We’ve all heard it from numerous people, haven’t we?
“Oh the animation in this series sucked, looks like they ran out of budget!”
And it’s not difficult to believe in that statement, after all, the more you spend the better animators you will get! And two plus two equals four hey! So we have now finally solved the problem with the Japanese animation industry!
Well actually… no, just no. Throwing money around doesn’t solve the problem at all and money most likely has very little to do with the episode/series you watched having excellent or lackluster animation.
The production of an anime is a tough field of work, especially considering the state of the Japanese anime industry which constantly runs short on talented staff. This is due to the extremely harsh working conditions for animators. They are easily among the most important part of the production and the hardest workers, but ironically, they are one of the least paid and exploited workforce. They essentially carry the industry on their underfunded backs. The work environment is so shameful that it can be an article in itself. So, for today let’s focus on the role of budget in anime production.
How production-budget can affect the quality of an anime.
For the ‘high quality’ seasonal anime, we take the example of My Hero Academia which is all known for its fantastic animation, its special episodes had around 7000-8000 (not exact figures) frames/ drawings per episode.
Long-running anime like Dragon Ball Super only had 3000 total frames allowed per episode until the Tournament of Power arc, where they amped up the number to 4000!
So this is where the budget mostly comes into play. More frames mean you have to pay more animators. To recruit extremely skilled animators you (sometimes) have to pay a lot of money as well. But that’s about it. Budget is essential too but we have to consider, depending on the staff involved and other production issues, a higher than average budget production can be worse than an average budgeted one.
What ultimately differentiates the quality of one anime against another
Its mostly; the skill-level of animators involved, scheduling or the time they were allotted to finish their work and the number of shows a particular studio is handling at the same time.
Take the example of the beloved studio “Kyoto Animation”, they are a team of skilled in-house animators and usually devote all their working time to a single project and the projects they handle get ample amount of pre-production time as well. This means all the boxes for a good production are checked out!
Skilled staff paid decently and given enough time to polish their work, a surefire way to get every frame a painting.
Now let’s look at another end of the stick with Toei Animation and Dragon Ball Super. Toei is a great studio with their salaries being one of the highest in the industry and how many connections they have so they can pull talents from all around the animation world. However, Dragon Ball Super had a pre-production time of only 3 months.
Most decently animated shows have at least 6 months of production before the episode airs. That led to the production of DBS crumbling quite early as we saw in the disastrous cuts in the infamous episode 5 followed by several episodes that clearly showed how rushed everything was behind the scenes.
If we look at who worked on episode 5 we can see twenty key animators worked on this episode. There is no shortage of talent in this line-up at all. We see the animation supervisor was Naoki Tate, one of the most skilled animators himself as well but still the episode came out so sloppy due to the staff having to meet very thin deadlines.
Compare this to episode 110 of Dragon Ball Super and we see there were only 9 primary key animators with little help from a few more.
If we look at the budget then we can easily see episode 5, a product of quality a hundred times less, had more money and talent poured into it than episode 110, one of the best-animated episodes in the series.
This illustrates how much proper scheduling and production affect the quality of an anime.
The purpose of this article is not to look down on people who talk about budget but rather to inform fans about what actually goes on behind the scenes. There are far more interesting discussions that can come out when discussing the quality of animation than just throwing the term “budget” around.
Even we here at RenaiOtaku have put up an article that misled readers to believe One Punch Man season 2 had worse animation than season 1 because of having less budget. We would like to apologize, for not all our writers were informed in this topic as well.
So we would like you to grow with us, understand anime better with us and appreciate the work behind it more with us as well.