Top 5: Anime by Studio J.C.Staff (updated)

Tuesday's Top 5

Another studio list. So far I’ve done fun titles by Bones and favourite works by P.A Works but today I turn my attention to Studio J.C.Staff mostly because while they aren’t my favourite studio and I find their work a bit hit and miss, they’ve produced a fair number of solid titles in my anime collection at this point. That said, other than sequels I haven’t found a lot of shows I love from them in recent years (though watched a number of them).

I’ll even forgive them for season 2 of One Punch Man.

I’m ranking these titles purely on the number of times I’ve rewatched them.

What are your favourite anime from studio J.C.Staff?

Please Note: There may be some spoilers for the anime below.

Honourable mentions this week go to Kaichou wa Maid Sama and Golden Time. I love both of these stories but they just haven’t had the same amount of rewatches as some of the other anime on the list.

Number 5: Bakuman

bakuman.png

The story of the two guys who think they are going to become famous mangaka and have an anime is actually really compelling. There are some issues that come up with how females are represented and the like, but mostly this is just a really interesting look at the industry as we follow the two main characters through a fairly gruelling journey.

On paper this story shouldn’t work given how long we spend watching the characters brain storm and work in their studio. It should be boring, and yet it is fascinating and they give the entire thing a very shonen feel without going too far into the crazy and unbelievable. However, more than just being a story of trying to become the best, this is a story about the characters and they really sell the work as you become deeply fixated on whether they succeed or fail and their relationships with the other characters.



Number 4: A Certain Scientific Railgun

Railgun.jpg

The whole franchise with A Certain Magical Index seasons 1 and 2 and Railgun 1 and 2, really should hold this place together. I like these stories but they are riddled with problems so I tend to start a season and then get distracted and that stretches the watch time out.

However, once I’m done I always remember the series fondly which is why I’ll rewatch it again in a few months time because I seem to forget about the pacing and character issues. That said, A Certain Scientific Railgun season 1 is my favourite so far and a lot of that comes down to the four main girls who manage to really charm without being overly cute and annoying.

Number 3: Heaven’s Memo Pad

Heaven.png

Apparently I’m yet to review this anime so I’ll definitely have to fix that. I love Heaven’s Memo Pad. That isn’t actually saying it is a good anime, but it just hits a certain spot when I’m in the right mood for it. Pretty much you know the feeling you used to get as a teenager where you want to just shut yourself away and right bad poetry for a day or two, that’s the mood you need to be in to truly appreciate Heaven’s Memo Pad.

It is heavy dark melodrama that takes itself very seriously but it manages to bring about some really great character moments and force the audience to confront some fairly heavy issues. It is trying really hard to hit you with feels and when you aren’t in the right mood it just kind of comes off as trying too hard, but when you are in the right frame of mind it is kind of perfect. Be prepared for issues involving suicide, social isolation, betrayal, drug use, gang violence, and so on and so forth as well as an overly cutely designed detective at the centre of the story.

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Number 2: Ghost Hunt

GHunt1

I love Ghost Hunt but I will admit the reason it does get rewatched so often is the episodic nature of the story. Each case only covers a handful of episodes so you can just pick a case to watch without watching the entire anime.

Plus, the English dub works really well for most characters (John the apparent Australian priest is another story) so this is an anime I can watch when I’m really tired and don’t want to deal with subs or trying to pick up the Japanese.

Its your basic introduce a mystery, send in the team and investigate, figure out the cause and solve kind of thing but the cases are quite diverse and they usually manage some genuinely tense moments along the way. I also really like the characters in the story, or at least I like watching them given I think most of them would be really annoying in real life.

Number 1: Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

Anime by Studio J.C.Staff - Is It Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon.

This is definitely a newer title for my collection but it is one I very quickly became addicted to Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. As in I watched it through, told my friend they had to watch it, and immediately binged the entire thing again over two or three days. It is a regular title for me to select when I need a pick me up. It is fun, energetic, has some awesome fight sequences, and it is really hard to feel bad about things when watching Bell run about so determined to reach his dreams.

I absolutely love this silly little adventure story and will happily watch it over and over again, and with season two and three out now there’s even more to love. I’m also not even going to touch why the spin-off was an incredible waste of time.

Anyway, that’s my list this week. Feel free to tell me your favourite titles from Studio J.C.Staff in the comments below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


How SSSS.Dynazenon Represents Everything Undesirable About Studio Trigger Anime

Dynazenon 1

Fans of Studio Trigger will probably disagree with my points: feel free.

This isn’t a rant or a hate post. Studio Trigger has put out some big name anime and even as someone who mostly has not enjoyed their body of work I can see that their work isn’t garbage. From an animation and visual perspective most of their work is actually quite creative and beautiful. Looking at their list of works, a large number are science fiction or fantasy focused with Darling in the Franxx, Kiznaiver and even BNA (which I made it through exactly one and a half episodes of before I surrendered and gave up).

Actually, my favourite Trigger anime remains Uchuu Patrol Luluco which as a comedic short managed to keep me relatively entertained for its short run-time.

So no, this post isn’t going to tell you that Studio Trigger is hopeless and that people shouldn’t watch their anime.

Rather, it is a post for me to explain why, despite their being plenty of good things about their anime, the vast majority have never hit their mark with me and why after only watching one episode of SSSS.Dynazenon I decided that there was no point in my even attempting to review it because I would end up saying much the same things I always say when I attempt to review works by Trigger.

Which makes me wonder what it is that Trigger anime do that put me off or leave me feeling disengaged. Rather than leaving this question unanswered I decided to watch the opening scenes of SSSS.Dynazenon again and to actually identify what it was that was stopping me from getting immersed in the world, for really caring about the characters, and why my usual red flags were going up around a story that was probably going to tie itself in a knot and then leave me unsatisfied with the conclusion.

Actually, that last point is easy to answer. It’s Studio Trigger. Trigger definitely goes by the rule of cool rather than logic when writing narratives and I’ve learned not to expect things to come together nicely, or even sensibly, but rather to expect a logic breaking twist just when you think things might resolve.

Studio Trigger - First look at SSSS.Dynazenon
First look at SSSS.Dynazenon

Here’s the first look at SSSS.Dynazenon. Already the audience is distanced from the characters. Rather than seeing them we’re seeing shadowy reflections of them. We’re dropped into a conversation that is already in progress with no context. While this is just an establishing scene and it is establishing a group dynamic and the normality of the current situation, it does nothing for making me care about the characters we’re about to meet.

And yes, that is reading a lot into a single opening shot and making a lot of generalisations about Studio Trigger anime from it, particularly when so many anime open with narration or drop us in medias res, particularly mid-battle, before explaining themselves, however it means that these first few moments aren’t hooking me in and getting me interested.

I am noting how pretty the water looks with the light and shadows playing on it and wondering why the rock’s shadow is all squiggly while the human reflections are lacking distortion, but what I’m not noting is anything about the plot or characters that might make me keen to see where it goes.



We then cut from that scene (with no further explanation) to a shot through a window or a man talking to or yelling at a girl who walks away. We don’t hear the dialogue or see either character clearly so again, no real need to connect here. Just look at the pretty pictures. And sure, the scene gets context later when we learn that a senior student got mad at a girl who stood him up, but why show us this scene here.

We could either flash back to it when its relevant, or actually see the scene play out to learn about the girl’s character. Instead we get a silhouette show that feels disconnected and then we cut off to a night sky (how did it get to night-time) and a hand dropping some sparkly things over a city. Multiple cuts of the sky with sparkles, people walking, etc, before we focus in on one of the landed sparkles.

I am going to point out that Studio Trigger anime always look amazing even if I don’t end up liking them.

Dynazenon 2
Hello little glistening thing – what are you?

And this is why I can’t just write-off the works of Studio Trigger. As much as there are a lot of things in their anime that bother me, they throw in things that intrigue and make me want to know. I want to know what this sparkling thing is and why it is here. I know I’ll probably not find out or the answer won’t make sense, but I’ve followed this sparkle from hand in the sky, falling across the city, to now landing here in the street.

This sparkle is so far my biggest connection to this story and I actually do care and want to know more but in a few more minutes I’ll probably have forgotten about this because the SSSS.Dynazenon isn’t actually ready to do anything with the sparkles just yet.

Instead we now see Yomogi (one of the main characters) collecting his pay-packet. He’s asked, out of the blue and with seemingly no context, whether he’s trying to help out his family but he shrugs that off and claims he just wanted some extra spending money. It was almost like Trigger saw the opportunity to create a down-on-his-luck boy who helps his family trope, set-it-up and then smacked it down hard all in the space of two lines. However, that leaves us without any clues to who Yomogi is. Is he actually the trope but lying to hide it? Is he something entirely different? In which case, what?

Given his clothes I’m assuming Yomogi was the one in the reflection earlier so this is his second scene and so far I’ve worked out he works (not sure doing what because we didn’t see him working, just leaving work).

Right now, I know some people are asking what I am expecting minutes into a story.

So let me compare with the opening scene of Mars Red.

Mars
Whose hand is that?

Like SSSS.Dynazenon, we get an ambiguous opening shot. Initially just the brown background and then the disembodied hand that glides through it. Where Mars Red differed was what happened next. Rather than cutting away to yet more ambiguous scenes, Mars Red establishes a character. The woman who will ultimately be at the centre of the episode. An actress who was caught in a horrific accident and should have died but woke as a vampire. And they establish her character in this first scene as she performs the lines from her play.

We also establish that something is not quite right through the music and through the reflection on the glass in front of her with a man in uniform seemingly staring at her. As she continues to perform, we don’t know exactly who she is or why she is performing and we don’t know who the man is, but a relationship is established between them and the audience gets a sense of who she is. This was ambiguity that made me want to know more and drew me into a story. It wasn’t cutting away and revealing nothing just to create a sense of false intrigue.

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By the time it is revealed that she is a vampire and her innocent seeming question of asking the uniformed man to be her co-star I’m already hooked into the story. It takes only a minute to make me care about these two characters, one of whom has not spoken in the entirety of the opening scene.

Meanwhile, at exactly one minute in as well, we’re cutting away again from Yomogi and to a character called Gauma. He’s walking up a hill. Why? Don’t know. What’s he like? Fashionably challenged – well I don’t actually know but there’s something going on with that outfit.

Dynazenon 3
Are we at sun-rise or sun-set? Hard to tell so far.

Again, the art is gorgeous here. I mean, look at the water, the sky, the contrast to the shadows in the foreground… It is beautiful to look at. The sound design is gorgeous to as we get kind of a background of low traffic with a few bird chirps (which kind of makes me think maybe this is sun-rise but I’m not sure).

Trust me when I say I want to like this anime. And yet…

Gauma walks away and we cut once again to Yomogi and now we’re discussing school projects. As his group crosses a bridge we draw back and see them only from a distance as the inane chatter of teens fills the subtitles. Again, I get we’re establishing the base line of normal life but this would be easier if they’d given me any chance to connect with any character so far.

We then see the girl sitting atop whatever that structure is and singing. She’s looking away from us. The kids talking about her are looking away. It is like they are doing everything possible to keep us distanced from the scene.

Dynazenon 4
Are they going to school? In which case, won’t she be late if she’s sitting there singing?

The kids discuss a rumour about the girl, Minami, and follow it up with ‘it’s just a rumour’ before Yomogi, in his first I’m going to be a main character kind of moments claims he can’t see her that way. To which one of the girls in his group tells him he’s so pure and they walk on. I’m guessing this was an attempt at characterisation. Yomogi is the nice guy who looks for the best in people? Maybe? It’s all a bit random and nothing has been given any time to stick.

What it probably comes down to here is that I don’t like how this story is being introduced to me. I don’t like that intrigue only exists here because of a lack of coherence, that characters appear but aren’t in any way established, and that we keep cutting from moment to moment and scene to scene without anything really being added of substance to the plot.

In under three minutes we went from what I assume was the group of kids going home after school, to a night shot with the sparkling things, to Yomogi working and I guess this was also night time, to another random guy in the morning, to the kids walking back to school, and for all that nearly a full day has been portrayed as passing I still know nothing.

Even shows that drop you straight into a battle give you something even if it is only which side wants to kill the other.

Sure it looks great and I know that as the episode goes on we learn that Minami’s rumour is a little exaggerated and Gauma and Yomogi will interact and so on and so forth but as a viewer I’m already detached. There’s no narrative hook in the first half of this episode and by the time we kind of get around to it I’m already so disconnected I don’t care. There’s no character hook in these opening scenes with us learning as little as possible about any of these characters despite repeated sightings. By the time we start getting a sense of these characters I’m already wondering what other shows are at episode 3 to watch.

I get this is my opinion and that some people really do enjoy Studio Trigger anime and some people seem to be enjoying this anime, but for me SSSS.Dynazenon has kind of made it clear to me that I’m just not into Studio Trigger anime and while I keep thinking I might like the next one, each one seems to wear down my patience faster than the last.

So I’ll ask my readers their thoughts on Dynazenon, studio trigger, or just ask if there are any anime studios that produced anime you consistently like or dislike and why?

Images in this article from:

  • SSSS.Dynazenon. Dir. A Amemiya. Trigger. 2021.
  • Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Top 5 Anime By 8bit Studio

Tuesday's Top 5

When looking a bit more closely at the That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime anime I started wondering if there were any other anime by the same studio I liked. Turns out, not really, but I did manage to find enough for a list. While I will admit 8bit studio doesn’t have quite the catalogue of some studios, as I scrolled through the titles I couldn’t help but note that even the anime I’d watched from the list weren’t ones I had particularly fond memories of, with one or two exceptions.

Still, I have been wanting to look more at the studios, directors and voice actors in anime for awhile so this seemed like a good place to start and as always I’d love to know what you would have put on your list.

My top 5 anime by 8bit Studio.

Honourable Mention: Comet Lucifer

Alright, if you ever read my review of this one you know I didn’t much like it so I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel to have an honourable mention. On the bright side, it isn’t unwatchable and I did finish and review it so I guess that gives it a win. The set up is actually kind of interesting, its just that the story takes a lot of weird twists and turns. Still, Comet Lucifer isn’t exactly high level.

Comet Lucifer

Number 5: Knight’s And Magic

Here it is, the title that doesn’t quite understand how apostrophes work or really get pacing or plot development. On the other hand, much like Comet Lucifer from the honourable mention, Knight’s and Magic does have a really good core idea it is just the execution of it that doesn’t end up panning out. I think a lot of us watched the whole season just hoping it would pull itself together and it just never did and I’m still not quite over the flying mechanical dragon they pulled out for the climax.

Knight's and Magic - Ernesti
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Number 4: Tokyo Ravens

Now this is an interesting title. I haven’t actually reviewed it at this point because I’m never very certain how I feel about it. Again, very cool concept and a fairly decent cast of characters on display. Where it falls down again is on execution with the pacing going from incredibly slow to skipping over things and tripping over itself sometimes within the one episode, but more than that, the main character is one of those ‘chosen’ one style characters who isn’t half as great as he’d like to be and he seems to be angry at the world because of it. For all the things I like about Tokyo Ravens I find him fairly hard to get into.

Tokyo Ravens

Number 3: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Another anime I’m very on the fence about. At the story came to a close last week I’m really thinking through where I stand on this anime. I can’t deny it was fun, because I definitely had some fun watching, but even now, when there are still extra episodes to air, I’m struggling to remember any particular detail from the story because nothing other than the main character is a slime, is really sticking out. Still, a well made production and very relaxing with a few laughs and a few decent fight sequences so it would be hard to say that there was anything actually wrong with it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 19 Rimuru

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Number 2: Shounen Maid

Now this I actually really liked. While not an amazing anime by any means and certainly you could make the scenario a lot creepier than it is with the main character moving into his relative’s house and working as a maid, but the series is actually just kind of cute and charming. The relationship between the two main characters is more heart warming as they both help the other to become more rounded people, and it is all just sweet. The plot doesn’t go anywhere particularly fast but if you just want something that is sweet and a bit of fun, Shounen Maid will definitely work.

Shounen Maid

Number 1: How To Keep A Mummy

Another anime without much of a plot but it makes up for it in sheer adorableness. I actually didn’t realise this was made by 8bit but just seeing the art for it again made me smile. Yes, cute is the rule of the day, but there are some tender moments for any pet owner to enjoy, not to mention some laughs and a few more serious antics with the supernatural creatures. All and all though, this one is just a lot of cute bliss and one that is well worth taking the time to watch.

How To Keep a Mummy

So those are my picks but which is your favourite anime from 8bit studio?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Top 5: Anime Studios

Tuesday's Top 5

While I’ve counted down favourite anime from particularly anime studios before, I have never just done a list of my top 5 studios. That’s probably because as much as there are some studios that consistently produce enjoyable anime, they all miss the mark at some point, so it isn’t as though I watch everything by any particular studio.

Still, there are certainly some studios that I’m more likely to give a go to their work than others even if it doesn’t seem like it will be something I’ll end up loving. As always I’d love to know your choices for the list so please share your favourite anime studios (and your favourite shows by them) in the comments below.

Give a shout out to your favourite anime studio.

Please note, there will be no spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Toei Animation (Sailor Moon) and Madhouse (lots of great stuff but just as many shows that miss the mark for me so just seeing Madhouse attached to a project isn’t enough to get me really excited).

Number 5: J.C. Staff

There are so many great anime that have come from J.C. Staff, though I’ll admit a lot of these titles are ones I don’t mind but I’m not nuts over (with the exception of DanMachi which I am totally in love with). This studio is prolific  and the vast majority of their titles I end up at least trying even if I don’t end up super into them. What is great is that they cover such a huge range of genres and styles so unlike some studios their anime haven’t all kind of blended into being much the same.

Number 4: White Fox

Unlike J.C Staff, White Fox doesn’t have quite the anime catalogue behind them. But what they lack in quantity they certainly make up for in quality. There are some truly impressive titles out by this studio including Steins;Gate. They also brought out Goblin Slayer and that was kind of fun. While not every anime on their line up has struck gold (Grimoire of Zero I’m looking right at you), I’m still at least tempted to check out a show with this studio’s name attached to it.

Number 3: P.A Works

While it’s kind of tempting to say that P.A Works lack variety in their small line up, there’s certainly some fun to be had going through their titles. While mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for high school settings and adolescent drama, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

I think what I love most about the anime from P.A Works is that there’s a lot of work put into the aesthetics of the anime. Whether its the visuals or the music, everything kind of builds whatever tone the anime or that scene is trying to accomplish. While it might seem a little overwrought emotionally at times, I really enjoy the look and feel of these anime.



Number 2: Brain’s Base

They gave us Natsume Yuujinchou… Do I need to elaborate further as to why I love this studio?

Actually, I don’t think Brain’s Base gets enough discussion. We regularly here about Madhouse, A1, P.A Works, etc, but Brain’s Base is like this incredibly hard work quiet achiever that puts out anime that don’t reach everyone, but fans of each of their show’s are fiercely loyal fans.

There’s something about the stories here that grab whoever the core audience is and makes them really feel something for the work. Again, not saying they are flawless (Endride anyone?), but I’ll certainly take the time to read about shows coming out from this studio and would go so far as to give most of them at least a go.

Number 1: Bones

There’s absolutely no way it was not going to be Bones. Sure, Bones has its less amazing moments, but between having created almost all of my favourite anime of all time, and consistently putting out titles that are just great fun and have great animation, I have to really love this studio.

It also takes on a range of genres and nails them whether it is romance (Snow White With the Red Hair), comedy (Ouran High School Host Club), action (My Hero Academia), sci-fi (Darker Than Black), or even recreations of Shakespeare (Zetsuen no Tempest). So there is something for nearly everyone somewhere in their catalogue.

That’s it from me but I’d love to know your favourite studios and why so feel free to leave a comment below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 7

30 day anime challenge copy e1495940892299

30-day-anime-challenge

Here we are at Day 7 and we are looking at my favourite animation studio. Given I’ve done two top 5 lists on specific studios it is probably pretty clear who I’m going to pick. Definitely Studio Bones. If you missed my top 5 fun series from Bones you should definitely check out that post.

But why do I like them so much?

Mostly I’m fairly indifferent to the studio that produced something (or at least I used to be), however I noticed that there are certain studios that come up over and over again when I look at some of my favourite titles. Bones just happens to have produced a large number of my absolute favourite anime ever. As a direct result, if someone tells me Bones is involved in something, I’ll at least give it a look. That isn’t a guarantee I’ll like it. There are definitely titles from Bones that have fallen kind of flat for me.

But with titles like Darker Than Black, Soul Eater, Wolf’s Rain, Snow White with the Red Hair, My Hero Academia, Ouran High School Host Club, Noragami, and so many others, Bones was an easy choice for this question.

Which studio would you have chosen?


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