The following list of animation studios presents past and present organizations similar to artists studios but principally dedicated to the production and distribution of animated films. Such studios may be actual production facilities or corporate entities. Most are based in North America, particularly the United States, but some are to be found in Asia, Europe and Latin America. We countdown the cream of the crop, starting with the number 10 choice:
Production I.G is a Japanese anime studio and production enterprise, which was founded on December 15, 1987 and is headquartered in Kokubunji, Tokyo, Japan. Production I.G has been involved in the production of several anime television series, and theatrical films, such as Patlabor and the Ghost in the Shell series. Production I.G is known for high-quality animation. The letters I and G actually derive from the names of the company founders Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and popular character designer Takayuki Goto. I.G’s primary goal, according to president Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, is to make anime that stands on its own ground without being an extension of manga. Production I.G is one of 50 other studios a part of The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).
J.C.Staff Co.,Ltd. is a Japanese animation studio founded in January 1986. Their first release was the three episode OVA Yōtōden, in 1987. They have produced several well-known anime series, such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Excel Saga, Honey and Clover, Alien Nine, Azumanga Daioh, Toradora!, Zero No Tsukaima, Ikki Tousen and numerous others. The company suffered some damage during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.
STUDIO4°C has produced numerous feature films, OVAs, and shorts. Early film titles include; Spriggan and Princess Arete. In 2003, through a joint production with Warner Bros., STUDIO4°C created five segments of the The Animatrix. The following year, they created the award winning avant-garde film Mind Game. STUDIO4°C’s next film Tekkon Kinkreet, won six awards, including Best Animated Film at the Fantasia 2007, Lancia Platinum Grand Prize at the Future Film Festival, and Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. It was also submitted for 2007 Oscar consideration in Animated Feature Film category of Academy Award in USA. The name comes from the temperature at which water is most dense.
Over the years, the studio has created a large number of TV series, movies, and adapted many Japanese comics by renowned authors to animated series, many popular worldwide. Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Leiji Matsumoto and Yoichi Kotabe have all worked with the company in the past. Toei is a shareholder in the Japanese anime satellite television network, Animax, along with other noted anime studios and production enterprises such as Sunrise, TMS Entertainment and Nihon Ad Systems Inc. In addition to producing anime for domestic release in Japan, Toei Animation also provided animation work for several American animated series for US companies, dating back as far as the 60’s, but they mostily provided outsourced production work during the 1980’s.
Shaft was founded on September 1, 1975 by Hiroshi Wakao, former Mushi Production’s animator. The company was originally founded to paint the animation but later worked on animation production as a subcontractor. In 2000, after Shaft cooperating with Gainax to produce a DVD special of remastered Gunbuster, they were in joint production with Gainax to produce Mahoromatic, This Ugly and Beautiful World, and He is My Master. After Hiroshi Wakao’s retirement in 2004, Kubota Mitsutoshi has become Shaft’s representative director. Their painting group has also been downsized in order to strengthen their digital group. The studio is unique due to their use of gags and references to other anime through writing on a classroom chalkboard or any available empty space in the background. The studio is also known for the use of various animation styles in a single series, changes in art style, a characteristic head tilt, and use of unusual music for the opening sequences of their shows.
Until Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gainax typically worked on stories created in-house, but the studio has increasingly developed anime adaptations of existing manga like Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou and Mahoromatic. In the wake of Evangelion’s success, Gainax was accused of tax evasion and its president, Takeshi Sawamura, was sentenced to jail for accounting fraud.
Among Japan’s largest and most famous studios, Sunrise is renowned for several critically lauded and popular original anime series, such as Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms, Vision of Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, Witch Hunter Robin, My-HiME, My-Otome, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, as well as its numerous adaptations of acclaimed manga and light novels. A number of staff from Sunrise have gone on to form independent animation companies which have become well known in their own rights.
Kyoto Animation is a Japanese animation studio located in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. It was established in 1981, became a limited company in 1985 and then became a corporation in 1999. Presided by Hideaki Hatta, the company is affiliated with noted studio Sunrise and is also parent to the studio Animation Do. Although founded in 1981 Kyoto Animation has only produced seven anime series as of 2007 on their own, five of them being television series adaptations, and two self-produced OVAs (Munto series), and have been involved in the production of Kiddy Grade, InuYasha, Nurse Witch Komugi, Tenchi Universe, and Generator Gawl.
Bones was founded by Sunrise staff members Masahiko Minami, Hiroshi Ōsaka and Toshihiro Kawamoto in October, 1998. One of their first projects was collaborating with Sunrise on Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, a feature film based on the Cowboy Bebop TV anime series. In 2007, the studio suffered the loss of co-founder Hiroshi Ōsaka, well known for his works as character designer on series such as Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Mobile Fighter G Gundam, and The Mars Daybreak. Ōsaka had been battling with cancer, and died from the disease on September 24, 2007. He was 44 years old.
The studio employs approximately 80 full-time employees, with employment levels varying depending on the number of productions currently underway. Additionally, the company owns controlling interest in the Korean subsidiary studio DR Movie, which employs approximately 350 staff. The studio often collaborates with known manga artists, including Naoki Urasawa and Clamp. Madhouse produced adaptations of Urasawa’s Yawara!, Master Keaton and Monster, with Masayuki Kojima helming the later two. The company has animated a number of CLAMP’s titles, including Tokyo Babylon, two versions of X, Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, CLAMP in Wonderland, and most recently the second Hunter x Hunter anime. Collectively, Madhouse films have won a total of two Japan Academy Prizes, two Gertie Awards, six Mainichi Film Awards (three Ōfuji Noburō Awards, and three Animation Grand Awards), two Tokyo Anime Awards for Animation of the Year, and five Animation Kobe Feature Film Awards.