5 Korean Animation Companies Anime Fans Should Know
by Callum May & Jacki Jing,
When we think of the creators of anime, we often think of people all crowded together within a singular animation studio. But that's ignoring the work done by all of the other animation teams around the world who can get the show done. Most animation created in South Korea is for overseas production, mostly in Japan and the United States. According to the book The Agglomeration of the Animation Industry in East Asia, most surveyed South Korean studios were roughly 75% reliant on foreign contracts, with many saying that they were entirely reliant on them. So let's take a look at some of the companies that fuel the world's animation.
If you've ever wondered about anime's influence on American animation, the cause is two-fold. Firstly, many of the US creators of cartoons today grew up with Saturday morning anime, but also many of the animators working on these series have experience on Japanese anime. This is the case for MOI Animation, a team that largely works on US productions, but have found themselves working on anime as well from time to time. These inspirations are largely incidental until you come to something like Castlevania, a show that swears by its anime aesthetic. While many of the main shots were created at Powerhouse Animation itself, MOI's anime experience came in helpful for nailing down that aesthetic with experience on stuff like the Berserk Golden Age films and Project Itoh's Harmony. They also made Neo Yokio, but we'll forgive them for that one.
4. DR Movie
If you're the sort of person who sticks around for an anime's credits, DR Movie is a name you've probably seen time and time again. The studio has been around since 1990, participating on early anime icons like Ninja Scroll, Princess Mononoke and Vampire Hunter D. In 2000, Madhouse was so impressed with their work that they bought a stake in the company. Since then, the studio has expanded, increased the number of companies they work with and even worked on their own productions like Elsword: El Lady, an animated adaptation of the Elsword MMORPG. But even to this day, they'll race to the aid to of Madhouse or its successor company MAPPA to realise their shows.
3. SAMG Animation
If you were following the creation of the French series Miraculous in 2012, this may be a sore spot. The creators initially planned to have the show animated in 2D by the team at Toei Animation. However, once they'd released an animated PV which looks absolutely excellent, the producers started questioning the marketability of 2D anime. Remember, this was 2012, still around the time where everyone was saying we've got to move to 3D instead. The project was passed on to SAMG Animation, a 3D production house in South Korea. Although the show isn't in 2D anymore, SAMG is able to capture the same energy and magical girl stylings of the 2D trailer. They've managed to propel the series into the limelight and have created two feature films while working on their own Power Battle Watch Car series. Just from one look at their works, you can see that this is a team of animators with an exceptional ability to capture fun expressions in 3D.
2. Comma Studio
So far, we've just talked about 2D and 3D animation studios, but it's worth clarifying the broadness of Korean animation. Comma Studio is a stop-motion company, largely known for their work on the kids series Bo&Tos family, which has aired on Disney Channel Korea, won awards, and has been exported overseas. Stop-motion is something we generally only think of Aardman and Laika as the creators of these days, but it's worth recognising that it's a global medium with wide international appeal, especially among children. As well as their own projects, they also worked with Japanese director Makoto Nakamura on the acclaimed feature film Chieri and Cherry, a film about a girl who lost her father in the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. Just because you make kids stuff doesn't mean you can't get serious.
1. Studio Mir
Studio Mir is probably the most recognisable and beloved players in the Korean Animation industry. Founded by Avatar: The Last Airbender animation director Jae-Myung Yoo, the team was promptly assembled to create the bulk of The Legend of Korra episodes before moving on to the wildly popular Voltron: Legendary Defender series. Their work has been an inspiration to many American animation creators who want to continue to push this anime-like aesthetic and appeal towards US audiences. But it's not just the US. One of the most recognisable 2D animated Chinese films is Big Fish & Begonia, but in fact, a lot of the animation work was created by Studio Mir in Korea. The team are currently working on a Witcher animated film and trying to get their own original series Koji greenlit. They even posted a pilot for it, which looks absolutely delightful.
This week, we want to know your favorite Korean-animated series! Vote in the poll!
Last time we asked you for your favorite opening songs of Spring 2020! Here's your faves:
- Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2: " DADDY! DADDY! DO!" by Masayuki Suzuki feat. Airi Suzuki
- Tower of God: "TOP" by Stray Kids
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: "Otome no Route wa Hitotsu ja Nai!" by angela
- Kakushigoto: "Chiisana Hibi" by flumpool
- Fruits Basket 2nd Season: "Prism" by AmPm feat. Miyuna
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