Anime Cliches 19: Kyoto Animation

Type: Studio and art cliché

What made it popular: The success of certain Kyoani works (Clannad, K-On) and their own conformist nature.

Cliché Level: Negligible (Across all anime) Extremely High (Within their own works)

Where can you find it: All of Kyoani’s work conform to this cliché one way or another

Description: Kyoto Animation or better known as Kyoani was/is one of the most popular anime studios around. Despite the fact that the studio has existed since 1981, they have only produced 21 anime in total, all of which are completely shit or mediocre with the exception of the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. Kyoani’s fame can be traced back to the mid 2000’s where they began adapting various Jun Maeda/Key Visual Arts visual novels into the anime format, such as Air, Kanon and the most famous Clannad. These adaptations have made them famous and cemented their reputations as creators of SOL and Romance/Drama series, which they further reinforced with the release of one of the most popular and back then mainstream anime, the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The last work I shall mention is K-On, made in 2009, which pretty much started the whole Moe Slice of Life boom that lasts even to this very day.

Why its bad:

First off I must explain what I’m even talking about when I say “Kyoani Cliché“.

The thing you need to understand about Kyoani is that they are the opposite of studios like Gainax or Madhouse, they do not like to take on risks, they don’t make anime that might not sell or be unsuccessful, they instead choose the path of safety and make anime based on formulas that have already worked on them. What works for Kyoani? Slice of life shows obviously as well as Romance Dramas, so these are the two things that they will keep putting out one after another, because it is a surefire way of making money. Especially because they have developed a large fanbase and following, who want that kind of anime and will buy it regardless of their quality. In 2013 KyoAni attempted to do something different with Kyoukai no Kanata (Which is a supernatural drama), however they were very bad at it, which is why the sales showed numbers of dissatisfaction. So it is unlikely that they will repeat this anytime in the future, they will remain the Moe/Slice of Life studio of anime for as long as this fad is popular.

This conformity does not only translate to the kind of genres they produce, but to also their art, because yes Kyoani and Shaft are the two studios who are famous for reusing their “unique” art and style in their works, while other studios have different artstyles for most of their separate shows, Kyoani refuses to take risk even at this stage. This is mainly done to make the series more comforting and “familiar” to the fans watching it, Hyouka, Chuunibyou Tamako Market etc will remind them of K-On, which is the originator of the art style, while Clannad and Kanon will remind fans of Air.

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Kyoani’s art can be separated into 2 main phases, Key and K-On Phase.

The First phase comes from their Key Visual Arts/Jun Maeda phase, so I shall refer to it as the Key Phase. In the Key Phase all shows produced by Kyoani have an art style that is reminiscent to the visual novel artstyle of Key, which is honestly a terrible choice for art style, as Key Arts is overly moe, they make all the girls look like bug-eyed monster lolis.

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The Second Art Style Phase, which comes directly from K-On is a bit more pleasing to the eye, but still too moe and lazily looking.The ctrl+c and ctrl+v is really obvious, as it really feels as if they just  literally copy pasted the K-On faces onto the characters.

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There is one thing I can say regarding Kyoto Animation to end this article: You seen one, you seen them all.

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