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Yamakan's 'Magical Girls' Dark Fantasy Anime Project Stalled Due To Lack of Investors

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Director blames COVID, lack of investor confidence in original anime

Controversial director Yutaka Yamamoto (otherwise known as 'Yamakan') returned from his self-imposed hiatus from the anime industry in 2019 in an attempt to crowdfund his "Mahō Shōjotachi" (lit. Magical Girls) anime project. According to a March update on his blog, however, the project has been stalled due to difficulties around finding investors.

Yamakan elaborated that he spoke to every producer he was acquainted with in the industry in the hopes of assembling a production committee. However, although he did find some companies willing to invest some amount of money, he was unable to find a company willing to be the managing company. (The managing company handles the budget and oversight, and takes on the biggest financial risk.)

Yamakan blamed COVID-19 for stalling negotiations and claimed that, because a large number of anime original films have struggled in the box office in recent years, it is now difficult to get original anime funded.

Nevertheless, the director swears that he will persevere with the project, saying that the script has already been written and revised. "The more I ponder this project, the more I realize the significance of creating a work like this in today's world. Even if it isn't 'Mahō Shōjotachi,' if a work like it isn't released to the world soon, I seriously predict that Japanese animation will truly come to an end." He urged anyone with an interest in the project to show their support.

Yamamoto launched a Campfire crowdfund page for a pilot film for tentatively titled "Mahō Shōjotachi" (lit. Magical Girls) anime project in September 2019. The campaign raised 7.74 million yen (approximately US$63,700), falling short of its 10 million yen (US$92,700) goal. Yamakan launched an additional campaign in July 2020.

The campaign site describes the project as "Yamamoto rises up... A huge storm was blown into the devastated anime world. In order to open the door to a new era I'm proposing a new, original anime titled 'Magical Girls!'"

The project's key visual shows a girl in a school girl uniform with angel wings surrounded by blazing fire. Yamamoto directly references the Kyoto Animation arson tragedy as the motivation behind the project. He stated that the crime left him angry, and that he cannot forgive the evil "madness" in anime that caused the loss of a friend.

"This is an ugly battle. As long as I am an anime director, I have to 'defeat' it through anime," Yamamoto wrote. He added that he is appealing to all the people involved in anime and he wants to "change anime" so that there will be no further victims.

Yamamoto described "Magical Girls" as a violent, dark fantasy that he hopes to make into a feature-length film. The pilot film's length will depend on the amount of money the campaign is able raise, but Yamamoto estimated it will be between two to five minutes long. Any additional funds raised will go directly to the full-length film.

Yamamoto first drew attention after the Kyoto Animation arson when he responded to your name. and Weathering With You director Makoto Shinkai on Twitter. Shinkai wrote on July 18, "All those of Kyoto Animation Co., please be safe." Yamamoto responded to the tweet with "Just shut up."

Yamakan had formerly worked at Kyoto Animation and had directed several episodes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. He was series director of Lucky Star until he was replaced by Yasuhiro Takemoto from episode 5 onward. Kyoto Animation left a message on its website (archived here) stating that Yamakan "did not have the skills yet to be a director." Despite his leave from the company, he remained friends with some of its staff members who would later come to work on his Fractale anime series with him.

The former Lucky Star director has been volatile on social media in the past, leading to the suspension of his LINE blog and previous Twitter account. He launched a new Twitter account and a blog on Ameba Blog following the suspensions. He became embroiled in further disagreements in 2019 and filed for personal bankruptcy on March 4, 2019.

The Kyoto Animation fire was a devastating tragedy that claimed the lives of 35 people and left 34 people injured when it broke out on July 18, 2019. The studio said 20 percent of its employees passed away in the attack.

Source: Yamakan's blog via Hachima Kikо̄

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