The Top Anime From MAPPA That Aren’t Attack on Titan or Jujutsu Kaisen

Founded by Maruyama Masao, previously a co-founder and producer of the venerable Madhouse, MAPPA — or Maruyama Animation Produce Project Association — was created in 2011 chiefly in order to produce the anime film In This Corner of the World after Madhouse ran into financial difficulties. However, over a decade later, MAPPA is still going strong, creating extremely popular series like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan: The Final Season.

While the company might still be considered one of the newer kids on the block, at least compared to anime studios with longer histories such as Studio Deen, Pierrot, Gonzo or Kyoto Animation, MAPPA has become well known in the industry for its high-quality visuals — although the studio has also come under fire in recent years for overworking and underpaying its employees, among other practices. Nevertheless, here are some of the biggest undeniable gems that MAPPA has produced to date.

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Terror in Resonance (2014)

In an alternative present-day Japan, two teenage boys known only as Nine and Twelve — both survivors of human experimentation to create living weapons — steal an atomic bomb and, six months later, upload an internet video that poses a cryptic riddle. If Tokyo is to be spared total destruction, police must solve it before time runs out. Meanwhile, a bullied high school girl with a troubled home life named Lisa is accidentally caught in the crossfire, complicating Nine and Twelve’s plans to expose the organization that turned them into terrorists.

One of MAPPA’s earlier works, the 11-episode Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) is directed by Watanabe Shinichiro of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame. Tightly written, with sympathetic characters and a compelling narrative, the series is a psychological thriller that will keep audiences on the edges of their seats. However, perhaps the most appealing part of the show is the way it looks and sounds. Featuring lush artwork, gorgeously smooth animation and a soundtrack that’s easily one of the best in the history of anime, Terror in Resonance is as much a feast for the eyes and ears as it is for the mind.

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (2014)

In the world of Mistarcia, humans, gods and demons co-exist, having previously put aside their differences to defeat an ancient dragon known as Bahamut, which was sealed away by a magical key. To prevent Bahamut from ever being released, the key was split into two — one half to be kept by the gods, the other by demons. 2,000 years later, this now-peaceful world is under threat once again when a young amnesiac named Amira turns up with the gods’ half of the key. Stumbling upon the rival bounty hunters Favaro Leone and Kaisar Lidfard, the trio is soon caught up in an epic clash between mythological races.

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis) is proof if there ever was any that not all game-based anime have to be bad. Comprised of 13 episodes, this fantasy action/adventure manages to be an engaging series with a strong overarching plot that nevertheless isn’t too heavy a watch. Despite being a dark fantasy show, it never takes itself too seriously, and far from coming across as tropey or generic, every one of its cast members brings something unique and fun to the table, from their narrative roles down to the details of their character designs.

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Yuri!!! on Ice (2016)

Depressed and unsure of his future after numerous defeats, 23-year-old professional figure skater Katsuki Yuri returns to his hometown in Kyushu. However, when private footage of Yuri mimicking an advanced skating routine originally performed by his idol, famed Russian skater Victor Nikiforov, goes viral, Victor tracks Yuri down and offers to be his coach. Meanwhile, 15-year-old rising star Yuri Plisetsky likewise travels to Kyushu search of Victor, who had promised he would choreograph a routine specifically for the younger skater. The two Yuris quickly become fierce rivals as they compete to win the upcoming Grand Prix championship.

An anime original title, Yuri!!! on Ice is a sports show like no other. Yamamoto Sayo, who wrote and directed the series, is one of the most talented and creative directors currently active in the anime industry, as well as one of the comparatively few women out there to sit in the director’s chair at all. From its realistic and intricate character relationships and LGBTQ+ themes to its magnificent soundtrack, Yuri!!! on Ice‘s sheer popularity speaks for itself, having won over 20 awards in both Japan and abroad for its music, animation, screenplay and cast, among other aspects.

Dororo (2019)

In Sengoku-period Japan, a feudal lord makes a sacrifice to 12 demons in exchange for prosperity for his lands and people. As a result, his newborn son is brought into the world with no limbs, nose, eyes, ears or even skin. Abandoned by his father, the baby is discovered and adopted by a doctor who specializes in creating prosthetic limbs. Some years later and now named Hyakkimaru, the boy is sent on a journey to regain his body. He is soon joined by Dororo — an orphan child who befriends him and, in exchange for food, teaches Hyakkimaru how to survive in this hostile and demon-infested world.

Dororo is a dark historical fantasy based on a title by the “father of manga” himself, Tezuka Osamu (Astro Boy, Princess Knight, black jack). While difficult to do justice to such revered work in modern anime form, 2019’s Dororo hits plenty of emotional highs, reminding the audience why Tezuka is such a celebrated figure in the history of manga and anime to begin with. Co-produced alongside Tezuka Productions, this 24-episode series is wonderfully expressive while never becoming overstated, and the relationships it depicts throughout are equally as sophisticated.

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Dorohedoro (2020)

A lawless and decrepit district named Hole, which has long become a testing ground for sorcerers who come from another realm, is home to Caiman, an amnesiac human with the head of a reptile. Impervious to magic, Caiman now hunts down and ruthlessly kills sorcerers in an effort to uncover his identity and gain revenge for turning him into such a monster. He is accompanied by Nikaidou, a young woman who runs a restaurant in Hole — but who is secretly a sorcerer herself. Together, they become hopelessly tangled up in complex events involving magic users, gangsters and demons, among other odd and unsavory characters.

while Dororohedoro is one heck of a ride, it’s not a series for the faint of heart. As fun as it is violent, this oddball show is fast-paced, exquisitely detailed in its setup and worldbuilding, and beautifully grotesque thematically as well as visually. It pulls no punches and is both surreal and macabre, although that doesn’t prevent it from also being a thoroughly entertaining, often gruesomely comedic story that will hook new viewers from minute one. Moreover, its filler material is just as fantastic, if not even better, than its more plot-central content, as evidenced by Dorohedoro‘s truly brilliant baseball episode.

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