Bee Train Production

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BEE TRAIN Production Inc.
Native name
TypeKabushiki kaisha[1]
Animation studio
IndustryAnimation (Anime)
FoundedTokyo, Japan June 5, 1997 (1997-06-05)[1]
FounderKōichi Mashimo
Number of locations
3 (Kokubunji, Kichijōji, Karuizawa)[1]
Key people
Kōichi Mashimo, CEO
Kenji Horikawa, Director
ProductsNoir (2001)
.hack//Sign (2002)
Madlax (2004)
Tsubasa Chronicle (2005–06)
.hack//Roots (2006)
El Cazador de la Bruja (2007)
Total equity¥ 10,000,000[2]
Number of employees
70 (April 2007)[1]
ParentProduction I.G (1997 – 2006)
DivisionsBee Train Digital (defunct)
Studio Road
C-Station (2009–12)
D-Station (defunct)

Bee Train Production (ビィートレイン株式会社, Biītorein Kabushikigaisha), commonly referred to 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.[3]


The studio Bee Train was founded on June 5, 1997 by Kōichi 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.[4]

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.[4] After Noir had become widely successful in Japan, France, the United States, Germany, and other Western countries, the second series, Madlax, was produced in 2004 and the third, El Cazador de la Bruja,[5] 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.[4]

From 1997 on, the studio's headquarters were 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).[1]

The company has been dormant since 2012 due to Kōichi Mashimo's retirement from the anime industry.


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.[4]

Another typical Bee Train gesture is to invite Japanese voice actors 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".[4] 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,[4] sometimes even drowning the latter (heard, for example, in .hack//Sign, Avenger, and Madlax).


In the works[edit]

Year Title Type Eps Director Writer Composer
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
Itsuro Kawasaki
Aya Matsui
Akemi Omode
Chinatsu Houjou
Hideki Mitsui
Kenji Kamiyama
Kow Otani
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//Sign TV 26 Kōichi Mashimo Kazunori Ito
Hiroaki Jinno
Kōichi Mashimo
Kirin Mori
Akemi Omode
Mitsuhiko Sawamura
Michiko Yokote
Yuki Kajiura
2002 .hack//Liminality OVA 4 Kōichi Mashimo Kazunori Ito Yuki Kajiura
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
Koji Sawai
Akatsuki Yamatoya
Satoru Nishizono
Yuji Yoshino
Yoko Ueno
2003 Immortal Grand Prix TV 5 Kōichi Mashimo Kōichi Mashimo
Yuki Arie
Fat Jon
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 Kawamo Akemi Omode Yutaka Minobe
2006 .hack//Roots TV 26 Kōichi Mashimo Kazunori Ito
Miu Kawasaki
Ali Project
2006 Spider Riders TV 52 Kōichi Mashimo
Takaaki Ishiyama
Yōsuke Kuroda Fumitaka Anzai
Nobuhiko Nakayama
2006 Tsubasa Chronicle (second season) TV 26 Kōichi Mashimo
Hiroshi Morioka
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
Nobuhiko Nakayama
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
Yōsuke Kuroda
Hideki Shirane
Noboru Kimura
Tatsuya Takahashi
Yukihito Nonaka
Hikaru Nanase
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
2011 Hyouge Mono TV 39 Koichi Mashimo Hiroyuki Kawasaki Kow Otani

Other divisions[edit]

Bee Train Digital was 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 also created the special effects for Toaru Majutsu no Index and 2D works in ending theme of Canaan. Studio Road, which resides within the studio's offices, provides animation finishing services for Bee Train and several other studios. Through the 2009-2010 year, two new divisions were added. C-Station Department, which served as its animation design department and D-Station Department, which was reorganized from Bee Train Digital, is the digital production and digital photography works. In 2012 C-Station broke away from Bee Train becoming independent and D-Station has since been delisted by the company.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "About Bee Train" (in Japanese). Bee Train. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  2. ^ "FY 2010 Application Guidelines produced" (in Japanese). Bee Train. Retrieved 2009-09-09.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Friedman, Erica (2004-06-28). "Yuri Anime: Bee Train does it again". Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wong, Amos (March 2005). "Inside Bee Train". Newtype USA: 8–15.
  5. ^ "January 3–10 News". Anime News Service. 2007-01-06. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. 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.
  • Yuki, Masahiro. "The Official Art of .hack//Roots". (May 2007) Newtype USA. pp. 101–107.

External links[edit]