Japan's powerhouse anime business risks being overtaken by rising Chinese competition because a tilt towards commercialism has stifled creativity, industry heavyweight Masao Maruyama has warned.

Maruyama, a protege of manga great Osamu Tezuka, says he fears Japan is losing its edge.

"In Japan, people are no longer trained in animation," he says. "The only reason China hasn't quite caught up with Japan yet is because of a bunch of restrictions imposed on free expression there. ... If more freedom is unleashed, Japan will be overtaken in no time."