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13 Anime That Switched Studios (For Better Or Worse)

Updated May 11, 2020 306.7k views13 items

Much to the chagrin of some fans, the second season of the wildly popular One Punch Man was handled not by Madhouse, but by J.C. Staff. While this studio swap has made headlines, it's not the first time that such a thing has happened. In fact, there are plenty of anime that switched studios at some point during the development process. Often, this takes place between seasons, or before a reboot.

Why would a property being managed by one studio move to another? Reasons vary, but they tend to involve logistical issues rather than anything especially dramatic. Anime studios typically don't own the rights to the anime they produce - typically, they work as contractors and must bid to take charge of a desirable property. Sometimes it's because the studio simply doesn't have the time or manpower to take on a sequel series, or because the director had a change of heart. In some cases, as with the Fruits Basket reboot, it's because the author of the manga that the anime was based on was dissatisfied with the first attempt and wanted the new series tackled by a new staff. 

In some cases, a studio change can feel like a downgrade - that's definitely true of Psycho Pass, which decreased dramatically in quality when it moved from Production I.G. to Tatsunoko Production. But at other times, like with Fate/stay Night's swap from Studio Deen to ufotable, the changes are for the better. Sometimes, the change hardly seems to make a difference. No matter how the change impacted the series itself, it's still interesting to know about the show's production history. 

  • Fate/stay night
    Photo: ufotable / Studio Deen

    Poor Studio Deen. While they have produced some truly excellent shows like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal, they have a terrible reputation in the anime community. This is partially due to how they handled major titles like the original Fate/stay night. This anime, which was an adaptation of a visual novel, attempted to combine all three possible game routes into a single 24 episode series. This resulted in thinly developed characters and a romantic subplot that was barely believable. What's more, the animation quality was significantly lower than it could have been.

    The reboot, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Bladeworks, which followed only one of the visual novel's arcs, was produced by ufotable, and is generally considered to be a far superior version - both in terms of animation and storytelling.

  • Hayate the Combat Butler has actually changed studios three times. The original 52-episode anime was handled by SynergySP, the second season by J.C. Staff, and the third and fourth were by Manglobe. The first season followed Kenjiro Hata's manga loosely, while the second season ret-conned most of the events of that season and followed the manga closely. The third and fourth seasons were both side stories based on minor characters that were written by Hata but not included in the manga. 

    If any more Hayate the Combat Butler is released, it will likely have to change hands once again, as Manglobe has since gone bankrupt. 

  • 7

    My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

    The first season of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (also known as Oregairu) was a Brains' Base production. Brains' Base is a well-known studio responsible for lauded series like Baccano! and Natsume's Book of Friends, while also handling slice-of-life romance like My Little Monster.  Season One was a light-hearted school comedy.

    Studio Feel took on Season Two. Studio Feel isn't as renowned - their biggest titles are probably Hinamatsuri and Tsuki ga Kirei - good shows to be sure, but they're no Baccano! But while the switch-up might have sounded like a downgrade, Season Two of Oregairu is what made this show stand out from other school comedies. Rather than using the characters' traits to elicit laughs, Studio Feel chose to actually do an in-depth exploration of Hikigaya's psyche. He is one of the few characters in the genre who feels like a real person. Brain's Base is capable of excellent character development, so it's possible that the outcome would have been the same if the studio change hadn't happened, but the second season was a work of art. 

  • Spice & Wolf was originally animated by Imagin, a little-known anime studio with few titles to its name. For its second season, Brain's Base took over the animation, but many of the original staff stayed on board. Major changes included Toshimitsu Kobayashi becoming the new chief animation director and character designer in lieu of Kazuya Kuroda, as well as a complete change in animation staff. The voice actors and other roles remained the same. Some feel that Season Two was a step down from Season One, but others have the opposite opinion.