“_____ studio is the best at animation. There is no doubt.”
“_____ does it again! They are the best!”
“X studio is the best. Y studio wishes it was this good.”
Being in any part of anitwitter, you more than likely stumbled on this conversation at least a few times. The “This anime studio is the best” conversation. And yes, while we all do have our a studio that we think is one of the best, and vice-versa, I say why have this talk at all? Why not just enjoy what is being thrown out? There are a ton of studios out there that make a bunch of anime, and all of them have a bunch of different styles to them. You can’t really make any case for which one is best. However, I can make a case for enjoying any of them.
I’ll try to make this short. There are a bunch of big name and not-as-known named studios out there. From A-1 Pictures and Madhouse. To Kyoto Animation and Studio Trigger. From BONES and Production I.G. To Toei Animation and Sunrise, to Studio Pierrot and Studio DEEN. These are just a few anime studios out of the many, and all of them stand out from their own accord. You can’t really say there is a winner among animation studios, because each one is their own, and they really do produce whatever titles they want.
Take Madhouse for example. Most of their shows you see have a type of edge to them, and also go on the action side of things. You see this in shows like One-Punch Man, Hunter X Hunter, and Hellsing Ultimate. But even then, they still produce other anime that isn’t blood, guts, and funny shonen protagonists. Just look at My Love Story!! It’s a fun rom-com that is very out in left field compared to the other Madhouse shows I mentioned, and yet it was still showed how good they can create their shows. Then look at Trigger. Yes, they aren’t the best studio when it comes to terms with gorgeous looking animation. But they do what they want, and with it comes a crazy-ass story and plot, with tons of fun characters. They are basically saying, “Screw it! Let’s go all out with this!!” Look at Space Patrol Luluco from this year. It somehow made every show that Trigger previously did by starting it as little cameos and shoutouts, to making it a whole connected universe.
But there’s more to it than cameos and shonens. Studios can do a lot with their shows that can make it wonderful. Look at the KyoAni shows K-On! and Sound Euphonium. Mostly, they look like moe shows that are just about cute girls doing music. And yet, it’s a lot more than that. They do get you to feel for the characters by building them up from a real life setting. Like literally. Some of the scenes in the shows actually are based on real life Japanese places and sets. But by extension, KyoAni isn’t the only one to do this. Many other studios have done this throughout the years with Japan as the basis for their shows. And it’s not just Japan, too. Hell, even Sunrise did it in (sorry, SPOLIER!!) freakin’ Vancouver, British Colombia in Iron-Blooded Orphans as they had their upcoming battle you’ll see soon on Toonami. The use of real life place, and getting them in exact detail, can be a great showcase for not just the show the studios are doing, but for the studios themselves to give the viewers just how much attention to detail the people who work on them can do.
To go back to my first point, there are many ways that studios do their work on anime that can be very enjoyable. A-1 Pictures has a really good track record of making shows that look very beautiful and extremely pretty, to but it nicely. Just look at the critically acclaimed (and very heartbreaking) show Your Lie in April. And yes, even *sigh* Sword Art Online. I know, broken record, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that it looks pristine throughout. Some use their animation to make an almost edgy, sci-fi take on a fantasy world of their own measure. Production I.G. is one of those studios that take all of this and make an anime look spectacular (see: Ghost in the Shell). Studio SHAFT has a record of making their anime look almost surreal and trippy with their art (Monogatari series, Madoka Magica) to something that looks really cartoony and yet still really moe (Nisekoi, Hidamari Sketch). And even the ones that get the most critics throughout in Toei Animation, for all the reason you can guess, can still make some brilliant stuff. Hell, if it wasn’t Toei giving us DBZ, Sailor Moon, Digimon and more, most of your anime childhood viewings wouldn’t be a thing.
And even then, I can’t just give all the studios the credit alone. Credit has to be due to all the hard-working animators who sometimes, literally, slave their lives away to make these shows for all to witness. And to the directors, too, who not only piece together the sets that the animators draw up, but that also have their own way at times making what scenes we all will maybe remember for being iconic in the future. They go off of whatever it is the show is based off of. Be in a manga, a light novel, a book, an original script, or even some web comic that doesn’t look too good, but brought to life, can look very fluid, and magnificent when it gets animated, making it a fun, sometimes trippy, experience. (Ex: BONES and Madhouse, and their recent work on ONE’s One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100.)
As I said at the beginning, we all have our own favorite studios that we love more than others. Some may love Toei for nostalgia and other ongoing long-runners. Some may love SHAFT more for what they do, and for their infamous “headtilts.” Some may like Madhouse and KyoAni for their wonderful shows. Hell, some may think David Productions is the best, just because of Jojo. I know I have my own favorite studios that I like more than others. But that is to be expected. All I say is enjoy all of them for all the anime they put out for us to enjoy. Yeah, I know I’m contradicting myself saying this because of what I said above, but overall, we can enjoy each and every one of them. As long as we don’t get into a giant argument over who is the best on social media. That is just a stupid way to waste your time over nothing. Just enjoy watching all the anime you want to watch.