By Rafael Motamayor
Firefighters who literally fight fire with fire, a story of how cells in your body are constantly battling giant bacteria monsters, and…is that a JoJo’s reference?
In just the last 10 years, David Production has made a big, stylish, highly meme-able splash in the world of anime–and that of broader pop culture.
Founded in 2007, David Production’s first work outside of subcontracts was Ristorante Paradiso. Though the studio has maintained a diverse body of work, it wasn’t long before they started working on an incredibly popular franchise. Of course, we’re talking about the 2012 adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which remains one of the biggest meme factories in the anime space.
As the next season of Fire Force ramps up and with a new batch of Cells at Work! episodes coming in 2021, let’s dive into the studio’s impactful body of work, how they experiment with the medium, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find your next favorite series.
Ristorante Paradiso (2009)
Anime about adults actually acting like adults is a rare thing, so to see a show successfully portray the many problems of adult life and do so gracefully is quite the feat.
Nicoletta always wanted to punish her mother for abandoning her as a child. So when she finally finds out her mother and her new husband own a high-end restaurant in Rome run entirely by older men, Nicoletta tries to get hired to introduce herself! Why? Well, her mother’s new husband doesn’t know she exists.
While at the restaurant, Nicoletta comes to learn about her mother, the employees’ lives, and life in general in Rome. Ristorante Paradiso looks absolutely stunning, and you really feel David Production’s Studio Gonzo origin here, with backgrounds and an art style that brings to mind the beautiful-looking Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, a baroque art style that melds Mediterranean design with mid-20th-century architecture seamlessly.
If you want a slice of life anime with beautiful animation, a fantastic ensemble cast and a relaxing yet reflective story, you’re in for a delicious full-course meal in Ristorante Paradiso.
Level E (2011)
Being a star baseball player with a high school scholarship is great, so living alone and having a cute girl next door attending that same school should be great too—until an impossibly handsome man shows up saying he’s an alien with amnesia.
Turns out, there are dozens of aliens living all over the planet! Oh, and at least one of them likes to play games and mess with the entire population of the Earth.
Level E is full of crazy plot twists in every episode, and a tone not unlike the Men in Black movies. Fans of shows like Gintama or even JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure can find plenty of things to love with Level E, and you can see David Production’s skill at handling genre-bending shows and bombastic humor in full force.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)
It doesn’t matter if you’re completely new to anime or a seasoned veteran, we’re certain that, at some point, you’ve come across the title JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Arguably David Production’s most prolific work, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is like 10 shows in one. It’s a generational saga spanning centuries and several protagonists that constantly bends genre and animation styles effortlessly, and David Production makes it all look easy.
Characters’ color schemes change in relation to emotional development, and the show’s music is so good it’s transcended continents and encouraged Western artists to collaborate for the soundtrack. We’re talking the likes of Yes, Savage Garden and Jodeci.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s look is heavily inspired by rock stars and ’80s action movies, making this both a time capsule and one of the best examples of lampooning in anime. The action is incredibly unique and dynamic, and who hasn’t tried to imitate one of the many stand poses in the show? This is one of the most outrageous, inventive series out there, and yes, that is a JoJo’s reference.
Captain Tsubasa (2018)
When it comes to soccer anime, there’s Captain Tsubasa—and then there’s everything else. The classic story that remains an inspiration for generations of soccer fans and players alike, Captain Tsubasa tells the story of the titular Tsubasa Oozora, an 11-year-old soccer prodigy who has a strong emotional bond with the sport and dreams of becoming the best player in the world.
Probably one of the most recognizable and beloved part of Captain Tsubasa is its elaborate and spectacular plays, with moves that defy both gravity and the laws of physics, and are always stunning to look at. They’re absolutely inspiring.
This 2018 remake, made to coincide with the World Cup that year, covers the elementary and middle school years of the manga, and David Production captures both the emotion and the gravity-defying plays that the franchise is known for. If you finish the series and want more, rest assured that there is still quite a lot of story left to cover in the manga!
Cells at Work! (2018)
There are trillions of cells inside of your body at all times, each one designed for a single purpose: keeping you safe and healthy. But what if they were microscopic little people living in microscopic communities and going about their daily life, while monstrous bacteria attack every day?
That’s Cells at Work! for you, a show that is—quite literally—about you. What better way to pass the time while also learning about biology than by watching an anime about a white blood cell fighting against giant monsters that want to kill you, and the red blood cells that keep your blood flowing!?
David Production turns what could be a standard monster-of-the-week anime into an exploration of the resilience of the human body and how complex it is. Sure, you might learn a thing or two about how viruses work and how your body fights them, but it is also quite entertaining.
The show constantly finds new ways to make comedy out of the human cells and the relationships between different parts of the body—plus you’ll never see platelets the same way again.
Fire Force (2019)
It’s been a very hot summer, and you kind of have to give it to the makers of Fire Force for deciding that—instead of giving us a show about firefighters using water or cold to fight fires, the show is about people who can control fire and use their powers to fight fire with…fire.
Now into its second season, Fire Force is one of the most gorgeous shows David Production has ever made. The action is absolutely stunning, playing with light and shadows and with fight scenes that are as dynamic as the flames of the titular fire!
And if you think that’s not fantastical enough, Fire Force has several aces up its sleeve. With such a vast variety of weapons, fighting styles and powers, you are guaranteed to have at least one favorite.
There’s no better time to binge-watch a show with intrigue, great sound design and bombastic action that will have you at the edge of your seat–than right now!
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