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Toei Animation Representative Director Wants New Blood in the Anime Industry

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Toei Animation recently started project soliciting anime pitches from amateurs outside the industry

Toei Animation announced its "100-Year Anime Project" contest for original anime on Thursday. The project's name originates from its goal: to create an anime that will "continue for the next 100 years." The project allows participants to submit proposals for an anime project in one of four different "courses," each aimed at people with varying levels of experience in the anime industry, including amateurs.

Toei Animation representative director Katsuhiro Takagi stated that the project hopes to create anime that people will not find familiar or similar to other works. He describes the project as a first for Toei because the studio has never made a public call for anime pitches that is open to amateurs. "We want to borrow the strength of people on the outside," he said.

Takagi also expressed his thoughts on the current state of the anime industry. He said that despite the large number of anime being made, he feels that only a small number of them are hits. He spoke of the struggle to create things that are both artistically satisfying and commercially successful. He went on, "That's why I want people with ideas to make use of this project. We've built up the know-how over many years to make a product succeed."

According to Takagi, anime has the power to change the "common sense" of the era. When he first joined Toei, there was a perception that anime was only for kids. However, great anime is able to appeal across all ages and genders. A specific example he gave of a series that was able to overturn the common sense of the era was Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump, which features a girl wearing glasses and casual clothes. Before then, the conventional approach to heroines was to make them have wide eyes, blond hair, wear pretty clothing, but because Arale was more down to earth, she was able to appeal to girls. Takagi also cited Sailor Moon as a subversive series for its time by being a Super Sentai show with a female cast.

In closing, Takagi said, "I think the day is not far off when anime will undergo a new paradigm shift. I don't want our way of thinking to be rigid; I want this project to give birth to new ideas. In fact, people who haven't had much to do with the anime industry until now are less likely to be constrained by the need to make a profit or to emulate past successes. They can use their imaginations freely. I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of fresh new pitches we'll get."

The "A Course" of the "100-Year Anime Project" is for those who have no experience working on anime or manga. The "B Course" for those who have experience working in the industry, and can submit detailed proposals that can enter into production quickly. The "C Course" seeks proposals for a remake of the Ikkyū-san television anime. The "D Course" will be for experienced animators, background artists, and prop designers who will support anime projects.

Each course will have a grand prize, runner-up, and honorable mention awards for proposals. Winners will have respective cash prizes of 1 million yen (about US$9,200), 500,000 yen (about US$4,600), and 300,000 yen (about US$2,700).

Toei Animation's original 1975-1982 Ikkyū-san television anime series is loosely inspired by Ikkyū Sōjun, a real-life Buddhist monk who lived in 15th-century Japan. The story imagines Ikkyū's childhood as a mischievous but clever monk-in-training at Ankokuji Temple.

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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