Toei Animation Co., Ltd. (東映アニメーション株式会社 , Tōei Animēshon Kabushiki-gaisha) (/toʊ.eɪ/) is a Japanese animation studio primarily controlled by its namesake Toei Company.
Hayao Miyazaki expressed interest in manga and animation from an early age, and he joined Toei Animation in 1963. During his early years at Toei Animation he worked as an in-between artist and later collaborated with director Isao Takahata . Notable films to which Miyazaki contributed at Toei include Doggie March and Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon. He provided key animation to other films at Toei, such as Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island, before moving to A-Pro in 1971, where he co-directed Lupin the Third Part I alongside Takahata.
A friend suggested he apply for a directing job at Toei Animation; Takahata passed their entrance exam, and was hired as an assistant director for several of Toei's animated television shows and films—including Wolf Boy Ken, on which he was mentored by Yasuo Ōtsuka . Ōtsuka eventually asked Takahata to direct an animated feature film of his own; his directorial debut was The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968). Ōtsuka served as Animation Director on the film, while another Toei employee, Hayao Miyazaki, served as key animator. Though it would later be recognized as one of the first defining works of modern Japanese animation, the film was a commercial failure, and Takahata was demoted.
Unable to further improve his standing at Toei, Takahata left the studio in 1971, along with Miyazaki and Yōichi Kotabe.