Animation Process Anime Industry

How anime is made: production-related roles

©Science Saru/Sumito Oowara

Throughout this series, I’ve tried to explain several essential artistic functions in anime production; after all, animation is art, and without artists it wouldn’t even exist. However, for commercial animes to have the chance to be produced and finished, there is another sector of professionals that is just as important, but that is not usually so valued by fans: the sector responsible for management and logistics.

And, let’s face it, these two factors are very difficult to execute properly in this industry, given its chaotic state, as I’ve been pointing out for a long time.

There are several names for various types of professionals who perform this type of function. After all, each anime will have its own production circumstance, consequently needing different functions.

However, as I’ve said in previous posts, the objective of the series will always be to explain everything concisely. Therefore, I will limit myself to presenting the two most common, which are currently present in almost every anime

Production Assistant (制作進行 – Seisaku Shinkou)   .

I chose to start with this one, since those who work in this role are at the bottom of the “hierarchy” of the organizational sphere. Despite this, production assistants are extremely important.

That’s because their duty is nothing less than to ensure that everything goes according to the — often insane — production schedule, in this case for a particular episode.

In “summary”, they deal with all the numerous companies and people connected with the episode, ensuring that everyone is doing their parts correctly and on time, as well as gathering, checking and transporting the materials.

For those who watched the great anime Eizouken, it would be the role played by the character Kanamori (who is on the cover of the post).

It may sound ok. But in reality it is an extremely stressful job, especially given the current situation of over-outsourcing and labor exploitation which reigns in the industry.

There has even been a very sad incident involving an A-1 Pictures production assistant who committed suicide due to overwork. Since then, the studio has been trying to improve the situation of its professionals.

However, this was unfortunately not an isolated case. This situation is just a more extreme consequence of the daily lives of these professionals.

Also, for once, wages are very low.

Production Desk/Production Administrator (制作デスク – Seisaku Desk)

One degree up in the hierarchy, the work of production administrators spans the entire anime.

They manage the production schedule for the entire project, being responsible for things like budget allocation and production assistants, and ensuring that the project as a whole goes as it should. They are basically the “directors” of the organization.

Speaking of “directors”, this is an interesting factor to talk about production functions. They can even become directors of an entire anime. As they are constantly in direct contact with animators and other artists, in addition to being perfectly aware of the logistics behind the production, they are often able to achieve this role due to their ability to manage a project well.

It is even where most of the anime directors come from, along with those who came directly from the animation sectors themselves.

While those from the animation sectors tend to have more artistic sensitivity, those who grew up as producers tend to be more adept at keeping projects on track. But that’s not to say that “producer-directors” don’t have an artistic sensibility.

To exemplify, none other than Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) and Tetsuro Araki (Shingeki no Kyojin) followed the “producer-director” path.

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