Photo: YouTube/TV Anime Kemono Friends Official
entertainment

'Kemono Friends' producer: China will overtake Japan in anime within a decade

27 Comments
By SoraNews24

On Dec 5, Yoshitada Fukuhara, producer of the smash hit 2017 anime "Kemono Friends," posted a bleak statement on his Twitter account.

“Although the animation industry in China has just begun, I’m convinced they will overtake us in production in three years and in skill in five to 10 years.”

Some of Fukuhara’s followers had pointed out that China had already overtaken Japan in terms of production quantity and that their techniques with 2-D and 3-D animation were already at respectable levels. However, Fukuhara is saying that while that is true of children’s programming, Japanese animation’s true appeal abroad is with its more sophisticated, adult-oriented content.

▼ "Kemono Friends"

Currently, China and Japan are collaborating on animation projects, but Fukuhara suspects that this arrangement has no future for Japan. Once Chinese animators learn all of the tricks of the trade, continuing to work with Japan simply wouldn’t make much business sense to them.

▼ "Hitori no Shita The Outcast" is an example of the recent state of Chinese animation.

The problem lies in Japan’s attitude towards this arrangement. Many in the anime industry and fandom see Japan as an invincible god of animation, granting it’s wisdom to China who will forever be its grateful pupil. However, given the staggering speed of China’s growth, that would be a fatally naive view of the situation.

Also, let’s say China elevates their animation to that of the high standards of Disney. Disney can still compete because of their family-oriented content that can pass through China’s strict government regulations and into their vastly lucrative market. However, Japanese animation studios, whose content often contains violence and sexuality, have to navigate the finicky nature of these censors to even begin to compete with more savvy domestic studios.

▼ For example, "Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan" may have some red tape to hurdle before entering the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, many of the traditional industries like cars and electronics are beginning to dwindle. We have already seen signs with the video game market shrinking considerably in recent years. Fukuhara points out that even sumo has become largely dominated by Mongolians.

In this quickly changing global marketplace there are currently two things that Fukuhara believes Japan can still be competitive in: anime and Japanese food.

To make matters worse, the producer says Japan has been coasting on the goodwill provided by anime classics of his predecessors. Fans of these films and series are now largely entering their 30s leaving little on the level of "Sailor Moon," "Dragon Ball," or Ghibli for the new generations to latch onto, while also leaving the door open for something fresh and new… something from China perhaps?

▼ The Chinese-produced "Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage" has broadcast on Japanese TV and received a warm reception.

So, Japan must first reevaluate its standing in the world, at least in terms of animation, and then begin to nurture it’s own creators so that they can develop sophisticated art that can be duplicated but not imitated. While this holds true for any of the arts, anime is still has a head start for the time being.

Although it is rather unpleasant news, netizens in Japan seemed to concur for the most part.

“We are being pushed back to the final line of defense…”

“I think it’s because Japan is becoming too conservative, focusing on lower-risk and cheaper-to-produce manga and so on.”

“I’m not angry or disgusted by what China is doing, but the news is frustrating. But maybe it is the wake-up call modern Japanese society needs.”

“China’s otaku culture is quite amazing… I think it will grow steadily.”

“China, Korea, and Taiwan have been making tremendous progress. Japan has milked its artists with weak wages and poor working conditions, the industry was stupidly short-sighted and didn’t make itself sustainable for future generations.”

“Ah, China will probably break out into civil war before then anyway.”

While the possibility of civil unrest is never a prudent basis for financial planning, that last comment does remind us that it is impossible to see where things will go from here with certainty.

The 37-year-old Fukuhara should be old enough to remember the days when the USA was ringing remarkably similar alarm bells about Japan’s skyrocketing economy throughout the ’80s. While significant changes occurred in both countries during that time, it wasn’t quite the wholesale takeover of America that many feared.

That being said, it is certainly wise advice for Japan, or any country for that matter, to take a really objective look at itself to avoid making poor decisions. And if Japan and China do go toe-to-toe in anime, at least Japan has the far better portmanteau. “Chinamation” sounds kind of contrived and “Chinanimation” is too much of a work-out to pronounce. “Panamanimation,” on the other hand, would rule the world if the Central American country ever masters the art.

Source: Twitter/@fukuhara_ystd, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- What some Japanese people think of China is as stereotypical as you can get

-- Japan’s 10 best singing voices as chosen by people in the industry

-- Japanese zoo penguin falls in love with cutout of cute anime penguin girl

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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This article is garbage. I mean, sure, China can become a powerhouse in animation, like it is becoming in many other things. But this article says some wrongs things.

First: Both the shows that in this article are considered "Chinese", are co-produced with Japan, and mainly animated in Japan. Plus, they are mediocre shows, and they weren't so well received in anime community.

Second: I don't know why they took as an example of Japanese animation, something like Dokuro-chan, an old anime produced in 2005, that isn't so popular at all. They could show something more recent and nice.

Third: in Chinese anime there's plenty of violence and ecchi (sexual) stuff. China isn't so conservative like you could believe. Apparently they censor foreign media, but they are okay with sexual and violent contents in their products.

Fourth: Chinese animation is still too much focused on copying Japanese style, both in art and contents. They should try to create something really original.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The fun fact is that they also linked the "Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage" PV from the YouTube channel of Studio Deen, that is the Japanese studio that co-produced the anime with Tencent. The main staff that worked on the anime (director, art director, character designer, etc.) is Japanese, but they called it a "Chinese anime". Okay. I wonder if people who write these articles are actually informed about what they are writing. Anyway, this anime actually got a decent reception, even though it's not so popular, but it's really difficult call it "Chinese".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I see Korea taking over before China, they already produce many Anime, Disney, etc series.

With manga and anime now being produced via digital means, it is getting easier to outsource. China still does mostly Wuxia adaptations.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ThePBot: there are so many kinds of anime. Please, stop this kind of generalization. I am female, and I like anime very much, since I was a child. Anyway, probably you don't know that the "otaku culture" is already huge in China, indeed China isn't so conservative like you could believe. Some days ago I read on the Global Times that they already created their own version of Hatsune Miku, a virtual idol called Luo Tianyi, and she is extremely popular. Personally, I don't like strongly otaku-oriented anime and manga, but there are many different kinds of works, the variety is really huge, and you should know it, since also Hollywood is making many live actions based on manga/anime.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Alex80.

Did you see 'Baby and me' great and sweet anime and very popular in the ME. YT also has episodes. Don't like what they did with "Chi's sweet home".

Watched the trailer for the lfe-action 'Gunsmith Cats', the eyes are giving me nightmares.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@pacint: to be honest, I believe China has more chances than Korea to become a powerhouse in animation, because her market is already huge. About CGI 3D animation, someday they will be able to compete with Disney. Indeed, the Americans started to co-produce animated movies with China, because this way the movies will be treated in China as domestic movies, and this means to avoid some limits in the Chinese market. It's the case of Kung fu Panda 3. But in this way, China is learning the know-how from the Americans. The same is happening with these co-produced anime with Japan. So, China will become competitive both for America and Japan, since both these Countries are sharing their know-how with China. You know, this is the result of globalization. Good for the emerging markets, not so good for the old industrialized Countries. About Baby and me, I never watched it, but I saw so many beautiful Japanese anime, some were great love stories, like Candy Candy. There are so many different genres! About the American live action trailer, I guess you are speaking about Battle Angel Alita. Yeah, they made Alita's eyes so creepy!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry, mixed the 2 upcoming titles up. I liked the GiTS adaptation but still felt odd somehow.

I think you are underestimating Korea they have had over 40yrs working with Japan on Anime. Due to my wife having been an animator/cartoonist and also having many friends in manga/anime/cartoon/film business.

Much of the old Japanese anime was reworked and adapted see Harmony Gold.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@pacint: I know that Japan, USA and also my Country, Italy, subcontracted part of animation production in South Korea for many years, for economic advantages. But South Korea isn't investing so much in her animation industry, apparently it remains way more oriented in music and drama. Instead, I read a lot of stuff related to the huge investments that China is doing in her animation industry. And, unlike what you said, they are making any kind of anime. For example, there's a series called "Cupid's Chocolates", that is an ecchi anime. For this reason I said that apparently censorship is applied only on foreign contents. I don't know Harmony Gold, sorry. Probably it's something like Voltron's case (the Americans took a bunch of different Japanese anime, and mixed them together to create a different series).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just on the Battle Angel subject. I see the synopsis on Apple trailers credits James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez with her creation and how they are visionary film makers... with ZERO mention of the true origins. I'm a little annoyed about that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Haaa Nemui: I noticed that as well, in the trailer. It's really embarrassing how they aren't saying like it's based on Yukito Kishiro's manga. I noticed the same attitude with Netflix Death Note. In the trailer they wrote "based on the international phenomenon". Which "international phenomenon"? It's based on a Japanese manga, it's not something born "internationally". It's really annoying.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes, China will catch up with Japan in 10 years, but by then, anime (and manga) will be totally passe,and Japan will already have moved onto the next big thing. I predict that it will be virtual reality, but Japan will have made that into alternative reality (think Star Trek halodeck).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Almost any country can build up an industry that is capable of the technical aspects of anime, or the film industry, but that does not mean that any country will consistently produce products that are popular with either the public or the critics.

IMO, one of the crucial ingredients for a successful industry that depends on the freedom of expression, is the ability to express things freely. Since the Chinese leadership does not allow the freedom of expression, either in private life or public life, I doubt very much that their entertainment industry will be consistently at the fore front of what the public wants to watch. One cannot overstate the importance of the freedom to express one's self to the entertainment industry. Russia and China can and will produce many interesting works of entertainment, but they will continue to be infused with the atmosphere of well-made propaganda films.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@gokai_wo_maneku: I believe that even though other Countries produce their own comics and cartoons, copying the Japanese standards, this doesn't mean they will substitute Japanese anime and manga. This is only a common case of cultural contamination. For example, even though the Americans created their own kind of pizza, it didn't substitute Italian pizza. Cultural production isn't something that can be substituted, we aren't speaking about cars or smartphones. I am sure every Country in the world, included Japan, will always have some people who want to express their creativity, no matter how strong can be the competition. Art isn't about competition.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

 Japanese animation’s true appeal abroad is with its more sophisticated, adult-oriented content.

Is this part of 'Cool Japan'?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What I meant to say is that, even though China and other Countries produce comics and cartoons in Japanese style, this doesn't mean Japan can't continue to produce its own manga and anime. I believe that articles like this one, are always a bit sensationalist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Pukey2: Japan is producing adult-oriented anime at least since the 70s, when "Cool Japan" concept didn't exist. You could watch "The rose of Versailles", that is a classic masterpiece, very loved here in Europe.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The issue with Chinese animation is that it doesn't have its own style. It's basically just an inferior copy off Japanese animation. However, I like the difference in cultural aspect that it offers like wuxia theme.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah but if it means we all have to watch Chinese propaganda through anime, who on Earth is going to be bothered with it, other than the Chinese? And you know the CCP will use anime to achieve its goals. Every Chinese company has CCP parties members planted within it. As a result, everything you see and every action they take has been approved by the CCP, either as something that doesn't go directly against their agenda or something that supports it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think Fukuhara-kun needs to have a little more faith in his country's anime-making talent. I highly doubt that China will be able to rival studios like WiT Studios or Ufotable within the next 50 years, let alone the next 10. So far China is only capable of copying the Japan style, which they've learned through collaboration projects. They don't have their own style yet, so that's not going to help them. I also wouldn't be surprised if Chinese anime tends to include elements of nationalism and the like to try and influence its own people, and to glorify itself to other countries. I've already seen that sort of thing in a number of Chinese movies.

Fukuhara is also mistaken in believing that Japan needs more like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and Studio Ghibli works to catch new fans. Those shows and films might work on some people, but not everyone has the same tastes. If I had started anime with Dragon Ball, I would have never been hooked on it. I hated Dragon Ball. Sailor Moon and Studio Ghibli aren't to my tastes either. There are plenty of modern shows that would do a good job of hooking new fans, including Fate/Stay Night, Angel Beats (which is the show that hooked me), Spice & Wolf, Tales of Zestiria the X, and many more. I've noticed that many of the new anime fans I've encountered prefer modern anime to classic anime. I guess Fukuhara is oblivious of these new fans.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Alex80 - yep. Don't get me wrong... I think James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez are brilliant film makers... but to me their brilliance makes it even more important that Yukito Kishiro is recognised for the creation of this character. I do see his name in a frame at the end of the trailer but i don't think that's enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Excellent work and creativity r most welcomed, regardless which country it comes from for people to enjoy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyway, probably you don't know that the "otaku culture" is already huge in China, indeed China isn't so conservative like you could believe. Some days ago I read ...

Alex80, those may be your observations but I bet the bureaus in charge of censorship are more conservative than you think.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese cartoons are supported by cartoon culture and light novels, so even if animation technology can be simplified or copied, it will not be anime in Japan.

I can tell from Maid in Abys which I saw recently.

My heart is hot, that is real Japanese animation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just worry about making animation. Stop worrying about making 'anime'.

Anime is uniquely Japanese. I'm not talking subcontracting, with the original creators still in charge, that's different. But original creations from other countries are almost always obvious.

Like whenever American companies try to produce 'anime' or 'manga', it just looks like American art with big eyes. With very few exceptions, it's just looks like a knockoff. Otherwise, why would big companies like Marvel hire artists like Kia Asamiya when they want a manga version of their titles? If they had the talent, it could just be done locally. I don't know why, but that style is definitely a Japanese thing.

I don't think the Japanese anime industry is in too much danger.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Alex80 I can see where you coming from about Reikenzan, I've seen the first few episodes, it does have some chinese elements, but to me overall the anime itself is very Japanese.

I have to say Reikenzan to me is very boring, I don't know why, but I already dropped it after the first few episodes. On the other hand I came across a very good 3D chinese animation, which is similar to Reikenzan in terms it being the same genre "xianxia" called "Rise to immortality", in my opinion I find it more interesting than Reikenzan

Alex80 you mentioned about CGI 3D animation and that China may be able to compete with Disney one day, but guess what, they may already have the capability to rival Disney. These last few years I came across one after another and another good quality 3D animation made by China, it does obviously have Japanese anime style in it.

One example is this:

The Legend Of Qin 2007-present (Currently the most popular 3D Animation in China)

Qin Moon Season 4 Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEA3TdvOCpI

Others include, 9 Songs of the Moving Heavens, The Immortal Legend, The Young Imperial Guards, Twin Moons, Nano Core, Lalala Demacia/Super Seminary, King of Tombs, Wu Geng Ji, A Portrait of Jianghu series etc etc.

Most of these animations mentioned, I either have watched or currently watching with The Legend of Qin being my favourite and just finished watching Season 5, which ended at episode 75

However, all of these 3D animations only occupy a small percentage of it being considered a good quality animation, but they are growing in numbers, just recently I just watched a video of a number of chinese 3D animations about to be released within the next following years. I think the chinese, especially those that created the good quality animations are starting off a trend of 3D animation, maybe it would also become the norm of chinese animation in the future.

In regards to those inferior chinese animations, I really can't take it, one of them I came across is actually a ripoff of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (Power Rangers), I really question these people, why are they doing this for, just for easy money? They bring shame not just to themselves, but for their own country and fellow chinese. I wonder why the CCP don't do anything about this, since they care so much about the image of China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I used to be an "Otaku" but as I watched more and more I've grew sick and tired of the same thing they put out. The Japanese never like to leave their comfort zone. I rather kill myself than watch another Junior high school girl late for school, grabs a bread with her mouth, runs out of the house and bumps into the main character showing her panties. And then said character is in the same class as her. Maybe once a year an actual good show comes out. Shows like FMA.

So so sick of the main character being a weak nerd yet having four girls fall for him. I understand it works because most neets/otakus act that way in Japan, and it's like a dream for them to find themselves in the same situation but that's just depressing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, didn't know this article was so old. Saw Chinese animation at work. All flash no substance. The style of story telling I've seen so far was confusing and the writers seem to have suffered from ADD so I dropped them very quickly. Anime from Japan has some stories that are very well thought out and attract interest from the international community. Same goes with Disney and Pixar/etc films. Chinese animation has the look and some really nice animation (c'mon they have hundreds of people working on it), but lacks depth of heart.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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