Manga series are certainly great, but for me, anime series and movies are more interesting because they bring frames to life with animation.
All of this is only possible thanks to the talents of animation studios and the creative teams behind said anime series and movies.
For me, whenever I spot an incredible anime production, I'm always looking up the animation studio and checking for other stuff they've made. I've found many worthwhile animes this way.
Here are my picks for the best anime studios that have produced some of the best and most popular anime series and movies.
15. Kyoto Animation
Kyoto Animation is an animation studio—as well as a publisher of light novels—that was founded in 1985.
They began hosting the Kyoto Animation Awards for original works (manga, scenarios, and novels) in 2009, with winning entries earning the chance to get published or even get an anime adaptation.
From Clannad to Violet Evergarden, Kyoto Animation has created many great anime series and movies across genres. The tearjerker film A Silent Voice is probably their best-known work, not just for its animation but also for its relatable coming-of-age theme.
Despite suffering a traumatic arson attack in 2019, the studio stood back up, endured several setbacks and delays in production, and kept making more series and films. Quite admirable.
14. White Fox
White Fox is an animation studio that was founded back in 2007 by Gaku Iwasa, who formerly led Team Iwasa (which was a production unit of another animation studio called OLM).
This studio gave us well-known anime series and movies like Steins;Gate (2011), Re:Zero (2016), The Devil Is a Part-Timer! (2013), and Akame ga Kill! (2014). They also worked on the anime series and movie adaptations for the dark fantasy light novel series Goblin Slayer.
13. CoMix Wave Films
The CoMix Wave Films anime studio may not ring a bell. After all, they aren't as famous as entities like Studio Ghibli.
However, you've probably seen their animated works and you probably even recognize the name who gave life to those works: Makoto Shinkai.
He may not be the CEO or any other role of high standing, but Makoto Shinkai outshines the studio itself, which gave us many incredible anime movies that include 5 Centimeters per Second (2007), Your Name (2016), Weathering With You (2019), and Suzume (2022).
12. Production I.G
Production I.G has produced some of the best anime series, including sports animes like Haikyu!! (2014), Prince of Tennis II (2012), and Kuroko's Basketball (2012). They also animated the fantasy series Blood-C (2011) and the film Blood-C: The Last Dark (2012).
Production I.G became IG Port (a holding company) after merging with Mag Garden. IG Port then became the parent company of Production I.G and Wit Studio, along with a few other anime studios.
11. Wit Studio
Wit Studio is a subsidiary of IG Port and was founded in 2012. Wit Studio's first anime series was the first three seasons of the famous Attack on Titan adaptation of the manga by Hajime Isayama.
Wit Studio also animated the anime series Seraph of the End (2015), Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (2016), and Vinland Saga (2019).
Ufotable Inc. was founded in October 2000 and started work on anime series and films. Though it has only produced a handful of titles, notable ones include Fate/Zero (2011), God Eater (2015), and the popular Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2019).
Ufotable also produced the high-grossing film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Infinity Train (2020), a sequel to Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. The studio also produced the series' second season, which covers the Mugen Train Arc and beyond, which started airing on October 2021.
9. A-1 Pictures
A-1 Pictures is a subsidiary of Aniplex and has produced the anime series Fairy Tail in co-production with Satelight (1st series, 2009), Bridge (2nd and 3rd series, 2014), and Cloverworks (3rd series, 2018).
It also produced the anime series Black Butler and its sequels (2008), Blue Exorcist (2011), Sword Art Online (2012), and the first two seasons of Seven Deadly Sins. A-1 Pictures also adapted the Your Lie in April manga series into a heartbreaking anime series.
While many animation studios are founded by former animators from another studio, Cloverworks was a rebranding of A-1 Pictures' Koenji Studio. Four of their anime series changed credits to Cloverworks, including Darling in the Franxx (2018).
The studio announced its separation from A-1 Pictures in October 2018 and started producing anime series like The Promised Neverland (2019), but Cloverworks still produced the last season of Fairy Tail (2018) in collaboration with A-1 Pictures.
Sunrise Inc. was founded in 1972 and is well-known for its famous mecha anime series Gundam and the Gundam franchise. Other mecha anime series from Sunrise include Cross Ange (2014), Brave Express Might Gaine (1993), Matchless Raijin-Oh (1991), and Code Geass (2006).
Aside from mecha-themed anime, Sunrise has produced many other solid creations, including Gintama (2006), Cowboy Bebop (1998), Outlaw Star (1996), and Inuyasha (2000).
Bones Inc. is an animation studio founded in 1998 by former Sunrise Inc. staff. Most of their anime series became hits, including Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009), Darker Than Black (2009), Noragami (2014), My Hero Academia (2016), and Bungo Stray Dogs (2016).
The studio also produced the series Heroman (2010) in collaboration with Marvel's Stan Lee, as well as animated movies like the dark fantasy film Escaflowne (2000) and Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001), the latter of which they worked in collaboration with Sunrise.
5. Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli is the animation studio that has produced more award-winning anime movies than any other studio.
It was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki, who are all well-known directors, writers, and producers.
One thing you'll notice about Studio Ghibli's works is that they aren't as flashy as other anime works, yet they're so compelling and able to pull you in with magic and wonder alone.
The simplicity of their animation adds a classic touch that complements their frequent use of fantastical and otherworldly elements.
Some of their best-known works include Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), and Tales from Earthsea (2006). These alone qualify Studio Ghibli as one of the best anime studios of all time.
MAPPA (Maruyama Animation Project Produce Association) produced many fan-favorite anime series and movies since its founding in 2011 by Masao Maruyama (a founder of Madhouse Studio).
MAPPA's creations include adaptations of manga series like Hajime no Ippo: Rising (2013), Ushio and Tora (2015), Yuri!! on ICE (2016), and Dororo (2019). They're also behind the anime series Jujutsu Kaisen (2020) and the final season of Attack on Titan (2020).
MAPPA also created the war-themed anime movie In This Corner of the World and the movie Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a prequel to the anime series.
Pierrot Co., Ltd. was established in May 1979 and founded by former employees of other animation studios.
The Pierrot animation studio is famous for its long list of well-known anime series, including Yu Yu Hakusho (1992), Flame of Recca (1997), Naruto (2002) and Naruto Shippuden (2007), Bleach (2004), Tokyo Ghoul (2014), and Black Clover (2017).
Studio Pierrot was behind all of the Naruto movies aired from 2004 to 2015. And apart from Japanese anime series and films, Pierrot also did the animations for the second season of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Legend of Korra along with Studio Mir from South Korea.
2. Toei Animation
Toei Animation's theatrical anime film Panda and the Magic Serpent (1958) gave life to the Japanese animation industry. The animation studio was founded in 1948 with the name Japan Animated Films, which was later bought by Toei Company and named Toei Animation.
Toei Animation has created some of the best anime series and movies of all time, including Daimos (1978), Dr. Slump (1981), Dragon Ball (1986) and Dragon Ball Z (1989), Slam Dunk (1993), Sailor Moon (1992), and World Trigger (2014).
Toei Animation also animated the One Piece anime series and its movies. One Piece is one of the longest-running anime series, starting in 1999 and still airing to this date. Marvel also worked with Toei Animation to produce the animated series Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers (2014).
Madhouse is an animation studio founded by several animators, including Masao Maruyama (who later left to start MAPPA). Madhouse is known to collaborate with other animation studios in and outside Japan.
Since its founding in 1972, Madhouse has produced excellent anime series like Trigun (1998), Tenjo Tenge (2004), Death Note (2006), Claymore (2007), Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger (2009), and the all-time favorite magical girl Cardcaptor Sakura (1998).
Madhouse also produced the 2011 version of Hunter X Hunter and its movies Phantom Rouge (2013) and The Last Mission (2013).
They also worked with Marvel Entertainment to produce Marvel Anime, comprised the animated series of Ironman, X-Men, Wolverine, and Blade. Madhouse also produced the anime films Ironman: Rise of Technovore and Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher.