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Hang on to your straw hats – Toei Animation is preparing for a significant milestone with “One Piece” and more in 2024.

Patricia DeLuca

December 12, 2023

5 Min Read
Luffy D. Monkey from “One Piece.”
Luffy D. Monkey from “One Piece.”Toei Animation

At a Glance

  • Toei Animation continues to expand their global reach.
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual celebration, highlighting Toei's IPs.
  • 2024 has some major plans in store.

It’s been a big year for Toei Animation, the U.S.-based arm of the global animation studio that manages the distribution of franchises like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, One Piece, Digimon, Saint Seiya and many others, in North America, Latin America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Toei has become once again a part of the pop-culture zeitgeist with its newest adaptation of a story 25 years in the making. 

“One Piece,” the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, follows the escapades of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, as he explores the Grand Line in search of the mythical treasure known as the “One Piece” to become the next King of the Pirates. Since its debut in 1999, the franchise has sold 516.5 million books and has made Oda the 10th best-selling fiction writer of all time. And on the heels of its globally successful anime adaptation this year, the book has transformed into its first-ever live-action series, which premiered worldwide on Netflix in August. 

The new series debuted as the No. 1 title globally on the streaming platform, with 37.8 million views amassed in less than two weeks since its release. The series has reached the Top 10 in 93 countries and debuted at No. 1 in 46. A second season based on the live-action series is currently in the works. More recently, “One Piece” made a big entrance in a fête synonymous with a holiday tradition. 

In the Cloud

In November, Luffy joined his Toei Animation counterpart, Goku, of “Dragon Ball” in the New York City skyline as part of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

“Toei Animation has been a partner of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2018 when we sponsored our first featured character balloon, Goku, in celebration of the theatrical release of ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly,’” says Lisa Yamatoya, senior director, global marketing, Toei Animation.

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“It has been a very successful and continuing partnership for Toei Animation, so much so that we were excited to have the opportunity to expand our partnership with the Macy’s Parade this year with a new Luffy featured character balloon that will kick off the global 25th anniversary of the ‘One Piece’ franchise. We are thrilled to have both Goku and Luffy together this year, showcasing our two top franchises to the millions of people watching the parade in person, on TV and online.” 

“Each year, our team works with valued partners to include entertainment and pop culture’s most recognizable and beloved characters in our iconic parade to delight viewers and excite fans across the country on Thanksgiving morning,” says Jordan Dabby, producer, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “As anime’s popularity continues to grow, we’re thrilled to deepen our partnership with Toei Animation to bring Monkey D. Luffy and the ‘One Piece’ franchise to our stellar lineup.” While it will be hard to judge on the small screen, Monkey D. Luffy will loom large in the city streets, at 50 feet tall, 43 feet long and 39 feet wide, painted 50 different colors. It took a global effort to make the Luffy balloon a reality. 

“The balloon is a huge collaboration,” says Yamatoya. “Our team at Toei Animation in Los Angeles and Tokyo worked with the Macy’s Parade Studio and marketing teams to design, and then the talented artisan team at the Macy’s Parade Studio fabricated the larger-than-life icon that audiences saw on Thanksgiving morning. 

“It’s always a challenge to transform a 2D character into a 3D likeness – even more so when you have to consider all the physical limitations and aerodynamic considerations of a Macy’s Parade balloon. There were initially a lot of discussions on what character and character pose to choose, after which we needed to make tweaks and revisions before finalizing the balloon design.

“We kicked off the ‘One Piece’ partnership in October 2022, which coincided with our ‘One Piece’ Times Square takeover during New York Comic Con,” continues Yamatoya. “So, while it was a little over a year from start to finish, the time flew by. The balloon was announced just before New York Comic Con 2023, and shortly after, the balloon was seen for the first time at Macy’s Balloonfest.” 

Yamatoya and Toei Animation have licensed the merchandise rights for the character balloon to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and they will be releasing a limited collection of items, including a snow globe. 

The Macy’s balloon debut is just the beginning of Toei Animation’s celebration of “One Piece’s” milestone next year, as well other franchises under the Toei Animation’s umbrella. 

Three Reasons to Celebrate in 2024 

“2024 marks the 25th anniversary of ‘One Piece’ and will be a big year for the franchise,” says Yamatoya. “The new live-action series had an incredibly successful first season this year, and a second season is already in the works. The anime series just aired its 1084th episode on Crunchyroll, and a brand-new series arc will start soon. Fans can also look forward to a number of special events, from sports event sponsorships to live experiences at Anime Expo, San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con. 

“In addition to ‘One Piece,’ 2024 will also be big for two other Toei Animation franchises, Dragon Ball and Digimon,” adds Yamatoya. “As announced at this year’s New York Comic Con, Dragon Ball will launch the new series, ‘Dragon Ball Daima’ next year. And on the heels of its new movie, ‘Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning’ earlier this month, Digimon will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2024 as well. Anime fans have a lot to look forward to from Toei Animation in 2024.”

About the Author(s)

Patricia DeLuca

Senior Managing Editor, License Global

Patricia DeLuca currently serves as License Global's Senior Managing Editor.

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