Making anime isn’t easy. It takes a great director, writer, and team of talented artists and production staff to make a good show, and if even one or two of those ingredients are off, viewers will be able to tell. Good anime studios put out quality series, despite the industry’s many challenges.
Sometimes the production of a series passes from one studio to another. This can happen for a variety of reasons: financial, creative, or otherwise. Turning an artwork over to different artists is always risky, and there are plenty of anime that didn’t survive the transition. Others didn’t just survive; they maintained their high level of quality or even improved. here are some anime that changed studios without skipping a beat.
8 Fate/Stay Night
fate is a sprawling franchise, and had Fate/Stay Night remained in the hands of Studio Deen, it might not have fared as well as it did after its transition to Ufotable. Studio Deen’s version of the show got plenty right, but Ufotable elevated things to a whole new level.
The biggest difference was in the quality of the animation.Ufotable mixed 2D and 3D animation in a way that enhanced the action rather than jarred viewers out of it, keeping the focus where it needed to be while making the story that much more enjoyable to watch unfold. It’s thanks to the success of Ufotable’s work that the series went on with Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, so fans have a lot of reasons to celebrate the transfer.
7 Fruit Basket
It can be hard to stay true to an artistic vision when an artwork changes hands from one artist to another, and it’s that much more difficult when the transition happens yet again. This was the story of fruit basket, which was adapted from the manga only to be adapted again later by a different studio.
The original Fruit Basket adaptation was handled by Studio Deen, and though the series gave fans of the manga most of what they wanted, the show outpaced the manga’s publication, leading Deen to create an original ending rather than wait to see what the manga did and then follow suit. When TMS Entertainment picked up the series in 2019, Fruit Basket received an adaptation that was more faithful to the original manga while maintaining the best parts about Studio Deen’s anime.
Most anime change hands completely when they go from one studio to another, with different artists drawing the characters and handling other creative elements than did the first time around. Durarara!! didn’t.
The creative team that worked on the anime’s first season at Brain’s Base went on to work at Studio Shuka, the studio that worked on the anime’s later seasons, so it makes sense that the show was able to maintain its high level of quality. It’s unusual for an anime to get picked up by the same team that worked on it the first time, but just because it’s strange doesn’t mean it’s bad. Durarara!! received love and hard work from its artists not once but twice, and it’s hard to ask for more than that, especially for a show that begs to be rewatched.
5 Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter’s first adaptation was by Nippon Animation in 1999, and the Nippon version delivered on its vision, presenting longtime fans of the series with an authentic take on its characters and one they could be proud of.
One way in which Nippon Animation’s version of the show differed from the manga, however, is in its censorship, cutting out a number of the original’s most violent moments. The team at Studio Madhouse didn’t repeat that decision to censor the series when they had a chance to work on it, and by preserving the sometimes gritty content of the original manga, Madhouse elevated an already excellent series into a legendary one.
Gonzo Digimation’s adaptation of Full Metal Panic! only covered the first three light novels and was a straight-up mech series. When Kyoto Animation took the reins they toned down the city-stomping robots and reimagined the series as a romantic comedy.
Sousuke, Kaname, and the rest of the cast prove themselves equally suitable to mech warfare as they are to rom-coms and parodies, and it’s a testament to the strength of the source material that Full Metal Panic! was able to not only survive but thrive given the sizable chance that the show saw. The series had a unique identity with Gonzo Digimation, and while Kyoto may have changed it, their changes didn’t drive the anime into the ground as they so easily could have.
3 Spice And Wolf
When an anime changes studios and remains great, “remaining great” means one of two things. Either the anime kept doing what it was doing before or it changed but only in ways that kept the fanbase intact. Spice and Wolf did the latter.
Imagin produced the show’s first season, and Brain’s Base produced the second, and fans will happily debate which season is better. That there’s such a strong argument for both is proof that the anime changing studio hands didn’t harm it in any significant way. If anything, Brain’s Base upped the quality of the animation and made Spice and Wolf that much better.
2 Fairy Tail
Sometimes anime change hands but maintain their tone, art direction, and pacing, leaving fans none the wiser that a switch has even occurred. Other times the anime sees dramatic changes, creating a hard contrast between where the anime came from and where it is now.
Satelight worked on the original Fairy Tail adaptation, Bridge worked on the later seasons, and A-1 Pictures contributed throughout the project. It’s easy to see where the transition occurs, as Bridge turns the story in a more serious direction than the relatively light-hearted work of Satelight. Fans of the early seasons may have had some adjusting to do seeing their favorite characters in a new light, but given that Bridge’s work is closer in tone to the Fairy Tailmanga, it’s hard to say it was anything but an improvement.
When it comes to anime that saw a big shift in tone with a change of studios, there aren’t many examples more dramatic than that of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Season One, produced by Toei Animation, feels unusually dark compared to later seasons, though this in no way diminished the quality of the content.
Starting with Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monstersand continuing with Yu-Gi-Oh! gx, Studio Gallop took over and moved the show in a much lighter direction. The transition from the horror elements of the first season to the themes of friendship and bravery in subsequent seasons was a surprising one, but there’s no debating that it paid off for fans and the studios alike.
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