“Biting more than what they can chew”

This Winter 2015 Anime season, which was the company with the most number of major TV productions? Diomedéa. They produced Seiken Tsukai no World Break, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!, Unlimited Fafnir and Kantai Collection. All of these five titles are titles that have been aired for one whole season. Previously, Diomedéa’s works include Gingitsune, Akuma no Riddle, Kodomo no Jikan, Shinryaku! Ika Musume and Noucome. They also did numerous in-between animations for various series. I constantly need to do corrections on that post because I keep getting the list wrong.

For a background check, what is Diomedéa? It was a studio formed in 2005 “after a split from Group TAC,” and was known previously as Studio Barcelona (Wikipedia). Now, what is this Group TAC that is referred here? They were an animation studio created in 1968 by former employees of Mushi Production (of Osamu Tezuka). Both Group TAC and Mushi Production had to file their bankruptcies in 2010 and 1973 respectively (Wikipedia [1, 2]).

In this post, I am going to gather notes taken from various Anime blogs to see how well they went on the viewers’ perspective. I went to search AnimeNano with the terms “Kantai Collection,” “KanColle,” “Fafnir,” “Unlimited Fafnir,” “World Break” and “Binan.” I also asked notable Anime bloggers on Twitter (which helped a lot in assessing the topic; thank you very much for answering my query). The title of this post is coined from a comment on a blog post done by EmptyBlue’s feal87 last month — and this will be the subject matter of this post altogether.

The Information at Hand

Tweets from Anime bloggers

Mentions of Diomedéa’s Works on Anime blogs

For this part, we will place excerpts from various articles that I have gathered. For the sake of brevity, I will mark the phrases in each segment that needs emphasis.

this part, we will place excerpts from various articles that I have gathered. For the sake of brevity, I will mark the phrases in each segment that needs emphasis.

Exile (March 30, 2015), a reviewer for Anime Talk Amongst Yourselves (Ani-TAY), has described his review of the Kantai Collection Animation Sequence with emphasis on the characters, the references and the CGI animation.

[…] Early on, the series set new standards for the inclusion of computer-generated imagery in anime. I watched the first PV about three times before I even realised it had CG elements, and likewise in the first few episodes of the series proper when in motion it blends exceptionally well with the 2D animation, itself of consistently high quality for the most part, whilst still providing fine details (such as the rifling of a cannon barrel) which would be difficult/annoying/time-consuming to keep consistent with by-hand techniques. Each still have their advantages and I would not wish for CGI to replace traditional animating approaches any time soon (nor do I think it could), but KanColle demonstrates that both can be used in conjunction for an impressive result.

[…] Drop In CGI Quality — I’ve put this under Not Bad Poi… because it never really falls to poor levels, certainly not below the quality of recent shows such as Knights of Sidonia or the obvious comparison; Arpeggio: Ars Nova. But it does become more obvious and slightly janky compared to the first couple of episodes.

[…] There had been minor issues that didn’t deserve to really be hung around the anime’s neck right through the series; oddly enough most of which had to do with the Kongou sisters: the depiction of their stockings, or more accurately their zettai ryouiki, altering between scenes or having incorrect rigging types (in their first appearance they are all shown using boat-type rigging, which only Haruna uses, and in the next they’re all shown using cross-type, which Haruna doesn’t use) but at least they were consistent about which type was in-use. But the last couple of episodes really go downhill, the above image merely being the most grievous example. Others include Hiei’s rigging changing type from boat to cross mid-scene, Souryuu never actually firing arrows but rather having placeholder brown lines which instantly vanish rather than moving forward, and Fubuki’s Anti-Aircraft Fire Director disappearing from her wrist for a few frames before magically popping back into existence. These are basic issues which should not be getting through quality checking, and really cannot be excused.

Foshizzel from Metanorn (March 28, 2015) reviewed the series on a personal standpoint, and he is excited for the next season of the Kantai Collection series.

Besides the strangeness of Kantai Collection I think the best episodes are probably the non combat episodes with the girls doing slice of life things like the LOLi battleship Curry episode and the other with Fubuki befriending Yamato, but at the same time I also enjoyed the combat episodes even though most watchers will simply complain about the CG being awful! Yeah I can’t defend that because I can somewhat agree; however CG is never really THAT great in any anime!

There are other pieces as well for you to consider, which not just include takes on Kantai Collection, but also on other series produced by Diomedéa during the season.

I don’t mind using CG, in fact I welcome it but after watching the anime movie Expelled from Paradise and the last Appleseed movie I started to think any anime should match that kind of 2D shading despite using 3D models, if not better than those movies. Take Expelled from Paradise for example, it almost fooled me into thinking it was 2D, until I saw “the making of” of it.

Halfey, “No Anime No Life: PoiColle (Kantai Collection Season 1 wrap-up),” Attack on Anime, March 27, 2015

At the same time, it could have been better. Sure, the animation has its issues when 2D and CG is mixed, but I think that this show can learn a thing from The [email protected] (especially Cinderella Girls) on how to make a good and enjoyable video game adaptation that doesn’t necessarily have a concrete plot. 

chikorita157, “Kantai Collection ~KanColle~ — Episode 12 (END) — The Final Showdown,” Chikorita157’s Anime Blog, March 26, 2015

The CGI may frustrate purists and collectors but hopefully everyone else can enjoy the show without getting a hernia. 

Overlord-G, “240th G-View: Kantai Collection -KanColle-,” The Yuri Nation, March 25, 2015

As far as production goes, KanColle actually looks pretty good. Sure, the CGI was still a bit stilted for me, but I can appreciate what they were doing and it was a good try. Otherwise it was a very shiny series — characters generally stayed on-model, animation never froze too long, there were lots of explosions. 

Passerby, “Kantai Collection -KanColle- — Fanservice,” Random Curiosity, March 26, 2015

aired my thoughts on the show last week, and the finale didn’t really change anything for the better. For the worse, though? Absolutely. The anguish of Japanese viewers momentarily filling my twitter feed gave some early indication of the horror about to unleash, and after sitting through the last incoherent, anticlimactic 25 minutes of poorly animated talking heads and generally imploding production it was hard to disagree with the response. The show couldn’t have ended with a worse note if it tried.

NovaJinx, “Closing Thoughts on KanColle the Animation — Nuts!,” Jinx!, March 26, 2015

The crowd of badly animated students cheering for Moroha while he was fighting, the rainbow sword of happiness striking the dragon, the stoneform reverted by “the power of love”, the dragon who was reverting all spells and outsmarting everyone that magically becomes an idiot that gets hit in the eye by a random student…

There were so many bad examples in this anime series that I wonder if this episode is going to be used in the future to make animators learn about what NOT TO DO when creating an original story arc for an anime series.

feal87, “Seiken Tsukai no World Break — The last episode was really bad…,” EmptyBlue, March 30, 2015

The overall animation, like the cast, is a bit of a mixed bag. The Battle scenes are particularly egregious in this respect, with shot quality going from “This is Epic and really exciting!” to “This is supposed to be exciting, but it looks like a cardboard cutout puppet show.”

The show is really not an animated wonder to be sure, and though it has its high points, most of it is really mediocre at best. 

Krakken_Unleashed, “World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman — The Ani-TAY Review,” Ani-TAY, March 30, 2015

The results of this anime adaptation are pretty clear because Juuou Mujin no Fafnir managed to get only 800 copies preordered of the BD/DVD first volume.

That’s even lower than Seiken Tsukai no World Break which is amazing considering how bad the animation was in that other series. *laughs* 

feal87, “Juuou Mujin no Fafnir — Predicting the future? It reminds me of…,” EmptyBlue, March 28, 2015

There was an event ticket with the first volume, but the late upsurge and the strong numbers are a good sign for the show’s long-term prospects on disc.

And it’s well-deserved — Binan Koukou ended up being an excellent comedy, one that worked on a number of levels, and I’m happy to see it found an audience in the end.

I don’t know if it’ll be enough to prompt a sequel, but this is a series that could certainly pull one off — and even if it doesn’t get the chance, it still ends up being a success both commercially and artistically. 

Guardian Enzo, “Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! — 12 (End) and Series Review,” Lost in America, March 25, 2015

The main flaws with Bouei-bu really boil down to not finding quite enough material to make jokes out of. The mahou shoujo genre isn’t really deep enough to make extensive parody out of without delving into specific franchises, and as a result most of the jokes are made within the first few episodes.

The characters aren’t strong enough to carry the show, and the innuendo is hardly clever. As a result, it drags quite a bit in the middle, at least until the absurd over-arching plot picks up the slack.

Still, it manages to be mostly funny — and relatively consistently, at that — while keeping itself as fresh as it can. It feels like it would have seriously benefited from a smaller episode count, because while there are good jokes on display they get spread out far too much.

As is though, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! manages to be an effective parody of the mahou shoujo genre. It’s good fun, and often hilarious, although even for a magical girl fan it’s nothing special.

“Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!,” Swabulous Max, March 31, 2015

Findings and Conclusion

From the information that I have gathered and presented, here’s my findings of studio Diomedéa in the Winter 2015 Anime season:

  • All Diomedéa works in the Winter 2015 season are adaptations of either Manga, Light Novels with the exception of Kantai Collection (which is a browser game)
  • The most- talked production among the four works of the studio is Kantai Collection, given that the original source material is a popular DMM.com game credited to Kadokawa Corporation.
  • The most-talked segment in the production of Kantai Collection series is the use of Computer-Generated (CG) Graphics alongside the two-dimensional animation segments.
  • Further research reveals that the CG elements of the series came from a studio called Orange, which has provided CG, 3DCGI, 2nd key and in-between animation and such for a lot of titles.
  • Almost nobody talked about Unlimited Fafnir and Seiken Tsukai no World Break from start to finish among the blogs listed on AnimeNano — only EmptyBlue has covered the series in that manner.
  • As evaluated from its Wikipedia page, this is the first time that studio Diomedéa has done four (4) simultaneous titles in a season. If we compare this to the track of record of A-1 Pictures (also evaluated based on its Wikipedia page), A-1 has kept its load to three titles per season. If we compare Diomedéa’s track record to that of J.C. Staff, we can see that the latter has gotten used to producing a maximum of four titles a season.

From the findings alone, I therefore conclude that studio Diomedéa had a hard time adapting four series simultaneously in the Winter 2015 Anime season.

In my honest opinion, animation production companies should avoid getting the tag of “the busiest studio” for a season, for that will determine how they managed their staffing and how well they went with prioritizing each production that they have. Production companies had built their reputation by prioritizing their outputs — if they are a medium-sized company, they could produce two series at once with ease; if they are a studio with the same size as Sunrise, they could produce more then three at once (or use all of their resources altogether for a full 52-episode series with rave reviews).

In the case of Diomedéa, I have felt that they are a medium-sized company — but with this instance at hand, it is safe to say that they have learned their lesson.