18 Creative Japanese Anime Studios You Should Know

Amazing Japanese Anime studios have created our favorite shows, including, Madhouse, Studio Pierrot, Toei Animation, and A-1 Pictures.

Anime studios are the lifeblood of the industry, producing some of the most beloved and influential shows out there.

Without them, we wouldn’t have classics like Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away or Studio Trigger’s Kill La Kill. But what exactly goes into making an anime studio tick?

For starters, these studios often have several smaller divisions that handle specific tasks, such as animation production, background art, and sound creation.

Each division works closely together to bring a project to life.

Still, they also frequently collaborate with external companies for assistance in certain areas (such as outsourcing animation work to foreign studios).

Best Anime Companies

It’s not just about putting together a team and churning out episodes – anime studios also play a significant role in the business side of things, securing funding and partnerships to ensure a project’s success.

And let’s remember marketing – studios often handle show promotions, including merchandise and international distribution deals.

In short, anime studios are juggernauts of creativity and business savvy, making them crucial players in the industry.

So next time you’re binging your favorite show, take a moment to appreciate all the hard work that brought it to life from these powerhouse studios.



Founded: October 17, 1972, Tokyo, Japan
Number of employees: 70 (including contractors)
Headquarters: Nakano City, Tokyo, Japan
President: Sanae Tashiro
Founders: Masao Maruyama, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Rintaro, Osamu Dezaki
Parent organizations: Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, The Yomiuri Shimbun Group Inc.

Maruyama Animation Project Produce Association, or MAPPA Studio, was founded in 2011 by a former Madhouse employee.

His motive for breaking away from Madhouse and starting his studio was to do projects that would allow him more creative freedom than what he was experiencing at Madhouse.

In addition to Yuri and Kids on the Slope, MAPPA Studio consistently produces big hits, including Kids on the Slope! The finale of the popular series Attack on Titan, On Ice, Banana Fish, and Jujutsu Kaisen.

As a result of its success, the studio became one of the most popular animation studios, resulting in the same pressures Maruyama sought to avoid after leaving Madhouse.

Notable Anime

  • Death Note
  • One Punch Man
  • Hunter x Hunter (2011)
  • No Game No Life
  • Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu

Studio Pierrot

Studio Pierrot

Headquarters: Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
Number of employees: 158 (as of the end of November 2019)
Founded: May 1979
Founder: Hisayuki Toriumi
President: Michiyuki Honma
Subsidiary: Studio Signpost

A Japanese animation studio founded in 1979 by ex-employees of another animation studio is similar to many other studios.

There were employees of Mushi Production and Tatsunoko Production in this case.

Studio Pierrot is located in Mitaka, Tokyo, and takes its name from the classic Japanese character Pierrot.

Many popular anime series have been produced by this studio, including Naruto, Yu Yu Hakusho, Black Clover, and Tokyo Ghoul. Saiyuki and Yu Yu Hakusho, two series produced by the company, have won the Animage Anime Grand Prix Award, which is always a quality indicator.

Toei Animation

Toei Animation

Founded: January 23, 1948
Headquarters: Nerima City, Tokyo, Japan
Founder: Kenzō Masaoka
Parent organization: Toei Company

Toei Animation, the company behind famous titles like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball, has been a staple in the anime industry for over 60 years.

However, their track record is not without blemishes.

Toei has faced criticism for their treatment of animators, often giving them low pay and overworking them to meet strict deadlines.

Despite this, Toei continues to pump out popular shows and movies, leading some to question if the ends truly justify the means.

Know For:

  • One Piece
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Dragon Ball Super
  • Digimon Adventure
  • Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
  • Yu☆Gi☆Oh!
  • Hana yori Dango

Kyoto Animation

Kyoto Animation

Headquarters: Uji, Kyoto, Japan
CEO: Hideaki Hatta (Jul 12, 1985–)
Founded: July 12, 1985
Subsidiaries: Animation Do (2010–2020, absorbed)

With a rich history dating back to 1981, Kyoto Animation is also a long-running animation studio.

Kyoto Prefecture, where it is based, was named after a married couple who founded it, Yoko and Hideaki Hatta. Unlike other animation studios, Kyoto has a unique ethos.

Kyoto employs salaried animators instead of freelancers in its production process.

Instead of meeting production quotas, the focus is on producing good work. Kyoto does not offer in-house training or job security, which is unusual in the industry.

Wit Studio

Wit Studio

Number of employees: 130 (as of November 2021)
Founded: June 1, 2012
Founder: George Wada
Headquarters: Musashino, Tokyo, Japan
Parent organization: IG Port

Despite being a relative newcomer in the world of Japanese anime, Production I.G.’s subsidiary studio has made a significant impact so far.

In 2012, Tetsuya Nakatake founded Wit Studio, which got to work on its first popular anime series, an adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s manga Attack on Titan.

In no time at all, Attack on Titan became one of the best anime series of all time after its debut in 2013.

MAPPA Studios produced Attack on Titan’s fourth season after Wit Studio produced two more seasons.

The Ancient Magus Bride, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, and Vinland Saga are also noteworthy projects.

The studio creates a distinctive art style for any show it works on.

A-1 Pictures

A-1 Pictures

Headquarters: Suginami City, Tokyo, Japan
Founded: May 9, 2005
President: Shinichiro Kashiwada
Owner: Sony Corporation
Parent organization: Aniplex

One of the studios that a Sunrise employee started is A-1 Pictures. Mikihiro Iwata founded A-1 Pictures in 2005 after leaving Sunrise.

Aniplex, Sony Music Entertainment Japan’s anime production unit, is the studio’s parent company.

Originally, the studio produced a lot of family-friendly anime, but it has since expanded.



Founded: October 2000
Headquarters: Suginami, Tokyo, Japan
Key people: Hikaru Kondo, President
Number of employees: 219 (as of April 2022)
Subsidiaries: Ufotable Tokushima

In 2000, Ufotable was founded by former TMS Entertainment’s Telecom Animation Film division employees.

Despite its relative youth, it has several notable productions and considerable success, which we’ll discuss later.

God Eater and Fate/Zero are among its standout anime series. A series of anime was released in 2002 by the company.

Demon Slayer made Ufotable a household name and put them on the map.

Studio Bones

Studio Bones

Founder: Masahiko Minami
Founded: October 1998
Headquarters: Suginami City, Tokyo, Japan
Divisions: Animation Department; Photography Department;

Several studios on this list were founded by former members of studios that are on this list, including Studio Bones.

Sunrise Inc was the former studio, and Masahiko Minami, Hiroshi Osaka, and Toshihiro Kawamoto were the former members.

As a company, they have produced several anime series since 1998, such as Full Metal Alchemist, Mob Psycho 100, and My Hero Academia.

Studio Bones and Sunrise Inc. did not have any bad blood, and the studios collaborated on Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in 2001.

Sunrise Studio

Sunrise Studio

Number of employees: 293 (as of April 2021)
Founded: September 1972
Headquarters: Suginami City, Tokyo, Japan
CEO: Yasuo Miyagawa (2014–)
Parent organization: Bandai Namco Holdings

As one of the largest anime studios of all time, Sunrise was founded in 1972 by former Mushi Production employees.

As a result of Sunrise’s expansion, it now has more than a dozen separate sub-studios that work on various anime projects.

Known for its mecha-anime productions as well as Gundam and its offshoots, the studio also produces Gundam.

In addition to mecha-anime, the studio has produced other renowned series, including Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star.

The fact that many Sunrise employees have started their studios is interesting.

Six former Sunrise employees have taken this path.

Sunrise knows how to spot and nurture some of the best anime talents, which shouldn’t be considered a failure.

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli

Founded: June 15, 1985, Tokyo, Japan
Headquarters: Koganei, Tokyo, Japan
Founders: Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata, Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Parent organizations: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Tokuma Shoten

Not only does Studio Ghibli make great anime films, but also great films in general. Some of the most successful films have been produced by the studio aside from anime movies.

Studio Ghibli, which Hayao Miyazaki co-founded, is responsible for eight of the 15 highest-grossing Japanese anime films.

Animated Feature Film, won in 2003 by the studio, is among a long list of awards.

The combination of powerful storytelling and beautiful animation, as well as deftly handling more prominent themes, makes Studio Ghibli’s work one of a kind.

Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and Grave of the Fireflies are some of the most popular anime titles. An absolute treasure of a studio.

Production I.G.

Production I.G.

Founded: December 15, 1987, Kokubunji, Tokyo, Japan
Founder: Mitsuhisa Ishikawa
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Parent organization: IG Port
Subsidiaries: Tatsunoko Production, Mag Garden, Bee Train Production

The name Production (I.G.) is derived from the initials of Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Takayuki Goto, who founded the company in 1987.

The studio also designs video games and produces anime series and films.

The most popular titles produced by Production I.G. include Kuroko’s Basketball, Psycho-Pass, and Eden of the East, but Ghost in the Shell is, without a doubt, the studio’s best-known anime.

There was an international sensation with the Ghost in the Shell anime series and the live-action film of the same name.

Also, the studio established C.G. as an anime standard, which has become more of an industry standard since its inception.

Studio Trigger

Studio Trigger

Headquarters location: Tokyo, Japan
Founders: Hiroyuki Imaishi, Masahiko Otsuka
Parent organization: Ultra Super Pictures

Studio Trigger has already made a name for itself, producing anime dripping with style and panache despite being just over a decade old.

It was founded in 2011 by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Otsuka, both former Gainay employees.

He combined bold, vibrant animation with sharp visual humor in Gurren Lagann for Gainax.

The studio’s animation style has created several trademarks.

Among Trigger’s best-known works is Kill la Kill, the studio’s first anime series. Little Witch Academia and Space Patrol Luluco are other great series it has produced.

For the best-looking anime, head over to Trigger.



Headquarters: Musashino, Tokyo, Japan
Key people: Tomoyuki Miyata; Michihisa Abe; Masakazu Watanabe; Yuuji Matsukura

In 1986, former Tatsunoko Production director Tomoyuki Miyata founded J.C. This studio is one of the oldest on this list.

Japan Creative stands for Japan Creative, a Japanese animation studio that can be described as creative.

The studio has produced a steady stream of anime series and films since its first feature release in 1987.

There are several highlights, including Toradora!, Bakuman, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., and the second season of One-Punch Man.



Founded: October 1, 2018
Owner: Sony Corporation
President: Akira Shimizu
Parent organization: Aniplex

CloverWorks was rebranded as Koenji Studio by A-1 Pictures in 2018. As a subsidiary of Aniplex, the studio was once a part of A-1 Pictures.

CloverWorks has recently produced some of the best anime, including Darling in the FranXX and The Promised Neverland.

Its refreshing take on romance and drama made Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai a massive hit among anime fans.

In its latest anime, Wonder Egg Priority, a young girl is trying to restore her dead friend’s life through magic.



CEO: Mitsutoshi Kubota (2004–)
Number of employees: 90
Headquarters: Suginami City, Tokyo, Japan
Founded: September 1, 1975, in Japan

When director Akiyuki Shinbo took over the studio’s creative direction in 2005, Shaft’s anime took an avant-garde turn.

In his earlier works, he produced action-oriented series such as Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier and Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden.

There has also been a dark deconstruction of the magical girl genre in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a dense metaphorical series called Monogatari, and a psychological portrait of a depressed player of shogi called March Comes In Like A Lion.

Brain’s Base

Brain's Base

Founded: July 1996; 26 years ago
Founder: Jūkō Ozawa
Headquarters: Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan

For decades, Brain’s Base has been producing amazing anime since 1996, when former members of Tokyo Movie Shinsha founded it.

School Babysitters is a heartwarming anime about toddlers in daycare; Mawaru Penguindrum is an abstract thought piece, while My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is an insightful psychological exploration. Brain’s Base has something for anime fans of every taste.



Founded: December 24, 1984
Headquarters: Musashino, Tokyo, Japan
Number of employees: 18
Founders: Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Toshio Okada, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Takami Akai, Shinji Higuchi, Yasuhiro Takeda

Despite only being around for over a decade, Studio Trigger has already made a name for itself as a studio that produces anime with style and panache.

As a result of former Gainay employees Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Otsuka, Trigger picked a direction and ran with it.

He had demonstrated his talent on the Gainax series Gurren Lagann, combining bold and vibrant animation with sharp visual humor. A trademark of the studio is its animation style.

Possibly Trigger’s best-known work is Kill la Kill, the studio’s first anime series.

Space Patrol Luluco and Little Witch Academia are two other great series it has created. You need Trigger if you want your anime to look cool.



Founder: Kenji Horikawa
Headquarters: Nanto, Toyama, Japan
Key people: Kenji Horikawa (president), Nobuhiro Kikuchi

Kenji Horikawa, the founder of P.A. Works, previously worked at Bee Train, Tatsunoko Production, and Production I.G.

His studio (P.A) Works was founded in 2000, and for its first few years, it collaborated with other studios to produce anime.

Since the studio’s debut anime, True Tears, it has steadily produced anime series and films.


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