The names of Toei's different animation substudios

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The names of Toei's different animation substudios

Post by kenisu3000 » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:12 pm

One of the notable topics among fans in the DaizenshuuEX community is the different animation styles throughout all of DragonBall (here's the main thread). Apparently, Toei has a motley crew of substudios to fall back on to do the dirty work when they themselves have their hands full - or at least that's what I originally thought, but when you watch the series one episode after another, you realize that perhaps it's more reasonable to believe that there's some sort of rotation involved. These substudios each have their own distinguishable styles, and it's often not too difficult, if you know what you're working with, to pick out which studio animated which episode. There are a few of them which produce simply horrible animation, and seemingly not enough which produce the gorgeous look typical of the movies.
The problem is that the names of all these different substudios are lost on us, since the Japanese DragonBoxes (and the individual R2 releases) are the only sets that provide accurate credits for each episode. As such, we tend to give these studios our own names which reflect how well or how awful of a job they do ("Triangle Crap Guy" being the most prevalent name). Well, I own DragonBox Vol. 2, and have been going through the episodes and making note of the genga ("original picture") credits. What I hope to accomplish by providing these names is so fans will be able to avoid confusion, since the fan-given names disagree with each other.
Now, I don't have all of the names, since Volume 2 only covers DBZ from the fight between Piccolo and Android 17, up to the end when Goku leaves with Oob; and there are a few studios which disappear before then, and I know of at least one that shows up only in GT. But here's the central meat of the series' animation studios:

These quotes are taken from the aforementioned thread.
Mike D wrote:I always had a keen eye for the different animations so I am going to try and sort the different types the best I can.

First we have what I call the "Evil Eye Type":

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I believe this is one of the styles which don't show up after the Freeza saga, so I'm afraid I don't have the name of this one.
Second up to bat would be the "Pale Cartoony Type":

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This is what I consider to be the the second-worst studio. It's known as Last House (you'd think it's because it's Toei's last resort!), and I positively hate it. I used to call it "Mediocre Guy", since this style is seen throughout a horrifyingly large chunk of the original DragonBall and it works well enough for that series. But with the way Toriyama's style changes for DBZ, it makes every character's face look like they've got their eyes too close together, or their nose off-center. During the Cell Games, it goes a step further on the crap scale by giving Cell (and Goku and Gohan in their SSJ forms) bright, twinkling eyes. And don't even get me started on how awful Mr. Satan's face always looks.
Third already has a name; "Triangle Crap Type":

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Triangle Crap Guy's real name is Studio Live. This is the one I consider the worst. The art is given no depth or sense of decent proportion. Perspective is skewed, and the lines don't converge toward the same point on the horizon. Plus, the characters' faces are extremely flat. Nothing is round, or can be conceived of as round in this style!

OK, now that the bad's out of the way, let's cover the really good ones:
Fourth (my favorite) would be "Next to the Best":

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I'm pretty sure that some of these shots aren't from the same studio (they get much more difficult to identify the better they get!). All the same, all of them should either be from K Production, Kino Production, Studio Carpenter, or "Seigasha" (I might have gotten the pronunciation wrong there, as no furigana is provided in the credits, but at any rate it means "Turnip Picture Hut"). All of these greatly resemble Toei, but Turnip Picture Hut does have a style distinguishable from the rest: the characters' faces are more compact. This is greatly apparent whenever a character has their mouth open wide or is yelling angrily at another character (one example would be the actress who yells at Gohan -sorry, I don't have a pic- for ruining the scene in that Saiyaman movie directed by the Commander Red look-alike). Turnip is also known for making wide, sweeping animations whenever a character turns around quickly.
I always thought this guy's was the same as the first but, since the only time I see this artwork is after the Androids appear, I call it "The New Type":

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This is my favorite style. It's called Studio Cockpit, and it rocks. It's quite a far cry from Toriyama's original style, but I really like the sleek appearance and the angles.
The last identifiable animation would be "The Best" or "Closest to Toriyama":

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Again, some of these are actually from conflicting studios. I don't know if Toei credits themselves as Toei, but the best-looking episodes in DragonBox vol. 2 are credited by a studio that... well, once again, I don't know if it's the right pronunciation, but it might be "Shintou Pro" or "Shindou Pro". The Kanji the first word is made up of is that of "advance" or "go forward", and "wisteria" as in the wisteria plant.

What I've also noticed is that the worst studios, Last House and Studio Live, are terribly understaffed with only two to three genga artists. No wonder they look so horrendous! With the rushed schedule, there's no doubting why the art is sub-par - they had to sketch it out quick and leave out any extreme detail. Of course, this doesn't win these studios my respect - in fact, it worsens them in my eyes. Workplaces that try and get away with being understaffed are the absolute worst - I recently had a data input job that I've had to quit because of our low numbers: we were working so much overtime that there literally became no real reason to go home for the night. Toei's other substudios have usually six or more genga artists, and just a few more people can make a world of difference.
Despite the fact that these two studios make DragonBall look like a farce, it does rouse my curiosity to know more about them. Why is it that they look so terrible that it's almost on purpose, and why does Toei put so much faith in them? And on top of all that, how did they get through animation school? At first, one gets the impression that perhaps they're apprenticing, and Toei employed them so they can get some hands-on experience, but both studios have been around since the days of the original DragonBall, and from then until GT, the style doesn't improve one bit. Well, OK, so the first Triangle Crap/Studio Live episode with Vegeta in it made him look just ghastly, and it does get a teensy better from there, but aside from that...
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Post by Kirbopher » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:20 pm

Wow...that's REALLY interesting. I even remember the original thread you're making reference to, and you definitely seem to know what you're talking about regarding animation styles. Yu-Gi-Oh! is the only other series I've ever thought about in this same regard where the difference in drawing styles is so radically noticeable.

I almost wanna say this would make an awesome podcast topic, except that it requires such a use of visuals that it probably wouldn't work. I agree about Studio Cockpit, it's definitely very interesting-looking, and dare I say I wouldn't mind the entire series looking like this. Would there be a way to find out any other shows these different studios have worked on?

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Post by caejones » Sat Aug 11, 2007 4:08 pm

Kirbopher wrote: I almost wanna say this would make an awesome podcast topic, except that it requires such a use of visuals that it probably wouldn't work. I
Off hand I agreed, then I realized that I never got lost while reading the descriptions and such and the only thing I'm not sure if I recognize by description is the sweeping turning animations.
I did pay attention to the artwork in a few instances pre-02, but I can't really remember if I noticed any of the (well-known?) varieties in style. I usually only payed attention to close-ups... In particular I'm thinking of some Piccolo, Kuririn and Gohan scenes from the first three seasons where the shading and eyes ... well... got my attention, and I'm thinking of narrow-oval-eyed Piccolo...
... and Triangle Guy makes me think of Vegeta scowling for some reason. Particularly on Namek.
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Post by Kirbopher » Sat Aug 11, 2007 6:08 pm

For Triangle Crap/Studio Live, there's that one shot in the end of the Trunks vs. Freeza fight, where he's about to slice him in half and suddenly he has black eyes instead of the blue Super Saiyan eyes. That always bothered me...

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Post by Conan the SSJ » Sat Aug 11, 2007 6:18 pm

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Dear God, Vegeta's head. Beldar Conehead, anyone? o_o;;
14 years later

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Post by b_boult » Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:39 pm

Turnip Picture Hut (I feel ridiculous typing this) and Shintou Pro are probably my favourites. It's not because they follow Toriyama's style more faithfully either, it's just that they just look the best and the most natural. Don't get me wrong though, I like Studio Cockpit as well, their fight scenes are usually amazing (see episode No More Rules, easily the best motion fight of the series). Despite this however, some of the exaggerated contorted expressions the characters pull strike me as a little too cartoony sometimes, and that's what puts me off.
Last edited by b_boult on Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Kaboom » Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:42 pm

We've seen a lot of screenshots on the topic in both this and the previaous posts, but I think someone should post examples of the different studios' animation in motion.
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Post by Tanooki Kuribo » Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:56 pm

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Worst drawing of Vegeta... EVER!

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Post by Kaboom » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:02 pm

Wow.

That's possible even worse than the deformed, mutant Majin Vegeta headshot.


Boy, these crappy animation studios are really not kind to Vegeta in the slightest, are they?
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Post by kenisu3000 » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:27 pm

Tanooki Kuribo wrote:Image

Worst drawing of Vegeta... EVER!
Holy moley. REALLY.
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Post by Kendamu » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:53 pm

Tanooki Kuribo wrote:Image

Worst drawing of Vegeta... EVER!
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Post by tarsonis » Sat Aug 11, 2007 9:46 pm

SSj Kaboom wrote:That's possible even worse than the deformed, mutant Majin Vegeta headshot.
Which picture was that again?

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Post by Chuquita » Sat Aug 11, 2007 9:49 pm

Studio Cockpit. I like the sound of that. :mrgreen:
Very interesting information.
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Post by Acid_Reign » Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:51 pm

kenisu3000 wrote:Holy moley. REALLY.
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Post by DaemonCorps » Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:13 am

Ah, this is a topic that never gets old.
kenisu3000 wrote:Despite the fact that these two studios make DragonBall look like a farce, it does rouse my curiosity to know more about them. Why is it that they look so terrible that it's almost on purpose, and why does Toei put so much faith in them?
My initial answer to why the bad animators have been kept throughout the entire series was because the main audience for the show was kids. But we're talking about Dragon Ball here-- a series that spanned for three series. I think it's safe to say that by the time DBZ came around, at least some of the viewers had to have been teenagers if they were into the series since the beginning.

Hm... Maybe there weren't any other animators available to Toei. Ugh, I hate not being able to come up with a good answer! ... I guess you could go with the basic answer that Toei was under the pressure of cranking out an episode a week and the fact that the animators were dealing with 80s/90s technology must not help the cause. I'm under the impression that animation in shows today isn't so drastically different between episodes because of something to do with better tech.

Eh, at least we have some kind of answer as to why the crappy animators are crappy, while the better ones... aren't. Having actual names to refer to the animators is another plus. Nice job, looking up all this stuff, kenisu3000 :D.
[...] and I know of at least one [substudio] that shows up only in GT.
I'm pretty sure you're talking about the combined animation studio of (refers to initial post) Last House and Studio Live.
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Post by Mayuri Furiza Kurotsuchi » Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:39 am

DaemonCorps wrote:
[...] and I know of at least one [substudio] that shows up only in GT.
I'm pretty sure you're talking about the combined animation studio of (refers to initial post) Last House and Studio Live.
Ah, I remember them... I brought them up in the old topic!

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Post by KinoFourpaws » Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:37 am

DaemonCorps wrote:Ah, this is a topic that never gets old.
kenisu3000 wrote:Despite the fact that these two studios make DragonBall look like a farce, it does rouse my curiosity to know more about them. Why is it that they look so terrible that it's almost on purpose, and why does Toei put so much faith in them?
My initial answer to why the bad animators have been kept throughout the entire series was because the main audience for the show was kids. But we're talking about Dragon Ball here-- a series that spanned for three series. I think it's safe to say that by the time DBZ came around, at least some of the viewers had to have been teenagers if they were into the series since the beginning.

Hm... Maybe there weren't any other animators available to Toei. Ugh, I hate not being able to come up with a good answer! ... I guess you could go with the basic answer that Toei was under the pressure of cranking out an episode a week and the fact that the animators were dealing with 80s/90s technology must not help the cause. I'm under the impression that animation in shows today isn't so drastically different between episodes because of something to do with better tech.

Eh, at least we have some kind of answer as to why the crappy animators are crappy, while the better ones... aren't. Having actual names to refer to the animators is another plus. Nice job, looking up all this stuff, kenisu3000 :D.
[...] and I know of at least one [substudio] that shows up only in GT.
I'm pretty sure you're talking about the combined animation studio of (refers to initial post) Last House and Studio Live.
Aah, so they combined... not exactly a dream team they formed, did they? :lol:

My bet as to why they used Last House and Studio Live so much?... It was probably just because they were cheaper. Entertainment/production companies are just like any other... it's pretty much all about the money. And when you're producing a looooong series like Dragonball, you tend to worry about how much money you have to make it. :P (This makes me wonder if they did anything like this for One Piece... D: )

Ahh, budgets. They suck. e_e

Thanks for putting this information up, Kenisu. Looks like anybody interested in getting into animation needs to take a closer look at the work studios like these do so they know which ones to apply for. I didn't know companies like Toei had more than one or two substudios... hmm... :/
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Post by Shin Moonwalker » Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:59 am

Look at Goku's hair in this one... :?

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Post by DaemonCorps » Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:52 pm

Sorry to broaden the topic a bit, but I'm guessing this means that the animators aren't listed in FUNi's end credits? Also, are we absolutely sure that there were only five animators?
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Post by Godo » Sun Aug 12, 2007 3:24 pm

kenisu3000 wrote:
Tanooki Kuribo wrote:<Snip like we are supposed to>

Worst drawing of Vegeta... EVER!
Holy moley. REALLY.
For some reason I'm reminded of Yogi Bear. Don't ask why.
This is Vegeta Bear!

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