The MAPPA co-founder is concerned that Chinese animation may soon overtake Japanese animation.
As Crunchyroll reports, Masao Maruyama, who co-founded numerous animation studios such as MAPPA, Madhouse, and M2, takes a serious look at Japan’s ability to maintain power in the animation industry. Instead, he believes that Japanese animation will soon fall into the hands of Chinese animation, known as donghua, as the genre has grown in popularity in recent years.
“The only reason China has yet to catch up with Japan is because of a series of restrictions on freedom of speech there,” said Maruyama. “If more freedoms were liberated, Japan would be overtaken in an instant.” Although Japan does not have similar creative constraints, the co-founder believes that Japan’s focus on commercialism and “creation of genres that make money, such as those with characters cute girl” has caused it to lose its imagination. As a result, anime “doesn’t necessarily surpass” the animated works produced by Disney or the French art producer in terms of creativity.
China invests in animators
Because these genres have and will continue to generate significant successes, at least for the time being, the 81-year-old co-founder believes it also distracts Japan from training people to be successful. cartoon painter. The poor working conditions that animators endure in the Japanese animation industry have been widely reported, with animators working long hours for very low wages. Mushiyo, a freelance animator at MAPPA, criticized the popular studio for not training its animation team but instead focusing on producing multiple works in a short time. Meanwhile, China is aggressively investing in new animators.
According to Nippon.com, “a vicious cycle” is taking place in the Japanese animation industry. When starting out, many aspiring animators don’t get the knowledge and experience needed to advance in the industry. Irie Yasuhiro, representative director of the Japan Animation Creators Association, attributed the lack of trained animators to the fact that many studios outsource China and Korea due to a “shortage” labor”. According to Yasuhiro, the alleged labor shortage due to low wages has made it extremely difficult for aspiring animators to make a living. As a result, they quit, forcing studios to outsource, which took away the animators’ opportunity to learn and grow.
Donghua’s international success
Despite censorship laws restricting animated works with any content that might be deemed contrary to Chinese values and culture, donghua has enjoyed domestic and international success. The 2019 animated film Na Tra became the highest-grossing animated film in China with over $725 million. Other series, such as Link Click, which recently revealed a summertime slot for Season 2, and Heaven Official’s Blessing, have also recently become more accessible to international viewers, leading to activity Chinese image is more recognized.
Source: Japan Times, via Crunchyroll