What Is An Anime’s Production Committee?

What Is An Anime’s Production Committee?

Talk about production committees has become more commonplace within the anime discourse, which is a solid step towards grasping the realities of the industry. It seems like many fans still aren’t quite sure of what those exactly are though, so our reliable megax has reached out to some industry folks to write a solid introduction to this concept: what are production committees, how did they become the foundation of manufacturing anime, and how they’re changing in the current digital and worldwide landscape.


Production committees. A term that has been present and puzzling to anime fans for a while since there are very few instances of it in entertainment outside of Japan. To put it simply, a production committee is a joint venture subsidiary company created by various entities with the goal of producing a form of entertainment. They often receive the name Title X Committee / Partners, though sometimes they’ll give them cute in-universe names like Bunny Mountain Shopping Street or Dragon Life Improvement Committee. No matter the case, they’re all essentially the same: some companies coming together to make a production.

So why would companies collaborate on works? There are two main reasons: risks and specialization. Entertainment costs a fair amount of money to produce. If one company produces something all by themselves, they’re on the hook entirely if it fails; nowadays you only tend to see that on instances like Studio Khara and the Rebuild of Evangelion films, or Cygames with Rage of Bahamut – either massive “safe” properties, or titles produced by immensely big companies. For the vast majority of cases though, if you divert that risk amongst many companies, then the potential losses are much smaller than before and could be manageable. A blow-away success means that your company wouldn’t make as much, but that’s the insurance cost to guarantee that you aren’t losing a ton of money on something that wouldn’t bring in the revenue you thought it might. Additionally, producing something like a movie, stage show, or TV show on your own is very challenging. There’s a lot of steps you have to take: finding cast and staff, promotion, getting someone to broadcast, producing music for it, selling its merchandise and home video, and so forth. A company that specializes in printing magazines, comics, and novels wouldn’t know the first step in producing music. Having a music producer company on the committee allows the print publishing company to solely focus on what they can do while allowing other companies to produce what they specialize in as well.

Production committees are formed for nearly all late night TV anime shows and have similar versions for daytime TV series as well, but how did they start? It was actually movies that began the process with two films in particular notable for having committee productions: AKIRA and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Akira combined Kodansha, MBS, Bandai, Hakuhodo, Toho, Laserdisc, Sumimoto Corporation, and Tokyo Movie (animation producers) for its production. Nausicaa had Tokuma Shoten and Hakuhodo on its committee. However, this method only started for TV series in 1992 with The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, whose production consisted of TV Setouchi, Big West, and the “Tylor Project” committee of King Records, VAP, and Media Rings. Afterwards, it started to spread after “Project Eva” in 1995 towards many tokusatsu, variety, and anime shows where it’s commonly used throughout entertainment in Japan today.

Irresponsible Captain Tylor’s production credits, including the first TV committee Tylor Project. The producers from the series belonged to those 3 entities and Tatsunoko.

The composition of a committee can vary tremendously. Some may only have two companies (like Nausicaa‘s previously mentioned case), others can have over 10 companies on it; in the end, all additional companies do is spread the risk. That being said, the risk split isn’t equal. A committee with 8 members doesn’t mean each member is responsible for 12.5% of financing; the amount differs for each member. It is extremely rare to get the actual amount that each company finances into production, but what we can tell is who finances more than one another. That’s by looking at the order of companies listed. Companies at the top financed more of production than ones on the bottom. So going back to Akira’s committee, Kodansha put more money into that production than Tokyo Movie, the company who produced the animation for that film. Kodansha is likely to get more money back via several revenue sources than Tokyo Movie would, so it’s only natural they’d be asked to finance more of production than the latter. Details about how much is shared beyond costs and a little bit of profit to the parent company aren’t public, but are likely detailed in the contracts of the committee.

Tokyo Movie on Akira’s committee is one example of where animation studios generally sit on committees. Even on productions where the studio owns the IP, they may not even be on the committee (see Manglobe and Samurai Flamenco). That’s the reality for most animation production studios, but there are a few exceptions. Toei Animation, being the massive entity incomparable to most studios that it is, has many popular titles under its catalog and can finance a lot of production because of then. So when Sailor Moon Crystal was funded, it was just them and Kodansha on the committee. They’ve also led some committees like Kyousougiga’s case. It takes a lot of success and unusually stable finances to lead a committee as a studio, which is why only the top grossing studios like Toei, TMS Entertainment, Pierrot, Sunrise, Production IG, and KyoAni can do it on the regular. For most other studios, leading the committee might either be impossible or something reserved for very special occasions, such as The Eccentric Family for P.A. Works.

So what can we tell from a production committee? The order of these companies tells us who is taking on the most risk for producing a show. If you’re leading the committee, then your company obviously feels that a production is well worth doing. They also tell us specific relationships between companies. The anime industry is like many others; it’s all about who you know. Companies tend to work together very often. That’s why you’ll see Hakuhodo Music and Pictures together with NBC Universal and Warner Brothers Japan; their producers have established a solid working relationship together and so they’ll enter into various productions because of it. One piece of information that is always is important is whether or not the animation studio is on the committee, and if they are receiving any of the revenue from any source. The list of members also tell us who is likely holding international rights for a show; if we see companies like Aniplex, Kodansha, or TBS on a committee, they are candidates for holding the international rights and determining how/when/who will simulcast a show outside of Japan. TBS has been burned in the past with leaks and companies simulcasting a show prior to it airing, so they delay their streams to prevent JP viewers from watching that instead of their broadcast.

Small sample of how varied anime committees can be during the current season.

I created a spreadsheet with all of the Winter and Spring 2017 TV anime productions’ committees in it (along with other shows confirmed to air in 2017). Looking at these, you can sense the variety of companies that are involved in production. Some, like the TBS shows, tend to use similar companies for each production. Others have a much more varied committee lineup. And we even have one production – Minami Girls Cycling Club – where it’s led by a company in Singapore and has companies in Shanghai, the US, and even Taiwan on the committee (along with the less surprising digital distribution companies in Japan). This tells us that we’re seeing a much greater emphasis with international sales as well as those companies wanting to invest in committees themselves. By becoming part of a committee, you gain ownership over what the content will be via a producer. For example, if Crunchyroll knows that action shows are popular, they could ask if those elements could be involved somewhere. They are likely to get some revenue from other directions besides their subscribers for that production as well, so it benefits them to be part of one.

I personally find it enjoyable to see who is involved in a show, and as you’ve seen there is plenty of information to draw from that. Animation production studios are listed in the credits for each show, so it’s understandable why audiences would imagine they have a ton of influence over a production. It’s even natural to think that the company that is actually manufacturing something would have great input! If you start paying attention to these committees though, you get a clearer picture of the finances of production and how each show is actually made rather than assume that studios that often don’t have much of a say are in charge of everything. Recent developments make me hope we’ll see more shows with international companies involved to truly make anime more global in the future. I detailed the landscape as it is nowadays, but chances are that this won’t be the situation in a few years.


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44 Comments on "What Is An Anime’s Production Committee?"

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James
Guest

Very interesting! I really enjoy these kind of posts that give greater insight into how the industry works.

alecchi
Guest

Thanks for these posts, they’re very interesting and useful!
I have a question though: For example, Tales of Zestiria the X’s production committee is led by Bamco (Entertainment and Visual), but Berseria’s sales didn’t boost much from the advertising of the anime and the show sold quite badly, so this “adaptation” looks like a commercial failure for them. However, ufotable’s café & dining have always been full of fans. Does that mean ufotable has technically profited more from the show than Bamco? And does Bamco earn royalties from those sold goodies?

Todd
Guest

How do you know that the order of names in the production committee list is in line with how much they’ve financed? Is it an educated guess or something that people have confirmed before?

dango
Guest
So, in LWA’s case, for example, only Toho, Good Smile and Ultra Super Pictures are, in that order, on the committee. Trigger’s place in there is probably represented by Ultra Super Pictures, and does that mean that Toho, and even Good Smile, may have a larger control of the series than, say, Yoshinari? I’m still very new into this concept of production committees, so I’m still quite confused. My most urging question is, if the order of the committee represents the control over the production, where does the creators’ creative freedom lies, then? I’ve always thought that while the companies… Read more »
Neohybrid_kai
Guest

I’m also intrigued by this question. My guess is the one who finance more would only care about specific things that’s relevant to their interest and let the studio have their creative freedoms over the other things. I think it might be similar to graphic design business where client can present their concept and aims but shouldn’t meddle too much beyond that because the designer is more knowledgeable about the art and design process. Ideally, each member in the committee would acknowledge each other’s specialty and trust their competence.

DeeLan
Guest

Do we ever see production committees changing after their formation (such as one company pulls out or another one joins)? And if so, what happens to the money that a company has invested into a show if that company decides to leave? Would the committee just get to keep it?

Also, are the companies in the spreadsheet listed in order of their contribution/influence?

relyat08
Guest

I’m really curious what these Netflix things are going to look like Production committee wise. We’ve got Perfect Bones and Devilman, at the very least, but I have no idea how much Netflix actually has to do with their productions.

Jake
Guest

Can someone please tell me whos on the production committee for my hero academia? And if its likely that MHA will receive a season 3 and what factors affect it? Thank you!!

dango
Guest
See the spreadsheet Kevin made, it’s in there. Here’s a link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nhT1ebLxejyagiiLET8ajDu9CnHaTrhsRsjNdiRfur0 in case you are too lazy to find it in the article. I don’t have nearly as much knowledge on this as Kevin or any of the writers here does, but I doubt the committee has much to do with whether it get a sequel or not. It’s mainly about how much they profit from MHA season 2, and how much profit they see in making more of it, then they have to find people willing to make it. I would say at least wait until the release… Read more »
tombeet
Guest
Mann, this post is gold. Thanks the staffs for providing such informative piece. I do have a question regarding it though. So the directors usually are freelancer that the producers eventually pick up for the project. Look at Shirobako I can say the director have a close relationship with the studio; but taken from what you say is that usually the case where the director and the studio are unfamiliar to each other? I just imagine it would be real frustrated for the studio to have someone they don’t know before dictate the artistic control for the project. And it… Read more »
somekindofthing
Guest

Flip Flappers was a pretty big committee, with 10 members:

https://twitter.com/ultimatemegax/status/809801648809902080

Happinet
Gaga
Lantis
Hakuhodo
DY Music & Pictures
Sotsu
Tokyo MX
AT-X
Ray
Medios Entertainment
BS Fuji

Lots of companies to spread the losses around, no doubt! Haha, hah, ha… ::siiiiigh::

somekindofthing
Guest
Oh and the first writer leaving the show halfway involved no ill will. See the interview here: https://farfromanimation.com/2017/01/06/flip-flappers-an-interview-with-director-kiyotaka-oshiyama/ “Once the general concept was established and we brought Yuniko Ayana in, we worked together to get the framework of the story built. In the second half of the show we had (Naoki) Hayashi come in to take over the script writing, but by then everything that was supposed to happen was already decided on and it was just a matter of making a script to match it.” Flip Flappers played out how it was always intended to, despite what you may… Read more »
Tombeet
Guest

Thanks so much for the info somekindofthing; 10 members in the committee? Haha. It made sense though as Flip Flappers was the first original project from a new studio with a first time director; and a risky arty project on top of it. I’m glad the show worked out in the end but from what i heard they didn’t sell very well, did it?

somekindofthing
Guest

“Not very well” would be putting it mildly. hence the “Lots of companies to spread the losses around, no doubt! Haha, hah, ha… ::siiiiigh::” in my previous reply. =(

It certainly does seem like a show that could never have existed without the committee model. So while committees may meddle sometimes, the ability to mitigate risk by pooling resources seems pretty essential to supporting the insane number of productions we see today.

Kristine
Guest

Why would Cygames be on the production committee for Uchouten? I don’t see the relationship between the two at all. It’s not even like Cygames produces a whole lot of anime outside of adaptions for their own mobage, and out of any anime they’d be a part of, Uchouten would be my last guess.

Edd
Guest

Where can i found information about the production committee of older series (as in not from this year)?

Jame
Guest

awesome post! thank you for sharing

Frunze
Guest

Most anime is manga adaptation. So does manga artist come to production committee with his manga, and them give him a studio to work on anime adaptation, or anime artist come directly to studio, and then, studio director come to production committee for financing?

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