Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quake Damage

It wasn't only Japanese coastal towns and nuclear reactors that got hurt:

Earthquake Rattles Japanese Animation Industry

...Japan's recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crises are taking their toll on the nation's population and industrial sector -- and Japanese anime, an industry that brings in an estimated $2.5 billion annually, has suffered as well.

"The whole thing is having a pretty significant effect right now," says Christopher Macdonald, CEO and publisher of Anime News Network. "70% of Japan's animation studios are in the suburbs of Tokyo, and those are . . . the areas being affected by the rolling blackouts. That means it's very hard for people to do work. They don't know when their electricity is going to be turned off for three to six hours; the offices start shaking every 15 minutes [from aftershocks]. For the most part, most of those studios are at a standstill when it comes to their animation work." ...

The disaster is just the latest setback for Japan's anime industry. ..."Production budgets have been slashed because of the economic slump, and young workers on the margins are bearing hard burdens," Hisako Sasaki, the head of anime studio Wish, recently told the national newspaper Asahi Shimbun. "Young workers have fewer chances to accumulate experience and improve their skills."

There's also an ongoing international slump in the sale of DVDs ...

Now imagine a big shaker on the other side of the ring of fire: California.

If you g0t a nice big burp from the San Andreas fault, something around 8.7 or 8.9, you might be looking at a sizable disruption in the American cartoon industry. Certainly there could be a slowdown with Pixar, Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, not to mention DreamWorks Animation on the banks of the Los Angeles River.

Depending on the intensity of shaking and the number of casualties, the results wouldn't necessarily be pretty.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inspirational message.
I'm not sure what to do with it besides have one more thing to worry about.

Ki Innis said...

Living and working in Tokyo, I can say first hand that several productions have been either cancelled or postponed because of the recent disasters.

Anime in Japan (one of the few places in the world where hand-drawn animation is still king) ---- has been in a slump for awhile now.

The Wall Street Journal did an interesting story on the slump in the Japanese animation industry some time ago:


or see the same video clip on my blog about it.


Pencil Jock said...

Ki Innis -

Thanks for the link to your blog post with some very illuminating (and sobering) thoughts on the state of the animation industry in Japan .


Outsourcing and ever-lowering wages (especially for freelance artists working by-the-foot or by-the-drawing , or storyboard artists who must now do elaborate key-posed animatics) are killing traditional animators in the U.S. too , but it seems much worse in Japan. This is a sad thing because it makes one wonder where does the next Satoshi Kon or Hayao Miyazaki come from if animation is not an attractive profession for young people to enter.

On the other hand the WSJ video interview with the young female animator, Kayoko Ezoe, reminds me very much of many animation students I speak with in the U.S. who dearly love hand-drawn animation and they would rather do it than something else, even with the scarcity of jobs and the low pay. Kayoko Ezoe obviously has a passion for her work and any animator in any culture could relate to her speaking of how the delight in seeing her drawings come alive on the screen is what keeps her going .

It's a wonderful madness , this thing about bringing drawings to life.

(but it comes with great sacrifice; the Japanese animation industry wages are shameful . They are taking advantage of these young people's love for animation).

Question: almost all the shots in the WSJ video show the artists working on flat light boards with the drawings held together with something like "bulldog clips", instead of the typically angled drawing tables with animation discs and peg bars that we use in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Is this common practice in Japan , to work on a flat light board with or without a peg bar ?

Anonymous said...

someone once told me that Film Roman was temporarily "Red Tagged" after the Northridge quake.

...and that a small number of Simpson staffers were able to sneak in (along the lines of you talk to the cop while we sneak in the window) to get their work out of the building so they could work from home since the deadlines didn't change.

Any truth to that?

Steve Hulett said...

Film Roman occupied a multi-story building on Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood that suffered major damage in the Northridge quake.

TAG didn't rep the employees at the studio at the time, so my recollections are a bit sketchy, but I think people were moved out when damage proved to be extensive, then brought back when repairs were completed.

After TAG signed a contract with FR, the company moved to its present location near the Burbank airport on Hollywood Way. The crew for "King of the Hill" later returned to the old site due to over-crowding at the Hollywood Way location.

I was never enamored of the older building. The ceilings were low and the place was run-down. but they produced a lot of prime time television cartoons there, nevertheless.

Ki Innis said...

@ Pencil Jock

Finding an animation disc in Japan is just about impossible. It seems that they just don't use them here

Many times I have seen people working on a simple light board at a neck breaking 15 degree angle or less.

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