Anime Studios that Break the Mold

Top 5 A-1 Productions Anime

Unlike studios like Kyoto Animation or Ufotable, which have a consistent aesthetic and regular stable of directors, A-1 has more often found itself producing shows that push the boundaries of what’s considered normal anime. These include the aforementioned Sound of the Sky and Occult Academy, along with the short-lived Anime no Chikara partnership that produced three anime-original series.

Sword Art Online

The blurred line between virtual and reality is the central theme of this high-brow anime series. It’s a heady, thought-provoking show with some dark themes for teens who can handle it.

Kirito, a loner in real life, turns to multiplayer virtual reality in order to reinvent himself. He finds himself in a bleak world that’s as deadly as it is fascinating, and must battle against his demons both inside and outside the game.

The popular video game based on the SAO series features an immersive experience, allowing players to control a character modeled after their own. It’s available for PlayStation. The MMORPG also has several spin-offs, including the Gun Gale Online alternative and the Progressive storyline. There’s even a free-to-play mobile version. An anime film adaptation of the 1st Floor arc titled Sword Art Online: Progressive Aria of the Starless Night and a sequel titled Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Deep Night were released in 2021.

Fairy Tail

A zany shonen, Fairy Tail lays the foundation for a solid story that continues to get stronger season after season. Interwieving slapstick comedy with visually intoxicating scenes of action and peril and a celtic-tinted score, the show never fails to keep momentum going.

Lucy Heartfilia runs away from her snobby home to follow her dream of becoming a wizard. She joins Fairy Tail’s guild of misfits, a group of magic users who specialize in summoning celestial spirits of the zodiac signs.

Co-produced with Trigger and Cloverworks, this mecha anime is unique in that it feels like a lost Gainax production. It’s a drama about teenagers discovering themselves and rebelling against oppressive authorities, invoking the spirit of Gurren Lagann.

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

When it comes to love, it’s not all warm fuzzies and unabashed bliss. Sometimes, it’s a battle of carefully calculated choices and strength of will. That’s exactly what Kaguya-sama: Love Is War delivers.

The show follows Student Council President Miyuki Shirogane and Vice-President Kaguya Shinomiya who seem like the perfect couple. They’re both leaders in their academy and well-regarded by their peers. They also share a secret: they’re in love with each other. But in their world, whoever confesses first loses. So, daily they wage a war of tricks and mind games in an attempt to make the other admit their feelings.

While the show has a lot of gag comedy that will keep you laughing, it also delves into the characters’ backstories and gives each one their own unique flavor. It’s an entertaining and engrossing look at the insecurities of high school romance that will resonate with anyone who’s ever been in love. It’s a must-see for any anime fan.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Released in the fall of 2014, The Seven Deadly Sins follows the feared warriors of Britannia, the Holy Knights, who were framed for trying to overthrow the kingdom’s ruler. When the king’s daughter Elizabeth discovers the truth, she seeks out The Seven Deadly Sins to help her reclaim the throne.

While some studios have a specific stable of directors that create a visual cohesion, A-1 Pictures operates like a blank slate with each new show they produce. This allows for distinct visions and one-of-a-kind creators to make their mark on a series.

While it may not be the most exciting or memorable work, Working!! is certainly a bold and hilarious series that gives viewers a look at the surreal chaos of a family restaurant’s staff. The series is also visually stunning and has a beautiful soundtrack. Its beautiful piano themes are sure to touch any anime fan’s heart.

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