uchouten Kazoku) or Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen) may have a sense from those names of the kind of story they’re getting into, with the atmosphere being just as important, if not even more so, than the actual events playing out on screen, many of which are allegorical in nature. Surreally beautiful, this series is more a dream-like experience than a straightforward narrative, although in this case, that doesn’t translate to style over substance, with some genuinely great storytelling accompanying this uniquely exuberant production.


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