Are They Making Too Much Anime - The Comprehensive Minds

Are They Making Too Much Anime


Are They Making Too Much Anime?


Out of all the anime that have aired on television since the pioneering premiere of Tetsuwan Atom in 1963, half began broadcasting after 2010. Let me repeat that Half OF the ANIME happened in the last eleven years. 


Well, that’s a slight oversimplification; the Redditor who tallied all this didn’t count movies – which have increased in production frequency over the years, but not quite so exponentially – or OVAs, which have declined precipitously since the late 90s and are now mostly just bonus episodes for tv anime. 


Are They Making Too Much Anime?
Are They Making Too Much Anime


Also, TV anime in the 70s and 80s tended to run several times longer than they do now, sometimes spanning multiple years, and while those two decades together only account for one-eighth of the total number of series in existence, all of that does add up, and the halfway mark for total minutes of anime made is probably closer to the early 2000s. 


Look the specific statistics don’t matter so much as the fundamental fact that more anime is being made now than in decades past by almost a literal order of magnitude. And it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Even speaking as someone who wanted to watch so much anime all the time that I found a way to make it my job when I look at those numbers, I’ve gotta ask… is it all too much? 



The Root of this Growth


From the perspective of the people who actually have to make it, the answer’s an almost unequivocal yes. Japanese animators are both grossly overworked and disgustingly underpaid. This in turn means burnout rates for the industry are sky-high, and the supply of animators has not kept up with this exponentially rising demand for animation. 


Even with much of anime production moving overseas and online to compensate – you’d be shocked how many shows need to recruit animators from Twitter – conditions on the ground in Japan are only getting more hectic and stressful, even for production leads. You’d also be shocked by how many directors end up making more than one show in the same season. [Example: Mashiro no oto and combatants will be dispatched] 


So, if things are so rough for them, why are these studios biting off so much more than they can chew? They don’t really have much say in the matter, actually. Anime is produced not by individual animation houses, but by production committees of investors and corporate entities – manga publishers, merch manufacturers, Record Labels, TV Stations, and so on – with a shared interest in a given intellectual property. And studios themselves rarely sit on those committees, instead usually serving as work for hire contractors who don’t even get to set their own work schedules. Under this system, where they’re almost never stakeholders in the anime they make, studios hardly see a dime of the billions upon billions of dollars in annually record-setting revenue the anime industry generates through merchandise and overseas licensing. 


Almost all of the money to cover their operating expenses comes exclusively from up-front production budget payments. Which, as you’ll know if you watched The Power of Sakuga, are uniformly way smaller than you’d think they’d be. So most studio heads basically have to take as many contracts as they can get, not as many as they can handle. And the companies who do actually call the shots want to make as many anime a year as they possibly can, because with overseas interest in anime growing, so too is the potential market for merch, and the chance that a show will find enough of a niche audience to turn a profit. 


Not to mention, licensing fees for foreign streaming platforms, who pick up essentially everything the industry puts out, have raised the baseline revenue for every single show. The risks that come with anime flopping are far lower than they used to be for these companies, while the rewards for success are that much greater several times over. 


This is especially important for print publishers, as any Manga or Light novel with a TV presence is all but guaranteed to move a greater volume of volumes than one without, ESPECIALLY overseas. In almost all cases greenlighting an anime based on any decently-selling piece of print media you own is a safe bet to increase those sales. And the more times you make that bet, the better your odds get of hitting the Demon Slayer jackpot. 


anime



I suspect that’s the reason Kadokawa has recently pledged to produce 40 anime annually for the foreseeable future – that’s almost a whole season’s worth from just one company –. And I foresee that it won’t be just one company working like that for long; as long as food costs money, media’s gotta follow the market and exist for the sake of marketing as much as the sake of art



Probable Upsides (Plus Additional Downsides)


There are non-monetary upsides to all this too much anime, of course. I imagine it’s quite exciting for all the artists and authors out there whose work never would have been adapted even a decade ago. Especially the anime-inspired foreign creators of stuff like Highschool of God and God of Tower. It’s also pretty exciting as a viewer to be living in a time when classic “unadaptable” manga like Banana Fish and Pluto is finally getting animated. 


Plus, basic probability says that the more times we roll the anime-making dice, the more genuinely great adaptations like Mob Psycho, 86, Mushoku Tensei, and To Your Eternity we’re likely to see. And speaking more generally, the broader the variety of stories anime tells, the more people are likely to find a personal favorite that speaks directly to their specific interests… or fetishes. 


Even if the production values are a little shoddy, being able to watch animated Kabaddi must be absolutely thrilling for fans of that sport. But all of those upsides fly out the window if the adaptation in question isn’t good, including for the publisher in a worst-case scenario – Master of Ragnarok actually lost sales when its anime aired. 


Probability also tells us that more rolls of the adaptation dice will give us more godawful garbage like that or Ex-arm, and with how thinly-stretched the whole industry is, each new show adds just a tad more weight toward those snake eyes situations. That also raises the odds that good shows will fall off or even turn terrible partway through production, as the overall shortage of animators, coupled with the insanely tight schedules set by committees – it’s not uncommon for episodes to be finished hours before they air – mean the tiniest of cockups can easily cascade into catastrophic QUALITY


But even when outsourcing works to paper overproduction issues from our perspective, the fundamental problems are still there. The best anime – and art in general – is made by tight-knit teams of creators who communicate and plan together, work off each other’s strengths, and share a common vision for the project. And you simply can’t get that by hiring more people – only by buying more time. 



Also Read: A NEW Dangerously Powerful Villain Coming The NEW 2022 Dragon Ball Super Movie?


I have a pet theory that for all the damage THE SITUATION did to anime in 2020, the delays it caused are also contributing to the higher-than-average number of shows with consistently good production values we’ve seen in 2021. To be clear, that’s just educated speculation, but if true, it would go to show how much of a difference even a little bit of extra lead time can make for these overtaxed production crews. 



Our Spotlight’s Limited Radius


And however it came about, even the best-case scenario for anime overproduction that we’re living through now isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. With all the good anime airing at the moment, I’m having to make some seriously tough calls about what to watch and put on hold. And may I remind you, watching anime IS MY JOB. I can hardly fathom how the rest of you are holding up against 3 good-to-great new episodes per weekday, followed by seven on the SATURDAY OF DOOM


SATURDAY OF DOOM

And while “there’s too much good anime for me to watch it all” may sound like a petty complaint, given how much of the English-speaking anime fandom revolves around real-time social media discussions of current episodes, it’s actually killing a ton of the fun of watching all but the biggest shows, since that community is more splintered than usual. 


Odd Taxi is the BEST WRITTEN STORY of any kind I’ve seen in ages – one of the villains was driven to murderous madness by bad luck. It’s literally perfect - yet as I pessimistically predicted in my some articles, no one’s watching it WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING ODD TAXI?! Moreover, I have a bad feeling that many of the incredible shows that can’t find room in the spotlight now.. won’t find it ever. 


Because as anyone who’s been watching seasonally for a while can tell you, “On Hold” is just the polite form of “dropped,” and “plan to watch” is a statement of willful self-delusion. Another symptom of just how much good anime the industry’s been pumping out in the last decade is that we fans have a much shorter memory than we used to. 


Not to get all boomer on ya, but back in my day, which really wasn’t that long ago, I’m talking late 2000s, and I’m hardly the first person to make this observation, but the anime community really was different back then. There were certain shows that everyone just agreed were the absolute best; classics that every fan needed to watch, or at least try. Cowboy Bebop. Evangelion. Akira. Ghost in the Shell. Fullmetal Alchemist. Code Geass. Gurren Lagann. Death Note. And even beyond those, there was this whole culture of cult classic recommendations between friends. Shows that those *really in the know* knew were where it was really at. 


Your Paranoia Agents, Monsters, Mongolian Chop Squads, Utenas, Kino’s Journeys, Princess Tutus, Escaflowne's, Gankutsuous, Initials D, and Medabotses. A lot of these shows change how I look at art, and I wouldn’t have found many of them… probably wouldn’t be doing this now, if wise friends with broader taste and faster internet than mine hadn’t turned me on to them.  


I try my best to do that for you guys now, when I can, even though the algorithm really doesn’t like it, but that culture hasn’t really existed since, like, Kill la Kill. And part of that is due to the community growing and diversifying in taste, but most of it comes down to there simply being too much content to parse it all. 


Like, yeah, sure, you might believe me when I say Captain Tylor, Beck, or Paranoia Agent is a GOATS but when are you even gonna find the time for those when all your friends are talking up 5 new shows every season at minimum, and you’ve already got 300 things on hold? I’m not blaming anyone here. It’s quite literally impossible to keep up with it all. But it still makes me sad to see. 


Only the lucky handful of shows that attract a massive audience right out of the gate, or pull a timely sequel that does, stand any chance of being remembered a year or even a season later. And out of those, a lot of should-be must-watch classics, like A Place Further Than The Universe, end up fading into the mass of merely really really good anime around them. And the Cult Classics, which used to spread by word of mouth, finding their passionate fanbases years after the fact? They’re just dead in the water now. 



Originality Counts


The worst part of this is that it disproportionately disadvantages original anime compared to adaptations when they were already fighting an uphill battle. For many reasons, some of which I’ve already outlined, people with money are far more inclined to spend it animating an established intellectual property than some animator’s bold new idea, and the existing fanbases of those properties naturally give them a leg up in attracting seasonal anime viewers early on when nobody knows how well any given show will shake out. 


Adapted Anime just seem like safer bets, quality-wise. Though if you actually calculate the odds, you’ll realize the opposite is true. The vast majority of anime are adaptations. Yet, if you’ll recall those undisputed classics I mentioned earlier: Bebop, Eva, Geass, Gurren – not to mention almost every Ghibli movie - a wildly disproportionate portion of the few original anime that exist rank among the absolute greatest of all time. 


This makes sense if you think about it – these shows are made by people who know the medium well and are designed to play to its strengths. Like how Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song kicks off every new arc by having its AI Idol protagonist sing a new OP for us. So cool! I’d estimated 1 in 7 anime adaptations are genuinely great, whereas, with the original series, it’s closer to 1 in three. This season’s unusually packed with originals, and over half are amazing: Mars Red, Odd Taxi, Backflip, Nomad, Zombieland Saga Revenge, Dynazenon, and Vivy. 


Yet of those, only Vivy is performing at a level where the community might remember it by year’s end, and even with the clout of an all-star production team and a story written by Re: Zero’s Tappei Nagatsuki, seven adaptations are pulling substantially more viewers than it on MAL. Only one on anime trending, though– and to be fair, watching fruits basket will make you a better person. please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying as mere salt over a show I personally think is an absolute masterpiece not getting the love I personally believe it deserves. 


Do you remember what I said about animators and studios not being on production committees? Original anime is the one exception to that rule; the rare chance anime studios get to build their own IP, take control of their creative process, and get a cut of those merch sales and licensing fees. Just a sliver of the pie, really, but enough to give a lucky few studios like Bones and Kyoto Animation the economic leverage to control their own destiny and – more importantly – treat their animators like human beings. But this is a double-edged sword; taking a big stake in an original show is a big financial risk that can ruin anime studios – who rarely have the deep pockets of other production committee members – if it doesn’t pan out. 


I’m under no illusions that anything I say in this video will have even the slightest effect on anime industry practices. But I do have at least a tiny amount of sway in this community. And since I’ve got your attention now. I want to implore you to give more original anime more of your love. Prioritize them over the big manga things everyone’s talking about, and talk over everyone about the ones you really love. 


Maybe kidnap a friend, tape his eyes open, and make him watch Odd Taxi Then when he’s seen the light, have him help you grab two more friends, and so on, and so on. Maybe get some friends together and watch some old anime too. It won't’ help anyone’s business, but it’s good for the soul. And old original anime is the one segment of this godforsaken content category that’s actually small enough for a person to watch it all in their lifetime. 


original anime


If you’re looking for a good place to start, the 80s OVA scene was pretty much the only moment in anime history when studios were economically incentivized to take their time making the best thing they possibly could, but that’s a story for another day. There is way too much anime, and too much good anime out there. But together, we can help each other find the best of it, and help the people who make the best of it get a much bigger piece of the comically oversized pie. 

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