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It’s true that the anime industry is having a tough time with TV series – we always hear about studio closures, stories about production issues, and about the terrible wages. But, it looks like Japan’s movie industry would be dead if it wasn’t for anime.

Japanese moviegoers have been choosing anime films over live-action features. Since 2011, there has been a huge increase in anime in the top 10 box office films with up to 75% of yearly revenues being generated by anime!

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Chinese Director Explains Why Anime Quality Drops After 2 Episodes

Japan has a very strict work flow that is completely different from the Chinese industry. Due to historical reasons, Chinese animation companies are mainly influenced by the western production process which is simpler. In contrast, the Japanese process is very complicated. They push the limits on every single detail and everyone in the process. If any one stage is stuck, the entire process halts. This is a weakness within their process. When the flow is very smooth and everyone delivers on time and on quality, it is a fantastic process. But they lack flexibility. Not at all. Everything must first go through step one before step two. The Chinese production cycle is more parallel. Many things can be worked on at the same time. Some things start getting passed to the next person once it’s 20% done. But in Japan, everything must be completely done before it can be handed down the line, so they waste a lot of time waiting.

For example, in the animation process, say there’s 300 cuts. We would make 10 cuts of key frames, have it approved by the director, and it goes to the in-between people. They don’t do that. They must wait until all 300 cuts are finished before they move to animation. This way, the in-between people are just waiting for two months for the key frames to finish. In theory, this can work if they just keep moving from episode to episode, but they ignore the fact that it takes three months to make one episode of key frames and the in-between is done in three days. So another cycle of waiting begins.”

Q: In what ways does this problem affect the series produced?

W: Right now, the biggest problem in Japanese animation is that the first two episodes of a new series will be great, but then the quality starts dropping from episode three, all the way until the end. Most Japanese TV series are like this. The first two episodes they have plenty of time, so they take their time and everything is very detailed. Once the time tightens up by episode three, their quality starts to slide.

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– The number of anime per year keeps on increasing. Do you think it will change this year?

Minami: I think that if the number keeps on increasing even further, the industry won’t be able to handle it. Maybe that’s why small studios keep on collapsing.

Matsukura: That’s right. I think small studios aren’t in a position to pick their works, so if they’re assigned a difficult series (production-wise), they become a time-bomb.

Minami: At BONES we have 4 sub-studios, so even when the situation becomes dire at one, another will come to assist. This adjustment within the company is very effective. Small studios however can’t afford this luxury – they just have to do their best with one team at one place.

Matsukura: And eventually, the broadcast gets delayed. This keeps on happening often these days. A while ago, when the number of works stayed within a sustainable range, the small studios were assigned works suitable for their size. The industry is in a very messy state now.

Minami: The publishers seem to have trouble deciding which content they should pitch to which studio. Actually, I sometimes get offers that would be much more suitable for Matsukura-kun than myself. (laughs)

Matsukura: I get those mistakes too! I’d like to say “Bring this to Minami-san instead!“ but there’s so many plans out there.

Minami: There is. Whether we can collect production costs and make it is a thing that’s discussed afterwards; these are just plans for productions. In particular, there’s a lot of adaptations.

Matsukura: It’s said that the quality of the manga is not what it used to be as well, but even during that time we produced some noteworthy manga adaptations. Also, some titles with a slight edge have started to appear in our line-up of offers.

– What about original works?

Matsukura: Actually I haven’t been counting the number of original works, but I think the number is increasing as a whole.

Minami: Yes. However, the circumstances determining whether an original series comes to fruition or not have been changing year by year. As of late, digital distribution has to be factor for sure. When the distribution is decided and there’s some quality to the product, you can also sell it overseas. But then, the overseas side says “sci-fi, action or fantasy” – I’m being told that if at least one of these genres is not included, the show won’t become really popular there. (laughs)

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Keisuke Iwata, president of Japan's anime television network AT-X, spoke at Tokyo's Digital Hollywood University last Thursday about a possible transition to using artificial intelligence (AI) in anime. With decades of experience in the industry, Iwata said, "It is fully conceivable that anime production processes may be completely replaced by AI."

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The press release reports that Crunchyroll is the "largest online home for anime" with "over one million paid subscribers, 20 million registered users, and 800 titles." According to the release, "fans spend billions of minutes per month on the platform."

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The Japan Video Software Association (JVA) released its 12-month report on video software sales in Japan from January to December 2016 on Wednesday. The report revealed a 6.2% decrease in the net worth of DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales in Japan compared to last year's sales.

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The problem is, the anime publisher and manga publisher are usually talking to different people at the same time. The manga or light novel publisher is dealing directly with the original Japanese publisher, the series' original editor, and the author's management. The anime publisher is talking to the licensor, which either is, or is in contact with, show's producer. The show's producer is supposed to consult the author when it comes to major decisions, but usually there's a bureaucratic wall preventing them from doing so. The producer(s) often end up making a lot of these arbitrary decisions in a vacuum.

Often there's already an English title, either originating with the creator, or with the production committee -- and that English title might be Engrishy and terrible. Or the licensor will tell the publisher to use the Japanese title, or an abbreviation (like "Hanakimi" or "SaiKano"). The Western publisher either has to deal with that, or push back. "Hey, this isn't a great title for Westerners. How about ____? Or ____? Those get the same point across, and sound a lot better to a native English speaker."

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Animator Beluo77 shared a "speed animation" video on his secondary Youtube channel. The video shows him animating a small clip of Kogasa Tatara from Touhou. We see he him draw the key visual frames, in-between (parts that create the illusion of animation), and digital coloring.

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Trigger studio one of my favorite anime studio out there besides Ufotable studio, this is just part 1 

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When it comes to defining the look of a show, nobody is more essential to the production than the character designer and the art director. The character designer is, obviously, the person who draws all of those character breakdown sheets you've probably seen in art books and DVD art gallery features. In any given production, its their style that is probably easiest to identify, although often they're simply refining other people's characters (from a manga, visual novel artwork, or light novel illustration) so that they have fewer lines and are easier for animators to draw consistently. While less identifiable, the art director is just as important in designing the backgrounds -- and although we may not notice them as easily, those too can give any given show a unique feel.

Together with the animation director, the director of photography and the color designer (and mechanical designer, if that applies), these artists are principally responsible for everything you think of in terms of how a show looks and feels. A particularly hands-on director will work with this staff and influence what they do, but the distinctive touches that each of these people can put on a show will usually make themselves apparent.
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