Once upon a time in the early and mid 2000’s, there existed an anime studio called Gonzo. It was a rather successful studio, releasing multiple shows per season, all usually getting licensed by Funimation or ADV Films. They were critically acclaimed for their animation (Most of the time), and a lot of fans anticipated their newest releases (For some reason). Still their reign did not last for long, for when the economy crashed in 2008 Gonzo was put into dire straits, gaining a reported deficit of 30 million dollars. Gonzo could not longer produce four shows in one season, they could longer produce manga adaptations at nauseum hoping for a big hit, and they could longer be a hot topic in anime. Eventually they merged with their parent company GDH in 2009, causing them to become completely inactive in 2010. They still exist, but they only release one show per year at most; with their newest release being a moe show about voice actors called Sore ga Seiyuu.
On one hand I feel like this sob creator story should bring a tear to my eye, but on the other most Gonzo anime sucked. Yep, I’m just going to say it. Despite Gonzo being one of the biggest studios in the 2000’s, a lot of there work was easily disposable trash that was produced in the vain hope of gaining vast amounts of money. In many ways they resemble the more modern animation studio A1 Pictures, which also produces an obscene amount of shows per season. But unlike A1 Pictures, Gonzo was terrible in terms of producing consistently well-animated works. Yeah A1 Pictures has plenty of ugly ducklings, cough cough Gunslinger Stratos, Uta no Prince-sama Revolutions, and Ultimate Otaku Teacher, cough cough; but at least they’re consistently ugly. Gonzo shows were always a haphazard mess of sometimes good direction, occasionally gorgeous cuts, and strange moments where you can tell the animators threw down their pencils and gave up.
You can speculate the reasons for this, but personally I blame it on the ridiculous release schedule of their projects. Look at April of 2007, in this one season they released four separate shows, something even an entirely freelance studio like A1 Pictures struggles to do sometimes. Things get even more disturbing when you realize all of these shows were at least 24 episodes long, and that in Fall of that year they started producing Dragonaut the Resonance. This means that while they were simultaneously working on four shows at once, they were also in pre and early production for that show. Yikes, it’s amazing that they even produced anything during that time.
However, animation is only one component of your average anime, since writing also plays a big role in making a show enjoyable. So in terms of writing, I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone when I say that most Gonzo shows were meh. Sure they had some gems like Welcome to the NHK and Last Exile, but for the most part their shows were quickly written and forgettable. Can you honestly say you remember watching Glass Fleet or Vandread (Seriously no one talks about these shows)? And yet their work was consistently brought over to North America, receiving top notch dubs and lots of hype before release. When their first anime movie [Origins – Spirits of the Past] was brought over, it received a special edition DVD, and the trailers all specifically referenced it’s creation by Gonzo.
So with all of this intensely strange history, I decided I’d dive in head first! That’s right, I’m going to be watching 7 Gonzo shows I’ve never seen before. I hope I can release a review for at least one of these shows every month. Though knowing my track record, you probably shouldn’t expect me to be extremely consistent. Still, if things go according to plan, these are the shows you can look forward to me covering during the upcoming months:
- Romeo x Juliet
- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- Kaleido Star
- Solty Rei
- Red Garden
- Samurai 7
Anyways, my first review for Romeo x Juliet should hopefully be up tomorrow, and you can continue voting for the tenth show until I release my review for Samurai 7. This way I can easily prepare and start watching the show with enough time to write and edit my review for Bokurano. And with that I’ll leave you the voting to you. I hope you’ll enjoy my journey into Gonzo Hell.