How to support your favorite Japanese animation studios: a not-so-perfect guide

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Quite often animation fans talk about supporting their favorite shows through purchasing original products, but does the money we spend always get to the animation studios which, with much strain and diligence, make anime? No, very often it’s the production committee who gets the whole cake, leaving the companies who made the actual work empty-handed. They leave the companies no choice, paying too little their animators, and are continuously on the verge of bankrupting. However, there are certain specific cases where the purchase of products from the fans ends up being a pivotal support to the Studio who made the Animation Production of this specific anime. But before looking at this specific cases let’s see for ourselves this production committee, this mythological creature we better learn of before tackling this discussion.

What’s a production committee?

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A production committee (製作委員会方式) is a business co-op made by different companies to make and sell an anime. Usually they’re called Anime X Committee / Partners, but sometimes they can have more original names and tied to the anime they have intention to make like the Committee for the betterment of dragons’ lives who worked on Maidragon. Independently from this they work pretty much all the same: the different entities cooperate putting in use their individual skills to make a profit. There’s who goes scouting for the cast, who promotes the anime, who works on the soundtrack, who makes and sells merchandise and Blurays. Together, even if the production reveals itself a failed investment the losses are distributed between all members. Contrary to popular beliefs, the animation studios who actually create the final product quite often are not part of the committee: the lack of economic resources doesn’t let them enter in this organism and they end up becoming in an enormous artisan who produces a high number of drawings on commission for little money. The costs too are divided, the incomes usually divided according to the merchandise sold: the music producer will profit only on Opening and Ending CDs while the BD editor, who usually covers a crucial role, will profit tons from the Home Video sales. The license supervisor will profit by selling the brand overseas and so on.

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Lately, director Yukata Yamamoto and Toshio “Otaking” Okada complained about how much unfair this system is, to the point of nicknaming it a sort of “legalized slavery”


Here it is an example of an average regarding the production committee of the recently aired Knights & Magic:

Shufunotomo: original novels’ Editor House

Bandai Visual: Regarding Blurays’ production

Hakuhodo DY Music & Pictures: they are the international rights’ holders who profited by selling the brand to Yamato Video (Italian) and Funi. They would partially benefit from an hypothetic Italian BD.

Lantis: Produced the anime’s theme songs

AT-X: one of the televisions who aired the anime

Q-Tec: edited and encoded the anime. It’s expected they would profit from BD sales.

Genco: it’s a company who mainly manages production committees and set them up together by establishing a contact network. They also worked for Accel World, In This Corner of the World and Sword Art Online.
It’s easy to see that, according to the product inherent to the anime we’re about to buy, we’re going to give money to a specific company.

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Different possibilities

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But if you want to do something for those who spilt sweat and blood in creating your favourite anime you can’t just buy the first gadgets you see on the Net, you’ve got to find out first on how the Committee is composed. Is the Animation Studio present in it or not? Is an Action-figures company part of the Production Committee?

To do this you can check in various ways: reading the credits sometimes in the Opening and other times in the Ending, check the anime’s official website but usually a simple research on Google is enough.

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Production Committee credited in the Irresponsible Captain Tylor’s ending sequence


If the Animation Studio is in the committee then a good number of products tied to the anime are a perfect way to fund the studio: a percentage is fixed on figures, home video, artbooks and much more. Opening, Ending and OST CDs are the only pieces usually not part of this category.

If an action figures company is part of the production committee, a little percentage of the introits (5-10% circa) of the figures featuring the characters from the original anime in question will go to the animation studio. If we’re talking about adaptations this number will go towards the original creator. If the figures are made by a company outside the production committee then the studio will receive only 1-5% of the profits. It’s not much but usually when the animation studio is not part of the production committee there’s really nothing else to do.

If the animation studio is not in the production committee like in Knights & Magic it’s still possible to support the studio by buying artbook produced or co-produced by the same studio. A good part of sales from the books goes to them, in fact. When we talk about co-productions, the percentages are pretty much similar to the figures ones.

If the animation studio hasn’t produced any artbook and is not part of the committee we can’t fund it. But this doesn’t mean that buying merchandise hoping a second season will be aired is wrong, on the contrary buying CD to support a new Symphogear series is the probably the best way to contribute for a new chapter to be made. Simply put, the success or the failure of a series it’s not so economically pressing for the animation studio, if they didn’t accumulate debts from outsorcing during some episodes.

The specific Case of studio Trigger

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Anything found on Trigger’s international store provides, at least partially, the Ogikubo’s studio introits. Buying from here is a really comfortable way to support this band of oddballs.

The specific Case of Kyoani Shop

 

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A legendary place

 

Anything found on the Kyoani Shop provides like with Trigger direct introits to the animation studio. Sadly to buy from here you’ll need a proxy wich can buy for you and sends the products you wish to your home. Several exist, like Cdjapan, Fromjapan and Biginjapan.

The specific Case of Sunrise

Buying Gunpla and Love Live figures directly supports these shows and Sunrise studio. It has to be said though that sadly since the extremely “corporative” nature of the studio, property of Bandai Namco Holdings the big incomes from these specific sales never really supported the professionals’ working conditions hired to create anime.

Sources: : http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/articles/3620/1.html animeanime.biz http://animationbusiness.info/ https://curiouscat.me/ultimatemegax

 

A huge thanks to Emanuele Petrosino for the translation!

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