The MAPPA Situation is Worse Than You Thought

Japanese animation studio MAPPA has quickly risen to become one of the most prolific and renowned anime studios in recent years, producing hit shows like Jujutsu Kaisen, Attack on Titan Final Season, and the upcoming Chainsaw Man. However, MAPPA’s breakneck production schedule and overworked animators have led to major quality and morale issues that are coming to a head.

In this extensive report, we’ll analyze the red flags in MAPPA’s production troubles, the disastrous effects this has had on shows like Jujutsu Kaisen, and whether meaningful change in the studio’s practices can be expected.

The Root of MAPPA’s Production Woes

MAPPA 1
MAPPA

MAPPA’s crushing production pipeline stems from the studio taking on too many high-profile, labor-intensive projects on extremely condensed timelines. This anime crunch started when MAPPA:

  • Signed on to produce Jujutsu Kaisen in 2019 with an 18-month production cycle
  • Then also took on Attack on Titan Final Season, premiering shortly after Jujutsu Kaisen and splitting animators across both shows
  • Rushed the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 film in just 4 months amidst production of other titles
  • Started work on the ambitious original anime Chainsaw Man, further straining resources
  • Only had 6-8 months after Chainsaw Man to produce the much-anticipated Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2

This breakneck schedule has resulted in unrealistic demands being placed on animators and production staff, even with strict NDAs preventing transparency about the issues.

The Devastating Effects on Jujutsu Kaisen S2

Jujutsu Kaisen S2
Jujutsu Kaisen

The consequences of MAPPA’s crushing production pipeline bubbled over in the recent Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode “Thunderclap, Part 2”. Despite the visually stunning episode, the directors revealed it was only 30% complete due to lack of time and resources.

Notable industry animator Vincent Chansard, who had sworn off working with MAPPA again, made an exception to storyboard a sequence in Sukuna vs Mahoraga – potentially one of the greatest anime fights ever. Yet much of his and others’ ambitious vision will go unrealized due to shortcuts and corners cut to deliver the episode on time.

This taxing workload and lack of creative fulfillment has devastated morale among MAPPA staff. Concerning messages from animators reveal a team stretched to the breaking point by extreme hours, unpaid overtime, and isolation from family. The quality and integrity of projects has clearly begun deteriorating under the pressure.

Can Meaningful Change Happen?

Though fans have sympathized with the plight of the animators, the structure of the industry means positive change may be difficult. As a popular studio, overworked staff can easily be replaced with eager newcomers willing to endure harsh conditions. There is also no financial incentive for MAPPA to revisit unfinished work when the episodes were delivered “on time”, regardless of quality.

The only foreseeable outcome under current leadership is MAPPA announcing further high-profile projects and subjecting their teams to continuous crunch. It seems animators’ health, fan expectations, and integrity of the anime artform will continue being sacrificed unless major systemic changes occur within the studio and industry.

FAQ About MAPPA’s Production Controversy

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the background and implications of MAPPA’s production troubles:

How did MAPPA go from an unknown studio to an industry leader?

MAPPA was founded in 2011 by Madhouse animator Manabu Otsuka and rapidly grew via taking on ambitious projects and adapting popular manga like Yuri!!! On Ice. The success of recent hits like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan Final Season cemented their reputation.

Why don’t animators and staff just quit if conditions are so poor?

Most are passionately dedicated to the anime industry and their craft, willing to endure harsh conditions for the sake of creating good art. Quitting could also mean missing out on high-profile careers and being blacklisted from major studios.

Does Japanese labor law not protect anime industry workers?

Experts say anime is in a legal gray zone, with production treated more like artistic subcontracting than typical employment. As a result, studios aren’t obligated to follow labor regulations around working hours, overtime pay, etc. Attempts are slowly underway to close these loopholes.

Could fan pressure convince MAPPA to improve its practices?

Possibly, but the complex bureaucracy around production committees and TV timeslots makes quick change difficult. Cancellations could leave staff unpaid. Boycotts may grow if quality issues continue, but fans care most about seeing their favorite series animated, not working conditions.

The MAPPA situation provides sobering insight into the exploitative foundations behind beloved anime franchises. Hopefully by illuminating these controversial production practices, pressure grows for ethical reform in the anime industry for creators and fans alike.

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