Helping the industry continue to produce world-class work

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Japanese animation has a history that dates back over 100 years and is highly regarded internationally. A record should be kept of the large number of works created, to disseminate information about Japanese anime domestically and internationally, and to promote the creation of new works.

An animation database is now available online, including release dates, story summaries, and other data for 15,000 anime works produced in Japan. It is one of the largest Japanese animation databases in the world.

The Japan Animation Association, which consists of animation production companies and other organizations, created the database to commemorate the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the birth of domestic commercial animation. It was completed in August.

Animation was once seen as something for kids, but now it’s enjoyed by all generations. Works that have been made into movies often top the box office charts.

The database includes animation works that have not received much attention and will allow you to discover hidden masterpieces. By coming into contact with works with different historical contexts and production methods, creators can be inspired and acquire new ideas.

There is a growing movement to preserve works of animation and make them available online. The National Film Archive of Japan released 64 pre-war works, including “Corporal Norakuro”.

The Kobe Planet Film Archive is digitizing nearly 300 works of significant historical value. It can be said that this illustrates the recognition of animation as an artistic culture.

Japanese anime films such as “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”) by Hayao Miyazaki and “Kimi no na wa” (your name) by Makoto Shinkai are very popular overseas and have become a mainstay of Japanese cultural exports.

Overseas sales of the Japanese animation industry, including related goods and games, exceeded domestic sales for the first time in 2020. This stemmed from an increase in overseas viewing thanks to online video distribution services, leading to greater recognition for anime.

Despite this prosperity, there has been no progress in improving working conditions and developing human resources at production sites. According to a survey by an industry group, the average income of young animators is lower than other industries. Industry would also be lagging behind in responding to the digitization of production methods.

In recent years, Chinese animation production technology has improved and it is now possible to produce works comparable to those in Japan. It is said that they sometimes use Japanese companies as subcontractors.

Even if there are excellent creators, nothing will be gained if the base of the first production line is weak. A system should be established in which profits from successful productions are returned to the front line. The people and organizations involved should make every effort to find ways to maintain the basics of producing works that captivate the world.

(From Yomiuri Shimbun, September 25, 2022)

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