Anime studios

11 October, 2007

For my own use, some anime studios and what I think of them, based on productions I’ve seen:

Madhouse
Seen: Boogiepop Phantom (classic), Chobits (classic), Gungrave (first half good, then a monster fight), Gunslinger Girl (1st 2 vols. – seems good), Metropolis (big budget failure), Texhnolyze (impressive pretentious nonsense), Trigun (overrated space western comedy), Tenjho Tenge (flawed school fighting show); Kano productions: Millennium Actress (slight), Paranoia Agent (didactic), Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers (very good).

Unseen: Death Note (heard good things about this, but disappointing end?), Claymore (heard good things about this too), Aquarian Age, Barefoot Gen, Black Lagoon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Chance Pop Session, Di Gi Charat, etc.

Verdict: Capable of greatness; really depends on directorial input.

Sunrise
Seen: All the Gundam shows (inconsistent but Seed was great), Vision of Escaflowne (quite good but overrated), Cowboy Bebop (quite good but overrated), Gasaraki (flawed; interesting failure), Infinite Ryvius (1st 5 eps.) (unbearable), Crest of the Stars (+ Banner of the Stars I & II) (poor art, dull scripts), Argentosoma (OK standard mecha-angst show), Witch Hunter Robin (visually dodgy, 2nd vol. sucked, ultimately quite goodish), Planetes (very good, but stereotyped characters), Cluster Edge (very weak shonen-ai), Steamboy (dull movie).

Unseen: Dirty Pair, City Hunter, Outlaw Star, S-Cry-Ed, Yakitate!! Japan, Code Geass, etc.

Verdict: Flawed but usually interesting.

Gonzo
Seen: Samurai 7 (first 4 vols.; started great but seemed to be weakening), Gantz (flawed but gripping), Burst Angel (a dull mess), Gravion Zwei (saw one volume: OK kiddie show with max fan-service), Peacemaker (AKA Peacemaker Kurogane) (had potential but ultimately underwhelming, disappointing), Last Exile (good; weak ending), Gad Guard (saw vol. 5 – weak), Full Metal Panic (OK, FUMOFFU sequel was better – diff. studio), Gankutsuou (1st 2 vols: looks great, good story (Count of Monte Cristo) but a bit uninvolving).

Unseen: Afro Samurai, Pumpkin Scissors, Welcome to the NHK, Witchblade, Solti Rei, Basilisk, Speed Grapher, Trinity Blood, Desert Punk, Chrono Crusade, Kaleido Star, Kiddy Grade, Saikano (AKA She the Ultimate Weapon), Vandread, etc.

Verdict: Inconsistent; good visuals but drama can lack conviction.

J.C.Staff
Seen: Excel Saga (good if over-wacky), Azumanga Daioh (classic), Gunparade March (unfocused, underwhelming, disappointing), Lunar Legend Tsukihime (weak but strangely interesting).

Unseen: Revolutionary Girl Utena, Ikki Tousen, ROD – the TV, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Starship Operators, Mahoraba, Nodame Cantabile (getting much praise), New Dominion Tank Police, Honey & Clover, etc.

Verdict: Good looking shows. Can achieve great things with concentration.

Studio Deen
Seen: Fruits Basket (classic), Gravitation (idiotic), Kyo Kara Maoh! (1st volume – looked very good, but time will tell), Rurouni Kenshin (TV & OVA – both overrated, dull).

Unseen: Fate/stay night, Full Moon o Sagashite, Getbackers, Mouse, Ranma 1/2, Read or Die (ROD), Weiß Kreuz, etc.

Verdict: Produce dull work unless great director involved.

BONES
Seen: RahXephon (palled on 2nd viewing), Wolf’s Rain (better than it deserved to be; touching), Scrapped Princess (started great, got boring), Fullmetal Alchemist (started good, got really boring), Cowboy Bebop movie (NG), Eureka Seven (first 5 episodes – great)

Unseen: Mars daybreak (not that great?), Darker than Black, Ouran High School Host Club, Angelic Layer, etc.

Verdict: Quite good, but tendency to formula means they can disappoint.

Gainax
Seen: Neon Genesis Evangelion + movies (interesting, frustrating, pretentious – overrated?), His & Her Circumstances (see previous), Gunbuster (inconsistent; great ending), FLCL (palled on 2nd viewing)

Verdict: Their work can’t match their high opinion of themselves; generally pretentious and frustrating).

Production I.G.
Seen: Otogi Zoshi (pretentious failure), Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (multiple series & movies – good design & 3D work, but animation often stiff and very limited; overrated in terms of drama, character, futurology and profundity), FLCL, Dead Leaves (artily-extravagant noise signifying nothing), Patlabor movies (see Ghost in the Shell), Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (overrated, confusing background, weak “hard-boiled” characterisations, cheap “twists”, one of which invalidates the 1st half of the movie, while the other is a cheap tearjerker), Blood: the Last Vampire (big-budget “proof of concept” but poorly written and ultimately banal), Evangelion movies.

Unseen: Prince of Tennis, xxxHolic, Chevalier d’Eon, Blood+, etc.

Verdict: Great visuals and big ideas, but the final products are hollow.

Manglobe (oo-er!)
Seen: Samurai Champloo (started great but ended weakly).

Unseen: Ergo Proxy.

Verdict: Wait and see.

Toei Animation
Seen: Air Master (quite good, but no character development; weak ending)

Unseen: All Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Marmalade Boy, Yu-Gi-Oh! (1st series), Digimon, One Piece, Air Gear, etc.

Verdict: They produce mass market money-milking franchises, but can do quality work within these parameters.

Kyoto Animation
Seen: Nurse Witch Komugi (great fun), Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (1 episode).

Unseen: Kanon, Air, Lucky Star, Clannad, etc.

Verdict: Unable to judge.

Studio Pierrot
Seen: Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) (underwhelming on 2nd view; annoying), Saiyuki Reload (1st vol.) (awful), Midori days (blandly enjoyable), Victorian Romance Emma (didn’t live up to its potential).

Unseen: Kimagure Orange Road (highly rated), Twelve Kingdoms, Tokyo Underground, Naruto (saw 1st 5 eps.), E’s Otherwise, Bleach, etc.

Verdict: They can produce good work sometimes, but not “top notch”.

XEBEC
Seen: Fafner (banal mecha “epic”), Love Hina (excruciating, but sometimes funny or touching), Martian Successor Nadesico (funny mecha satire), Zoids (enjoyable kids mecha fighting show).

Unseen: Outlaw Star, Elemental Gelade (1 ep.), etc.

Verdict: (subsidiary of Production I.G.) Can do good work when not aiming too high. Good quality visuals.

Bee Train
Seen: Noir, Madlax, .hack//Sign.

Unseen: Avenger, Arc the Lad, Tsubasa Chronicle, etc.

Verdict: Incredibly pretentious, incredibly dull.

 

Genco
Seen: Figure 17, Genshiken, Kino’s Journey, NieA_7.

Verdict: I’m getting confused by these larger producers, unable to tell which shows were really produced by Genco, and which were just funded and overseen (same problem with Bandai). The above-mentioned shows were produced by Genco, and are all very good.

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