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Gonzo to Restructure, Reduce Staff Count from 130 to 30 (Update 3)

posted on by Egan Loo
GDH parent company hopes to return anime studio to profitability in 5 years

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun paper reports on Friday that the Japanese company GDH is restructuring its animation studio Gonzo. Within five years, Gonzo will reduce its current creative staff of 130 to 30. GDH hopes the move will return Gonzo to profitability in those five years after slowing DVD sales took the company into red-ink territory.

GDH asked for about 50 of its employees, or about 20% of its workforce at the time, to "voluntarilty retire" late last year, but only 36 responded and agreed to its severance package of one month's pay. With the new restructuring plan, more jobs will be cut, and the business operations of GDH's anime unit will be drastically reduced. With only 30 members in its production staff under the restructuring plan, Gonzo will not be able to proceed with anime projects on its own.

GDH announced last September that the investment group Iwakaze Capital was injecting 1 billion yen (about US$11 million) in funds via third-party allocation of shares, with 900 million yen (US$10 million) more in funds to arrive in December. However, the second round of funding did not get completed in December. The animeanime.jp website was unable to obtain a comment from Iwakaze Capital before Friday's news. GDH's core business has shifted from anime, as Gonzo went into red ink, to its online gaming operations. Last year's voluntary retirement program applied to GDH and Gonzo employees, but not to Gonzo Rosso, GDH's online game subsidiary.

GDH announced last November that it will reduce its annual anime output from about eight projects to four. It did not specify which of its titles will still go forward in production. Gonzo had already announced that it would be working on The Tower of Druaga: the Sword of Uruk, Slap Up Party: Arad Senki-, Shangri-La, Saki, and Alive - Saishū Shinka teki Shōnen in 2009. Notably, Alive - Saishū Shinka teki Shōnen is not listed on its website in its 2009 production slate. Alive - Saishū Shinka teki Shōnen was originally planned as a co-production between Gonzo and another anime studio, AIC.

Gonzo also produced the Afro Samurai: Resurrection television movie, but that already ran in the United States last month, before the next fiscal year. In 2008, Gonzo produced Rosario + Vampire, S.A, Blassreiter, The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk, Strike Witches, and Rosario + Vampire Capu2. It is also producing the ongoing television series Linebarrels of Iron.

Source: animeanime.jp

Update: More background information and image added.

Update 2: More information about Gonzo's recent and upcoming projects added.

Update 3: More information about Iwakaze Capital's investment added.

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