On Kyoto Animation

I know I’m not alone in struggling to process the events of the past week. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly grasp it. But for the sake of honoring my personal favorite anime studio, I feel compelled to talk about Kyoto Animation and the work they’ve done and how they’ve impacted me as a person. It seems only fair. I apologize ahead of time if this is rambling, because it surely will be.

I’ve only become a fan of anime only in the past few years. I just didn’t have any real interest in it. Up to my college graduation, the only anime I had ever seen was Dragon Ball Z and even that was scattershot episodes here and there whenever I could watch TV. It wasn’t until I sat down and watched the Studio Ghibli films that were strangely (to me at the time) so highly rated on ImDB that I actually began to seek out other anime. I started with some of the really famous shows that were highly rated everywhere in my fledgling anime searches of “Top Anime of all Time”: Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist, Code Geass etc. For the most part, these shows all lived up to the hype. But I don’t think I was blown away into becoming a real anime fan until I watched both Clannad and Clannad After Story.

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These days, I would probably have a much more difficult time with Clannad. But back then, the harem antics and what I’ll term “VN-ish” nature were all totally new things I was first experiencing so I didn’t mind. Guy got with the girl I liked at the end, hooray! The me of today though would still absolutely love Clannad After Story. A total and complete masterpiece of storytelling that I would stack up against anything else. I’m not a crier, and I can count on one hand the number of anime that have made me shed a tear. But none made me the weeping mess I was during Clannad After Story. I’m sure I’m not the only one. That show fundamentally moved me in a way I haven’t felt since. Questions about whether I sobbingly called my parents in the middle of the night to tell them how much I loved them will remain unanswered. It will always be one of my favorite anime of all time.

If Clannad immediately didn’t seal the deal that Kyoto Animation was my favorite studio and made me a dedicated anime fan, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya shut the door on that debate quickly thereafter. Innovative in a way I hadn’t seen in, even in other non-anime TV shows, Haruhi seized my attention and didn’t let go. Even the infamous Endless Eight didn’t lose me. With the amount of competitors and copycats there have been afterwards, it stands as a true testament that none of them have matched the original king. Or I should say queen.

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I could go on about how many of their shows I’ve enjoyed and I hope we as a community go on and write many things about these shows in the next weeks. Full Metal Panic, Kanon, Lucky Star, Nichijou (which I will try and write about later this week as well), Hyouka, Free, Amagi Brilliant Park, and countless others that I blew through in my beginning days as an anime fan. And even after becoming a full-fledged anime fan and member of this community, Kyoto Animation continued to serve up some of my favorite shows of recent memory like Sound Euphonium, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and Violet Evergarden (I must acknowledge that I’ve voiced my complaints about this one loudly and to a great extent elsewhere, but even I have to admit that I still enjoyed this show a lot).

I brought up Ghibli in the beginning of this and I think they are a very apt comparison to Kyoto Animation. Both studios just bring a special spark, a special something, just a little more care to each of their works that makes them stand out to me amongst a sea of other animation studios. Both give their characters some life to them that makes them feel more real. And both of them know just how to keep their audiences engaged narratively that never loses their attention. They each specialize in portraying little tiny details and nuances that evoke storytelling 101 of “Show, don’t Tell”. I can feel when I’m watching something made by Kyoto Animation or Studio Ghibli. I can’t truly say that about many other studio’s works.

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Kyoto Animation has made me laugh and cry and excited me at almost every turn. A while back, several of us in the community were interested in this sort of anime calculator that measured how much you liked certain genre’s, studios, years, all sorts of things based on your own rankings. It was to no surprise to me, that Kyoto Animation was my favorite studio and it wasn’t particularly close. The passion that they have always worked with and infused into their anime has also always found a way to reach me and move me.

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I can’t begin to fathom what has happened and where we go from here. I don’t have the ability to properly put into writing my feelings about this beyond what I’ve attempted here. But I do know this. I do know that Kyoto Animation has always been my favorite anime studio, and it always will be. I believe that they can and will comeback and bring joy not just to me but to millions of anime fans across the world. Kyoto Animation, thank you.

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