Ladies and Gentlemen, Studio Deen! (And Why Everyone Hates Them)

At some point in their lives, all anime fans would probably come to know the name Studio Deen. They’re rather (in)famous, having created popular shows like Fruits Basket and the original Fate/stay night. I don’t want to say it, but Studio Deen is also almost universally hated. I mean, just look at this:

Sometimes I wonder just what happened…

Think that’s bad? There’s a lot worse from Studio Deen. If you do a Google search there’s a funny Tumblr blog dedicated to sharing some of the worst that Deen has to offer. For the sake of convenience I’ll post the link here.

What’s funny is that the screen cap above is from When They Cry, one of Deen’s most famous shows. Bad animation and debatable direction aside, it’s actually a decent show. Granted, I wasn’t invested too much into that anime to watch the second season, but if I had nothing to watch I’d say that it’s probably worth it.

What I said above pretty much describes most of Deen’s works that I have seen. They’re decent, somewhat like an anime that is enjoyable until you discover that they totally butchered the source material (Fate/stay night) or another studio (Ufotable) comes out with a reboot that is better in every aspect ten times over.

Fate/stay night (2006) by Studio DEEN

Fate/stay night: UBW (2014) by Ufotable

Now I know it’s not fair to compare animation that’s 8 years old to something as modern as Ufotable’s version. But considering that shows like Gurren Lagann came out soon after Studio Deen’s original Fate/stay night with great animation quality that still holds up well today, I don’t think there’s a lot of excuses for the animation that Deen offered. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel like Deen doesn’t do adaptations very well. I didn’t like the original Fate/stay night, feeling that it had terrible pacing and a bland, somewhat cheap animation quality throughout. The same goes for Pupa. Let’s not even talk about that…

There are a few exceptions to Deen’s normally lackluster adaptations. I thought that their Trust and Betrayal OVA to Rurouni Kenshin was actually a masterpiece. I’ve read the manga, and they somehow improved an already solid foundation. To this date, Trust and Betrayal remains my favourite samurai anime and for that I thank them! They did a stellar job on not only the animation but the sound and direction too.

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal is Deen’s rare masterpiece. Good job, Deen!

But apart from Trust and Betrayal, there’s not a lot to like. To be honest they are improving, slowly. They moved from what I’d rank as a low, to a low-medium level. I’m not only talking about their animation quality, but their direction in the shows too. Sankarea actually had good animation in the first few episodes, but it dropped throughout the series. I haven’t even finished that show but it was decent and what I thought an improvement overall.

That said, I wouldn’t put them above my favourite studios like Kyoto Animation, Ufotable, Sunrise or Gainax. If an anime is made by Deen, I feel like I can enjoy it, but it would definitely have been better if it were handed to another studio. So what do you think? I’d really like to hear your opinions on Studio Deen!

Just be careful when an anime is produced by these guys.


8 thoughts on “Ladies and Gentlemen, Studio Deen! (And Why Everyone Hates Them)

  1. there’s a funny Tumblr blog dedicated to sharing some of the worst that Deen has to offer.

    Makes it all convenient. Tumblr does. And the people lurking in tumblr do.

    Higurashi’s horri art actually works best for its story. It was bizarre, so ‘beautiful’, highly consistent drawings (or drawings that stick to the model too much) would rather be incongruous–and those would make the scenes not as compelling as when those horri-grade art were used. I commend Higurashi for being what it is, including its horri-grade art. (Though I have to mention the character designs incredibly upgraded in the second season) 🙂

    I particularly don’t have anything against Studio DEEN, but it’s one of those studios that I probably don’t get excited about when I hear they’re gonna go an anime about something or whatnot. If I were to describe them in a single word, it’s “Meh.” Their anime are average for me; even my MalGraph stats seems to indicate that.

    Unfortunately, I’m not knowledgeable enough on the subject of cinematography or direction, nor my eyes are very well adapted to discern sakuga moments, to defend or refute my own stand. However, I do think that it’s not entirely the studio’s fault for churning out ‘bad’ anime (adaptations or whatever). The production staff is responsible of all the creative output to make an anime a hit or a miss, but they can also very well be limited from creating masterpieces (or decent anime by today’s aesthetics) if they’re too ambitious with their production standards but the production values are not that good. That said, if the staff is highly capable of producing quality works (or notorious from creating revolutionary pieces), even low to average production values can’t stop these anime auteurs from putting out excellent anime (i.e. Ping Pong).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very interesting observation that you make! I’m not very knowledgeable on the topic of animation or even cinematography (as you so rightfully mentioned) and so I am maybe judging Deen a bit too harshly.

      You might be right in stating the fact that it’s up to the production staff like the director, key animator, etc. to make the show what it is. Possibly Studio Deen just chose the wrong people to produce the show. It’s really up to the director and storyboard person who gets the scenes set up, which is especially hard to do when transferring mediums (eg. novel to anime). That said, I haven’t seen an outstanding animation in terms of actual quality from Deen. I think they either budget too much, or just employ sub-par staff. After their amazing Rurouni Kenshin OVA, all they did was go downhill into the realm of average and low anime.

      What you said about Higurashi I mostly agree with. I mean, yeah the sub-par animation did grow on me and I guess it fit the show well. Not too sure if it was on purpose, an accident or Deen was feeling a bit experimental but it was tolerable. I wasn’t a huge fan though and definitely do not think that type of animation would fit another show. A beautiful animation would definitely have not fit the show haha.

      And as for low production values, I can’t say anything because I haven’t watched Ping Pong yet. I feel like it was given a low budget so they decided to experiment a bit rather than having something like what was in Higurashi, which had a severe case of off-model and inconsistent animation quality.

      Well anyway, the world of Japanese animation is one that I don’t know a whole lot about. Studio Deen isn’t terrible but they’re far from what I consider good. 😛


      • It’s undeniable that Studio DEEN’s been getting behind on the animation quality that you mentioned here. Though they’re a pretty old studio compared to the likes of ufotable, their works remain 2000-ish. Though, as I said, how the animation look to me just depends on how effectively it is for the whole series in question.

        Liked by 1 person

    • That’s totally right. I love the animation in Higurashi cuz it fits its cheap, low-budget, amateur, pulp, B-movie (to add a few adj) aesthetics. You see, there’s something ab making sth real quick, not giving too much thought, that I so love. Maybe it’s innocence and sincerity. One thing that particularly struck me ab Higurashi is that the mood-lightening humour is actually very funny, it’s like a slice of life masked as a horror sometimes. And the studio don’t do much fanservice and sexual jokes and try to build a group dynamic that I’ve come to love.
      Actually Studio Deen is one of my favorite studio. I actually get excited when I hear sth made by Deen. I love all the Rumiko Takahashi’s works before the 00s, Ranma is the besttttttt, Urusei Yatsura is my formative comedy. So I make a point of digging every show Deen animated in the 80s and 90s. Angel’s Egg, PATLABOR!!!! (glorious), Kenshin OVAs are the best.
      Then come the 00s and 10s and I’m amazed. Niche shows are their forte. What studios have the bones to animate Marimite, SIMOUN, and a bunch of other yuri, BL, horrors other than Deen. Then came Rakugo Shinjuu, a complete visual wonder in the vein of Tsuiokuhen, not flashy computer affects but hand-drawn, hand-painted-ish spirit, mesmerizing retro color and attractive chara designs which they manage to sustain for 13 episodes. I just wish the story of that anime is better.


  2. I wouldn’t want to bash them too much as I rather enjoyed When They Cry. The fact that they have produced some good work suggests that some of their failings could be attributed to being forced to work with a limited budget or strict time limit by whoever hired them.


  3. The first screencap in this post is pretty scary. O-O
    The Tumblr blog that you linked to is pretty funny, though (even though it hasn’t updated in like two years…). Especially the Hetalia examples. It looks like the art in later seasons is MUCH better. 😀
    I saw some of Umineko and I actually kinda liked it. I didn’t finish it, though. Watching video on my connection is kind of a b*tch. :[

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re absolutely right :-). If you haven’t seen what anime it’s from (When the Cicadas Cry), you might be surprised to know that the off-model characters actually help it in a strange way. That said, When the Cicadas Cry definitely doesn’t win any awards for animation.

      It’s true that Deen’s animation has improved, and they’re actually pretty decent now. I don’t know what happened to them, because they seemed to put out some pretty terrible quality in the mid-2000s, but thankfully they’re improving. Sankarea was a nice surprise from them, as was Is This A Zombie? and possibly Log Horizon 2 (haven’t seen it myself).

      But yeah — that Tumblr blog was pretty funny ^-^v


      • That’s good. I actually want to see Is This a Zombie? And Log Horizon intrigues me.
        I had no idea that Deen did the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs. I never saw them, but RK is one of my absolute favorite anime and manga. ^_^


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