Every four months, anime fans ask the very common question to themselves “What should I watch this season?” It is a question that may even stump those familiar with manga adaptations and online buzz and whatnot. One good deciding factor that I use when picking shows to check out is to look at the animation studio behind the series. This is almost the same exact thing when buying a video game because you are fond of the video game company behind it and their previous creations. While this should not be used as an absolute deciding factor as there are other things to consider such as genre and premise, knowing studios is a good way to familiarize yourself with the anime industry and what to expect from certain anime before they even come out. If this was a thesis paper on Japanese animation studios, I would go all out on studios about their respective impacts on the Japanese animation industry. I have a word cap for a weekly newspaper column, so I’m just going to talk about whatever comes to mind. Don’t think I’ve forgotten great studios such as Production I.G and Kyoto Animation, although I left them out here.
BONES is a personal favorite of mine among animation studios, not because of what superb shows they have worked on, but because of their animation techniques which combine both style and fluidity into something eye-popping every time. BONES will put out a great-looking show without a doubt every time, but be wary of their original anime series. There have been too many times where I have screamed out BONES’ name after seeing an ending to an original show from them.
Notable works: Darker than BLACK, Eureka Seven, Fullmetal Alchemist
Animation studio GAINAX has been around for a while making big hits with classics such as Gunbuster (1988) and Evangelion (1995), and today they’re still around as one of the more famous animation studios in Japan. GAINAX has constantly shown its refined animation techniques that they have polished over the years, and the “fluidity” of animation found in their works is hard to match. With the recent release of the third Evangelion movie Eva 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, they are once again catching a wild amount of attention, though fans are still waiting for them to put their next big TV series.
Notable works: Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann
I noticed that Madhouse has produced the most titles among my top favorite anime series. And it is not because the studio caters to a specific audience; on the contrary, I consider myself an individual with a diverse taste in anime and that is exactly why Madhouse is one of my favorite studios. The works Madhouse puts out are some of the most diverse in the anime industry, in my opinion. Shows such as Kaiji, Kaiba, and The Tatami Galaxy go against the norm of what people are used to seeing in anime, and I love how Madhouse is not afraid to try something different. Plus they have a good track record of putting out great adaptations of manga works.
Notable works: Black Lagoon, Dennou Coil, Death Note
The words “Ghibli” and “Miyazaki” should resonate with all kinds of anime fans as both studio and director have worked together to create many classic anime films. While director Miyazaki Hayao comes to mind when mentioning “Ghibli,” not every Ghibli film is a Miyazaki-directed film. Grave of the Fireflies is one example of a fantastic Ghibli film not directed by Miyazaki, and it is much different in tone from your usual fairy tale Miyazaki story. In fact, film critic Roger Ebert has Grave of the Fireflies on his “Great Movies List,” claiming that the film is “an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.”
Notable works: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo on a Cliff
P.A. Works has a fantastic team of animators that put out high-quality animation with every show they make. However, P.A. Works has a terrible team of writers and directors that they need to fire. I remember their anime debut as a studio back in 2008 with True Tears. People were floored by level of animation that True Tears presented, especially as a studio coming out of nowhere. The writing with True Tears, however, and I find this quality in every other P.A. Works show I have seen, is that the storytelling is a roller coaster of ups and downs that I am not a fan of.
Notable works: Angel Beats, CANAAN, True Tears
As seen on all-fiction.net