BEE TRAIN Production Inc. (ビィートレイン株式会社 Biītorein Kabushikigaisha?), commonly referred simply as Bee Train, is a Japanese animation studio founded by Kōichi Mashimo in 1997. Since their involvement with Noir, .hack//Sign, and Madlax (among other series) they have a strong following in the yuri fandom for being involved in series portraying strong female leads with speculatively ambiguous relationships.
The studio Bee Train was founded on June 5, 1997 by Koichi Mashimo, who was previously a director at Tatsunoko Productions and the founder of Mashimo Jimusho, a small freelance staff working for other studios. Originally, Bee Train was a subsidiary of Production I.G along with XEBEC but in February 2006, it ended its relationship and became independent.
Koichi Mashimo's goal when he founded Bee Train was to create a "hospital for animators", an animation studio interested in nurturing young talents and artistic quality of production rather than in corporate strategies and profit. This studio-as-hospital approach was allegedly invented by Mashimo during his prolonged stay in an intensive care unit (after a severe skiing accident) and has been Bee Train's official strategy ever since.
The first projects published by the studio in 1999 were anime adaptations of video game franchises popular in Japan: PoPoLoCrois, Arc the Lad, Wild Arms: Twilight Venom, and Medabots. Later, Bandai Visual joined forces with Bee Train to produce an anime OVA based on the famous .hack video game series. Simultaneously, they decided to promote the games with an anime television series, that aired in 2002 as .hack//Sign and is among Bee Train's most famous works. The OVA became known as .hack//Liminality and its four episodes were added as bonus material to each of the original four games of the franchise. In 2006, Bee Train produced .hack//Roots, a prequel anime to the .hack//G.U. games and a spiritual successor to Sign.
Bee Train's first independent project was Noir. Aired in 2001, the series was produced at the same time as Sign and became the first installment of Bee Train's "girls-with-guns" trilogy. After Noir had become widely successful in Japan, France, USA, Germany, and other Western countries, the second series, Madlax, was produced in 2004 and the third, El Cazador de la Bruja, went on air in April 2007. Although the "girls-with-guns" series are considered Bee Train's and, particularly, Mashimo's signature works, the original idea belonged to their common executive producer Shigeru Kitayama.
Since 1997, the studio's headquarters are located in Kokubunji, Tokyo, although in 2001, it moved to another part of the city. Two more studio locations were acquired in 2004 (in Karuizawa, Nagano) and 2006 (Kichijōji, Musashino, Tokyo).
One frequent technique that Mashimo uses as part of his studio-as-hospital strategy is brainstorming new anime concepts with his colleagues in the state of alcohol intoxication. For example, according to him, that is how the idea of the supernatural connection between the two female leads of Madlax was born.
Another typical Bee Train gesture is to invite seiyūs who have already worked on some of their projects to voice the characters similar to the ones they voiced before. For example, this list includes Hōko Kuwashima (Kirika Yuumura in Noir, Margaret Burton in Madlax), Aya Hisakawa (Chloe, Limelda Jorg, Jodie Hayward in El Cazador de la Bruja), and Kaori Nazuka (Subaru in .hack//Sign, Shino in .hack//Roots).
The famous Japanese composer and music producer Yuki Kajiura has created musical scores for multiple projects by Bee Train since Noir (whose appeal lay to a large degree in its soundtrack). Kajiura has provided music for Sign, Liminality, Madlax (as part of FictionJunction Yuuka), Tsubasa Chronicle, and recently El Cazador de la Bruja. When explaining his preference for Kajiura's work, Mashimo once commented that "she's a storyteller who just happens to know how to write music". Another frequent collaboration is that between Bee Train and the musical duo Ali Project (Noir, Avenger, .hack//Roots). Generally, the music plays a just as important role in Bee Train's works as visuals and dialogue do, sometimes even drowning the latter (heard, for example, in .hack//Sign, Avenger, and Madlax).
|1999||Popolocrois Monogatari||TV||25||Kōichi Mashimo||Aya Matsui||Kow Otani|
|1999||Arc the Lad||TV||26||Itsuro Kawasaki||Akemi Omode||Michiru Oshima|
|1999||Wild Arms: Twilight Venom||TV||22||Itsuro Kawasaki||Hideki Mitsui
|1999||Medabots (first season)||TV||52||Tensai Okamura||Ryōta Yamaguchi||Osamu Tezuka|
|2001||Noir||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Ryoe Tsukimura||Yuki Kajiura|
|2001||Captain Kuppa Desert Pirate||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Kōichi Mashimo||Hayato Matsuo|
|2002||.hack//Liminality||OVA||4||Kōichi Mashimo||Kazunori Ito||Yuki Kajiura|
|2002||.hack//Sign||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Kazunori Ito
|2002||.hack//Gift||OVA||1||Kōichi Mashimo||Kazunori Ito||Yuki Kajiura|
|2003||Avenger||TV||13||Kōichi Mashimo||Hidefumi Kimura||Ali Project|
|2003||.hack//Legend of the Twilight||TV||12||Kōichi Mashimo
|2003||Immortal Grand Prix||TV||5||Kōichi Mashimo||Kōichi Mashimo
|2004||Madlax||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Yōsuke Kuroda||Yuki Kajiura|
|2004||Meine Liebe||TV||13||Kōichi Mashimo||Akemi Omode||Yoshihisa Hirano|
|2005||Tsubasa Chronicle (first season)||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Hiroyuki Kawasaki||Yuki Kajiura|
|2006||Meine Liebe wieder||TV||13||Shinya Kawano||Akemi Omode||Yutaka Minobe|
|2006||.hack//Roots||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Kazunori Ito
|2006||Spider Riders||TV||52||Kōichi Mashimo
|Yōsuke Kuroda||Fumitaka Anzai|
|2006||Tsubasa Chronicle (second season)||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo
|Hiroyuki Kawasaki||Yuki Kajiura|
|2007||Murder Princess||OVA||6||Tomoyuki Kurokawa||Tatsuhiko Urahata||Yasufumi Fukuda|
|2007||El Cazador de la Bruja||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Kenichi Kanemaki||Yuki Kajiura|
|2007||Spider Riders: Yomigaeru Taiyou||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Yōsuke Kuroda||Fumitaka Anzai|
|2008||Blade of the Immortal||TV||13||Kōichi Mashimo||Hiroyuki Kawasaki||Kow Otani|
|2008||Batman Gotham Knight: Field Test||Video||1||Hiroshi Morioka||Jordan Goldberg||Christopher Drake|
|2009||Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~||TV||26||Kōichi Mashimo||Gen Urobuchi
|2010||Halo Legends: Homecoming||OVA/ONA||1||Koji Sawai||Hiroyuki Kawasaki||Martin O'Donnell|
|2010||Psychic Detective Yakumo||TV||13||Tomoyuki Kurokawa||Hiroyuki Kawasaki||R・O・N|
Bee Train also participated in the following works as a general for hire company, handling such tasks as animation.
- .hack//Games First Quartet participation with Project .hack
- .hack//G.U. participation with Project .hack
- Afro Samurai: Resurrection: 2nd key animation
- Ah! My Goddess: The Movie: In-Between Animation
- Angel Beats: 2D Works (D-Station), Finish animation (Studio Road)
- Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts: D-Station: Digital works, photography assistance,
- Batman: Gotham Knight: Field Test short film production/in-between animation/ink and paint-Studio Road/editing studio
- Blood: The Last Vampire: In-Between Animation
- Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: In-Between Animation
- FLCL: In-Between Animation
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Key animation
- Gun Sword: Animation finish
- Gurren Lagann: Second Key Animation, In-Between Animation
- Haibane Renmei: In-Between Animation
- Heroic Age: Production Cooperation (episode 04)
- Honey and Clover: Animation
- House of Five Leaves: 3D Layout (D-Station)
- Immortal Grand Prix: In-between Animation
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!: In-Between Animation, Key Animation
- Le Chevalier D'Eon: In-Between Animation
- Mayoi Neko Overrun!: Production Assistance (ep. 4; D-Station/BeeTrain) Finish (Studio Road) Second key animation (C-Station)
- Major: Yūjō no Winning Shot: Key Animation
- Mind Game: Animation
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season: In-Between Animation
- Phantom of Inferno (XBox 360 version): Remade for the Xbox 360 the new game features the character designs created for the series as well as the voice cast.
- Potemayo: Second Key Animation
- Prism Ark: Key Animation
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village: Animation Editing
- RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~: Second Key Animation
- R.O.D. The TV: In-Between Animation
- Ryoko's Case File: In-Between Animation
- Sengoku Basara: Key Animation
- Slayers Revolution: Key Animation
- Sora Kake Girl: Key Animation
- Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind: In-between animation
- Sword of the Stranger: Second Key Animation
- Tales of the Abyss: In-between animation
- Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World: In-between animation
- Tennis no Ōjisama - Futari no Samurai: Animation
- Toradora!: Episode 4
- Tsubasa Chronicle: Tokyo Revelations : In-between Animation
- Wolf's Rain: Production Cooperation, In-Betweens (ep. 13)
- xxxHolic Kei: 2nd Key Animation
- Xenogears: Animation Production animation cut scenes
Bee Train Digital is Bee Train's small special effects and other works area that has mostly provided additional production support to projects such as effects, finishing and photography work for .hack//SIGN, .hack//Liminality, Avenger, and Murder Princess. It has recently created special effects for Toaru Majutsu no Index and 2D works in ending theme of Canaan. Bee Train has two other divisions. Through the 2009-2010 year new divisions were added. C-Station Department which serves as its animation design department and D-Station Department the digital production and digital photography works.
- "About Bee Train" (in Japanese). Bee Train. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "FY 2010 Application Guidelines produced" (in Japanese). Bee Train. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- Friedman, Erica (2004-06-28). "Yuri Anime: Bee Train does it again". Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Wong, Amos (March 2005). "Inside Bee Train". Newtype USA: 8–15. Check date values in:
- "January 3–10 News". Anime News Service. 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
Following Noir and Madlax, [El Cazador] was the thrid [sic] installment in a series of what Director Koichi Mashimo has referred to as his girls-with-guns genre trilogy.
- "Houko Kuwashima". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "Aya Hisakawa". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "Kaori Nazuka". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "That Moment's Expression". Toradora!. TV Tokyo airdate=October 23, 2008. No. 4. 22'08" minutes in.
- Yuki, Masahiro. "The Official Art of .hack//Roots". (May 2007) Newtype USA. pp. 101–107.
- (Japanese) Official website
- Bee Train at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Bee Train Digital at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Studio Road at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- C-Station at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- D-Station at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Bee Train at the Internet Movie Database
- Bee Train Digital at the Internet Movie Database
- Studio Road at the Internet Movie Database
- C-Station at the Internet Movie Database
- D-Station at the Internet Movie Database
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