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Madhouse

Entry updated 22 November 2021. Tagged: Community, Film, TV.

Japanese animation studio, based in Nakano, Tokyo and founded in 1972 by Osamu Dezaki, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Masao Maruyama and Rintaro (real name Shigeyuki Hayashi, confused by some sources with his brother Masayuki Hayashi), who were former employees of Osamu Tezuka's Mushi Production studio (aka Mushi Pro). In 2004 the studio became a subsidiary of the Index Corporation; then, from 2011, of Nippon TV.

Madhouse's Anime output includes sf, Fantasy, Horror, sport, historical, crime, romance and slice of life – and combinations thereof; it has had many talented directors, most notably regulars Rintaro, Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Satoshi Kon; as well as the likes of Mamoru Hosoda and Masaaki Yuasa. The studio has produced numerous classic works, genre examples including Wicked City (1987), Neo Tokyo (1987), Ninja Scroll (1993), Trigun (1998), Boogiepop Phantom (2000), Metropolis (2001), Chobits (2002), Paranoia Agent (2004), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Paprika (2006), Death Note (2006-2007), Dennō Coil (2007), Kaiba (2008), The Tatami Galaxy (2010), Parasyte -the maxim- (2014-2015) and One Punch Man (2015), as well as many other memorable releases. Non-genre stand-outs include the films Barefoot Gen (1983), Perfect Blue (1997) and Tokyo Godfathers (2003), plus the Television series A Place Further than the Universe (2019).

Madhouse's sf works are listed below, along with the most noteworthy fantasies: those marked with an asterisk are co-productions with other studios.

1970s and 1980s. The studio's first sf show was the television series Jetter Mars (1977)*, created by Osamu Tezuka as a thinly disguised copy of his own Astro Boy – his aforementioned studio, Mushi Production, was facing financial difficulties and the resulting copyright issues meant he could not use his original creation. Madhouse's next genre release was the film Harmagedon (1983; vt Harmagedon: Genma Wars; vt Genma Taisen)*, about a space demon attacking Earth and an Alien Cyborg gathering the planet's psychics to defend it (see Psi Powers), including the Precognitive princess of Transylvania; another film Lensman (1984)* was accompanied by the series Galactic Patrol Lensman (1984-1985)*. There were three films associated with Tezuka's Phoenix Manga (1954-1988; original title Hi no Tori): Phoenix: Karma Chapter (1986; original title Hi no Tori: Ho-o-hen; vt The Phoenix: Chapter of Ho-o)*, The Phoenix: Chapter of Yamato (1987 OVA; original title Hi no Tori: Yamato-hen)* and The Phoenix: Space Chapter (1987 OVA; original title Hi no Tori Uchu-hen; vt The Phoenix – Space)*. Subsequent films include Toki no Tabibito – Time Stranger (1986), where a man flees a Dystopian twenty-fifth century by stealing a Time Machine but is pursued through the past by the Time Police. Wicked City (1987)*, is Horror, where the treaty keeping the peace between our world and a parallel Dimension of demons (see Gods and Demons) is under threat. Neo Tokyo* (1987) is an anthology. Demon City Shinjuku (1988 OVA; original title Makai Toshi: Shinjuku) is based on the novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Goku: Midnight Eye (1989, OVA) and its sequel Goku II – Midnight Eye (1989 OVA) feature a private eye with a cybernetic eye that can hack the world's Computers.

1990s television series. These included DNA² (1994-1995)*, where an Overpopulated future has been created by men with "Mega-Playboy" DNA each fathering 100+ children – a time traveller arrives in the present day to prevent this by amending the DNA of the first Mega-Playboy (see Genetic Engineering); Trigun (1998); Bomberman B-Daman Bakugaiden (1998-1999)*, a Videogame and Toy tie-in whose protagonists use Powered Armour; Di Gi Charat (1998-1999) – plus its sequels up until 2004, being further television series, an OVA and a film – concerns a spoiled catgirl princess from another planet who wants to be an actress but ends up working in an anime store (much silliness ensues, such as being possessed by the spirit of a clam); in Cardcaptor Sakura (1998-2000) a girl accidentally releases the magical cards stored in a book, which are dangerous spirits, so she must become the cardcaptor and retrieve them (there was a sequel television series, two films and an OVA); Alexander (1999; original title Arekusandā Senki; vt Reign: The Conqueror) is a retelling of the life of Alexander the Great but with fantasy and sf elements (particularly in the finale); Magic User's Club (1999)* has magical girls and boys defending the Earth from an Alien Invasion.

1990s OVAs and Films. OVAs included (series unless otherwise stated): CyberCity Oedo 808 (1991-1992); Devil Hunter Yohko (1990-1995), about schoolgirl Yohko Mano, who inherits the family's mantle of Devil Hunter, but would rather chase boys than hunt demons; the series Doomed Megalopolis (1991-1992) is mainly fantasy, with supernatural forces attempting to destroy Tokyo – but one episode, "The Gods of Tokyo", features Gakutensoku, a more advanced version of the historical Robot of that name built by Scientist Dr. Makoto Nishimura in the 1920s (which was the first robot made in Japan); Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals (1994; vt Final Fantasy), was based on the Role Playing Game; the film Bio Hunter (1995) is about two molecular biologists trying to find a cure for a virus that turns people into demons – then one of them becomes infected; Birdy the Mighty (1996-1997; original title Tetsuwan Bādī), concerns an Alien policewoman on Earth, pursuing galactic criminals (see Crime and Punishment), who accidentally kills a schoolboy – so she absorbs him until his body can be repaired; the film Twilight of the Dark Master (1997; original title Shihaisha no Tasogare) features demons, and a woman seeking revenge when her lover turns into a Monster, nearly killing her – it is set in 2089 and has some sf elements; Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (1997-1998; original title Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series) is based on the Darkstalkers Videogame series.

Films included A Wind Named Amnesia (1990; original title Kaze no Na wa Amunejia; vt The Wind of Amnesia); Always, My Darling (1991), part of the Urusei Yatsura franchise (Madhouse also produced two short OVAs); Ninja Scroll (1993), set in the Japanese Edo period, concerns an attempt to stop supernatural ninjas from overthrowing the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate (there was subsequently a television series – see below); Battle Angel (1993); the Stink Bomb segment of the anthology Memories (1995); X (1996; vt X/1999; vt X: The Movie) has two groups of psychic warriors (see Psi Powers) battling over the fate of the Earth – there was a subsequent television series, X (2001-2002).

The twenty-first century saw a increase in the number of productions, particularly television series, with over a hundred of the latter in the first two decades of this century:

2000-2009 television series. These include Boogiepop Phantom (2000); Galaxy Angel (2001-2004), where the five girls of the Angel Brigade attempt to prevent a takeover of the Transbaal Empire by stealing a Spaceship and searching for the mysterious "Lost Technology"; Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (2001; original title Gakuen Senki Muryō) set in 2070, has a small town controlling a Mecha that has been defending Earth from Aliens for centuries; Aquarian Age: Sign for Evolution (2002) has the vocalist in a Near Future rock band (see Music) distracted by a battle between various factions of Magic wielders, psychics and Aliens – over the coming Aquarian Age (there was also a 2003 OVA film); in Chobits (2002), a student finds a cute Android, a chobit, which has free will – however her mind is a tabula rasa, which he attempts to fill; in Rizelmine (2002) the government creates an artificial girl (see Androids) that looks like a twelve-year-old and has nitroglycerin tears, whom they marry to a fifteen-year-old boy; Texhnolyze (2003); Ninja Scroll: The Series (2003; original title Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen) is a sequel to the above-cited film; Uninhabited Planet Survive! (2003-2004; original title Mujin Wakusei Savaiv; vt Planet Survival)* has schoolchildren crashlanding on an apparently uninhabited planet; for Paranoia Agent (2004), see Satoshi Kon. Sweet Valerian (2004) is a children's show where three girls turn into cute bunnies to save their town from stress-created monsters; for Otogi-Jūshi Akazukin (2006-2007; vt Fairytale, Warrior, Little Red Riding Hood), a sequel to the 2005 OVA, see below; for Kemonozume (2006) see under Masaaki Yuasa; Death Note (2006-2007) has a student finding a notebook that kills whoever's name is written in it – he proceeds to murder criminals, attracting the attention of a detective; in Claymore (2007) Shapeshifting Monsters prey on humans, and hybrid human/monster mercenary warrior women are created to fight them; Oh! Edo Rocket (2007), where, in a deliberately anachronistic nineteenth-century Japan, a firework manufacturer is asked by an Alien woman to build a Rocket to return her to the Moon; Princess Resurrection (2007) has a chainsaw-wielding princess from the Monster Dimension, who is currently on Earth but is regularly attacked by her relatives – there are sf elements, such as Androids; Dennō Coil (2007; vt Den-noh Coil); Mōryō no Hako (2008) is a complex tale involving folktales and post-World War Two Japan, with a detective investigating body parts left in boxes, leading to the discovery of human vivisection – including keeping decapitated human heads alive (see Brain in a Box), with the Japanese Army's Unit 731 referenced (see Torture); Himitsu – Top Secret (2008), where in the mid-twenty-first-century Technology can recover five years of Memory from the dead – the police department which uses it to solve crimes must also consider the accompanying ethical dilemmas (see Crime and Punishment). Kaiba (2008); Ultraviolet: Code 044 (2008), is based on the live action film Ultraviolet (2006), where a soldier – Genetically Engineered with an resulting truncated lifespan – goes on the run in a Dystopian future; the first two seasons of Stitch! (2008-2011), a spin-off of Lilo & Stitch (2002); Rideback (2009), in a Dystopian 2025 (see Near Future) a retired ballet dancer finds her talents are ideally suited for riding a Mecha motorcycle; in Needless (2009), following World War Three, a contaminated crater called a Black Spot now exists where part of Tokyo once stood, its inhabitants have gained Superpowers but are persecuted by a pharmaceutical company.

2010-current television series. These include: The Tatami Galaxy (2010); Highschool of the Dead (2010) has high school students coping with both a Zombie apocalypse and its other survivors; Marvel Anime (2010-2011) comprised four television series featuring Marvel Comics Superheroes, namely Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men and Blade (there were also two films, see below); Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014) concerns Hunters, who undertake various exciting commissions – such as bounty hunting, exploring, treasure seeking etc. – it is part of an ongoing franchise, the earlier series not involving Madhouse (there was also a film, for which see below). The Ambition of Oda Nobuna (2012; original title Oda Nobuna no Yabō)* is about a modern-day student finding himself in Japan's Sengoku period; Btooom! (2012) has a Videogame player abducted and forced to play a real-life version of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game; Sunday Without God (2013; original title Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyōbi; vt Kaminai) is set in a world reputedly recently abandoned by God, leaving its inhabitants barren but Immortal; season one of The Irregular at Magic High School (2014; 2020; original title Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei), which has a world where magic can be fused with Technology, but the ability to use it is genetically decided, leading to divisions in society; Parasyte -the maxim- (2014-2015); Overlord (2015-current), where in 2138 a player finds himself trapped inside a Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game; season one of One Punch Man (2015); ACCA (2017); Boogiepop and Others (2019); in Afterlost (2019; original title Shōmetsu Toshi) a city and its population disappears and the sole survivor tries to find answers, with quantum Physics an ingredient; No Guns Life (2019-2020), after a War some of its Cyborged soldiers turn to crime and a private detective, himself a cyborg, specializes in bringing them to justice; Sonny Boy (2021); Takt Op (2021; original title Takuto Ōpasu)*, where a crashed meteorite creates Monsters that are attracted to Music, so in 2047 music cannot be played freely – however girls created from classical music scores can kill the monsters.

2001-current OVAs and films. Despite the focus on television series, Madhouse still produced some OVAs, including Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey (2002-2003), part of Leiji Matsumoto's Captain Harlock franchise as in Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1978-1979), though with a variant spelling; Trava: Fist Planet (2001-2002)*, about an attempt to survey an unknown planet; two segments of The Animatrix (2003) anthology; Otogi-Jūshi Akazukin (2005; vt Fairytale, Warrior, Little Red Riding Hood), in which though magic and science once co-existed, they were split into two worlds – a witch plans to rule both, so three musketeers named Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty come from the magical world to ours to frustrate her (there was a subsequent 2006-2007 television series: see above); three episodes of the Hellsing Ultimate (2006-2012) series (see also Hellsing [2001-2002]); Arata-naru Sekai (2012; vt Renewing World) is a short film that forms part of a multi-media set containing an Anime, Manga and novel, about four schoolgirls sent 6000 years into the future (see Time Travel). Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013) and Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher (2014) are linked to the previously mentioned Marvel Anime television series.

This era's films include Metropolis (2001); WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 (2002; original title Weisuteddo Sātīn Kidō Keisatsu Patoreibā)*, part of the Patlabor franchise (see Mobile Police Patlabor); The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006; original title Toki o Kakeru Shōjo), about a girl who gains the ability to Time Travel and discovers that adjusting events to improve her life has consequences for others; Paprika (2006); Hells (2008; vt Hell's Angels), where a girl killed on her way to school ends up attending a school in hell; Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), a Batman anime anthology series with two segments animated by Madhouse; Summer Wars (2009); Redline (2009); Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010) (see Trigun); Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge (2013) and Hunter × Hunter: The Last Mission (2013) are part of the Hunter x Hunter franchise (see above). [SP]

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