Bankruptcies suck. When your debt far exceeds your income, you have to enter into a special agreement with your debtors. Usually, you negotiate to sell off your assets to pay off your debt at a lower price. It's a little more complex, but that's the jist of it.
Keep in mind that a bankruptcy doesn't mean an anime studio ceases to exist. A studio can go bankrupt, but can still work if they are bought by a different company. When this happens, the studio will have less power than they did in the past, but at least they can still exist. Here are some anime studios that have gone bankrupt.
The international community's favorite studio quietly filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after a string of financial failures, with Rainbow and Redline pushing the studio over the brink.
Nippon TV, a channel that frequently aired Madhouse anime in the past, bought 84.5% of the studio. Most of Madhouse's old staff and directors left during this time.
One Punch Man © ONE / Yusuke Murata / Shueisha / Madhouse
Manglobe is the most recent bankruptcy, having gone under in 2015. The studio was founded in 2002 with the goal to only create original projects. While their anime received critical praise, they were met with financial failure. Noticing a pattern?
In 2009, the studio switch to working on adaptations, with The Sacred Blacksmith being their first adaptation. Even with adaptations, Manglobe went against popular trends of working on moe and ecchi titles, but sometimes you have to collect a paycheck.
The World God Only Knows © Tamiki Wakaki / Shogakukan / Manglobe
International fans may not know the name, but Group TAC was a big player in the industry. Not only did they animated, but they would have seats on production committees.
Group TAC faced problems when the industry switch from cel animation to digital during the early 2000s. Several key staff members left during this time to form Diomedéa.
Touch © Mitsuru Adatch / Shogakukan
Tatsunoko Productions is another legacy studio that faced hard times during the industry's shift to digital animation.
They went from being one of the most storied studios during the '70s to '80s who would actively produce new series and have influence on committees to becoming more of a brand name.
It doesn't help that Tatsunoko has a history of driving away talented staff. Ashi Productions, Studio Pierrot, J.C. Staff, Production I.G., Xebec, Bee Train, and TNK are studios that were created by disgruntled Tatsunoko employees.
Gatchaman Crowds © Gatchaman Crowds Production Committee
Bee Train is a bizarre case. The studio has not work on any projects as a lead or in an assistant role since 2012. It is strongly believed that they are bankrupt, but founder Kōichi Mashimo doesn't want to file for bankruptcy since it will tarnish his reputation and the vision he had for Bee Train.
Bee Train was created to be a "hospital for animators." Basically, the studio was interested in helping young animators grow and focused on the artistic quality of a series while ignoring corporate profits. The hope was that viewers would reward artistic shows with purchases. If only more people bought .hack//SIGN and Noir...
.hack//SIGN © Bee Train / Bandai Namco Entertainment
Bankrupt: Believed to between 2011 and 2012
Defunct: Maybe, they haven't work on a project in any capacity since 2011's Hyouge Mono.
Created by a group of former Toei Animation members, HAL Film Maker would work on semi-popular titles like Saber Marionette J and Aria the Animation and flops like Boys Be... and Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan.
HAL Film Maker would be absorbed by TYO, Inc and merged with Yumeta to form TYO Animations, which has been around since 2009, but has been on shaky grounds due to a string of flops.
Aria the Animation © Kozue Amano / Mag Garden / ARIA Company
Triangle Staff sadly died before they could get off the ground. They were created by a group of former Madhouse staff and had an emphasis on character driven stories. Their most successful work was Macross Plus, but they left an imprint with Serial Experiments Lain (which was pirated like crazy). They came and went with very little attention and fanfare.
Serial Experiments Lain © Triangle Staff / Pioneer LDC
This has to be an off-shoot of the Madhouse curse. Palm Studio was created by former Triangle Staff members (which was created by former Madhouse members).
The studio exploded on the scene with A Tree of Palme, which was selected to play at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. They got to remake the popular Tetsujin 28-go series, but they lost steam due to Genshiken and Bartender losing them money.
Palm Studio appeared with a flash, but went out with a wimper.
Genshiken © Shimoku Kio / Kodansha / Genshiken Partnership
Madhouse - failing to make second seasons and causing bankruptcies since 1972.
Aaron Magulick has been a fan of anime ever since being exposed to it in the late '90s. A fan of nearly all genres, he is not afraid to explore the creepier side of the industry. Feel free to connect with him on GoBoiano Social.