Why Don't More Details About New Anime Leak To The Press?

by Justin Sevakis,

Tim asked:

I was thinking, if an anime movie takes around 1 year or so to make, how come there aren't much leaks about the contents of the film? In the case of the final naruto film, wouldn't leaks about its contents be released even before the final chapter of Naruto? In the case of Evangelion 3.0, there was absolutely nothing in regards to its contents until the film was actually released. It seems baffling because we've gotten considerably more leaks for the Star Wars film, but when it comes to anime films, nothing. Are the japanese just really careful about leaks or do they have more stringent rules in punishing people?

I think there are a few factors as to why we don't get more leaks, and one of them definitely has to do with the lack of media attention surrounding anime. Let's compare what happens if you call Time Magazine with a scoop about the new Star Wars movie, versus what happens when you call a major Japanese magazine with a scoop about the new Evangelion movie. The Evangelion movie leak might get some press attention, but it'll mostly be from small, nerdy websites. Conversely, a Star Wars leak will probably get the press so excited they'll offer you thousands of dollars for a picture.

Some of that is definitely cultural. Western entertainment journalism has a far more antagonistic relationship with the studios and stars than their Japanese counterparts. Where a Western tabloid might go, "screw it! I'll risk a lawsuit, I'm going to fly this drone over a film set and print the photos," a Japanese entertainment magazine won't even print an unauthorized photograph of a major star, for fear their people will cut off their press access. That means that a LOT of stuff goes unreported, for better or for worse.

Secondly, I think the highly collaborative, quiet nature of anime production tends to attract people who are not as excited for the attention that a leak would bring them. Leaks in the American studio system often come from low-paid bottom-level staff, drunk with the novelty of being on a major film set. Their egos get a little out of control, and they blab to whoever will listen, because it makes them feel important. That sort of person is everywhere in the entertainment industry. But that sort of person is pretty rare in animation, which is filled with quieter, more studious people. I'm stereotyping of course, but this is true in the broader strokes.

What's more, there are surprisingly few people on staff that actually have the "big picture" of what the anime will look and feel like before it's actually done. The animators are usually just looking at whatever cuts they're assigned, and don't really have much insight into the story as a whole.

As a footnote, it's important to mention that most - not all, but most - of the "leaks" for huge movies like Star Wars or The Avengers are now part of the marketing package. Real honest-to-god leaks still happen (remember when a briefcase full of production material for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was stolen on set?) but most of the "leaks" you see right now are hand-picked tidbits from the major studios' marketing department releases as "leaks" to make it seem more exciting. It whips up fan fervor when it feels like they're "getting away" with seeing an image of approved concept art a few months ahead of schedule. All of it is just part of the marketing plan, and it's pretty clear the anime industry at large hasn't adopted this particular strategy yet.

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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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