The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Japan's anime industry in crisis even as its popularity soars
Japanese lead film producer and founder of the company Studio Ponoc Yoshiaki Nishimura, poses in Annecy on June 11, 2019 at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The festival took place from June 10 to June 15, 2019. JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP.

by Sophie Laubie in Annecy with Fiachra Gibbons in Paris

ANNECY (AFP).- Japan's booming animation industry is in crisis -- with low pay, long hours and a huge shortage of artists -- just as its global popularity has never been higher.

Three of the 10 feature films in the running for top prize at the world's most important animation festival in Annecy in France -- which ended Saturday -- are from Japan.

The country is the only real challenger to Hollywood's dominance of the labour-intensive genre.

But just as Japanese anime seemed to be threatening to loosen Pixar and Disney's grip on the popular imagination with the likes of the teen mega hit "Your Name" and a Nintendo Super Mario movie in the pipeline, long-running structural problems are in danger of sapping its rise.

With talk of a talent shortage, its greatest star, the legendary Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki, has come out of retirement at 78 to make "How Do You Live?" -- which may be released next year -- with speculation that he could take on another feature if his health holds.

Miyazaki blazed an arthouse trail with such animated classics as the Oscar-winning "Spirited Away", "Howl's Moving Castle" and the fabulous "My Neighbour Totoro".

Creative burn-out
But Yoshiaki Nishimura, a former Miyazaki stalwart who produced the Oscar-nominated "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya", told AFP that the industry was struggling to "face up to a lack of animators, bad working conditions and perhaps a lack of creativity".

His peers also complain of low pay, a paucity of emerging young talent and burn-out in overworked animation teams who often put in 12- to 18-hour days.

Rising star Keiichi Hara, who showed his new film "The Wonderland" at Annecy after winning the jury prize there four years ago with "Miss Hokusai", feared for the future.

"Perhaps the biggest problem in the Japanese animation industry is that there are no more young animators," he warned.

Ayumu Watanabe -- whose beautiful "The Children of the Sea" was shown out of competition at the festival -- worried about visual "standardisation" and lack of originality, not helped by the fact that "fewer and fewer animators can draw well by hand."

Even industry heavyweights like Mamoru Hosoda, the genius behind "Wolf Children", "The Boy and the Beast" and "The Girl who Leapt Through Time", have to put in punishingly long hours with relatively tiny teams.

He told AFP last year that his latest hit "Mirai" was inspired by his wife complaining that she was a widow to his work, calling him to account for leaving her "to bring up my son on her own".

'Your Name' follow-up
Watanabe said that the industry has split into two extremes: "Big productions who can call on an incredible number of animators and at the other end of the scale, and more artistic projects that have a lot less money."

All eyes later this year will be on the release of "Weathering with You", Makoto Shinkai's fantasy follow-up to the record-breaking "Your Name", now the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time.

Its production team unveiled a sneak preview of the supernatural story at Annecy, with a high-school runaway meeting a girl who can change the weather.

With a live-action version of "Your Name" in the works and US television about to remake the cult Japanese series "Train Man" about an anime-obsessed youth, the genre has never been closer to the international mainstream.

Nishimura said that he has tried to keep the "Ghibli style and spirit going... with a mix of hand-drawn and computer animation" at Studio Ponoc, which he set up after Miyazaki -- a heavy smoker who was having health problems -- first hung up his pencil in 2013.

New surfer story a hit
It scored its first hit in 2017 with "Mary and the Witch's Flower" and Nishimura premiered a series of new shorts at Annecy.

For him, the industry's woes are "the result of an accumulation of problems over the last five to 10 years", but he insisted his studio was trying to "create a new environment".

And as the wowed audiences at Annecy for Masaaki Yuasa's touching "Ride Your Wave" proved, despite its problems Japanese anime can still get things very right.

The story of love, surfing and grief struck a huge cord with critics at the French festival.

Amel Lacombe, whose company Eurozoom is a key French animation distributor, said the industry's travails are due to its rapid growth, and now "we are in a period of adjustment".

She believes that the Japanese authorities are waking up to anime's importance and global reach "as a export force".

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

June 17, 2019

'Color Riot! How Color Changed Navajo Textiles' on view at the Heard Museum

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden presents Rembrandt's Mark

Italy's 'genius' film director Franco Zeffirelli dies

How UK museums and galleries can arrange to protect exhibits on loan from abroad from court-ordered seizure

Record set as Babe Ruth jersey sells for $5.6 million

Exhibition explores the art, architecture, design, and philosophy of the early years of the Bauhaus

Exhibition at Häusler Contemporary gives an exciting insight into the diversity of contemporary object art

Rare seventeenth century poetry manuscript at risk of export

Museum wins national award for exhibition label writing

Julien's Auctions two day :legends" auction results announced

'A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex' opens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Exhibition of Ann Aspinwall's recent work in silkscreen, etching, linocut, and collagraph opens in New York

Freeman's inaugural sale at new flagship location to be largest auction of American Flags

VALIE EXPORT receives the Roswitha Haftmann Prize

Exhibition at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein questions of the performativity of gender

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery opens a seven-decade-survey exploring the work of of Morris Graves

Czech banjos, mandolins win over US bluegrass stars

Film-maker Jonas Mekas laid to rest in native Lithuania

A Phillips X Private selling exhibition to showcase American women artists from 1945 to today

Diamonds and designers shine in Rago's June jewelry auctions

Group exhibition celebrates artists whose work explores and engages with gender identity

Chakshu Patel joins The Studio Museum in Harlem

Kalakriti Contemporary opens an exhibition of works by Ekta Singha

Japan's anime industry in crisis even as its popularity soars

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful