A Potential Blessing in Disguise
Over the years, as anime has become more accessible and mainstream to western audiences, the culture of overwork and horrific treatment common in the industry has become an open secret. Studio Mappa, one of the most infamous anime studios, has struggled for years with this reputation, and one of their golden eggs, Jujutsu Kaisen, may end up paying the price.
The Price of Excellence
Studio Mappa has been behind some of the most popular anime over the past few years, and it’s not hard to see why after watching a few episodes from any of their anime. Their projects tend to be high quality and frequently set the bar in animation. This studio has been behind seasons for certain anime, such as Chainsaw Man, Attack on Titan: The Final Season, and Jujutsu Kaisen. All of these anime have previously been praised for their smooth animation and art, which isn’t the surprising part. The part that should surprise readers, however, is how the animators often have little to no time to work on these projects and are often seemingly working on multiple projects at a time.
While the studio has more than 300 employees at the time of writing, the studio worked on and released five different anime in 2023 alone. These anime include; Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 3, Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2, and Vinland Saga, to name a few. Even the average anime enjoyer would notice that this just isn’t sustainable.
The Breaking Point
Jujutsu Kaisen has undoubtedly been one of Studio Mappa’s biggest successes, which isn’t hard to see why given the quality of the animation. This, however, has finally led to a breaking point for the animators at Studio Mappa, who have long complained about production issues. The issues can even be traced back to Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which was supposedly rushed in a span of four months. More presently, employees have had enough as reports of low pay and impossible deadlines have emerged. Employees begging for delays and facing opposition from higher ups have begun to destroy morale, as evident by a recent outburst by employees on X. Once again, considering how many anime Studio Mappa tends to handle in a single year, these ludicrous deadlines are unsurprising. This is to say nothing of the NDAs most employees are forced to sign so no matter how bad things may seem from the outside looking in, things are certainly worse than what has been heard so far.
It’s difficult to say what will happen in the long run, not only with Studio Mappa but also anime in general. This culture of overwork is pervasive not only in Studio Mappa or anime as a whole, but also all of Japan, with many companies adopting this culture. The anime industry, however, has taken it to new heights due to its rapid growth in the western market. This has led to even more overwork and unrealistic deadlines for animators. Sooner or later this may lead to a drastic downgrade in quality from popular anime or even a shortage of manpower with many workers finally growing sick and tired of the abusive environment.
New episodes of Jujutsu Kaisen are currently airing Thursdays on CrunchyRoll.
Jujutsu Kaisen Shibuya Incident (2023) Official CrunchyRoll Trailer