Rich Industry and Poor Animators: Toshio Okada’s criticism of the Anime Production Committee System
Anime Production Committee is when companies come together to share the production expenses of an anime, and that if this anime is a failure, there will be no loss. That’s basically it.
There is a video by the non-profit organization ”Animator Supporters” where the former president of Gainax, Toshio Okada, makes a series of criticisms of the anime production committee system. Okada claims that animators are so poor, even though the industry attracts more money than ever because according to him, the anime production committee limits the budgets of individual anime titles.
Apparently, this is due to a culture of corporate collusion, where the main investing company determines in advance the highest amount that all other companies in the anime production committee can spend proportionally. Check out Okada’s video with English subtitles below:
The Anime Production Committee System
Okada says that since the control over the copyright is proportional to the amount of the investment, companies will make an offer to become the largest investor (typically 40%). Once they achieve this status, they have the power to determine the budget.
After the budget is determined proportionally, the production committees will not accept larger investments from outside companies, such as foreign ones, a large investment would be divided into separate projects to keep these companies lower in the production committee.
Okada also said that if a Chinese company offered to pay a total budget of US$10 million, the production committee would turn its investment into installments of US$50,000 in 20 different projects, i.e. to maintain control and profits, Japanese companies on anime production committees are encouraged to use surplus foreign investment to finance other projects rather than increasing an individual title’s budget.
Okada says in the video that his main source was director Yutaka Yamamoto, who has gone public with his own troubles getting funding in recent years. In 2017, the two men appeared in an interview together, where they raised many of the same points about the anime production committee system.
Supporters of the animator commented that Okada’s video was “a wonderful and straightforward explanation”. It then stated that the reason why the project uses crowdfunding as a funding model is so that it can make full use of international support for the anime. Animator Supporters released a video clip last August which claimed to pay animators $180 per keyframe, which is 2-4 times the industry standard.
The organization is now crowdfunding a second music video featuring voice actress and singer Aya Hirano as the vocalist. The organization plans to produce at least one new animated short annually and scale the pay structure to a flat salary rather than piecework. This new campaign is called ”New Anime Creation System Project Phase 2”.
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