In recent years, thanks largely to their highly received anime adaptation to the long running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga series, David Production has been making a huge mark in the world of anime. Compared to other well established studios such as Sunrise, Toei, and Pierrot; David Production is still in its infancy. So how did this young studio start and instantly make an impact? Read today’s Editorial Tuesday to find out!
Taito Okikura, Koji Kajita, and the Bible
David Production was founded in September 2007 by two former Studio Gonzo producers, Koji Kajita (who was also a former president to Gonzo) and Taito Okikura. They chose the name David, in reference to David and Goliath, because they were a small studio compared to other mainstream productions such as Madhouse and Ghibli. In addition to demonstrating that they’re the underdog, the name is also meant to represent Design Audio and Visual Illusion Dynamics, to state that they put high production values into their anime.
Shortly before their break out with Ristorante Paradiso, David did some collaborative work with mainstream studios. In 2008, they contributed to the animation of Inazuma Eleven, Code Geass R2, and Soul Eater. Even after they got big with Jojo, they also helped with Bleach in 2010 and Madoka the following year. Then in 2009, they got their first original work.
David’s first original production was Ristorante Paradiso, based on a hit manga by Natsume Ono. It tells a story of how a young lady finds work at a local restaurant in Italy to reunite with her long lost mother. Through this anime, you get to see what life of working at an authentic Italian restaurant is like. It was directed by a veteran director, Mitsuko Kase, also famous for contributing to City Hunter, Patlabor, Street Fighter II V, and Gundam 08th MS Team as either a director, a storyboard drawer, or in many cases, both. Like its manga counterpart, the anime was excellently received by critics and fans, and made David Production a studio to look out for.
In the same year they debuted with Ristorante Paradiso, David Production also adapted Tatakau Shisho, a light novel series by Ishio Yamagata and Shingeki Maeshima. It tells a unique story of when a person dies, their life becomes a book and is stored in a special library protected by Armed Librarians. The director of Tatakau Shisho happens to be Toshiya Shinohara, who has contributed to some classics such as Banner of the Stars, Crest of the Stars, and most of the Inuyasha feature films. Just like with Ristorante Paradiso, the series received high acclaim.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Though JoJo (specifically Stardust Crusaders) received an OVA in the 90s with Phantom Blood (the first story arc) getting a movie in 2007 (both released by APPP), fans felt they weren’t an accurate representation of the manga. In fact, Araki, the manga’s creator went as far as denouncing the Phantom Blood movie and was very strict with adapting his material anime. When David chose to adapt the series, Araki was insistent in being part of the staff since he wanted a true adaptation of JoJo. Naokatsu Tsuda, the main director, was a fan of the manga and wanted to do everything possible to make it happen.
While each adaptation has always changed directors, famous anime and tokusatsu writer Yasuko Kobayashi always retained her position as head writer. She has served as a writer for numerous sentai and Kamen Rider series, but she has also served as a writer for the Garo anime, Attack on Titan, and Claymore. Thanks to Araki’s first hand influence, much of his musical tastes are implemented into the series soundtracks such as Roundabout by Yes, Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles, Last Train Home by Pat Metheny Group, and I Want You by Savage Garden. The anime has attracted new fans and long time dedicated fans of the original manga by nothing but praise for it.
Through JoJo, many anime fans can see how they emphasize on high quality animation with a rich use of colors, special effects, storytelling, voice acting, and unique soundtracks. JoJo in its original manga form is distinct, but with the modern techniques of anime, it brings fresh life into the material. Thanks to the fine voice acting of Takehito Koyasu, many fans associate his line of KONO DIO DA (It was me, Dio!) as Dio’s tag line as opposed to Isshin Chiba’s WWWWRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY from the old
Thanks to JoJo, David Production was given the chance to make a contemporary edition to a long beloved soccer classic, Captain Tsubasa. Just like JoJo, while many long time fans were already familiar with the source material through both the manga or the older anime, its updated animation attracts new and old fans alike. While today’s technology does add some new dynamics to the animation, it does an effective job of capturing the original series for manga readers to appreciate.
For those that love the Monster Hunter games, they made their own anime adaptation based on the Stories spin-off for the 3DS, Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On. Compared to most of their series that are for mature audiences, Monster Hunter Stories is geared towards children so their best effort isn’t 100% displayed in this series compared to JoJo or Captain Tsubasa.
For those that want something funny and educational, David has also contributed to the anime of Hataraku Saibou, or Cells at Work. If you want a funny take on the human body with its cells, Hataraku Saibou gets the job done. For those that teach health classes in the education sector, maybe this anime can excite your students. In fact, there is a university in China that happened to use the anime in its biology lessons.
While many viewers can attribute JoJo, David Production is now a household name in anime. Considering how the manga has been a hit in Japan for 30 years, it was only natural that fans both domestically and abroad would want a TRUE anime adaptation. While a lot of people accuse anime as a whole of presenting itself as cheap (most notoriously with the last episode of Evangelion), David sets itself apart by staying true to its word of providing higher quality anime. Many refer to JoJo as their flagship series of proving this promise.
Not only do you get high designs faithful to the manga, you get an unusual psychedelic use of colors to pay homage to its pop art influence, implementation of its unorthodox poses, exciting action, and over dramatic voice acting. Though the studio is only 11-years-old at this point, they are climbing up the ranks by adapting hit (though they have a cult following outside of Japan) manga titles.
Beyond more JoJo anime adaptations, in the near future, fans of Strike Witches can look forward to David Production’s take on Road to Berlin in 2020. For those that love sci-fi, check out their anime adaptations to Planetarium. Though their portfolio is relatively small, it is diverse showing that they can do a good majority of genres. Maybe in the near future, they can get certain manga series that are long overdue for a proper anime adaptation such as Azumi or Battle Royale. Knowing what they’ve achieved so far, expect only the best. So what are some of your favorite productions of David? Or do you think there’s a manga or game they should do an anime version of? If you got any ideas, please share some in the comments!