When you talk about anime, you can tackle the subject from a lot of different angles. You can talk about plots, characters, voice actors, animation quality, overall design... but in the end, you can also group all of these and just analyze the animation studio. Among the many studies that have existed over the years, there is one that has remained stoic for almost 45 years, emerging as a true hallmark in terms of anime.
Studio DEEN is one of the several anime studios created by former Sunrise employees, probably the most popular of them all. With a lot of high-profile anime under its belt and a few other forgettable ones to compensate, the story behind this studio is one that every anime fan should know. Let's get down to it!
A Studio That Shined With its Own Light
Studio DEEN was born in March 1975, when Hiroshi Hasegawa decided to abandon Nippon Sunrise (as it was called previously) and created his own animation studio with the help of other former Sunrise coworkers. However, their first works weren't obviously full projects but smaller ones, helping other studios like Sunrise itself.
Doraemon in partnership with Shin-Ei Animation, Urusei Yatsura in partnership with Studio Pierrot... Studio DEEN's early days were about learning and growing confidence until they finally started working on a solo project, 10 years later. Curiously enough, their first anime series and their first OVA became really popular: the controversial Tenshi no Tamago (December 1985) and Maison Ikkoku, an anime with 96 episodes between 1985 and 1988.
Already established as one of the great anime studios of the era, Studio DEEN was not only collaborating with others but also creating true masterpieces for all otaku, coronating the 80's with Ranma 1/2. The famous story of the cursed martial artist first aired in 1989, an instant hit thanks to its hilarious plot and charismatic characters. Just like Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2 was a well-developed story not skimping on episodes, now with 161 (it ended in 1992).
The Golden Era of Studio DEEN
If we were to talk about the golden age of Studio DEEN, then we would definitely have to concentrate on the decade of the 90s and the early 2000s. Like we just said, Ranma 1/2 was just a sign of what was to come. Studio DEEN participated in the making of other famous anime like Crayon Shin-chan (1991, Shin-Ei Animation), Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (1992, Sunrise), DNA² (1994, Mad House), and Hunter x Hunter (1999, Nippon Animation) among many others.
Around the same time, Studio DEEN also had a minor role in Neon Genesis Evangelion, helping Gainax and Tatsunoko Pro. In 1997, Studio DEEN took over Rurouni Kenshin (it was previously animated by Studio Gallop, until episode 66), putting an end to the story with original creations not in the manga.
Fast forward into the new millennium, Studio DEEN was still riding the crest of a wave of popularity, so collabs were a less common feature. That's when they started animating a lot of shows by themselves, which means more creative freedom. The movie for Initial D Third Stage, premiered in 2001, was just an example of DEEN's capabilities; that same year, the Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan - Seisou-hen OVA came out. Maybe 2001 was not a space odyssey, but it was indeed one of the best years for Studio DEEN. In terms of anime series, they also created Fruits Basket, Kokoro Library, and Rave Master.
Full Moon wo Sagashite and GetBackers in 2002, Maria-sama ga Miteru in 2004, Jigoku Shoujo in 2005, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni in 2006... and the list goes on and on!
Studio DEEN Nowadays
Studio DEEN was once famous for somehow managing the quantity and nailing the quality, but for the last decade, the studio has abandoned their original idea in spite of doing more, shortest anime, something a lot of anime fans criticize. With a reduced budget and some questionable decisions, you can expect as many hits as failures... and it shows.
There's no doubt about Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, Sakamoto desu ga? and Super Lovers (all of them debuting in 2016) being the top 3 Studio DEEN anime in the last few years, but we can't forget they're also responsible for Ao Oni The Animation, Hatsuoki Monster, The Reflection, and Aguu: Tensai Ningyou. In fact, Studio DEEN has been animating a few Chinese productions, something not that common for the anime industry. Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage and its sequel are a collaboration with Chinese powerhouse Tencent, just like Aguu: Tensai Ningyou.
2018 won't be remembered as the best year for Studio DEEN since anime like Ito Junji: Collection, Ongaku Shoujo, Gurazeni, and Muhyo to Rouji no Mahouritsu Soudan Jimusho are far from perfection. Being one of the most prolific studios ever, we can rest assured that they won't give up creating anime, and 2019 will have a fair share of series with their seal. Will they finally be able to overcome the harsh critics regarding low-quality animations?
Studio DEEN's history is indeed a perfect combination of success and regrettable decisions, making them go from one of the best anime studios ever to the one people love to hate. However, we can't be ungrateful to ignore all the classics Studio DEEN was involved in! So, what's your favorite anime by Studio DEEN and why?
If you want to talk about your personal experience with their anime, or just want to point us what you love or hate about Studio DEEN, you can always interact with us through the comment box. Thanks for reading, and see you soon!