Haoliners is the name of a Chinese animation company that partners with Japanese studios to create shows that air in both China and Japan. I’ve written about them before, where I noted that a lot of their shows aren’t actually made at the same studio. This is not a surprise when you consider that they’ve produced over 10 shows for Japanese TV since opening their Tokyo studio in late 2015. No fledgling studio can lead that many productions straight off the bat.
So where are Haoliners shows actually being animated? Haoliners has studios in China, South Korea and Japan. If you look carefully at the credits, however, each show has involved a great deal of outsourcing. I’ll briefly note down the lead production studio in each case. (I’ll just be focusing on the shows that had an English release here.)
Hitori no Shita – The Outcast: Lead production studio was Pandanium, a Tokyo studio that I can’t find any information about besides the address. I’d hazard a guess that this studio name was created solely for this project, as The Outcast is their only listed work. They received assistance from Namu Animation, a South Korean subcontracting studio that also worked on Bloodivores. And by “assistance”, I mean they did basically all the key animation for each odd-numbered episode, along with in-betweens, prop designs and backgrounds for every episode.
The second season is a different story. The production team was completely overhauled, with almost all the production taking place in Haoliners’s Chinese and South Korean studios. The animation looks remarkably better for it. Look no further than here if you want to see the best of what the Chinese animators at Haoliners can do right now.
Spiritpact: Lead production was by Haoliners’s South Korean studio, with assistance from the Chinese side as well.
The Silver Guardian: Lead production was at Emon Tokyo. This remains the only show where the bulk of the work was done at the Tokyo studio. Lots of Chinese animators provided key animation as well. The second season continues the same core staff, but with assistance from Studio BLADE, a Japanese subcontracting studio.
Cheating Craft: Emon is credited as the planning studio, while BLADE was where animation production actually took place. In other words, Emon contracted BLADE for the animation and supervised the project. This would be BLADE’s first time taking the lead animation role, something they appear to be quite proud of if their website is any indication.
Bloodivores: The lead production studio was supposedly Creators in Pack, but it’s clear enough that they didn’t actually handle much production work (if any). As with The Outcast, Namu Animation ended up doing most of the work. Notably, Creators in Pack doesn’t list Bloodivores as one of the works they did animation production for in their website.
TO BE HERO: Probably the best show to watch if you want to get an idea of what Haoliners is like when handling an original anime. The series is directed by the president of Haoliners. Planning took place at Emon, while the animation production was handled by a small team of Chinese web animators, called Studio.LAN! after the lead animator who handled the character designs, animation direction and colour coordination. According to LAN himself, this studio started off with only three people and grew to about a dozen by the project’s end.
Kenka Bancho Otome -Girl Beats Boys-: Lead animation production was handled by Project No.9, the studio which is doing The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! this season. Most of the core staff was Japanese, including the key animators.
A Centaur’s Life: Another project that was handled almost entirely in Japan. The lead production studio in this case was Encouragement Films.
Fox Spirit Matchmaker: This is another show animated by the Chinese and Korean teams. It’s a two-cour show with no break, which arguably makes it the most ambitious project at Haoliners so far.
Evil or Live: This poor show… It even had a recap episode despite only being 13 episodes long. I can only imagine what a production disaster this one was. Evil or Live was also animated mainly by the Chinese team, with assistance from Emon and a company called Studio Purple-1, which I can’t find any information about online, unfortunately. But anyway, most of the key animators were Chinese names.
I’m planning to write a more in-depth feature about Haoliners for Anime News Network, but I thought I’d leave my notes about each show’s origin story here. I doubt I’d be able to fit all this info into the article anyway, so consider this background information. Hope you find it useful to get a better understanding of how the co-productions have worked so far!