One of the most prominent anime studios today is Gonzo, or Kabushiki-gaisha Gonzo in Japanese. The studio is founded in September 11, 1992 by former members of another notable anime studio, Gainax. Handling the planning, production and creation of famous titles such as Basilisk and the all-popular Hellsing. the studio stands as one of the very notable members of The Association of Japanese Animators.
The company itself has had its turns of ups and downs, with numerous mergers and financial difficulties in its history. From being initially founded as as Gonzo, Inc. back in 1992, it merged with Digimation K.K. in 2002, and later, the company was rebranded as Gonzo K.K. in 2009. The company has also had its share of financial throes, some of which forced the Tokyo Stock Exchange to delist the company from the Japanese stock market. The company has bounced back since the time however, even listing better profit margins in later years.
One thing that is definite however, is the fact that despite the amount of difficulties that the company has had in the past, it has not only established a reputation as one of the most prominent anime studios in Japan, it has also earned a name for itself for producing anime of such high caliber that the company name has almost become synonymous with great quality productions.
This list shows ten of Gonzo's most prominent works. Here then, are the Top Ten Anime made by Gonzo!
10. Blade and Soul
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2014 - June 2014
Blade and Soul is an anime whose source material differs from Japan. Based on a popular Massively Multplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) developed in South Korea, the anime focuses on an original storyline that is based upon the world that it is featured in the game. The storyline revolves around a female swordsman, Alka, and her quest to seek revenge for the death of her murdered teacher.
The anime adaptation of Blade and Soul, as well as Gonzo's involvement in its conception, was very notable for the company. For one, the franchise and fanbase established by the MMORPG has already gotten very large prior to the anime being created. Thus, the minds behind the game resolved to partner with an animation studio that can do justice to the intricate and massively developed world conceptualized in the game. Gonzo, of course, did not disappoint.
9. Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing (Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam)
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: October 2011 - March 2012
The universe of Last Exile is a very massive, well-developed miasma of retro-futurism and steampunk science fiction that is quite unique and rare in anime. The story is set in the world of Prester, a place resembling nineteenth century England at the height of the Industrial Revolution, where two powerful factions, the Anatoray and the Disith have been engaged in a long-standing conflict according to the code of chivalric warfare which is mostly fought in the sky using flying machines.
Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, is a sequel to the original Last Exile title, taking place four years after the previous series' conclusion. The anime was very well-received, not only in Japan but also in the West. Though Fam, the Silver Wing employs a new story with new characters and new mechanical designs, it nonetheless still kept the spirit of the original alive, thanks to the top-notch production by Gonzo, as well as its direction and score.
8. The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (Druaga no Tou: The Aegis of Uruk)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2008 - June 2008
Set in a world 80 years after the mighty King Gilgamesh has defeated "the tower" single-handedly, The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk features a new, reborn tower and the brave souls who attempt to conquer it. At the core of the story is Jil, a young guardian who joins a party attempting to climb and conquer the new tower in pursuit of a legendary item called the Blue Crystal Rod. However, acquiring the item is easier said than done, for it is guarded by the sinister Lord Druaga and his guardians.
The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk is an anime adaptation of Namco's arcade game with the same title, which was released in 1984. The 1984 game, The Tower of Druaga, eventually spawned a video game franchise called the Babylonian Castle Saga, of which the anime is a continuation of. Released in 2008. the series is among the first titles that Gonzo has opted to be broadcasted in Japanese and subtitled in English on Youtube, Crunchyroll, and BOST TV.
7. Rosario + Vampire (Rosario to Vampire)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2008 - March 2008
Based on a series of bestselling manga written and illustrated by Akihisa Ikeda, Rosario + Vampire features the story of Tsukune Aono, a young man with who, due to his poor grades, ends up being enrolled in Yokai Academy, a boarding school for monsters whose primary aim is to teach coexistence between humans and monsters. Tsukune eventually befriends a beautiful vampire girl, Moka Akashiya, who finds the scent of his blood extremely enticing.
While the manga has garnered fans due to its fairly smooth blending of enough fanservice, character development and action, the anime quickly gained a notorious reputation for having an immense amount of the former, causing certain channels that were broadcasting the series to censor certain scenes. Despite this however, the anime was still considered successful, spawning another season called Rosario + Vampire Capu2 and proving quite popular abroad.
6. Stigma of the Wind (Kaze no Stigma)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
Stigma of the Wind features the story of young Kazuma Kannagi, the eldest son of the Kannagi family, a clan who is imbibed with the ability to use "Enjutsu," the power to control flames. Kazuma however, is unable to do so. After being soundly defeated by his 14-year-old cousin for the right to wield the "Enraiha," a family heirloom, he is banished, only to return four years later as a master of the "Fujitsu," or wind technique.
What makes Stigma of the Wind quite unique and somehow tragic is the fact that it is based on a story that is destined to never be finished due to the death of its author, Takahiro Yamato, on July 20, 2009, forever rendering the story incomplete at 11 volumes of the manga. The anime adaptation, created by Gonzo, differs significantly in tone from the source material, as the main character is portrayed to be much darker in the manga, showing merciless tendencies to antagonistic characters. Despite the changes however, the anime adaptation has still been well-received.
5. Trinity Blood
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 - October 2005
Trinity Blood features a pretty unique storyline, set in a world 900 years after an apocalyptic war between humans and vampire. From the fallout of the apocalyptic war emerged three strong factions, the Vatican, the human government, and the New Human Empire, inhabited by vampiric beings, three factions who end up being embroiled in a Cold War. The story focuses on Abel Nightroad, a vampire working for the Vatican who feeds on other vampires.
This is one of the titles that has made Gonzo into a prominent name not only in Japan but also abroad. Enjoying great ratings locally and internationally, Trinity Blood was well-received by both critics and audiences alike, to the point when FUNimation, Gonzo's partner in releasing the title internationally, stated that Trinity Blood and its international release has helped the company achieve a profit margin of 47.8% in 2006. The animation, especially of key battles and other action sequences, are also considered world-class.
4. Speed Grapher
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 - September 2005
One of the more unique and creative anime under Gonzo's portfolio, Speed Grapher tells the story of ex-war photographer, Tatsumi Saiga, whose chance encounter with a mysterious girl, Kagura Tennozu, grants him the ability to destroy anything that he photographs. He meets the 15-year-old girl while investigating an exclusive fetish club, called the Roppongi Club, whose members are part of the Japanese elite. Escaping the club and ultimately rescuing the girl, they are pulled into a dangerous cat and mouse game that may very well cost them their lives.
Featuring a style that was a bit more simple than the usual Gonzo fare, Speed Grapher was lauded for its story but criticized for the quality of its animation. What is ironic is the fact that the animation is actually very smooth and fluid. It is simply not created of the usual Gonzo fare of intricate, extremely detailed battle sequences that made the company notable. Overall, Speed Grapher is an important part of the company's portfolio, primarily because of its dry, sophisticated and serious central plotline that is aimed at more mature viewers.
3. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 - September 2005
Based on the bestselling novel, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, that was published in 1958, Basilisk involves the story of two ninja clans, Tsubagakure of the Iga and Manjidani of Kouga, who are involved in a brutal blood feud over whose descendant will have the right to become the next shogun. With the shogun demanding that the successor be determined by a life and death contest between the ten best ninjas from both clans, the fate of the land, as well as the uneasy peace that has reigned in it for so long, risk being compromised.
Produced in 2005, Basilisk is one of the titles that made Gonzo into a household name. Viewers and critics alike lauded the series for its smooth battle sequences and impeccable production values, as well as the anime's propensity to stick with the events in the manga very closely. It is also critically acclaimed as one of the more serious action anime that were produced during its time, featuring a story that is very mature, with roots in Japanese history.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2004 - November 2004
Though famous for its heavy violence and sexual content, Gantz actually does tell a pretty good story. The plot focuses on the exploits of two young men, Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, who enter a semi-posthumous game in which they are tasked to kill specific targets such as deadly aliens through a number of heavy and advanced futuristic weaponry, equipment, and tools. The story then goes deeper, with the option of allowing survivors of the deadly game to be granted with the chance to get back to his or her old life, among others.
Gantz has garnered a huge following that spans the globe since its release. The anime adaptation, which is produced fully by Gonzo, was received very positively due to its fluid art and animation. The franchise has also grown, widely considered as one of the most successful anime franchises of 2005, spawning wide international release and a couple of live-action movies, both of which were critically-acclaimed themselves.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2001 - January 2002
Based on Kouta Hirano's manga masterpiece, Hellsing chronicles the story of the mysterious titular Hellsing Organization, a powerful organization founded by the legendary Abraham Van Helsing, the archenemy of the most powerful vampire who ever lived, Count Dracula. The organization stands to protect England from the forces of the dark, who threaten to plunge the country into darkness. At the center of the story is Alucard, a vampire who has sworn loyalty to the Hellsing family after being defeated by Van Helsing 100 prior to the start of the series.
The emergence of the more recent OVA, Hellsing: Ultimate has caused the popularity of Gonzo's adaptation of the story to be eclipsed both in popularity and its faithfulness to the material. This is primarily because Gonzo narrated a completely different story from the source material, mainly because the manga remained unfinished during the time the anime was being released. Nevertheless, the original 2001 Gonzo adaptation remains a fine example of an anime studio managing to create a very satisfactory product despite a lack in the source material.
So here it is, everyone! Gonzo's Top Ten Anime. What truly lies behind this list is the fact that each of the titles in this list is produced exclusively by Gonzo, which enjoyed full control of the anime's creation without any sub-contractors. Truly, Gonzo has proven itself to be an anime production company that is known for the impeccable quality of its work - one which values the quality of its product over the quantity of what it produces.
We anime fans have learned that if Gonzo is involved with the creation of an anime, it will surely have very, very good production values. It is, after all, what makes Gonzo, Gonzo.