Strangely, I don’t know that much about Madhouse, despite it being one of my favourite studios…
If I were to rate my favourite studios, Bones comes first but Madhouse comes second. Even if I do have a few Bones titles that I haven’t outright enjoyed (lookin’ at you, Heroman!), Bones has a real panache for action and I’ve already vouched for why I love action. They also do fluid character motions, regardless of whether the art style is more cartoon-like, as it is in Hisone to Masotan, or more detailed like on Bungou Stray Dogs.
Where does that leave Madhouse, though? They specialise in pretty much every single genre to have graced the small screen and they do it with a consistently great end product. Interestingly, even though Madhouse shows run the gamut from the horrific Parasyte – the Last Maxim – to the uber-sweet Cardcaptor Sakura, there seem to be a lot of sports-based shows in their repertoire…I mean, between a bunch of titles like Hajime no Ippo, One Outs and even Prince of Stride Alternative, it’s only noticeable when you look at a list of Madhouse anime, but once you notice it you can’t unsee it.
The fact Madhouse have done so much is pretty much just a testament to how long they’ve been around – the studio was founded in 1972 (Anime News Network n.d.) after Mushi Pro went bankrupt (Honey’s Anime 2016), so it’s not as old as, say, Toei, but it’s still a pretty big veteran in the industry due to its staying power. Speaking of veterans, Madhouse’s founder Masao Maruyama seems to have a big hand in the foundation of studios, since he also founded MAPPA, which I haven’t covered yet in this post series, and Studio M2, which currently only has Onihei to its name, so I can’t say anything else about them (Anime News Network 2016). Furthermore, after Mahou Shoujo Ore episode 5 (2018) mentioned Suginami is the base of most anime operations, it’s interesting to note Madhouse is stationed in Shin-nakano (Anime News Network n.d.), which is within a very short travel distance from there…but on the other hand, they were previously stationed there (Madhouse n.d.)…so maybe there is no point in mentioning the location, after all…?
It’s back to highlighting top-tier titles for me, so one of my favourite Madhouse titles is undoubtedly Death Parade. As a mostly unknown product with the only precedent being Death Billiards to vouch for it at the time, the show really allowed Madhouse to strut their stuff in the visual department and Tachikawa to show the wider world what he was made of. (Of course, Mob Psycho 100 proved director Tachikawa wasn’t a one or two-hit wonder, but again, this was 2015.) The ice-skating scene in the penultimate episode and the scene involving Decim’s confrontation with Ginti really showcase how a good studio under a good director does wonders.
So, what do you think about Madhouse and their titles? Which do you think has more influence on a show – the director, the studio…or are they equal in setting how a show is?
Anime News Network 2016. Onihei Crime Reports in Edo Historical Novels Get TV Anime. Available from: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-08-30/onihei-crime-reports-in-edo-historical-novels-get-tv-anime/.105941
Anime News Network n.d. Madhouse. Available from: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/company.php?id=48
Honey’s Anime 2016. Top 10 Anime Made By Madhouse [Updated Best Recommendations]. Available from: https://honeysanime.com/top-10-madhouse-anime-best-recommendations/
Madhouse n.d. Corporate Profile. Available from: http://www.madhouse.co.jp/english/company/corporate_profile.html
Mahou Shoujo Ore 2018, television program, AT-X, Tokyo, May 7th.