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From Planning to Production – The Long-Winded Process of Making an Anime

Manga%2FAnime+style+drawing
Manga/Anime style drawing

Manga/Anime style drawing

willianfuji/pixabay

willianfuji/pixabay

Manga/Anime style drawing

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Bill Mauve is a student at a local community college, who is taking an introductory Japanese course. Why? Because he works on the scientific details in anime. Many people work on other small aspects of anime, which at first may seem insignificant, but can contribute to the anime as a whole. Anime fans worldwide watch and critique the storyline, effects, and even the science in a anime, but are not yet aware of the work that goes into the whole thing.

What is anime?

Anime (アニメ) is Japanese hand-drawn or computer animation, but can also be non-Japanese if it is in the style of traditional anime. The earliest known Japanese animation was from 1917, and the anime style emerged in the mid 1960s, and has been growing ever since. Anime is generally shown in seasons and episodes, but some producers, like Studio Ghibli, produced several anime movies. Some of Studio Ghibly’s famous animated movies include My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away, among others.
There are, of course, anime films not made by Studio Ghibly, like Akira, or Ghost In The Shell, the latter of which is getting a live-action reboot staring Scarlett Johansson. There are also many other production companies that make animated movies aside from Studio Ghibli, such as Production I.G. and Studio Chizu. Anime is generally in Japanese, although it is sometimes dubbed in English or other languages.

Making of an Anime - Infographic

, Making of an Anime – Infographic

Pre-Production

Before an anime can even start to go into business, it has to be developed. Usually, anime is developed from a manga, just like how most movies were books originally. The production company has to arrange for advertising and merchandise to be put out, and a certain budget has to be met. For example, the anime Full Metal Alchemist, had a total budget of 50 million yen for a 52 episode series. Since most animes originate in Japan, the budget is in yen. One Japanese yen is about one American cent (meaning 50 million yen ≈ $500,000 or half a million dollars).
Once the main staff is arranged, they hold meetings and plan out the anime and how it will play out over the episodes, usually hosted by the director, who deals with all the animators. After the early meeting sessions, everyone starts designing. One of the main factors that make up an anime is that it is originally all hand-drawn, then digitalized. Not only do the designers make character designs, they also make costume designs, weapon designs, and mecha designs, depending on the anime. Once the story and designs are finished, the first episode gets mapped out.

Production

The first step in the production of an anime is to write the scripts, written by either one person or several different writers based on the composition of the anime. After the scripts are written, they are reviewed by the director, producers, and even the author of the original work if it was developed from a novella or manga series. When everyone is done reviewing the script, the animator makes storyboards (visual scripts). Storyboards aren’t just used for anime, they are used for business pitches, movies, and manga as well. A typical storyboard for an anime has 5 columns: the cut number (a cut is the single shot of the camera, an average episode has around 300 cuts), layout, action, dialogue, and running time (in time and frames).
After everything is drawn out by hand, the animators digitalize it, and separate the anime into episodes if it is a tv series. Next, specific people come in and do little things to make the anime look more believable, e.g. digital effects people, camera-men and visual effects (when recording the animation), and scientists. After this, the whole thing gets edited again and everyone moves on to the final stage.

Post-Production

The final stage of the making of an anime is sending it out to the world, but, since most animes are made in Japan, a couple of things have to happen first. Usually, animes have an introductory animation, accompanied by a theme song, which has to be animated separately, and then have the music performed by an orchestra, recorded along with a singer in Japanese. Some animes pick songs they like, that are not necessarily made for the anime, and have that as their theme song, so it doesn’t have to be orchestral, and then some animes are in English but made in Japan, like Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z. Then, more digital effects people come and add sound effects to the intro, soundtrack to the anime, and dialogue. The whole thing gets edited again, and then the final step takes place: dubbing. Dubbing is basically translating the whole thing to English and other languages, but many prefer subbing, which is watching the anime in Japanese but have the transcript on the screen in English.

With that, the anime is released to the world. As mentioned earlier, most anime originate in Japan, but there are some “outliers” of the anime genre which many think of as anime, but are actually made in America. An example would be Rooster Teeth’s animated series RWBY (Red White Black Yellow). The process to make them is the same, except the language is usually English, not Japanese. The Japanese animes that do not originate from a book or manga series can often be made into manga if they are famous enough, and almost every anime gets immortalized through cosplay and pop culture, not just in Japan and the U.S.A., but worldwide.

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