The “Holy Trinity” of Kyoto Animation: There’s a Dramady for everyone!

Kyoto Animation is, as you would have guessed, an animation company that is located on the south outskirts of Kyoto, in a city called Uji. It was founded in 1981, although they were initially producers and co-staff of other anime companies. They started creating their own anime in 2003 with Fullmetal Panic Fumoffu!, and have been going strong since.

Kyoto Animation has a huge fan-base, often praised for consistent, high quality animation – something incredibly rare to see in anime, let alone a company. Their productions contain very little filler and are often well paced. The only action series they created was the continuation of the Full Metal Panic franchise. Apart from the science fiction hit of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyoto Animation has been dominantly focusing on KEY video game adaptions, which share genres of: comedy, drama (dramady), romance, slice of life and more.

The Holy Trinity’ of Kyoto Animation was a term first coined by anime blogger Arkada of GlassReflection, to describe Kyoto Animation’s 3 major dramady anime to date. I am here to describe them, so if you are the type of person who enjoys soaps on TV, one of these are sure to suit your fancy!

3. AIR TV (2005)

AIR TV

The adult visual novel (video game) was released in 2000. The manga was adapted before the 12 episode anime. AIRtells the story of a young man named Yukito, who performs puppet shows to earn a living – traveling from city to city in order to find ‘a girl from the sky’. He meets a young girl named Misuzu, who wants to become his friend.

AIR is very inconsistent in terms of narrative style (the first and second half of the series are completely different), and one character in particular is astoundingly gullible – but apart from this it has wonderful visuals, a killer theme song, supernatural twists and a beautiful, moving ending. The two character names you will remember are the two protagonists.

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2. Kanon (2006)

Kanon

The Kanon visual novel came out in 1999, and was the 2nd best selling video game in Japan at the time. Toei Animation made a 13 episode series in 2002, but it was criticized for poor artwork, and cramming too much content in too short a space of time. In 2006 Kyoto Animation decided to remake it, increasing the length to 26 episodes, and removing a lot of the problems the original series had.

Notable qualities of this series include steady pacing, an entertaining male lead, lots of funny moments, and an interesting ending. Faults would have to be how ridiculous some of the supernatural elements sound. Apart from this, it is a very entertaining series, and a lot more consistent in terms of the writing. You can watch the opening sequence here.

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1. CLANNAD / After Story (2007-9)

Clanned

The game for CLANNAD came out in 2004. This franchise was split into two sets of 26 episodes. You could almost imagine it as an anime version of the hit sit com “How I Met Your Mother”, as the first part (CLANNAD) follows delinquent Tomoya in his search to find himself, meeting lots of cute girls along the way. CLANNAD: After Story follows more the relationship of Nagisa and Tomoya post high school. You can see the opening sequence here.

It is the most down to earth of all the Kyoani series, so if you are not a fan of the supernatural, this one may be the one to watch above the others. The animation is beautiful, characters lovable, and while there is a fair share of filler and isn’t as well organized or paced as Kanon, it has the most meaningful, believable story – as it highlights the importance of family. The later half of After Story is so moving and unique for its genre it knocks the overall score higher. Some may consider the ending to be a cop out, however, it wraps up the confusing pinches of supernatural littered throughout the show. To learn more about CLANNED, you can read our review.

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What do you think? Leave a comment.

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12 Comments

  1. AnnaLar

    I’m intrigued! Which one of these is suitable for a more mature audience? I would like to start watching an anime but I’m not in the mood of standard cutey highschool drama if you get my drift.

    • Jordan

      Hmm all of these titles are “cutesy” in some way or another. While CLANNAD is very high school-y, if you can get through to episode 9 of the second series (CLANNAD After Story), it becomes more mature. Just depends if you’re willing to sit through a large number of episodes to get to that point though 😛

      • Gotta say Kanon is a lot better then Clannad when it comes to its tragedy but when it comes to the comedy no way Clannad rules but all and all there both great animes but Kanon is better

  2. Lucretia Arkwright

    Gotta love KyoAni and gotta love Key too, but I’m surprised at no mention of Lucky Star.

    • Jordan

      LOL yes I figured Lucky Star is more comedy type show with little of a plotline…. it doesn’t really “fit in” with the rest of the KEY stuff…. but at least now it is mentioned 😉

  3. WillStocks

    Really interesting, I hardly knew anything about this studio before now

  4. Kai

    My fav is still Clannad After Story, probably the most “dramatic” (for the lack of better word) yet 😀 I always love how fairy-tale like Key’s romances are, which I’m a fan of, though I never watched the 2002 version of Kanon, lol.

    • Jordan

      lol the 2002 version was never released in the US.. which is good, character designs look really ugly!!!

      I also love After Story 🙂

  5. The Trifecta of perfection and tears…a lot of tears. Love Clannad and AIR to death and even played the visual novel for all three. I plan to re-watch Kanon this week ^^

    • Jordan

      Where did you find the visual novel? I think they sound like fun but have only found youtube screencaps 🙁

  6. Austin

    I recently re-watched Clannad, the first and second seasons. I have to make sure my door is firmly closed so no one catches me crying like a baby panda.

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