This is my reaction to this thread on Hummingbird regarding the worst anime studios.
However I think this idea is flawed to begin with, which ties in with something I wanted to talk about anyways, which is Studios don’t matter, people do.
A Studio is just a company, and as any company it is made up of its employees. Some studios have very famous permanent people working for them such as Shaft (Shinbo) or Gainax (Hideaki Anno & Hiroyuki Imaishi both however not there anymore). While others buy in people like Production IG (Gen Urobuchi for Psycho Pass and Gargantia) or they just make shows only for one person like Madhouse (Satoshi Kon).
Yet a Studio is a sum of its parts which is majorly divided into Directors, (Key) Animators and Writers. Not only that but the Studio usually just adapt pre-existing material such as Manga, Games, Visual Novels, Light Novels and real Novels. They rarely write their own plots and characters and just simply take what is already there. And even if they have an original anime coming out, that also is mostly created by one person who doesn’t even need to be part of the Studio.
Gen Urobuchi has written a couple of stories and also worked on them with Studios, but he worked with Ufotable (Fate Zero), Shaft (Madoka), Producion IG (Psycho Pass) and now with A1 Pictures (Aldnoah.Zero). So one studio isn’t really responsible for the actions of one man, but many studios decided to adapt his works.
But how could you potentially rate a studio? Based on their animation? Based on the shows they animate? Based on the direction?
Well why not many things at once?
You’d have to take into consideration a lot of things, like :
- What is being adapted?
- How good is what is being adapted?
- If nothing is adapted how is the orginal source material?
- How well was it executed both technically and aesthetically?
- How did the studio handle marketing and distribution (like Blue Ray improvements)
- How much impact did the studio have on the anime scene in general?
- How many good titles has the Studio created?
- How many bad titles were they responsible for?
- Who were the people responsible for the good ones and are they part of the team?
- Who were the people responsible for the bad ones and are they part of the team?
- Does the studio ever try to go out of their comfort zone and do a lot of different things or just take the easy route?
If you take all this into consideration you can maybe derive the good studios and the bad ones. For example I think Madhouse is a fantastic studio because they made not only a lot of varied shows (and I mean also a LOT) they also have been around very long and have decent production values for most of their shows. However Madhouse isn’t really famous for one person working with them. I mean they did animate all the Satoshi Kon movies and also the Mamoru Hosoda ones. But neither are relevant now for the shows they create.
When I go over the list and think a bit I come up with Studio Zexcs which hasn’t really been responsible for master pieces. They have shitty production values and aren’t really important at all in the anime landscape. But they did do Aku no Hana which was at least not the “easy route” like Kyouto Animation likes to take.
Maybe in the end we should just leave Studios be, while some have a bad track record like Studio Deen or Arms or Gonzo, they all hit or miss sometimes. A studio which creates shows I usually enjoy is JC Staff and I know more people who hate JC Staff than like it…