For this list, we’re looking at some of the biggest names in Japanese Animation. Beyond their extensive resume of project, we’ll be looking what makes these studios great: from how they adapt manga and movies to some of the revolutionary advances they’ve made in the genre.
Action is the first word most people think of when they hear the word “Anime”. Hands down, no studio has been more consistent with reinforcing this image as Studio Madhouse.
While they have branched out in recent years to work on less intense titles like Ore Monogatari, Madhouse is still best known for some of their edgier, darker quality Anime from its earlier days.
They by far tout the greatest library of high quality anime in the industry – so much so that its just hard to condense a list for us. Have fun, you know the animators clearly did.
Since its inception in 1985, Studio Ghibli has continued to wow audiences worldwide with both its quality animation and wonderful storylines. Even their more slice of life features have an air of wondrous fantasy to their execution. If you need even more incentive to check out works from this studio, know that some of Anime’s highest grossing films have originated from this creative team. And their 2001 hit, “Spirited Away” was the first, and, so far, only Anime to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. With near universal praise, awards and some of the world greatest storytellers behind it (Hayao Miyazaki anyone?) Studio Ghibli is one Anime Studio you should definitely check out.
This studio may have been a little quiet in recent years, after the split of some of their core staff – but nonetheless, their impact on the anime industry cannot be denied.
Gainax is also a studio whose resume is predominantly made up of original Anime content, from its earlier hits like Gunbuster, to modern classics like, FLCL and Gurren Lagann - All of which have received monumental acclaim and shaken the industry trends.
Oh and don’t forget the opus magnum, Neon Genesis Evangelion – still waiting on that fourth movie, Anno…
Alright lets just say it – Sunrise created Mobile Suit Gundam. Since then, the studio has been the forerunner in Mecha the mecha genre.
They’ve produced some of the most memorable giant robots of the Anime world, including those from Gundam, Escaflowne, Code Geass, Valvrave, GaoGaiGar, and more.
And while this may be their bread and butter, Sunrise’s penchant for mature but fun scifi storytelling shouldn’t be ignored.
Just look at their masterpiece Cowboy Bebop, or even the wildly successful Gintama.
Toei Animation has been around for a long time and man have they been busy. This studio is almost everywhere in the world of Animation. They’ve had their hands in numerous Manga adaptations as well as many award winning festival films, such as Galaxy Express 999. Not only has Toei been involved with some of the biggest Anime hits of the last century, such as Dragon Ball Z, One Piece and Sailor Moon. They have also been involved with production on many popular 80’s American cartoons like Transformers and GI Joe. Bet you’d never guessed they had more of a helping hand in your cartoon childhood.
This studio has pushed the development of new, digital animation techniques, bringing Anime into the modern age of animation and beyond. Much of Production I.G.’s work can be seen both in its television and movie productions, most notably with their Ghost in the Shell franchise. They’ve also been known to work on animation for certain video games, adhering their creative talents beyond the realm of Anime. Films such as Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire and Patlabor have shown the world the direction Anime might be heading thanks to the outstanding work of Production I.G.
Studio Bones has earned a reputation for going against some Anime production norms. If there’s one thing that gets our goat, its anime original endings. Despite this, the studio managed to make a pretty darned interesting story out of Fullmetal Alchemist back in the day… But then in 2009 did what few other studios have by remaking the project to follow the manga’s proper storyline – and we love them for it.
Bones has an extensive library of hits, instant classics, as well as a few hidden gems.
Plus they love to do that fade-into-ending-theme-thing, and that’s always cool.
While certain titles have fantasy elements to them, for the most part, any production from Kyoto Animation revolves around appreciating the world around us. From friendships in a classroom to bonds forged in sports clubs, it’s all about the little things in life. Seriously, it’s like somehow Kyoto manages to acquire a film budget and apply it to any series they create. Anyone who thinks Anime is all about the action and spectacle should really check out a Kyoto title, because simplicity can be beautiful too.
Now give us the next Haruhi installment you sons of bitches.
Part of the secret behind Triggers success is its founders, who already had established careers in other Anime Studios – namely Gainax. With experience and an ear for the community they animate for, Triggers animation reflects great passion for what they do. Their monstrous success with Kill La Kill is met only by the surprisingly successful Kickstarter project, the second “Little Witch Academia” feature, which was successfully funded in under 5 hours. Though its still early days for the studio, we can’t wait to see what they’ve got next.
10 Studio Shaft
While established in the mid 70’s, Studio Shaft has only just begun to make its presence truly felt in Anime. It’s easy to see why they’ve caught the attention of the world with series like Madoka Magica and the Monogatari Series. Shaft productions usually include light novel exerts, medical drawings, tapestries and of course scenery porn.
So with a tendency to adapt projects into their own style as well as implement the infamous “shaft tilt”, this studio has established themselves as one of the most avant-garde.