The layouts, the backbone of Japanese animation and its keen sense of immersion, are currently shattering. In this long dive, we contrasted the views of industry veterans and fresh faces with our own findings: the death of studio culture and training cycles, the pressure of cynical commercialism, the inherent labor issues, and the attempts to address it all.
The anime industry is so saturated with high-profile projects at the moment that studios have to fight tooth and nail to secure qualified animators—sometimes internally so. What could be a great excuse to offer workers more attractive conditions is failing across the board.
Anime’s production schedules, the wellbeing of its creators, and the quality of their work are deeply interconnected. It’s a complex balance fraught with misunderstandings, and even lies by exploitative companies protecting the marketability of their products.
Everyone knows what outsourcing means on a basic level, but at the same time, few get how it works in anime—so here’s a summary of this practice’s historical context, the logistics at play, and the impact on the creative process of the cause and cure of many anime industry problems.
SK8 The Infinity and Wonder Egg Priority are two original passion projects, both also being high-profile productions that have been in the works for a long time. Despite being exactly what anime needs on paper, they have crashed to the point where only extreme crunch might allow them to make it to the goal by the intended date. Understanding their distinct issues will help you grasp the nuance of TV anime’s structural problems.
Last week, anime creators with diverse backgrounds and standings in and outside the industry joined their voices to illustrate the hellish experience that is in-betweening. This is how the delegitimization of an essential job is ruining lives and putting anime’s present and future at risk.
Today we’re here to talk about a phenomenon that’s gradually been eroding anime’s very identity, while at the same time souring the experience for its animation: the extreme fragmentation of the anime production process. Let’s see what the model that reinforced anime’s visual cohesion was all about, how these changes were introduced and later corrupted, and what to the animators who suffer the issues the most think about it.
In light of the recent news that a studio Madhouse employee was overworked to the point of risking their health, we contacted 25 anime production assistants to detail their experiences and how their problems manifest in very different ways than the animator struggles we often hear about. Despite being integral to any anime project, their working conditions are in some ways the worst anyone has to bear.
Reiko Okuyama’s a legend in the anime industry for her artistic achievements and as an icon at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights in this industry. Now that her name’s entering the public discourse again, though, we have to address an uncomfortable topic: gender discrimination within the anime industry is far from over.
Shingo Yamashita was one of the pioneers of the digital animation movement in anime. He made a name for himself drawing stunning, emotionally loaded sequences, and then moved on to become a creative leader as he experimented with directorial duties and the possibilities enabled by new toolsets. Despite being quite busy, he kindly lent us his time to talk about the changing landscape of this industry and its professionals, the world of digital animation, his evolving creative philosophy, and even…