Ode to Anime Studios – Kyoto Animation

…for once, this post series can actually be relevant to current discussions…although that has its own set of inherent risks…

Kyoto Animation, known as “KyoAni” for short, is known for distinctive visuals, its fair work practices and, within the anime community, it has some degree of infamy for its fans…which is why I’ve been so reluctant to even tackle this studio in this post series. As you may have heard, Kyoto Animation’s studio 1 was attacked by a 41-year-old arsonist who believes he was plagiarised (British Broadcasting Corporation 2019)…

Sidenote: I’m typing this on the day after the fire after I decided to switch my post to KyoAni, so maybe when this post goes out a week later my information will be outdated. However, I’m doing my best to have correct information under the constraints my sudden post switch gave me, so wish me luck!

Kyoto Animation was formed in 1981 from former Mushi Pro staff (these Mushi Pro guys again…now there’s a studio I need to cover…). Their current head is Hideaki Hatta – he’s been there since the beginning – and they have both their title studio (studio 1) and one in Tokyo (presumably studio 2). Notably, their staff at studio 1 were mostly women (Anime News Network [ANN] 2019) and the studio started with women working on in-betweens (Sakuga Blog 2018), so it makes sense that the studio as a whole was instrumental for women’s work in anime production. Studio Colorido (which I also hope to spotlight someday…after I can watch something of theirs) has some ex-KyoAni staff in their group as well (Sakuga Blog 2018), which further cements their status as one of the more progressive studios in both the artform and as a workplace. (Unfortunately, they also had Yamakan – aka Yutaka Yamamoto – among their ranks at one point, but the good news is they kicked him out after a while (Sakuga Blog 2018).)

Notably, although they’ve adapted from manga before with K-On!, Lucky Star etc., their common practice is to adapt from novels. They ran their own award program where winning novels would be turned into anime, providing us notably with Violet Evergarden (grand prize winner in 5th awards) (ANN 2016). They’ve also been a quality provider of viral content over the years between the Hare Hare Yukai, Motteke! Sailor Fuku and the infamous “swimming anime”, although they also are pointed to as the harbingers of a boom in moe around the turn of the last decade between K-On! and Lucky Star.

Surprisingly, as I checked my list to add to a thread made to show solidarity for the incident on AniList, it turns out I’ve only finished Hyouka and Koe no Katachi from them…and I’ve already dedicated posts to both of them. The other works from them I either hadn’t finished (Haruhi, Clannad) or didn’t count as KyoAni works (Pom Poko). That said, if I had to pick one of them to spotlight, it would be Koe no Katachi. Even though Yoshitoki Oima is the one we should thank for the storyline – and Oima does have a more complete version of the story, compared to what had to be cut out for the movie – the melancholy feeling of the work seems appropriate to highlight here.

My condolences to those who were affected and for those who have survived, may you make a full recovery.


References

Anime News Network 2016, No Grand Prize Winners, Honorable Mentions Announced for 7th Kyoto Animation Awards, viewed 19th July 2019, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-05-18/no-grand-prize-winners-honorable-mentions-announced-for-7th-kyoto-animation-awards/.102243

Anime News Network 2019, Fire Department: 33 People Confirmed Dead in Kyoto Animation Fire (Updated), viewed 19th July 2019, https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2019-07-18/fire-department-33-people-confirmed-dead-in-kyoto-animation-fire/.149102

British Broadcasting Corporation 2019, Kyoto Animation Fire: Arson attack at Japanese anime studio kills 33, viewed 19th July 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49027178

Sakuga Blog 2018, The Evolution of Kyoto Animation: A Unique Anime Studo and Its Consistent Vision, viewed 19th July 2019, https://blog.sakugabooru.com/2018/08/25/the-evolution-of-kyoto-animation-a-unique-anime-studio-and-its-consistent-vision/

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