Anime Studio Rundown (Pre-2016 Edition)

With 2015 coming to a close, I thought I’d do something a little different from the usual Monday anime review and instead run through how the studios themselves are doing.

Time has been both kind and harsh to anime production studios as giants fall, fledglings fail to get off the ground, and occasionally we get some exceptions to the rule. Let’s start with the two new-ish studios who have managed to build a reputation that Passione, Troyca, and Lay-duce can only dream of achieving: Wit Studio and MAPPA. Whilst the quality of their works went down the inevitable decline this year, there’s no denying that everything they’ve released whether it be mixed bags like Punch Line or absolute dreck like The Rolling Girls have all been different from the usual stench of mediocrity that plagues this medium like the feeling you get when you walk in on your parents having sex. As such, I think they’re the two studios as of right now who deserve the most attention from people, even if not everything they make will suit your taste.

That said, it’s a little hard to say how the near future is going to turn out for both of them. MAPPA haven’t announced any new IP since Ushio and Tora with all their planned shows for the 2016 season just being continuations of their existing ones (assuming Bahamut is not just done by Cygames themselves). There is Sunao Katubuchi’s upcoming film that looks to be more mature than his usual slice-of-life stuff (and incidentally, I’m glad he’s considering a new Black Lagoon as long as the manga actually gets somewhere first) but that barely counts, especially since details of its release date are sketchy enough as is without waiting for the subs. As for Wit, along with the constant baiting of that Attack on Titan sequel that we still haven’t gotten – hopefully so the animation quality will be more consistent – they technically have a new IP planned for the next year, but one look at the PV will show you that it’s pretty much Attack on Titan in everything but name, right down to getting the same director. I don’t consider this to be a bad thing though. Whilst it will eventually grow old over time, the “bombastic shonen action” niche Wit has carved for itself is something the genre desperately needs right now if it wants to evolve from everything Dragonball Z defined more than two decades ago. So whilst I can’t promise anything regarding the show’s quality, I don’t see the studio ending up with the same reputation that Trigger currently has anytime soon (which I’ve expressed my disappointment in last post, so I’m not going to talk about them again here).

Now that that’s all settled, let’s look at the big studios. After a sea of mediocrity along with one really good show that the general public doesn’t give a toss about, Bones seems to be pulling all the stops in getting us to remember why we love them what with the huge amount of semi-interesting properties it has lined up for the next year along with the successful sales of Blood Blockade Battlefront blu-rays and their creation of Concrete Revolutio aka the anime manifestation of Christ. It seems the studio is finally putting a halt on their mecha works to focus more on superpowers – although that hasn’t stopped them from trying to cram in the clunky-looking things whenever they can. And I support this change because one thing the latter genre tends to have over the former is strong characterization that doesn’t depend on whether Pink Robot A can beat up Mazinger Robot ZZZZZZZZ. Although one thing we’re not going to expect from the studio is a little restraint. I mean three anime in one season? Yeesh.

KyoAni and PA Works are back on people’s radars after an even longer string of mediocrity thanks to their latest contributions being more surprisingly good than Jason McElwain, although all they’ve really done is remind people that they can make good anime whilst not convincing a single person that they’re going to evolve from their usual lineup anytime soon. That said, if I had to pick one of the two in regards to the most future potential, KyoAni would be the one I’d side with because whilst their upcoming light novel adaptation is all but guaranteed to be awful, their other upcoming works are mostly on the other side of that. Koe no Katachi movie adaptation, a new potentially great IP with Euphonium, and an upcoming Full Metal Panic project that they haven’t been officially attached to yet, but there isn’t a single other studio the author would want to ally himself with, so it’s pretty much all but guaranteed that they’ll do it. PA Works on the other hand has their “almost guaranteed to be awful” regular novel adaptation and no Shirobako sequel in sight. There is that original thing being directed by Tensei Okamura, but we know so little about it other than it’s a mecha – which doesn’t mean a thing on this blog – that it’s not even worth dwelling on. Oh wait, it does have the guy who was in charge of Another’s writing on the composition. Yeah, that’s a confidence booster.

Of course, Shaft and A-1 Pictures continue to be as horrible as usual. Unless you count Nisekoi, which I don’t and neither should the rest of the world, the former hasn’t had any new successful IP for a long-ass time and it doesn’t help that they’re fully aware of this given how much they’re milking the shit out of the only stuff people care about. Not a single new project that isn’t Monogatari is on the horizon. At least A-1 has more than Sword Art Online on the mind, even if they look like complete shit. Video game adaptation after video game adaptation because, y’know, their previous attempts in that field were so enjoyable. And that’s not even getting into the fact that they’ve got a buttload of sequels to their light novel crap, along with a new show that’s apparently the result of a big collaboration between light novel publishers and boy does that PV let me know it. To say that I’ve completely given up on A-1 Pictures entertaining me is like me saying I think Stalin was a bit of a prick, but hey. Bad anime get love on this blog too.

Speaking of one-hit wonders, does anyone care about anything David Production makes that isn’t Jojo? Better yet, does David Production itself care? I mean they’ve got that Monster Hunter thing, but we all know that isn’t going to be good, so I don’t see the point in dwelling on it.

I’m not really sure what Madhouse has planned for us besides that visual novel thing I know jack about other than it being from that woman director people seem to really love for her visual style even if the writing is almost always crap, but there’s no fucking way we’re not getting another season of One-Punch Man sometime in the future so that gives me even less of a reason to give a fuck about what they’re doing. Same goes for Production I.G. except for the fact that I do care a little bit about what they do without jizzing my pants over their announcements. I mean the premise for that Joker Game anime doesn’t look wretched and we’re getting a new Legend of the Galactic Heroes the year after next so that all the elitists can have an excuse to become even more pretentious than they already are, but anyone who’s stuck with I.G. for as long as I have know that despite their refusal to jump on the light novel trend, they’ve been a little hit-and-miss since their very conception. Almost like the studio representation of the noitamina timeslot.

Meanwhile, one studio I am sure about is Silver Link and their doggedly determined refusal to just fucking die! Okay fine, they’ve done a better job at keeping people happy than White Fox what with their Non Non Biyoris and…um…that’s pretty much all they do right these days. But regardless of how good Non Non Biyori is, it can’t possibly make up for the fact that Shin Oonuma still hasn’t gotten it into his head that Baka to Test wasn’t four hours of concentrated agony jackhammered into the eye sockets and that his continued attempts at trying to recapture that magic with terrible comedy after terrible comedy is simply going to make talking about his studio’s resume awkward whenever someone brings up the brilliance of Watamote. And since I brought up White Fox earlier, haven’t heard from them in a while, have we? Yes, they’ve technically made anime since I last slaughtered them, but no one can honestly convince me that their upcoming light novel adaptation is going to be worth watching at all, and who in their right mind even wants to acknowledge the new Utawarerumono? I think they’re attached to the new Steins;Gate, but I can’t look at 0’s existence without thinking of it being the equivalent of KyoAni milking Clannad and why would you want them to do that?

But let’s wrap things up by looking at how our old pal Sunrise is doing, shall we? What have they got lined up for us after the umpteenth Gundam iteration finally ends? New Accel World? Snore. Two new original anime? Oh you tease. ‘Course, it would help if any of them looked interesting. One of them is some music thing directed by the guy who does a bunch of anime comedies a bunch of people seem to enjoy but I’ve never cared for one bit, so I’m guessing it’s going to be an unfunny comedy too. And the other…I have no clue what it’s about at all. Maybe someone who’s more knowledgeable about the inner workings of Sunrise than I will ever be can fill me in in the comments section?

Minor Quips

  • Brains Base – This studio still exists?
  • Studio Deen – Does anyone remember anything about these guys besides the fact that they ruined Log Horizon?
  • Dogakobo – Snore.
  • Production IMS – I guess they use the many light novel adaptations they make in order to fund premises with actual potential, but it would help if said premises actually lived up to them.
  • Studio Pierrot – Got some promising stuff in the future. Pity some of them are based off of video games, which is never a good thing.
  • Polygon Pictures – *Church bells ring in joy*

17 responses to “Anime Studio Rundown (Pre-2016 Edition)

  1. A really interesting article here – thank you for taking the time to write it.
    Personally I didn’t much care for Concrete Revolutio, but I’m still a big Bones fan. No studio has ever only made anime that I’ve really loved, but Bones still comes the closest for me. No surprise that Kekkai Sensen was hands down my favourite title of 2015.

    • Personally I didn’t much care for Concrete Revolutio

      Oh well. Most people don’t.

      No surprise that Kekkai Sensen was hands down my favourite title of 2015

      I’m on the opposite side regarding that love/hate title.

      • Really? I thought Concrete Revolutio was wildly popular – there certainly didn’t seem to be any lack of bloggers talking about it in fairly glowing terms. I stopped watching after the first handful of episodes though, so I’m just going by what I’ve seen elsewhere, mostly here on WordPress.

      • Concrete Revolutio is an special case. It got everything anime bloggers loved: good animation, experimental style, interesting thematic core, social commentary and puzzle plot to talk about, … And unfortunately everything MAL community hated: experimental style, confusing plot, not based on any popular otaku materials, no big star directors or writers, trying to discuss something more than waifu or plot twist.

        I predict that this show is going to be a cult favourite, like Simoun or Votoms, remembered fondly by a small number of older fans, while most of the fanbase have no idea it even exists.

      • I thought Concrete Revolutio was wildly popular – there certainly didn’t seem to be any lack of bloggers talking about it in fairly glowing terms.

        I generally don’t read other anime blogs because they can taint my own opinion and I’d rather avoid directly confronting my colleagues if I can help it. That said, my friends have been telling me that even amongst bloggers, CR’s reputation is cult (although not as cult as Osomatsu-san). And MAL sure as heck doesn’t like it.

        And unfortunately everything MAL community hated: experimental style

        Unless your name is Masaaki Yuasa, your experimental animated show just isn’t going to be given the time of day.

  2. Dogakobo is really good at adapting funny stuff (gekkan shoujo and love lab for example), but not good at the heavy themes (plastic memories). I wanna tell you not to discredit it so easily but given your tastes, I kinda understand if you do.

    • Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a good show and that was a drama that dealt with heavy themes. It’s because they mostly do light comedies that I don’t care for them. I don’t do that genre.

      • Flaw’s problem with anime comedy is that he expects “laugh out loud funny” rather than “make me snicker and only occasional laugh funny” :D. I think the second is a different kind of funny, not merely a weaker version of the first one – kind of like chamber music isn’t the same as a roaring epic orchestral piece.

      • To me, Adventure Time is a different kind of funny. Steven Universe is innocently charming. Anime humor is more like Arrested Development or Teen Titans Go and it gets too bizarre to the point that I can’t take it seriously.

    • I hope you’re not trolling with your remarks. I kinda get where you’re coming from but I wished you read the article or at least explained as to why AOT is so great.

      Well, for this article, I commend Bones for being mostly a hit this year. Kyoto Animation was somehow back to its organic drama and Production IG is producing some solid shows this year.

      Silver Link’s staff members could sit and think about what they did this year. I mean, all of their stuff (aside from the Ilya franchise) was, well, subpar.