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WIT Studio explained why it stopped producing Shingeki no Kyojin

the popular portal AnimeNewsNetwork shared an interview with George WadaCEO of the studios Production I.G. and also president of WIT Studio. During this interview, many topics of interest were discussed, such as why WIT Studio decides not to animate the sequels of their projectsand how the work environment of the animators has improved.

  • This year is very exciting. You were appointed President and CEO of Production IG. How has your job changed now and what do you hope to achieve in your new position?
  • I have become the CEO of Production IG, but I am also still the CEO of WIT Studio, which is a very exciting challenge. Both are anime studios under the IG Port Group. These two anime studios are two very different companies. So I would like to take advantage of the unique characteristics of these two companies to increase the number of anime fans who enjoy the works we create.
  • IG Port achieved record revenue in the fiscal year June 2021 to May 2022 at a time when many other animation studios are struggling, to what do you attribute the company’s impressive revenue?
  • The animation industry in Japan has changed a lot thanks to fans from all over the world. Right now, there are many platforms that want Japanese animation: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney and Amazon. In the past, we only received offers from a few Japanese companies, but now we have many options. What I really think contributes to that revenue is the fact that we decide who we work with.
WIT Studio
  • Anime viewers, especially in the West, are interested in working conditions. What is the work-life balance of the animators at WIT Studio?
  • As I mentioned before, with so many platforms, now there are a lot of people who want more anime to be created. Due to this increased demand, high-quality work is expected and, as a result, highly-skilled animators are needed. This has allowed animators to better reconcile work and family life, but it has also made it necessary for them to improve their skills. To ensure a steady supply of work, the studio is now able to hire animators directly, allowing us to pay them a living wage and provide them with a stable life.
  • That’s great news, because living as a contractor in this industry is tough.
  • This is also happening in other studies. You are definitely starting to see this improvement in work-life balance across the board.
  • There seems to be a trend in WIT Studio refusing to work on sequels to previous projects, such as Shingeki no Kyojin, Vinland Saga, and Mahoutsukai no Yome. Is it scheduling conflicts or a change in the studio’s approach to accepting projects?
  • For all the titles that WIT Studio has made, we wanted to create the continuations of those series. Five years earlier, for many of these titles, one of the main factors was DVD sales. As a business model, the decision to make a sequel was entirely dependent on DVD sales. At that time, for all those titles you just mentioned, we had only been contracted for the first season. Once the DVD sales results were in, we would receive an offer to do a second season based on them. At that time, my management skills were not as good as now, so I could not add the next seasons to the schedule immediately because I already had other series pending financing. And of course, fans and publishers want the second season to come out as soon as possible, leading to it being animated by another studio.
  • That can’t be helped, so I think it was the right decision in those cases. The increase in the number of fans around the world and the number of streaming platforms available allow us to make more long-term decisions about the continuity of a series. What I would like to do with WIT Studio in the future is that we now have the financial base to continue hiring for longer periods.
  • What type of information is taken into account now that DVD sales do not influence decision making as much?
  • Streaming platforms like Netflix and Crunchyroll generate a certain amount of revenue based on the number of paying subscribers, so that’s your base. Before, as you know, DVDs were expensive, and not many people could afford them. Now that the basis for determining whether or not to continue a series depends on how many people watch it, it is much easier to predict and make a decision.
  • SpyxFamily has garnered great ratings on TV Tokyo, especially among time-shift audiences who record and watch later. Are there any plans to reconsider your broadcast block or consider airing future anime series in prime time instead of late-night?
  • I’m really surprised that SPY x FAMILY has been so successful. But the show, as you know, makes family its theme, which I think is part of its success. I think it has actually opened the door to the possibility of people not filming or watching it late at night, but more anime airing in prime time.
  • WIT Studio has produced several projects for Netflix, such as the Great Pretender and the film Bubble. How has the creation of projects for the platform worked from a business point of view? Does Wit Studio want to continue working with Netflix in the future?
  • WIT Studio’s opinion is that we definitely want to continue working with Netflixbut there is one thing that we have to solve and that we have to work on. I think one of the things that Netflix will have to work on in the future is their merchandising, events and completing additional aspects behind the titles they release. I think working with Netflix in the future is something we definitely want to be involved in, getting over this hurdle together.
  • On the western side of things, there have sometimes been complaints that Netflix doesn’t promote anime series as much, so they miss out a bit. Has the same thing happened to you with the WIT Studio offer?
  • In my opinion, Netflix mainly promotes the streaming platform itself. They do not promote individual series for their own success. I think the way your marketing structure is set up is going to be one of your biggest challenges going forward. Netflix should understand that each and every title is important to creators, and they should keep that in mind going forward.

Font: ANN

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