On July 18, 2019, tragedy stroked as an arsonist set on fire the main studio for Kyoto Animation. About 33 people died from the incident along with several injured. In addition, the fire destroyed all their production materials in the first building. However, the second animation studio and headquarters were not affected.
This tragedy is heartbreaking to not only to the family members, but also the anime industry and fans of anime. It’s not too surprising since Kyoto Animation’s production values are regarded highly by most people. It’s mostly thanks to the talented people who worked on the productions. Not only that, they are treated well compared to other studios.
In the past, I shared my thoughts about the studio. In this post, I want to share how the productions from this studio influenced me to start blogging about anime.
Believe it or not, I kind of lost interest in anime in the mid 2000s. Anime was limited as there weren’t any being aired over the air. Moreover, my parents didn’t have cable television. It was certainly the dark ages at least from an accessibility standpoint. Also, I mostly focused on watching Pokémon back then, until I stopped a few years later. Sure, I still played the games, but there was a time I didn’t watch anime.
During my freshman year in college back in fall of 2008, somehow, I have the urge to watch anime again. This happened after watching some Youtube videos. The first two titles I watch were Suzumiya Haruhi, which is a slice of life show with science fiction, comedy, fantasy, mystery and romance elements. It involves a normal high school student who meets a girl who finds ordinary humans boring. They created a club called the SOS Brigade, which its sole purpose is to find aliens, time travelers and espers. Oddly enough, all three of those ultimately joins the club.
Sure, the first season was very enjoyable and of course out-of-order. The characters were enjoyable and have interesting personalities along with the story. Of course, the second season gave me mixed feelings. It’s mostly because of Endless Eight showing almost the same episode over and over again. I remembered a lot of viewers were angry because of this.
Still, I have to give Kyoto Animation credit for having the courage to animate 8 different episodes. Yes, the source material is exactly the same in regard to the Groundhog Day loop. Would my opinion differ if I rewatched the second season today? Most likely. Also, I haven’t watched Disappearance arc movie yet, but I will probably do so in the future.
Other titles that got me back into anime is of course Lucky Star, Air, Kanon and Clannad. Lucky Star has a different animation style that turned off some. However, the numerous references to anime, the characters, and Japanese pop culture is what made the show enjoyable to watch. As for the other three shows, they are really good adaptions of visual novels from Visual Arts/Key.
While I haven’t played Air, I felt that the anime adaptation was very close to the source material. This is from playing some parts of Kanon and Clannad visual novels. Believe it or not, these adaptions gained my interest in every anime adaptation of Key visual novels. Yes, even their original productions, Angel Beats and Charlotte, which they did with PA Works. Their stories typically have slice of life comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements. While Kyoto Animation only animated the first three visual novels from Visual Arts/Key, it made the western anime fandom aware about their works. Eventually, Clannad and Little Busters received an official English localization.
Lastly, there is K-ON. It’s probably one of the best Manga Time Kirara adaptation in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It received two seasons (39 episodes in total), two original video animation and a movie.
Compared to the Manga Time Kirara adaptations that aired during that time (Hidamari Sketch and Doujin Work), K-ON looked really good because of how good the production is. However, this show was controversial for some fans. Back then, there were a good number of posts complaining about how K-ON is killing anime or how moe is killing anime. The irony is, this is quite the opposite since it actually saved anime.
To me, the show was enjoyable mostly because of the comedy, the music and the characters. Not only that, more Manga Time Kirara adaptations aired afterwards thanks to this show. To me, K-ON is a good thing for those who enjoy school girl slice of life shows and yuri fans.
Nowadays, most Manga Time Kirara shows probably look just as good or better than K-ON in some respects. Some examples include Hanayamata, Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka, and New Game to name a few. Still, without Kyoto Animation adapting K-ON, Manga Time Kirara would probably not be as popular as it would be today.
Eventually, Kyoto Animation like PA Works eventually focused on original works. In other words, works that they own exclusive rights to create a production for. While some of their works is above average at best such as Musaigen no Phantom World, Kyoukai no Kanata, and Tamako Market, there are many that I enjoy. They are Hyouka, Nichijou, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Amagi Brilliant Park, Hibike! Euphonium, and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon. While I won’t explain the reason why since I want to leave that for another post, I generally enjoy most if not all of the shows they produce.
As a whole, the works from Kyoto Animation was very influential to me since it rekindled my interest in anime. This of course eventually led me to eventually start sharing my thoughts about anime through blogging. Without their works, I would probably not regain my interest in anime ever again.
Overall, Kyoto Animation’s contribution to the Japanese animation industry can be seen throughout the industry. Thanks to them, animation improved considerably as studios improve. This of course excludes the advancements in computer graphics with digital illustrations and coloring. Regardless, I feel that Kyoto Animation retains the top spot mostly because of how good their productions are. Still, it’s sad to see a sizable number of talents perish. However, they will always be remembered in past works the studio created. Hopefully, Kyoto Animation will rise from the ashes of this tragedy and become stronger than before.
With that, what impressions did Kyoto Animation’s works left on you as an anime fan? Feel free to share your thoughts.