Guest Writer: vme#6969
After watching anime like Fate/Zero or Demon Slayer, I, and many others, wondered just who was behind the amazing animation and computer graphics in this anime. After searching through the credits, I found one name: “Ufotable”. But where did they start from and how do they manage to do what other anime studios fail to?
In the year 2000 a few employees of TMS Entertainment, an anime studio, wanted to create their own small anime studio, where they themselves would have more creative power. But how did they come to the name “Ufotable”? Hikaru Kondo, the founder, had found quite the interest in a designer table in Scandinavia at that time that has the shape of a UFO, and Kondo, really wanting this table, named his new anime studio after it.
Their first works were adaptations of other works, like a sequel to the anime Weiß Kreuz, or an adaptation of the light novel series Sumeba Miyako no Cosmos sou Suttoko Taisen Dokkoidaa. In 2006, everything changed when Ufotable released the anime Coyote Ragtime Show, which was their first original work. This series was written by Tartan Check, a team consisting of three members that were working at Ufotable as normal employees when they were not making manga. This was the beginning of what would differentiate Ufotable from every other anime studio.
In 2007, Ufotable was tasked with animating the Kara no Kyoukai series, a light novel series written by Kinoko Nasu of the development studio Type-Moon, who is well known for one of his later works, the visual novel Fate/stay night and its large media franchise of spin-offs and adaptations. The series was animated in eight movies and was a pioneer of its time with dynamic camera angles and effect heavy fights.
A few years later in 2011, Ufotable adapted the Light novel series Faze/Zero written by Gen Urobuchi, which was a prequel to Fate/stay night. In this time, the studio really became popular with viewers due to their use of computer-generated graphics. Other studios at that time were purely using two dimensional animation techniques, so Ufotable was one of the first to successfully integrate this technique without having it look out of place, a task which many studios to this day are still not fully capable of.
What sets Ufotable apart from other studios is the way they organize their staff and how the work is split. Ufotable has their staff work in 9 different teams and has employees that work on tasks that other studios would outsource. While this may seem normal, in the anime industry many studios employ freelancers, people that are not permanently employed by the studios. For example, in studios like A1 Pictures, there are not any main animators at all and most of the staff working on their anime will consist of freelancers, with only the editors and production committee being permanently employed.
Ufotable manages to have computer graphics that fit into the anime instead of looking out of place by having their own digital effects team. Most other anime studios outsource the digital effects work to a team of digital artists, but Ufotable has the animators and digital artists work together on one floor. This connection between the teams makes scenes possible where computer graphics and animation blend into each other.
After the great success of Fate/Zero, Ufotable announced they were going to reanimate the original visual novel Fate/stay night. After three years, Ufotable released the anime Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, which also received a great reception. The studio is currently working on an adaptation of Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel, which is split into three movies, of which two are already released with the third one being delayed for an indefinite time.
Although Ufotable received a lot of popularity from their Fate adaptations, many of you will probably know Ufotable from somewhere else; the 2019 Adaptation of the manga series Kimetsu no Yaiba, or Demon Slayer. At first, the anime was doing alright, however, with time, the series got very unique fights that managed to distance themselves from the manga in a way that visually enhances the anime and combines animation with computer graphics in a way that would not be possible if the work were outsourced or the teams didn’t work together. Combined with a story loved by many fans of the Shounen genre, this anime managed to become one of the most popular anime in recent years.
Ufotable distances itself from other anime studios by doing their own digital effects work, and by having an internal working structure where the teams communicate with each other, and in this way manages to create anime with stunning visuals like Fate/Zero or Demon Slayer. They have a secondary office in Tokushima, where Kondo used to live. They teach new animators and even let them handle major parts of some of their anime. Today, Ufotable has a restaurant, three cafés, a cinema, and they host a regular anime event in Tokushima named Machi☆Asobi (Town playing).