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Sometimes we are so absorbed by an anime that we don’t stop to think about all the people who make it possible. Designers, illustrators, animators, directors, musicians, voice actors, and a lot of in-betweens work together to bring entire stories to life. So, it is time to review the best anime studios of 2016 according to you, otakus. 2016 was a dynamic year for anime, so there is a lot we can talk about. Let’s go!
10. Kyoto Animation
Also known as KyoAni, this studio is located in Kyoto (in case you didn’t notice :p). It was established back in 1981 under the direction of Hideaki Atta. This guy was once a member of the legendary Mushi Production studio, directed by none other than Osamu Tezuka (yes, the Manga God himself). Although Kyoto Animation does not have many animations to its name, if we compare it to other members of this list, Kyoto Animation has been known to leave a lasting memory.
In 2016, Kyoto Animation released the slice of life film Koe no Katachi and the anime Musaigen no Phantom World, a science fiction story based on a novel. However, the great acet for the studio this year was Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium). The story of the euphonist Kumiko Oumae and her friends from the school orchestra had green light for a second season and some special chapters. It looks like music and overcoming obstacles are the formula for success in this case.
9. A-1 Pictures
A-1 Pictures is affiliated with Sony and was founded by Mikihiro Iwata, who also founded Sunrise. A-1 Pictures opened its doors in 2005 to help Aniplex to produce its animations. Its fame has grown to the point of participating in the Anime Expo in California. However, the popularity of this anime studio fell considerably this year among Honey Anime’s audience. We wonder why. They are some of the most prolific studios out there!
For starters, in 2016 they released Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2nd Season, Gyakuten Saiban: Sono "Shinjitsu," Igiari!, Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda, Doukyuusei, Qualidea Code and Occultic;Nine. If you have seen a little animation on the internet called Shelter (which is making people cry by the dozens)... yes, it is theirs too. They also produced two idol based animations (B-Project: Kodou＊Ambitious and Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love Legend Star) and some Persona materials. Let’s not forget their follow ups of strong titles such as WWW.Working!!, Nanatsu no Taizai: Seisen no Shirushi, Uchuu Kyoudai: Number Zero, Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season, an OVA for Fairy Tail and Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV. And in case you were wondering if they did anything new AND famous, here we leave the crown jewels: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. Just listing their works is exhausting ^^U
Madhouse was founded in the distant year of 1972 by other former Mushi Production workers: Masao Maruyama, Osamu Dezaki, Rintaro and Yoshiaki Kawajiri. With such a long history, they are expected to have quality and experience on the business of anime. Madhouse was the favorite last year, but now it was ranked so low! See how things change so fast in the otaku world?
In sharp contrast with A-1 Pictures, Madhouse decided to focus on few releases. The least known were Prince of Stride: Alternative and Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin. Their most relevant work was the specials for One Punch Man, although they also did some collaborations with other studios, particularly in the realm of sports anime.
This studio was born in 1998 in order to help with the production of Cowboy Bebop. Its founders were former workers of Sunrise: Masahiko Minami, Hiroshi Osaka, and Toshihiro Kawamoto. After that, well, they continued producing awesome anime. Unfortunately, this is another Studio that has gone down in the Top Ten this year.
Ok, so Bones produced rather forgettable titles like Concrete Revolution: Choujin Gensou - The Last Song and Ekkai Sensen: Ousama no Restaurant no Ousama. However, they also produced a fun musical anime (Show by Rock!!) and the OVA of Noragami Aragoto. And wait, there is more. Mob Psycho 100, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime 2nd Season, Boku no hero Academia, and Bungou Stray Dogs are theirs. If you are into unconventional heroes of all ages, genders and tastes, BONES was a great studio in 2016.
Compared to other studios on this list, MAPPA is like the new kid on the block. It was founded in 2011 by Masao Murayama. If you have good short term memory, you will recognize him among the founders of Madhouse 😉 Anyway, for its short life, MAPPA has done considerably good quality works and was positioned in a strong middle position of our list.
This year, MAPPA has offered us the second season of Ushio to Tora, Days and Garo:Divine Flame. These anime have a strong action oriented plot. However, its strongest success was at the end of the year with Yuri!!! on Ice. And that was not the end! The movie Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni is also theirs! As you can see, their focus on diversity, positive relationships and antiviolence has earned them the recognizement of otakus.
5. White Fox
This studio was founded by Gaku Iwasa in 2007, as a spun off from OLM (Oriental Light and Magic). If that name didn’t ring a bell, let us tell you that their most famous work is Pokemon. Anyway, White Fox is yet another studio that focuses more on quality than quantity. Perhaps because it does not have many titles under its arm yet, this is the first time that has sprung on the Top best.
So, what did White Fox do this year? Basically three anime. Soushin Shoujo Matoi
is the story of two shrine maidens: one wants to have exercising powers and the other wants a normal life, so guess who gets superpowers? ;). Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen follows a guy with no memories who wakes up in a fantasy like oriental world and is saved by a beautiful and powerful lady. And finally, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu has a similar premise but in a European like fantasy world with animals that walk and talk like humans.
4. Studio Trigger
One day, Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka decided to leave their jobs at Gainax (yes, the studio that gave us Evangelion). After that, they founded Studio Trigger in 2011. Although this studio still does not have much work in their portfolio, they are working hard at it. The otakus noticed and that is why they gave Studio Trigger a high position in the ranking.
In 2016, Studio Trigger gave us first Uchuu Patrol Luluco, an unconventional short animation about a girl who lives in a human and alien friendly zone. She is given the job of a undercover police agent, which clashes with her wish of being just like any other ordinary teenager girl in love. The other work Studio Trigger released this year was radically different. In Kiznaiver, an experimental city is the homage for several kids who will try to become super empaths. If you are going to make a better world, you need people who can understand the pain of others. As you can see, Studio Trigger’s objective in 2016 was to explore utopias.
3. Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS)
Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (or TBS for short) is a production house, not an animation studio. However, it has had an important role in Japanese media, as it had impulsed anime since their distant origins in 1951. For starters, they had a hand on xxxholic, and K-On! Their approach is to keep fresh in terms of content, so their anime tends to be unconventional.
It is strange that TBS did not show up last year in the Top Ten, but here we have it! In 2016, they offered us Handa-kun!, Gi(a)rlish Number, Phantasy Star Online 2, Dagashi Kashi and Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! Among their most known series, we had Shounen Maid, Watashi ga motete dou sunda and the super successful Sakamoto desu ga? We told you they loved the unconventional 🙂
2. Production I.G.
This studio was founded by a former executive of Bee Train under the name of Mitsuhisa Ishikawa. Since 1987, they have released high quality anime like Ghost in the Shell. So, we have another veteran in the house. Not sure why it was not present last year, but this time it came in full force!
Some of their releases this year included a short concept anime called Phantom of the Kill: Zero kara no Hangyaku and an app called Koukaku Kidoutai: Shin Gekijou-ban Virtual Reality Diver. They also produced various special chapters of Kuroko no Basuke and the second season of Haikyuu!!. Finally, their new jewel was a little historical anime called Joker Game. As you can see, they were focused on shounen and sports anime.
1. WIT Studio
It is time to re introduce you to the youngest studio in the list. Founded in 2012 by producers from Production I.G. to support productions from this studio, WIT has advanced 9 positions within a year! Well, what can we expect from the people who made Attack on Titan? They came to conquer the otaku’s hearts.
So, what did WIT Studio release in 2016? They started with Owari no Seraph: Kyuuketsuki Shahal, Flying Witch and Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! Next, they released Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito, an interesting OVA that every fan of reading should watch specially if they believe in magic too. It had such a good reception that a TV anime version is scheduled for this year. Finally, the most interesting original anime from this studio was Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, which reminds us of Attack of Titan but with zombies. Thus, the winning formula for WIT Studio was magic and about dystopias.
As you can see, most winning studios this year produced sporty and action oriented anime. Some of them are branches of older studies, so they tend to produce less work but with more quality. Let’s see what they have in store for us in 2017! Tell us, which was your favourite anime studio of 2016 and why? Don’t forget that we are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you soon!