So there's a gag in this week's Outbreak Company episode I thought you might enjoy:
Spoiler for Outbreak Company episode 7:
So the plot of this week's episode is that the main character takes a trip home to Japan to pick up otaku goods from Akiba because the JSDF keeps mixing up his anime orders. The last straw being that he asks for Minami-Ke and they send him Minami-Ke Okaeri instead.
(He also makes a point of blaming Okaeri's terribleness solely on the director - probably because Okaeri shares a director with Outbreak Company.)
Hmm.. I'm not sure if "painted look" is a good term for Kyoani backgrounds. Because like you said True Tears had a painted look and so did something like Uchouten Kazoku and I adored the visuals in both those series.
Most of the time, what Kyoani really lacks in their visuals is a sense of emotive expression. I don't ... really feel anything from Kyoto Animation visuals other than the fact from a technical point of view they are very impressive (and hoping that they could use this in other genres... and no Kyoukai no Kanata does not count since it's an epic failure).
PA Works visuals though.... melancholy, bittersweet, heartwarming, mono no aware, nostalgia... no other studio evokes those emotions more than PA Works for me and it's a combination of their really "alive" backgrounds in combination of the choice of music and visual direction they go for. It's poetic in a way much like Shinkai movies are poetic. Of course PA Works work in a different framework as they still try to cater to a latenight audience.
Hyouka was an exception in that it did have those emotions. I guess you can argue that the Key adaptations did too, but unfortunately I dislike Key's formula of slapstick silly nonsense at the beginning, theatrical melodrama later on. This is something I can give credit to something like Anohana which was relatively consistent throughout the whole series. After Story is my default favourite Key show because it didn't have this mood whiplash. Talking about After Story, that flower field episode in episode 18 was one of the most beautiful and emotion evoking scenes ever made both in the way the drama was developed and how the visuals were expressed.