Some time ago, I took a look at the quality of light novel adaptations based on my average scores for those qualified. Today, I’m doing something similar, only instead of light novel adaptations, I’m broadening the scope of my research to individual anime studios. I’ve seen a countless number of anime posts detailing an individual’s favorite anime studio for boasting the best collection of anime and what have you, but I’ve never been able to join the conversation as I (perhaps naively) don’t often focus on the studios behind anime works. That changes now—or at the very least, I’ll know what studio is generally accommodating of my interests.
If I were to list every single anime studio ever here, this post would take forever, so as a general rule, I need to have seen more than five anime from a particular studio in order to qualify being highlighted. Additionally, this is a list of the best anime studios, so I won’t just mark them all down by the amount watched. The anime studios being highlighted on this list will have an average score of more than 5.33 per series, which is my average score for anime overall at this point. Should one not see their favorite anime studio on here, it’s either because I don’t watch very much from them or I don’t like the anime they produce.
(I will also be posting the studios in no specific order.)
- 15 series watched
- 5.87 average score per series
So the interesting thing about this anime studio is that it seems to do just enough for me to give it decent scores no matter the series. Of the 15 series I’ve watched from Bones, none of them have received a score lower than a 5/10 from me, yet have never received more than a 7/10. Every Bones-produced series I’ve ever watched has been average, above-average, or pretty good.
Some of the noteworthy series with 7/10’s include all three seasons of Boku no Hero Academia and Mob Psycho 100… and that’s it. The rating scale goes four 7/10’s, five 6/10’s, and six 5/10’s, so generally, this is more of an average studio. Nevertheless, the prevalence of Boku no Hero Academia‘s quality has given some life into this studio, and I expect the second season of Mob Psycho 100 to do similarly—maybe it’ll even be the first 8/10 from the studio?
- 7 series watched
- 6.14 average score per series
Now, some of these studios with higher average scores despite a low watch count may seem a tad unfair, which is understandable seeing as I’ve been a little more picky as I age. Just keep in mind that what foots the bill is the fact that anime studios are capable of making good work, not so much which is the best.
That said, Sunrise is a studio that has made some good series, such as the ever-beloved Cowboy Bebop and the debatably-more-popular Code Geass. This studio has a little more variety in ratings from the previous studio, with its ceiling being an 8/10 (Bebop) and its floor being a 4/10 (Mai-HiME). With the low count, though, it’s harder to ascertain this studio’s consistency.
What remains is that it is capable of some good series, if not popular series (responsible for Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, which I personally didn’t care for).
- 13 “series” watched
- 5.77 average score per “series”
You may have noticed the quotes around “series.” The reasoning is that of the thirteen “series” watched from this studio, nine of them are technically anime films, which consist of one long journey—the Kara no Kyoukai film series. Should this count? I think so. I don’t care.
Another interesting tidbit: I have not dropped or put a single series on-hold from this studio. No other studio on this list can say that. I have watched them all fully through. This might be a good time to mention that I only counted those completely watched for these studios—anything unrated (which means I didn’t finish it) isn’t counted. Still, it’s amazing I didn’t even need to count any off for ufotable.
As for the studio’s content, Kara no Kyoukai was, for the most part, fine. Fate/Zero was also pretty good. Fate/stay night‘s reboot was pretty meh, if not nice-looking. When I think of ufotable, I usually think of these dark, grim series with life-altering plots and impeccable animation. This is somewhat appropriate considering they don’t really have that many series to show for as a studio.
- 25 series watched
- 6.20 average score per series
This is a studio whose name I see quite often when people are asked for their favorite anime company. To its credit, I think its valid. It produced one of my favorite anime series in Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and another in Dennou Coil, and is also responsible for other great series in Black Lagoon and a few of Satoshi Kon’s earlier films. This doesn’t mean they’re perfect, however, as a few blemishes show through in Oda Nobuna no Yabou and Overlord (unpopular opinion, I know).
Despite the average score being higher than most studios to appear here, the most common rating from me for a Madhouse anime is a 5/10, with eight series getting that stamp. This goes to show that while the studio can make some great titles (and I mean great), it also shovels out passable entertainment on the norm. Only two titles fall under a 5/10 from this studio (the “blemishes” mentioned above), which probably explains the good average score. So, if the numbers don’t lie, Madhouse is usually pretty average, but is more likely to make wonderful content than atrocious content.
- 18 series watched
- 6.72 average score per series
Kyoto Animation is one of the big ones. Madhouse is another, but I think Kyoto Animation might be the most popular anime studio around (no basis for this, just a hunch). If my average score is any indication, there’s a reason for the hype.
Based on average score, KyoAni is the third-highest-rated studio on this list. Their track record has a healthy collection of 6/10’s and 7/10’s from me, which makes up the majority of my ratings. Their peak was with Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, which is among the only series I awarded more than an 8/10 to (besides Hyouka). Still, there aren’t many outright bad KyoAni series, as I don’t have a single series rated below a 5/10.
What’s intriguing to me is that there are a lot of anime fanatics, notably those with a more cynical bite, that despise this studio. I’ve read multiple accounts hurling insults at the studio for focusing on “moeblob” characters and scenarios that prey on the fetishes of the typical anime viewer. While I definitely see some evidence to support this, more recently I feel KyoAni tries to pander towards those looking for melodramatic, feel-good, oscar-bait storytelling (Violet Evergarden, anyone?). Regardless, one can’t argue with the quality of the animation, as KyoAni definitely makes some pretty series.
- 7 series watched
- 5.71 average score per series
Of all the anime studios out there, I think P.A. Works boasts the most appealing general design. Whenever I look at an anime from P.A. Works, I can’t help but want to watch it just because it looks so cute. Sometimes that’s a good thing. One time it wasn’t.
I’ll get it out of the way quickly: Glasslip was atrocious. The average score would likely be much higher if not for that complete waste of time. Such a confusing, strange, artificial series that’s both pretentious and mindless at the same time. Yuck.
With the taste out of my mouth, Shirobako was wonderful. Definitely the magnum opus of P.A. Works, and since then, it almost feels like they’re trying to recreate that magic (Sakura Quest is incredibly reminiscent). I also really liked Hanasaku Iroha, which was a very early favorite of mine.
They’re also responsible for Angel Beats!, which was an annoyingly popular series back when I first got back into anime. That was decent.
- 10 series watched
- 6.10 average score per series
I was honestly shocked by how high of a score this specific studio has, because if you asked me prior to this to name a good Production I.G series, I would’ve drawn a blank.
Turns out, this studio does some decent work. Kimi ni Todoke, Mahoujin Guruguru, and FLCL are all series I would definitely recommend to a general anime consumer. Even if not tremendously good, I.G is more likely to produce above-average content than below-average, with only three of the ten total ratings being a 5/10 or lower, and the lowest is a 4/10.
I suppose it may not be a studio that produces a large variety of notable content (to me), but it does a good enough job to keep me entertained if I choose to dine with them. This just reminds me that I want more parody-adventure series like Guruguru.
- 14 series watched
- 6.86 average score per series
If you’re coming into this post looking for “the best,” you’ve found it. Shaft is the studio with the highest average score among my list of anime. A lot of that is thanks to the Monogatari series, which I think is great, but I digress…
This tidbit explains why the average score is so high: the most frequent score of mine to a Shaft series is an 8/10. Only two series rank at 5/10; the rest are higher and none are lower. Again, most of these are iterations of the Monogatari series, which take up seven of the fourteen spots, but others from the studio showcase the consistency of entertainment attributed to their work.
If nothing else, Shaft shows are at the very least interesting—whether visually or conceptually. Paniponi Dash!, Sasami-san@Ganbarani (which I didn’t actually like that much), and Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru are all generally weird and or eccentric in a way that makes anime fun. Not for everyone, rest assured; it’s something that I, who has a disdain for formula and retreads, find to be valuable in the anime medium.
Give ’em a shot. Rather, just watch the Monogatari series. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, this studio probably isn’t for you.
- 25 series watched
- 5.84 average score per series
Another one of the “big ones,” A-1 Pictures, despite having numerous titles to its name, is most notable in my mind for Sword Art Online. I guess it was an early associative-memory trick in order to avoid the studio. Yes, I once despised Sword Art Online that much.
Even with it, there are a good amount of series with recommendable grades on my part to make the studio better than what I previously expected of it. Demi-chan wa Kataritai, Shinsekai yori, and Working!! (prior to season three) are all series that serve as bright spots for the studio’s history.
Thirteen of the twenty-five ratings are between a 5 and 6/10, so one could say that it’s generally an above-average studio. Despite some low ratings here and there, the studio is fairly entertaining and has a nice style to its quality of animation. Anyone remember Shelter? They helped out with that piece, which, at the very least, had some good art design.
- 6 series watched
- 6.83 average score per series
Six is a very low number of series and just barely qualifies to be on here. Even so, Gainax has done enough to at least squeak on here with raw enthusiasm alone.
The “Big Three,” at least in my eyes, are FLCL, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. These three series are pretty good, and I would recommend them to anyone, even outside the range of anime enthusiasts. The fervor and emotional eruption attributed to these works makes Gainax one of the most distinctive anime studios in history, even if it didn’t always match up to those expectations.
I’ve heard the rumblings of anime critics as they criticized the quality of Gainax shows after FLCL and before Gurren Lagann. A lot of interestingly dumb shows or just basic trash, I’ve never buried myself that deep into the studio’s history. Panty & Stocking and Fushigi no Umi no Nadia are two series I also enjoyed from the studio, though wasn’t entirely fond of. There’s an air of expectations around this studio that perhaps could never be replicated, and maybe that had an effect on production. Nevertheless, what they managed to release at its highest are things that should never be forgotten.
- 8 series watched
- 5.88 average score per series
Last one. Gonzo is a studio that I commonly associate with adventure flicks with grimy, gray color. Well, more just gray color. Usually something that I don’t care for, the studio makes up for it with some nice execution, even if not overwhelming.
The scores are managed like this: 1-2-2-2-1. The score values parallel as followed: 3-5-6-7-8. Three scores of 5/10 or below, with the other five being above average. Despite a generally ugly color palette, the stories or characters or whatever else compensate for it, making for some interesting executions.
Speaking of interesting, only one of the series I watched by Gonzo was a one-cour series. The rest were two-cour, consisting of more than twenty episodes. This is notable to me probably more than anyone because as I’ve aged, I’ve gotten less tolerant of two-cours. Unless I really like the series, it’s too long to marathon over a couple days or even a week. Incredible job for Gonzo to have made me more patient.
And that’ll be it. The studios within the anime medium that make some good content (based on my scores). This is the end of the post. Insert ending transition.
What are some of your favorite anime studios?
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.