Studio Drive is making its presence known this spring with the latest entry in the KonoSuba franchise. They may be the new kid on the block, but Drive is a double threat in the anime industry. Along with animation, the studio provides music too. They even have a music label, müchette. Even though they are relatively unknown, Drive is a company striving to create the best work it can.
Beginning to Drive
Chie Nakamura, a freelance music producer and not Sakura Haruno’s voice actress, founded Drive in May 2015. Before then, they did the motion capture for Bakumatsu Rock’s ending theme, “Zetchō DAYBREAK,” along with bassist Kei Nakamura, guitarist Tomohiro Nagasawa, and drummer Maoki Yamamoto. After its formation, Drive made commercials, music, and anime albums. Their first projects were anniversary albums for talent agency 81 Produce and Studio Deen. Drive and Studio Deen have a strong partnership. Their first collaboration was promotional music for Stan Lee’s The Reflection. After that, Drive produced music for the Fate/Grand Order mobile games and some of its animated adaptations. In 2016 and 2017, they provided music for two Adult Swim commercials and 2020s Rick and Morty Samurai and Shogun shorts.
Talented musicians comprise Drive’s music division. Tomoyuki Kono, Ryo Kawasaki, Yasuyuki Yamazaki, Ayana Tsujita, music director Katsuhiko Asano, and vocalist Nanahira are the driving force behind the studio. Odds are you’ve heard Ryo Kawasaki’s work before. He composed music for Romantic Killer, Thermae Romae Novae, To Your Eternity, and Fate/Grand Order. Kawasaki also worked on the musical arrangement and orchestration for the 2018 Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Concert. His latest work is the sound logo and radio commercial for Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City.
Drive’s animation work is sparse. They’ve mostly done in-between and episode animation on shows like Demon Slayer, Ranking of Kings, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, and My Dress Up Darling, among others. Plus, game trailers like Metal Slug Tactics. The series produced by them are Actors Song Connections, Teppen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Laughing ’til You Cry, To Your Eternity’s second season, Vlad Love, and KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World. The third season of KonoSuba and the much-delayed Uzumaki are in the works too.
Drive lacks in-house directors but has worked with the best Studio Deen alums. Veterans Osamu Yamasaki, Toshinori Watanabe, Kiyoko Sayama, Yujiro Abe, and Mamoru Oshii have cooperated with Drive over the past few years. Oshii stands out on this list as the most prominent director to work with them, a collaboration that would raise their profile.
My favorite Drive series is Mamoru Oshii’s Vlad Love. A supernatural comedy about a blood-donating enthusiast and the vampire she befriends. This series also marks Oshii’s return to TV anime and perhaps his Urusei Yatsura roots. It’s weird, not quite Excel Saga level, but it has its moments. The series highlight is the opening by the all-female heavy metal band Love Bites. If you like rock, it’s worth your time.
A Great Future
Drive’s desire for quality will serve them well in the future. Their relationship with Studio Deen allows them to use key staff from the earlier KonoSuba seasons for the Megumin spinoff and season three. The upcoming Uzumaki, however, has been delayed three times since 2020, so they can accurately capture Junji Ito’s style. Drive has much potential and a bright future.