Today, anime series are more well-liked than ever. Anime is hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan. However, anime series seem no longer Japanese products.

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“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” anime series

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” anime series

“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is one of the more intriguing animated series slated to make its Netflix premiere this year. The series, which was marketed as a brand-new production by the renowned Studio Trigger, was based on the well-publicized (but barely finished) video game.

A large portion of the studio’s creative team is involved, including bombastic action expert Hiroyuki Imaishi, wunderkind animator Yoh Yoshinari, and the director.

Not to mention some new associates, including the composer of “Silent Hill,” Akira Yamaoka. Imaishi is a wild card; while he is most known now for his work with the screenwriter Kazuki Nakashima, some of his earlier pieces, like “Dead Leaves,” forgo personality and logic in favor of crude cartooning.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)

His team’s cyberpunk animation could be aggressively dynamic, inventive, and painfully childish.

However, the CD Project Red executive Rafal Jaki and the author of the comic Bartosz Sztybor are named above the Japanese scriptwriters in the recently made public “Edgerunners” credits, with their respective roles as “showrunner” and “screen narrative” being credited.

Only Yoshinari, Imaishi, and Otsuka make a brief appearance in the video interview that Netflix provided for Geeked Week, which primarily features the two of them. I couldn’t help but wonder if “Edgerunners” was created by CD Projekt Red or by Trigger as we listened to Jaki and Sztybor extol Trigger’s abilities.

In the business, Trigger is most known for its original series. How much control actually does the studio have over a project like this?

>>>Read more: Question to fans of animation, is anime a cartoon?

“The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim” anime series

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
“The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim” anime series

Today, anime is more well-liked than ever. In a Variety article, Netflix’s Kohei Obara, the program’s creative director, claimed that by 2022, more than half of the service’s users would be anime fans. (The precise amount of time spent viewing was not given.)

The anime streaming service Crunchyroll announced in 2021 that it had reached 120 million registered users and 5 million streaming customers. Streaming providers are vying for the rights to future hits like “Chainsaw Man” in today’s intense licensing war.

Disney Plus has joined the fray, acquiring works including “Tatami Time Machine Blues” by Science Saru. Coproductions between nations have also increased in frequency. Although some of these projects have been unique television series, most of them have so far been adaptations of already published works of literature.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)

An illustration of this is the planned anime film “The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim,” which will expand on aspects of the original live-action trilogy. Kenji Kamiyama will be in charge of directing Sola Entertainment, a company known for “Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045” and the ongoing “Ultraman” anime.

Writer Philippa Boyens, her daughter Phoebe Gittens, and art director Alan Lee are among the additional names that have been made public and are all closely related to the movie trilogy.

Other Japanese creative personnel is not mentioned. It’s possible that Warner Bros decided to emphasize names that American audiences could recognize in their marketing. Instead of treating Kamiyama’s staff with the respect, they merit as artists, the alternative is that they view them as a means to an end.

>>>Read more: An unusual route to become Netflix’s anime series – Cannon Busters series

“Castlevania” anime series

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
“Castlevania” anime series

Many of the most recent “anime” films on Netflix are not created in Japan, unlike “The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim,” which is at least partially made there. “Castlevania,” an adaptation of the Japanese video game franchise written by prominent (and discredited) comics writer Warren Ellis, is one of the network’s most popular shows.

Unashamed anime lovers on the “Castlevania” crew stuffed the show’s iconic action scenes with impact frames and challenging effects animation.

However, the series was created by Powerhouse Animation Studios in Austin, Texas, not in Japan. Despite having no relation to the industry, “Castlevania,” “Blood of Zeus,” and the most current “Masters of the Universe” animated series have all been grouped under the term “anime.” Other video game versions of the service have similar marketing.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)

What difference does it make whether or not a product is branded “anime”? Branding is the key. Despite the fact that “cartoons” are still linked with children’s programming in the United States, anime is quite popular. Everyone benefits when Netflix refers to its adult animated shows as “anime” and anime aficionados watch them.

The issue here is less with the term “anime” as it is with the treatment of the animation workers.

Netflix has the opportunity to give foreign animation studios a chance to develop their own innovative concepts because it is a purported game-changer in the entertainment industry. Instead, Netflix frequently adheres to the venerable American tradition of exporting animation.

Character designers and storyboarders receive specific directions from nations like South Korea and the Philippines, the showrunner and writer’s room stay in-house, and the unpaid animators who handle the bulk of the job never receive the credit they deserve.

>>>Read more: Top 4 Japanese animation companies with shows be loved most across the world

“Avatar” anime series

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
“Avatar” anime series

This is not necessarily the case. Some artists decided to work directly with their outsourcing workers during the past ten years as opposed to taking their work for granted. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” may be the best example of all time.

A video from The Canipa Effect claims that producer Brian Konietzko personally met with South Korean animation staff before the series began production. Unusual control over elements like character design, effects designs, and even animation timing was provided to these animators.

The Korean animation team behind “Avatar” worked to elevate the already excellent scripting and storyboarding, producing a modern classic that hasn’t yet been surpassed in its field. The Canipa Effect’s developer, Callum May, claims that “what made it exceptional was the creative trust between the personnel in the US and Korea.”

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)

Jae-Myung Yu, one of the main animators from “Avatar,” later founded Studio Mir. Studio Mir was hired by DreamWorks to make the beloved series “Voltron: Legendary Defender” after producing a significant portion of the ambitious “Avatar” successor “The Legend of Korra.”

Numerous “anime” productions, including “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf,” have been made by them on Netflix since then. Interviews have made it quite evident that they take considerable pride in their job.

According to “Nightmare of the Wolf” director Kwang-il Han in an interview with Polygon, studio founder Yu “poured his heart into whatever project he was working on and took ownership of it creatively, even if it wasn’t an original creation.”

In a similar vein, Han discusses in an interview with ScreenRant how he created the character of Vesemir through improv during the boarding process.

Let it be Studio Mir style

One of the most well-known South Korean animation studios abroad is Studio Mir, thanks to the caliber and scope of their work. When challenged by Netflix producers about whether they should adopt a Japanese or American aesthetic, their print has grown so strong that they chose to adopt the “Studio Mir” aesthetic.

However, Netflix still classifies the productions of Studio Mir as anime in general. At the same time, despite Studio Mir’s continued success, they have never been permitted by collaborators like Netflix or DreamWorks to develop their own original shows. The opposite is true – they are used to generate infinite contract work for streaming libraries.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Bright: Samurai Soul

We would love to see what these animators could come up with on their own rather than watch them spend the rest of their lives working on franchise movies and television shows. For instance, “Bright: Samurai Soul,” an animated prequel to a film that no one I know truly enjoyed, was given to director Kyohei Ishiguro.

Why not support “Love Bubbles Up Like Soda Pop,” a movie that plays to his skills more and had its release date pushed out to 2020 due to COVID-19? And instead of accepting work for hire, I’d really like to see Studio Mir given the chance to create original content or at the very least choose whatever property they want to adopt.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Love Bubbles Up Like Soda Pop

Not to mention the fact that Japan is home to many excellent directors and animators, like the talented Rie Matsumoto, who appears to have no direction in the industry. Maybe someone could pay her and her team to finally produce the movie they’ve been threatening to do for years when they aren’t creating amazing advertisements for Pokemon?

Anime is a global medium

Of course, it’s not quite that straightforward. Up until this point, there has been a distinct separation between American streaming services and the international Japanese anime market. This is no longer true, even though it was debatably true a few years ago. Series aimed at global audiences is directly produced and funded by streaming providers like Netflix and Crunchyroll.

These services frequently pay licensing fees that are high enough to cover the cost of anime production as a whole.

The Association of Japanese Animations reported that as of 2020, the global anime market had overtaken Japan’s for the first time ever. Although Disney-produced movies are more widely seen than anime, the latter is already well on its way, for better or worse.

The line separating the global anime market from that of Japan has gotten increasingly porous over the past few years. Today’s anime industry has seen success for background artists like Kevin Aymeric, animation directors like Vincent Hansard, and musicians like Kevin Penkin.

In Trigger’s firefighting epic “Promare,” Bahi JD, who before storyboarded opening sequences and handled significant action scenes, once created online animations for posting on forums and YouTube. Artists from the anime industry have also transitioned to American productions at the same time.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Big Hero 6

Masaaki Yuasa worked on an Adventure Time episode, Takafumi Hori, a former Trigger animator, helped with the “Steven Universe” film, and Shigeto Koyama, a character designer, came up with the idea for Baymax in “Big Hero 6.”

The poisoned gift

The 2021 premiere of “Wonder Egg Priority,” a series made by gifted young animators looking to convey both delicate character acting and high-octane action at a level of quality more akin to film than television, marked a significant sea change.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Wonder Egg Priority

The television series suddenly crumbled and became financially impossible to produce after an amazing first run of episodes. Blou and FAR, two university students, were among the foreign fans hired at the last minute to help finish it.

Their team went above and beyond given their relative inexperience and the challenging circumstances of the show’s closing act. Blou and FAR have progressed along with their Studio Tonton friends, helping to produce well-known anime like “Spy X Family.”
Overproduction is the biggest threat confronting the anime business today.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Spy X Family

Not only is too much anime being produced, but the well-known action shows that are extremely popular outside are also unsustainable.

Producers turn to foreign animators with no training or experience but enough desire to be underpaid and overworked in return while domestic animators leave the industry owing to low pay and poor treatment.

This continuing conflict between sustainable art and corporate strip-mining threatens to reach a new front with the release of “Chainsaw Man,” created at the well-known but notoriously mercenary studio MAPPA.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Chainsaw Man

Overproduction is a global symptom

Producers from Japan‘s anime business have started to exercise a greater impact elsewhere, just as streaming services abroad have supported both anime and “anime” shows for foreign release.

Both the production committees that secure money for anime projects and the networks that secure those productions through licensing fees expect to benefit greatly from today’s expanding anime business.

Unfortunately, the artists are the ones who lose. They have to put in a lot of extra effort while making as many sacrifices as they can in order to match the high production pace. Adaptations become flat. It becomes impossible to produce original shows, which require much more pre-production.

Is anime series no longer a Japanese product? (Part 3)
Overproduction is a global symptom

The current anime bubble may burst over the next five years, a victim of speculators eager to make a quick profit off of yet another transitory fad.

The heroes and antagonists are the same whether the anime is produced in Japan or overseas. Animators strive to perform their duties effectively within constrained time constraints and for meager pay. Wealthy people consolidate their power and disregard the long-term benefits of an art form in favor of immediate financial gain.

The American television business is now experiencing a showrunner shortage. In order to save costs, tasks are outsourced to nations without worker rights in the special effects sector. Because anime is a worldwide media, so too are the challenges to its existence.

A “New Deal for Animation” was demanded by animators at Disney Studios. A worker’s union was recently formed by the manga publisher Seven Seas. I’m unable to predict what the anime industry will look like in the future, but I’m confident that its people have ideas.

No matter where it comes from, it is our responsibility to always keep in mind that the content that powers streaming services was created with human sweat and blood.

Animost – Vietnam 3D Animation Studio

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