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

50 thoughts on “Top 5: Anime Studios

  1. My favorites are a mix of conventional and unconventional choices, but some of them are shared with your list

    KyoAni – Most of their stuff just hits my wheelhouse perfectly. They’ve produced five of my top 15 favorite TV anime and two of my top 10 favorite anime movies, and while I haven’t watched everything they’ve made, the only show of theirs that I’ve dropped so far was Phantom World.

    Colorido – I’ve been a fan of Hiroyasu Ishida ever since his indie days, and he put Colorido on my radar when he joined up with them a few years ago. They’re a fairly young studio, less than a decade old, and most of their output is short films and commercials (so far), but I’ve enjoyed almost everything of theirs that I’ve watched, even their non-Ishida works. They also get bonus points because they share KyoAni and Ghibli’s philosophy of treating their workers like human beings.

    Bones – Now this is interesting, because I haven’t actually watched a lot of recent Bones. I’m an older anime fan, and it’s their early to mid-2000s output that I really know well. Angelic Layer, Kurau Phantom Memory, FMA, Darker Than Black, Scrapped Princess, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Wolf’s Rain…all really good to great shows, and all came out last decade. Somehow the only new show of theirs that I’ve watched in the last five years was season 1 of Bungo Stray Dogs, which was fun but hardly an all-time classic. I do want to start MHA soon, though.

    JC Staff – I once organized my anime DVD collection on my shelves according to studio, and I was surprised to find out just how many JC Staff anime I actually own. There were seven or eight in total, including Utena, Kare Kano, R.O.D., and of course Toradora (Flying Witch joined them as of a few months ago), and that doesn’t count their other shows I’ve enjoyed but haven’t gotten around to buying like Food Wars and Danmachi. Of course, they’ve also put out plenty of junk, but with so many hits for me, it’s a lot easier to forgive the misses.

    Gokumi – I kind of look at them as Gonzo’s heirs, since they were founded by a bunch of ex-Gonzo staff. While their hit-to-miss ratio for me is lower than most of the studios above, they’re also responsible for animating two of my absolute favorite franchises to air in this decade (Yuki Yuna and Saki), so that pretty much ensures that their projects will always at least get a look from me.

    Also considered: Actas, Madhouse (largely for their older works and for animating Satoshi Kon’s movies), Creators in Pack

    1. Thanks for the detailed response. Some interesting choices and reasons.
      I also like a lot of Bones’ older work, and while some of the new work is hit and miss, there are still some really great titles coming from them.

  2. I feel like I’m the only one who is going to mention Sunrise. For obvious reasons of course.

    I’m glad Production I.G. was included by some people. Then I’ve also been in a Gainax mode recently.

    I’m not surprised by Bones. I love them too.

  3. I’d go with White Fox, Madhouse and Shaft as some of my top picks. Steins;Gate brought me to White Fox, NGNL to Madhouse and Kagerou Project to Shaft. Amazing visuals for sure (Shaft being abstract for that, but I like it)

  4. Bones is my favourite with Madhouse second. I feel like I passed on Brain’s Base simply because Aoharu x Machinegun could’ve been a lot better if it weren’t so wonky-looking in a lot of places…but I do have a few Brain’s Base productions I like (Gakuen Babysitters, Servamp plus the first episode of Mawaru Penguindrum which I saw recently).

  5. Ironically Madhouse is actually my favorite anime studio. They made a good chunck of my favorite animes; Death Note, Cardcaptor Sakura, and both seasons of Kaiji all of which I adore. They also have the misfortune of animating the worst anime I’ve currently seen called Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School).

    I also like Bones output since they usually are more hit than miss for me. Stuff like Noragami keeps me coming back, and checking out whatever they do. Out of the ones I’ve seen from them, the original Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my all time favorite anime. So matter what junk they might pump out, I’ve always got the FMA series they gave me to remind me why I like them so much.

    J.C. Staff is another studio that’s always on my radar. They haven’t any of my favorite animes, but I did like the first season of Bakuman a lot. Their catalog of anime is just very bizarre. I never expected them to be behind stuff like Cat Soup, and Garzey’s Wings. Whenever I see their name on a anime I’m always surprised. Although, their output is what I like about them. If I don’t know what to watch, I’ll pick something from them because their stuff is never boring for me to watch.

    Only other studio I can think of from the top of my head I like is Studio Ghibli. They typically make movies I find enjoyable, even if their storytelling is occasionally sloppy in places.

    1. Poor Irregular, I quite enjoyed that one and I have a friend who really fell in love with it. Mostly I liked the idea of magic and technology being fused together, though I will admit execution and pacing in that series left a lot to be desired. Still, cool concept.
      Thanks for sharing your picks and your reasons.

    1. Me too. I was gonna say, save for Brain’s Base (swapping it for Ufotable cause I’m cliche and Fate/Zero), we pretty much have the same favorites, albeit in a different order perhaps. Nice!

      1. Not being a Fate/Zero fan, I’ve had an interesting relationship with Ufotable as a studio and while I’ll admit some of their stuff looks quite nice, and some just kind of visually puts me off, I’ve had very little success with their anime in terms of finding things I really get into. Their name on a project usually sends me a small warning signal that I’m probably going to get grabbed early on, suckered in on some aspect of the story, and then left fairly disappointed by the end.

    2. I think when I was just thinking about studios that I’ve really loved the majority of their offerings, Brain’s Base was actually one that there legitimately were only a few of their titles that I didn’t love when I watched them. While some of them didn’t stick with me after watching them once and others ended up becoming favourites, I think there’s something fairly special about a lot of their work.

  6. Thumbs up for White Fox’s Katanagatari!

    But since I go by my favorite anime, my list would probably be like-
    1. *based* Shaft
    2. Madhouse
    3. White Fox
    4. Bones
    5. feel

    1. I think it surprises me more when I like something by Shaft (though the couple of titles by them that I like, I really love).
      Thanks for sharing your picks for favourite studio.

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen all that much by feel, or at least I haven’t paid enough attention if I have, so I didn’t even really consider that one.
      Thanks for sharing your list of favourites.

  7. Some very interesting choices in here, particularly Brains Base which isn’t a choice I see often in other people’s top lists.

    I also really like Brains Base, but unfortunately they seem to have gone past their prime for me. I miss the days where they produced the likes of Baccano and Durarara, but I guess they’ve just moved in another direction that doesn’t appeal to me as much. Still, they did make plenty of classics, and their current output, while not to my tastes specifically, isn’t necessarily bad.

    I also really love Bones, and recently their output has been better than ever before, with their adaptation of My Hero Academia being absolutely solid and near-perfect. And of course, they’ve got the classics such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater which still hold up to this day.

    Some of my favourites would probably be:

    A-1 Pictures: I feel like they get a lot of unnecessary hate and actually love a lot of their shows. SAO is a classic for me and The Seven Deadly Sins and Fairy Tail are good action Shounen shows that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years.

    Toei Animation: An industry veteran and it shows. They don’t always have the best animation quality, but when they choose to go “all out” they do a mighty good job of it. Plus they always seem to have a sixth sense of where the Anime industry is going and appeal to what people want really well. And they did World Trigger, which I loved.

    Madhouse: A good chunk of my favourite Anime are Madhouse shows and I love how they commit to the source material as much as possible, and try their best to steer clear of Anime original endings. They’re also one of the few studios who will adapt Manga that ended instead of picking up half finished Manga. And their animation quality is among the best in the industry.

    Bones: For the same reasons as you mostly 😀

    There’s more, but I think this comment is long enough.

    This was a good read! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing your favourites. Toei do have some fantastic stuff in their line up and some real classics so are definitely worth noting.

    2. Well, the Brain’s Base responsible for Durara (and Natsume) is now Shuka, a studio which was formed in 2013. Around that time Brainsbase got a lot less interesting. I consider Isshukan Friends (2014) their swan song. They still have good shows after that (Kamigami no Asobi, Gakuen Babysitters…), but nothing that special. Compare this to the only non-Brainsbase-franchise Shuka has ever done, 91 Days, and there’s just a huge possibility that the special Brains Base has branched out. I still remember my excitement for Brains Base waning, post 2014. Before that date, you could rely on a show by them to be at least interesting (with some exceptions: Akikan?). After Isshukan Friends, them being good was less because of them taking on interesting projects, and more because of them doing a good job with good material – which is something a lot of studios can do.

    1. They popped into my head initially and then I went through their history and other than a handful of big profile anime, there’s a lot on their line up that I either didn’t think was very good or I had just never heard of.

  8. Nice list, but I’m surprised Ghibli wasn’t even mentioned! Love that studio a lot and been watching all their films lately. You’ve got other great choices in their place though so it’s a great list anyway!

    1. I have to admit, other than one or two films, I’m really not a Ghibli fan. I get that lots of people love the work, but for me hearing something is from Ghibli is more likely to make me delay seeing it rather than rush to it. That said, the Ghibli museum in Japan was pretty fantastic.

      1. Yeah I used to feel that way too but now I just like them. I can’t explain the change really. I’m fairly used to being the weird one not liking Ghibli so this is pretty strange for me!

        Not heard or seen the Ghibli museum but it sounds very good, like the kind of thing you’d actually want to go too!

        1. It is an amazing experience so if you ever get to Japan, definitely go. Only issue is you can’t take photos inside. There’s a few things outside to photograph but really it is just a fantastic place to be in.

          1. That’s pretty bad (but fair enough) they probably have some pictures to show what it looks like but not much. I might look online for them!

  9. I’m not as familiar with anime studios I’m afraid (here I go feeling like a total noob again) but if I were to add one it would be Production I.G. I just loved Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor and of course Pyscho Pass. Which is why I really love this studio.
    The one I would pick from your list is P.A. Works who also made a few of my favorite animes 😊

      1. Problem with being that prolific is you have plenty of anime on your line up that don’t appeal amongst the anime that someone really likes. So seeing something is from Madhouse doesn’t make me automatically want to check something out, though I have watched a ton of shows from them.

  10. This is wonderful. You hit on some of the best anime studios out there! I may be a bit biased toward P.A. Works since they did Angel Beats!, but I truly love what they bring to the table. The aforementioned Angel Beats!; Another; Charlotte; A Lull in the Sea (which I actually enjoyed); Canaan (not sure how many people actually liked that, but I did); and Glasslip (which I never got around to but should).

    While all of the studios do good work, some great work, P.A. Works just holds a special place in my heart.

    1. There are definitely some great anime by P.A Works. There’s also a number I don’t like, but as you said, the anime they make that you like end up being something pretty special.

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