Bee Train is a Japanese animation studio founded by ex-Tatsunoko Production employee Koichi Mashimo in 1997 as a subsidiary of Production I.G. The studio is probably best known for producing Noir and their subsequent contributions to the Girls with Guns genre, as well as the .hack anime adaptations, most notably .hack//SIGN. They're also infamous for taking a... "creative" approach to adapting manga titles (read: Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-), causing much discontent amongst the original fandom.
They previously had an animation sub-division known as C-Station, whom assists SILVER LINK. and others on their productions, and another called D-Station which appears to have gone defunct. They also have a animation farming studio known as Studio Road, which has done work for companies like the aforementioned Production I.G, P. A. Works and, to a lesser extent, A-1 Pictures.
Then, you can also mention that for at least one of their anime, the director decided to get drunk to figure out how the plot would work in the end. It worked.
The "Bee Train" label (and their website) have been dormant since 2012. Although no official statement has ever been released, it appears to have been quietly shut down as a result of several factors, including the founder Koichi Mashimo's apparent retirement from the industry in the same year and a shortage of major hit productions since Bee Train's split with Production I.G in 2007. Many of the studio's old staff seem to have moved over to the recently independent C-Station ("B Train", "C-Station", geddit?).
- Xenogears (1998). Animation cut scenes were provided by the studio and directed, storyboarded and produced by founder Mashimo.
- PoPoLoCrois Monogatari (1999). Adaptation of a popular PS1 video game PoPoLoCrois, only remembered by hardcore Bee Train and PoPoLoCrois fans today.
- Arc the Lad (1999), ditto.
- Wild ARMs: Twilight Venom (1999), ditto.
- Medabots (1999), ditto. Replaced in the third season by Production I.G and Trans Arts.
- Noir (2001). The first original series and the big breakthrough for the studio, lifting it to international fame effectively overnight. Licenced and aired in many countries outside Japan (including prime-time airing on French and Austrian network television, whereas TV Tokyo originally aired it at Otaku O'Clock) and spawning the studio's Girls with Guns trilogy. Your best chances to be introduced to Bee Train are through Noir.
- Captain Kuppa Desert Pirate (2001-2002). Like the studio's productions of the 90s this series is also long forgotten.
- .hack//Liminality (2002). The very first .hack adaptation, a four-episode OVA that came with the original game tetralogy. Mostly forgotten nowadays, solidified an alliance between Bandai and Bee Train that lasted until 2008.
- .hack//SIGN (2002). The prequel to the original game tetralogy and the other most probable introduction to Bee Train you are likely to receive. The second and likely most famous .hack anime adaptation to date, SIGN is revered by many a fan.
- Wild Arms 3 (2002). Like Xenogears, featured animated cut scenes directed and storyboard by animator Kazuya Tsurumaki with director Mashimo. Also produced with P.A. Works.
- Avenger (2003). The second original series, which failed to reach any considerable fame and is only remembered by die-hard fans today.
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight (2003). A "creative" adaptation of the eponymous manga sequel to the original .hack games, which considerably altered the original ending. Different continuity.
- Immortal Grand Prix (2003). Experimental original micro-series, mostly forgotten today but spawning some sequels by other studios.
- Madlax (2004). The second girls-with-guns entry, remaining largely overshadowed by Noir despite its virtues and good critical reception. Remembered by many an Entry Pimp as one of the high points in Bee Train history.
- Meine Liebe (2004) and Meine Liebe wieder (2006). Adaptation of a Dating Sim, mostly forgotten nowadays.
- Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- (two seasons, 2005-2006). Likely the most controversial of Bee Train adaptations. The adaptation rights have since been transferred to Production I.G who produced Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations.
- .hack//Roots (2006). A Spiritual Successor to SIGN and a prequel to .hack//G.U. trilogy. Failed to meet expectations and may well be the last .hack adaptation by Bee Train: .hack//G.U. Trilogy movie has since been produced by Bandai Cyber Connect 2.
- .hack//G.U. Returner: An OVA follow up to the G.U. Games, similar to Unison.
- Spider Riders (2006). An adaptation of children novels, went largely unnoticed by the fandom despite being one of the few Bee Train long-runners.
- Murder Princess (2007). A minor manga adaptation. Probably intended as an effort to improve Bee Train's reputation in this field, the OVA remained thoroughly faithful to the original. Going mostly unnoticed, it's still remembered by some fans.
- El Cazador de la Bruja (2007). The final installment of the girls-with-guns trilogy, suffering from the same lack of attention as Madlax, despite being even closer to Noir thematically. Met with mixed reactions because of its cheesy tone in contrast to its dark, moody predecessors, the fandom since learned to accept "Cazzy" for what it is.
- Spider Riders: Yomigaeru Taiyou (2007). A sequel to Spider Riders, attracted even less attention.
- Blade of the Immortal (2008). The first major manga adaptation since Tsubasa.
- Batman: Gotham Knight: Field Test (2008). Bee Train animated one of the short segments in the compilation.
- Phantom ~ Requiem of the Phantom (2009). A Visual Novel adaptation.
- Halo Legends: Homecoming (2010). A short OVA that focuses on the tragedies involving the SPARTAN-II recruitment in the year 2517, and a particular Spartan, Daisy-023, coming to terms with her origins as she tries to lead a small squad of soldiers to safety. One of the more tragic, emotional stories in the Halo Legends package, fitting with Bee Train's approach to storytelling.
- Psychic Detective Yakumo (2010). A Light Novel adaptation directed by the director of Murder Princess.
- Hyouge Mono (2011). A manga adaptation.
Additional Sub-Contracted work:
- Angelic Layer (In-Between Animation)
- Baccano! (2nd Key Animation)
- Bakugan (2nd Key Animation - New Vestroia season)
- Basquash! (2nd Key Animation)
- Canaan (In-Between Animation)
- The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko (2nd Key Animation, In-Between Animation for episode 5)
- Code Geass (Finish & In-Between Animation, Production Assistance)
- FLCL (In-Between Animation)
- Michiko & Hatchin (In-Between Animation)
- Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (Editing)
- Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die (Production Assistance)
- Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning? (In-Between Animation)
- Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens (In-Between Animation)
- Slayers (2nd Key Animation - Revolution season)
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2nd Key & In-Between Animation)
- To Love-Ru (Key Animation)
- Toradora! (2nd Key Animation)