It’s always depressing to report on news like this. Atelier BWCA has been one of the best art studios in this field for years, and now they’ve been reluctantly forced to stop their services.
Atelier BWCA have recently announced that after 30 years of actively producing backgrounds for anime and being in charge of the entire art department for many shows, their time will be coming to an end this month. For once financial troubles aren’t behind these unfortunate developments, though the industry’s messy state might be at least partially at fault; as they briefly explain in the notice on their website, it was the poor health of the company’s director Hidetoshi Kaneko that forced them to make this decision. Kaneko wasn’t an executive overseeing things from a distance, he was the studio’s art director and directly worked on many background paintings. It was all the work he did last year that presumedly destroyed his health. As a painter he had been involved in many important productions, including Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. And as an art director his repertoire was equally impressive, spanning from the likes of The Five Star Stories to Terror in Resonance. Over the last few years he had become Ryosuke Nakamura’s best ally, serving as art director for all his projects; Kaneko’s ability to construct evocative sceneries with rough paintings and his powerful usage of color were a natural fit for Nakamura’s work.
This is a depressing incident for many reasons. We’re talking about a very small company, but it’s bad news for their staff nonetheless. And it’s not just personal loss, the industry as a whole will miss a studio outputting some of the most striking background work anime has ever featured. Tales of struggles in the industry focus a lot on animation production companies, but keep in mind that the chaotic environment makes the situation harsh for other people as well. Here’s hoping that Hidetoshi Kaneko recovers and BWCA’s staff find decent jobs.
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