To start, I want to say that I am sorry for not having updated for quite some time. I caught the flu and cannot say I was in a state to blog anything coherent. I hope you understand.
Everyone probably has their own favorite anime studio for one reason or another. Mine is Shaft, the studio that is both hated and loved for their unique approach to directing anime (thanks to Akiyuki Shinbou).
I will probably be accused of being an extremely shallow person for saying this, but this happens to be the very reason I love Shaft so much. Whenever I sit down and watch anything by them I never, ever, get bored. I may think something is bad or uninteresting, but thanks to their wonderful directing, it never gets boring!
You never quite know what to expect when watching a series by Shaft, which I find very exciting for the lack of better words. The camera changes angle all the time, suddenly the art may change into something abstract or even feature real-life objects and so on. Endlessly talking mouths do not exist in anime created by Shaft (and the few instances they do exist, the camera often cuts to something else every now and then) which is a wonderful thing. This is also why a wordy series such as Bakemonogatari actually worked: it never grew stale visually.
Sadly, this very strength also has its downsides. Many find series by Shaft to be mere slideshows, which I find unfortunate. But they are correct: Shaft are not a powerhouse when it comes to actual animation. There are, seemingly random, times when they put a lot of effort into it, but it is not as common as in a series by, for example, Madhouse. Luckily, this does not matter in the slightest for me (but I can see why it does for others).
In addition what is mentioned above there is also the fact that Shaft’s stylish visual approach can come across as pretentious or as “style over substance”. Personally, I am somewhat in the fence when it comes to this. You see, many times Shaft uses their trademark style… just because it is their trademark style. Look at basically any series created by them and you can see it used over and over again.
Does their style actually make a series better or not? There are definitely cases where it does. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei would have lost its quirky charm without the playful animation, Bakemonogatari simply would not have worked as well without it and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica vows the style into its storytelling in an excellent way.
But what about when it comes to Arakawa Under the Bridge, Maria Holic, Hidamari Sketch and the likes? No-one can say for sure whether or not Shaft made those series better with their style.
However… I do not care.
Shaft enhanced my experience and made me enjoy them all.
All thanks to their crazy directing.