TOKUSHIMA – Some animation producers are exchanging the stress of Tokyo for the inspiration of rural scenery — and regional economies are benefiting.
Tokyo-based ufotable Inc. opened a new studio on the fourth floor of a building along a river in the city of Tokushima in April, and nine new recruits have started on-the-job tracing training.
“This job largely depends on the motivation of staff, and to produce good work, a good environment is necessary,” ufotable President Hikaru Kondo said, stressing that the purpose of the move to a rural area was to develop human resources.
People in the animation industry tend to have a heavy workload and irregular schedule.
Ai Hamaguchi, 20, one of the new recruits, is satisfied with the work environment, saying, “Wonderful wind is coming in from the windows, and going out on the roof cheers me up.”
Studio Ghibli Inc. of Tokyo, known for the work of director Hayao Miyazaki, opened a studio in April at the head office of Toyota Motor Corp. in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. The company wants to use the wisdom and ingenuity of a place for automobile development to develop human resources and create animation.
Another studio, P.A. Works Co., has its head office located in the city of Nanto’s traditional Johana area in Toyama Prefecture.
“There is very little disturbing noise, and we can do our jobs in a relaxed way,” said Nobuhiro Kikuchi, managing director of P.A. Works.
Masahiro Haraguchi, an animation researcher, said the success of studios in outlying areas will help develop human resources and cooperative ties among the entire industry.
Animated cartoons featuring the beauty of rural areas often lead to fans visiting them. One animation by P.A. Works about a romance between high school students shows the city and local festivals surrounding the company’s head office, and many of its fans visit the Johana area.
Washinomiya Shrine in Washimiya, Saitama Prefecture, is the scene of a TV cartoon about a high school girl produced by Kyoto Animation of Kyoto Prefecture. The number of visitors to the shrine in the first three days of the new year has more than tripled since its broadcast.
“If studios are in rural areas, good things in those areas are used in cartoons and gain wide exposure,” said Takayoshi Yamamura, an associate professor at Hokkaido University who is knowledgeable about animation and its fans.
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