If you were expecting big anime news to come out of the gathering of over 12,000 anime nerds in Atlanta over the weekend, you were probably disappointed. Nothing of consequence really happened.*
But last night something big did happen. It might even be the anime news story of the year.
Production I.G created a Kickstarter to fund a new anime project. And this isn’t some underground production, Masaaki Yuasa (Tatami Galaxy, Kemonozume) is directing, and Mamoru Oshii (Angel’s Egg, Ghost in the Shell, many many more) will have the ephemeral, his-name-is-probably-there-solely-to-bring-more-attention role of “Project Consultant.”
A Kickstarter, for anime. People have been talking about Kickstarter for anime since Kickstarter began, but most of the time the idea was to use the site to get anime licensed. Not created. I don’t think anyone would have imagined Production I.G, a Japanese animation studio, would generate a Kickstarter of their own out of the blue like this. Here are the broad strokes:
It’s going to be a ten minute short. As much as I’d love to see something 30-45 minutes long, closer to the OVAs of old, this anime is planned to last ten minutes. The fact it’s planned for such a short duration underlines the very experimental nature of this project, I think.
The Kickstarter is totally geared towards Western audiences. There isn’t a single kanji on that Kickstarter page. Aside from some French translation on the bottom, it’s entirely written in English. The funding for this project totally bypasses not only the Japanese anime industry, but Western anime industries as well. The funding is going to live or die by the hands of Western anime fans. A first.
It’s kind of expensive for what it is. The HD digital download (trust me, you’re going to want to see it in HD) for this ten-minute short is unlocked with $30. If you want the short on Blu-ray, you’re going to have to shell out $60. I don’t think these costs are ridiculous, especially considering Production I.G has to distribute backer rewards to foreign countries, but the cost is still steep for what is ultimately a ten-minute cartoon.
Delivery estimate: April 2013. I can’t help but wonder if Production I.G plans to debut the short to animation festivals before releasing the project to sponsors. The page states they’ve already completed pre-production and layout, and they won’t know if they’ll receive their funding until the end of the month, so that gives them five months to see the project to completion if they reach their $150,000 funding goal. That seems like a generous helping of time to me.
It might just be REDLINE levels of amazing. The animation shown in the explanatory video is vibrant and eclectic, as are the pieces of “color script” shown on the Kickstarter page. You combine that with the fact it’s going to be about professional wrestlers hurling themselves at one another, and it’s shaping up to be one helluva visual punch.
It’s got legs. This project is already 11% funded within hours of being announced on the Internet, without one ounce of advertising. I really hope they reach their goal, and I hope more animation studios give this sort of thing a shot. It’s really exciting.
*Okay, I will admit there was news of note to come out of AWA. I’m glad Dark Horse will be releasing Lone Wolf and Cub omnibuses, and I hope they do the same for Berserk sometime soon.