Brain’s Base is one anime studio that seems to fly under the radar most often. Founded in 1996 by Ozawa Juukou, formerly of TMS Entertainment, the studio is neither as historically significant as Toei Animation nor as new and flashy as MAPPA. It also lacks a specific, distinctive visual style that some other studios, such as Kyoto Animation or Trigger, bring to the table.
Nonetheless, viewers may be surprised by the sheer scale of Brain’s Base’s work. Although the studio is best known for directing classic fan favorites Baccano! and Durarara!!, he’s also created original anime works, as well as anime adaptations for supernatural dramas, fantasy adventures, romantic comedies, and original slice-of-life stories, all with a commendable amount of emotional range. These are the best of them all.
The year is 1983, and in the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, Hitotsubashi Yurie is a shy but steady middle school student living her life. She does all the normal things – going to school, hanging out with her friends and harboring an intense crush on the boy she loves – until one night she finds out she’s been turned into a god. shintoist, or kami. Her family and peers come to terms with this sudden turn of events, largely with little shock or fanfare, and Yurie must now learn the ways of the gods and spirits, while continuing to navigate her teenage years.
An original iyashikei-style and casual anime production, all 16 episodes Kamicchu! is a beautiful but highly underrated show that will appeal to those who enjoy low-stakes supernatural content and relaxing coming-of-age titles. It’s a very family-friendly series that involves both smooth comedy and subtle drama, and while some may find it a bit too slow-paced or boring for their liking, it’s a must-watch for audiences with a penchant for tranquil rural settings – – Particularly like Kamicchu! incorporates many beautifully rendered real-life locations into its story.
Natsume’s Book of Friends / Natsume Yuujinchou (2008-2012)
Since childhood, Natsume Takashi has been cursed with the ability to see youkai spirits, much like his late grandmother Reiko once did. This resulted in many terribly lonely years, as children and adults saw him as a compulsive liar or just plain creepy. One day, Natsume discovers a book that once belonged to her grandmother – the Book of Friends – which contains the names of all the spirits she possessed and therefore could control. Now Natsume is constantly harassed by spirits who wish to retrieve their names or simply take the book for themselves, including the powerful Madara, or Nyanko-sensei, who becomes Natsume’s self-appointed bodyguard.
Natsume’s Friends Book — also well known by its Japanese title, Natsume Yuujinchou – currently has six seasons under its belt, though only the first four were produced by Brain’s Base. These 52 episodes are an extremely emotionally poignant experience; whether happy or sad, wonderful or quietly tragic, there is a great sense of nostalgia that pervades everyone as the series quietly deals with themes such as grief, loss and loneliness, but also hope, l friendship and reunited family. At the end of the day, Natsume is a hard-hitting yet uplifting spectacle with lush visuals and a haunting soundtrack, and a must-watch masterpiece for any fan of supernatural or Japanese mythology.
Princess Medusa / Kuragehime (2010)
Kurashita Tsukimi is a shy and anxious young woman who lives in an apartment building in Tokyo with four other tenants. All socially awkward otaku NEETs with different obsessions, the only hard and fast rule in their house is that no men are allowed. Tsukimi has a lifelong love for jellyfish, whose lace-like tendrils remind her of princess dresses. One evening, while trying to save an uncared for jellyfish from a store, she inadvertently befriends the elegant Koibuchi Kuranosuke – only later to realize that Kuranosuke is a young man who cross-dresses. , mainly to feel closer to his deceased mother and rebellious against his political father and older brother.
Based on a josei manga of the same name, Princess MedusaWhere Kuragehime, is a one-of-a-kind romantic comedy and slice-of-life series that manages to tackle specific issues and themes like cross-dressing, gender identity, and beauty with aplomb. While only 11 episodes long and in some ways an incomplete story, Princess MedusaThe story of is nonetheless sincerely heartfelt, as well as funny and sweet to watch unfold. It also looks incredibly vibrant, with colors and character designs that really pop, helping to constantly remind audiences that every cast member deserves a second look – no matter how they may view themselves or which characters they choose. to present to the outside world.
My Little Monster / Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (2012)
Mizutani Shizuku is an academically-minded high school girl whose only interest is in studying and planning for her future. However, when asked to deliver class materials to Yoshida Haru, a classmate whose seat is right next to hers but who rarely comes to school, Haru greets her as a close friend and insists on her. go everywhere like a little child. Despite being recognized as a violent troublemaker, Haru quickly proclaims that he is in love with the seemingly cold and unadorned Shizuku. Together, the two previously unsociable high school students make new friends and have new experiences in both love and life.
Another shortie but a goodie, the 13th episode my little monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kunliterally The monster sitting next to me) is a romantic comedy that, at first glance, may look like a goofy high school show, but has a lot more to do below the surface. Even the secondary characters have substantial depth and realism, making the entire cast not only likable but also relatable despite the sometimes unlikely shenanigans they get caught up in. Plus, while the usual love triangles and teenage angst abound, the story is lighter than not, avoiding overuse of melodrama and turning my little monster in a fun and addictive watch.
Toward Your Eternity/Fumetsu no Anata e (2021)
One day, a mysterious otherworldly presence known only as the Beholder creates a white orb that takes the shape of a rock, followed by a white wolf that comes into contact with the rock as it dies. Now a living, sentient being, the immortal encounters a lonely boy who mistakes the wolf for his beloved pet. Once the boy himself dies, the immortal assumes his form and travels alone, eventually meeting new people and learning about humanity from them, one of whom names him Fushi. Each time they die, those he connects with become part of Fushi’s very essence as he adjusts to society – and all of the harsh realities and emotions that come with it.
While the second season of To your eternity (Fumetsu no Anana e) is set to release this upcoming fall anime season under Drive studio, its first season, consisting of 20 episodes, was produced by Brain’s Base. If the pace is sometimes questionable, especially in its second half, the first episode alone of To your eternity is one of those rare gems that touches the heart and requires very little dialogue to do so. While many anime have an overreliance on speech, often using it as if afraid of the void created by silence, To your eternity often goes the other way, creating a hard-hitting journey that speaks much louder than words ever could.