ICHI Corporation (株式会社ICHI), formerly known as Knack Productions (ナック, 株式会社KnacK) until August 2008, is a Japanese anime and film production company.
Knack Productions was founded on September 25, 1967, by a group of former employees of Toei Animation and Osamu Tezuka’s Mushi Production, including illustrator Seiichi Hayashi, animator/director Sadao Tsukioka, former Mushi producer Sakuro Koyanagi, and Seiichi Nishino, who would become the principal planner of most of the studio’s works. From its early days the studio concentrated on TV production. The studio’s first work, the TV series Granny Mischief (Ijiwaru Baasan), based on a manga by Sazae-san creator Machiko Hasegawa), premiered in 1970. In the late 1980s the company moved away from TV production and into OVA, finding success in the growing market for soft-core direct-to-video pornography anime. Since the late 1990s, Knack (renamed ICHI Corporation in August 2008) has focused chiefly on live-action production. The company’s most recent animation work, in 1997, was on the adult anime OVA Slight Fever Syndrome and with production assistance on Gainax’s The End of Evangelion.
Despite the number of anime-industry notables who worked with Knack over the years (including Go Nagai, Ken Ishikawa, Kazuyuki Okasako, Masayuki Kojima, Tetsuro Amino, Shun’ichi Yukimuro, Yoshikata Nitta, and Fumio Ikeno), the studio developed a dubious reputation for the low quality of its productions, particularly in regard to animation quality and to copying the premises of other, more popular shows. Nevertheless, a number of the studio’s productions did become internationally successful, including the children’s anthropomorphic cartoon series Don Chuck Monogatari; The Adventures of the Little Prince; and Attacker You!, a volleyball drama which achieved a staggering level of popularity when exported to Italy and France. The studio’s children’s comedies Manga Sarutobi Sasuke and Cybot Robotchi were also released in the U.S. as direct-to-video feature-length edits titled Ninja the Wonder Boy and Robby the Rascal, respectively. In more recent years, the studio’s 1974 series Chargeman Ken! has become an online sensation, due to mockery of its limited production values.