6/28/2009: JAniCA Part III
Written by Cindy Yamauchi   

Down TrendJAniCA's symposium also covered the issue of the diminishing talent pool in the anime industry, but I'd like someone to come up with a set of figures to show the comparison between what size workforce have now versus what we used to have. Though I can't deny concerns that we may have fewer talented people overall, I also feel that we are seeing more gifted young talents than ever before in the history of anime.

Looking back when I first started, or even ten years ago, the industry workforce probably hasn't shrunk that much, but we definitely have more weekly television shows that require the kind of quality that was once reserved for OVAs and feature films. This has pressured production coordinators to compete with other coordinators in securing better-than-average talent, which probably give the impression that the talent pool was rapidly diminishing. The animators and episode directors with below-average skills are in abundance, but they seem to get hired only out of ignorance or desperation. In the case of the inbetweeners, it is true that they are no longer considered a part of a reliable work force within Japan. Much of that work is farmed out to Korea and other overseas studios where they can produce much, much faster at a more budget-friendly price (although the quality isn't all that spectacular).

Inbetween work used to be a training ground for animators to learn the fundamental skills needed to become key animators, and from what I've heard, JAniCA sees the near-elimination of this position locally as the main cause of the shortage of skilled animators. I understand their point, but I tend to disagree. Learning how to do inbetween work itself is not a prerequisite to be a key animator in anime--what's important is receiving proper training, inbetweens or not, and having the passion to achieve higher goals. What we are losing by the elimination of this job locally is the mentorship/apprenticeship between senior artists and junior artists, which was once considered the training program for the animators. Nowadays, many young animators are thrown into the production without anyone to consult with, and unless they're born geniuses, most of them end up very discouraged and confused. I think it's more important for each of us to reach out and offer what we know instead of simply blaming the industry for its dependence on overseas studios.