April 22, 2018
by Hiroaki Kawakami & Yurie Natsume
Today, the Japanese animation market is active all over the world. Lovers of Japanese animation in foreign countries call it Japanimation. And one of the sparks of this popularity is The Kyoto Animation Company, which was leading the animation industry when Japanese animation was not well-known. Now, we’ll explain the history of The Kyoto Animation Company and its attractive points.
In 1981, The Kyoto Animation Company was founded by Yoko Hatta. At that time, she was working at Mushi Productions, which was founded by Osamu Tedzuka. She later left the company and moved to Kyoto, where she married Hideaki Hatta, who later became a president of The Kyoto Animation Company. It started out as a limited company in 1985, and then became fully incorporated in 1999. Incidentally, the company’s logo is based on the kyo kanji, which is the first character of the Japanese kanji for ‘Kyoto’. In the middle of 1990’s, they took part in several Ghibli animation productions by Hayao Miyazaki. Typical examples are Porco Rosso (Kurenai no Buta) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin). The Kyoto Animation Company became highly acclaimed around that time. After the 2000’s, the company produced the TV animation Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. This was their first prime production in 2003.
The Kyoto Animation Company makes many kinds of TV animation. The most representative genre is romantic productions, like AIR, CLANNAD and Kanon, with the origin of these productions being games. In addition, they have also produced some comedies, like My Ordinary Life (Nichijou), and mysteries, like Hyouka, which is popular among fans of Japanese animation. As we can see from these examples, The Kyoto Animation Company is creating TV animation for a broad base of viewers.
One remarkable feature of the company’s style is its drawing in animations. For example, when they began making TV animation, they were drawing human eyes a lot bigger: approximately one-half of the face. Subsequently, this style became mainstream in the drawing a faces in animation. Likewise, in recent years, they have been drawing human hair so delicately, and this way of drawing is close to being at the forefront of the animation industry.
Another point worthy of special mention is how beautiful and elaborate the landscape in their animation is. In fact, some of the landscapes in their productions are based on real places. For example, the TV animation Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Yufoniamu) is set in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. By basing the landscapes on real-world places, they can draw the landscapes in animations with high accuracy and high pixels. In this way, we can enjoy seeing real beautiful landscapes in animation.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
One of the most famous TV animations created by The Kyoto Animation Company is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu). It was based on a series of light novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa. Immediately after televising, this animation attracted people’s attention immediately, and the popularity of this production became a social phenomenon in 2006 and 2007.
In the story, Kyon, the leading character, is a student at North High School in Nishinomiya, Hyogo. In the entrance ceremony of the high school, Kyon meets an eccentric and occult girl named, Suzumiya Haruhi. One day in class, she suddenly told all classmates, “First off, I’m not interested in ordinary people. But if you are aliens, time-travelers, psychics or strangers from another world, come see me. That’s all.” After this incident, Kyon come to be at the mercy of Haruhi’s whim by accident. Furthermore, Yuki Nagato, who is an artificial human created by the data overmind; Mikuru Asahina who is an actually time-traveler; and Itsuki Koizumi, who is an psychic; all gather around Kyon and Haruhi. Haruhi is determined to establish a club called the SOS Brigade, short for “Spreading excitement all Over the world with Suzumiya brigade.” This work is a story that describes and illustrates their extraordinary daily life.
As you can see, The Kyoto Animation Company has many attraction points and has made a big influence on the animation industry and society. Nowadays, domestic and overseas fans of Japanese animation are calling The Kyoto Animation Company: Kyo Ani. And because their works feature real-world places as the background landscapes for the stories, many fans choose to take a trip to visit these places from other prefectures or oversears. The popularity and impact of their productions has been having a positive effect on the economy. In this way, animations are not just wonderful works of two dimensions, but also the golden eggs from which are expected enormous economic development. Watching the animations made by Kyo Ani, you can feel the magnificence of the landscape in Kyoto or other prefectures. If you are interested in the creative works of this company, please watch one.