Mushi Production (虫プロダクション Mushi Purodakushon, lit. “Bug Production”) or Mushi Pro for short, is a Japanese animation studio headquartered in Fujimidai, Nerima, Tokyo, Japan. It previously had a headquarters elsewhere in Nerima.
The studio was headed by manga artist Osamu Tezuka. Osamu Tezuka started it as a rivalry with Toei Animation, Tezuka’s former employer, after Tezuka’s contract with Toei expired in 1961. The studio pioneered TV animation in Japan, and was responsible for many successful anime television series, such as Astro Boy, Gokū no Daibōken, Princess Knight, Kimba the White Lion, Dororo and Ashita no Joe, as well as more adult-oriented feature films such as 1001 Nights, Cleopatra (the first Japanese X-rated animated film) and Belladonna of Sadness.
Morisawa argues that Tezuka “proposed an unrealistically suppressed production budget… in an attempt to outbid his competitors”, a budget that contributed to the Studio’s (and industry) low profitability. Mushi Production, plagued by financial difficulties, declared bankruptcy in 1973 and its assets were divided. Tezuka had already left the company by then, having stepped down as acting director in 1968 and formed a new animation studio, Tezuka Productions (which made such works as Marvelous Melmo and Unico). A new Mushi Production company was later founded in 1977. This company continues to operate today.