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The COVID-19 pandemic, now entering its third year, has done to the Japanese animation industry the same thing it has done to many others — pushed trends that were already unfolding into warp speed.

Case in point: digitization. For years, animators in Japan have stubbornly held on to paper and pencil to draw keyframes. While tasks like coloring and special effects have long since moved to the digital realm, this decidedly analog first step means lots of paper being stuffed into envelopes, collated and scanned in by harried production assistants.

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