All that (in part 2) said though, the overall responses from the interviews have been very positive. I was even contacted by a few studio`s wondering if I`d like to work for them, and decided to take one of them up on their offer to work as a Genga-man (Keyframe animator/layout artist). … I`ll go more into that in a moment.
Since then, western animators who have worked in the Japanese animation industry have been coming out of the woodwork. (Granted, there`s still only a few of us. It`s not tremendously common. But it`s really great to finally find out about these people. I did a bunch of research before coming to Japan trying to find if any westerners had worked on anime … and could find very little information. Now that information will be easily available via a simple Google search.) Animenewsnetwork.com even interviewed 3 of them (partially because it`s just an interesting story … but partially, I`m sure, to see if anyone would contrast the dismal picture I painted of the industry.) I found these interviews just as interesting and informative as anyone else, and suggest you check them out if you haven`t already.
These guys do paint a brighter picture then I did for sure. Though I would like to point out that none of them (because they are amazing artists … so this isn`t an insult) never worked as in-between animators (the specific job title I was critiquing in my own interview)
… in fact, the *only* other westerner I could find to have ever worked as a douga-man in this industry (for an extended period of time) would be David Roy. And wouldn`t you know it, his opinions on the industry are almost word for word identical to mine:
Whether or not you care about the foreign worker`s opinions of this industry or not, here are 2 people whose opinions I`m quite sure you *do* care about:
….both saying basically the same thing (just in different ways and in not so many words) … that “This industry needs to change.” That the status quo and anti-social robot animators who are utterly not participating in society (nor the economy for that matter because they are all poor and have no families) who simply follow orders and are not willing to fight for (or even speak up about the need for) changes in the studios (and the anime projects themselves) *WILL* lead to the collapse of this industry.
…Whew…. That was a good rant. Here`s a picture of me and Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto to break up the tension:
……which unfortunately I have to censor because it was requested I “Please not upload this online.” Hahahaha. Awesome.
Anyway, I would have liked to stick around Pierrot for a while longer to work on few more of their projects (The “Boruto” film, final episode of Naruto, etc) but at the end of the day, getting out of the “douga-man” position and moving up to “Genga-man” as *immediately* as possible was more important than anything else. As an artist is was time anyway. Working as a douga-man requires you to work efficiently, cleanly, and steady your hand to get super-crisp lines … but it doesn`t require you to focus on things like composition or style(because the keyframe animator has already set those things up for you before you get the scene.) … Now that I`m focusing on those things, I feel like I`m getting better as an artist every day.
The studio I`m working for is a small studio called “Bang Bang Animation.” (Website and facebook coming soon… maybe?) We`re not producing our own stuff, but help out other studio`s. What series I work on changes constantly, but I`ll post about episodes I`ve worked-on on Twitter so be sure to follow me there. (Link on the right)
I`m not sure what`ll happen from here on out. I might keep working in the anime industry, or I might leave once I feel I`ve learned what I can after working as a genga-man for a while. I feel like my social life (or lack thereof) will eventually be the deciding factor for what comes next. (Though, the artist in me is stubborn. Very stubborn. Until he`s satisfied I don`t think I`ll be going anywhere.)
At the moment, ironically, the project I`m most excited about isn`t an anime I`m working on at all, but my own short film which I`ve been working on for a long time, and is finally very close to completion. I`ll talk about that in my next blog post.