By Chelsea Cruz
Pierrot’s newest series Akudama Drive just recently sped into action, exploring the criminal underground of a futuristic world. But this isn’t the studio’s first rodeo. Not by a long shot.
Established in 1979, Pierrot was founded by Yuji Nunokawa, who took the company’s name from the French term for “clown.” At the studio’s beginnings, Pierrot’s core animators came from Tatsunoko and Mushi Productions, Japan’s two leading animation studios at the time.
For more than four decades, Pierrot has created and worked on over 100 animation titles, ranging from niche or support projects like the 1996 Sonic the Hedgehog OVA or The Legend of Korra to the likes of legendary anime like AKIRA and Bleach!
Let’s dive into just a handful of the incredible works of Studio Pierrot, starting with a ghostly tale you’ve certainly heard of…
Yu Yu Hakusho (1994)
When Spirits come to destroy the Human World, and it is up to Yusuke Urameshi to protect humanity as a Spirit Detective! After saving a young boy’s life (at the cost of his own), Yusuke is reborn and brought back to defeat evil spirits while making friends along the way.
Yusuke and his colorful companions are among a chosen few who have been tasked with warding off supernatural threats. Each character’s story, from the bold Kuwabara to the brooding Hiei, are explored throughout the series in great depth, and its animation is peak ’90s with a pop of color. It’s even argued that Yusuke started the trend of green tracksuits.
The series is ripe with your classic enemies-turned-friends arcs and tear-jerking, emotional moments, especially during the most epic of tournament arcs! For an entire generation of anime fans, Yu Yu Hakusho was their start, and it holds up to this day.
Watch Yu Yu Hakusho on Funimation!
Speaking of generation-defining anime…
One of the most popular shounen series ever, Naruto is a masterful tale of ninja and demons, all packed together through peak action and deep lore. It’s a world you just want to learn more about, always.
Young outcast ninja-in-training Naruto Uzumaki, dark and mysterious Sasuke Uchiha and the brash, determined Sakura Haruno are just a few of the incredible ninja you’ll meet on this journey that spans generations, garnering multiple sequel series and movies.
It’s a tale about legacy and pushing beyond your limits, all to make your dreams come true! With incredible, layered villains and a supporting cast like no other, Naruto is easily one of the most important series out there.
And if you haven’t started your Naruto journey yet, we’ve got you. Get yourself started with the 220 episodes of the original series, and you’ll most certainly want to order your own signature headband.
Watch Naruto on Funimation!
Yona of the Dawn (2014)
In a bit of a break from teenage boy protagonists, Studio Pierrot brought us the tale of a young princess caught up in a coup led by her former crush—a rival prince.
Set in the fantasy world of Kohka, Yona of the Dawn follows the heir to the Sky clan throne, Princess Yona. It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl in search of the famed Dragon Warriors who will help her fend off the coup and reclaim her throne. By many accounts, it’s an epic.
With deceit and twists reminiscent of Game of Thrones, topped with an enduring friendship-turned-romance subplot, Yona of the Dawn is a stellar watch from beginning to end.
Watch Yona of the Dawn on Funimation!
On the other end of the Pierrot spectrum is a little series you may have caught wind of once or twice…
Tokyo Ghoul (2014)
Picture this: You’re on a date and things are going well. Then, unbeknownst to you, your date is revealed to be a ghoul and takes a chomp out of you. Yep, they just take a big ole bite out of you!
Of course, this lands you in the hospital, but that’s not the worst of it: you’re now fated to live out your life as a half-ghoul, complete with an organ transplant courtesy of the aforementioned date. Yes, it’s twisted. And yes, this is Tokyo Ghoul.
But that story isn’t about you, it’s about Ken Kaneki! And this series follows him through the years, one gory battle after another, as we watch the new ghoul try not to succumb to his new base instincts. Oh, and this series has some bangers for its OPs.
Though you’d likely already know by this point, but Tokyo Ghoul proves even further that Pierrot can spin out some killer action sequences while telling a tragic tale.
Watch Tokyo Ghoul on Funimation!
Black Clover (2017)
If you’re not on the Black Clover train yet, come along! This fantasy shounen series follows Asta, an orphaned boy with no magical ability, as he works to become the Wizard King.
In a world where most can utilize magic, including Asta’s brother Yuno, the budding Asta will have his work cut out for him. With his brother also looking to become Wizard King, Black Clover sets up a rivalry for the ages!
Of course, no shounen series would be complete without a group of unlikely allies to join our protagonist. And the supporting characters of Black Clover absolutely rule, from the noble Noelle to lightning user Luck and all of the Black Bulls in between.
Black Clover shows off the quick-paced animation of Pierrot, and the keen details shine in each spell cast throughout the series. And before you ask, we do love Asta’s fiery attitude.
Watch Black Clover on Funimation!
Akudama Drive (2020)
Set in a cyberpunk world at the center of a bona fide organized crime war, Akudama Drive is all about what happens when a band of criminals with a unique set of skills come together.
A collaboration between Tomohisa Taguchi and Kazutaka Kodaka, it should be a no-brainer that this will end up on your watch list. In addition to bringing in learnings and aesthetics from the Danganronpa series, Akudama Drive is also heavily inspired by legendary titles like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. Oh, and for you eagle-eyed fans, each episode of this series is named after an action film!
An original anime, the series’ animation is breathtaking, with pop-in scenery transitions and CG motorcycle sequences that will make you want to hop on a Spider-bike and drive up buildings. Top that off with truly unique character designs and personalities, and Akudama Drive has all the makings of something special.
Watch Akudama Drive on Funimation!
That does it for just a few of Studio Pierrot’s legendary works that you can watch on Funimation! What are your favorites? Make sure to let us know, and stay tuned to Funimation for all things anime.