Sorry for the lack of updates lately, but as I think of something to write for the blog here’s a post from our internet neighbour Yuyucow who has once again decided to drop in to write a guest post. Today he will be sharing some of his insight discussing Kyoto Animation, commonly know as KyoAni, trying to clear up some of the unfortunate myths about them that have spread across the internet recently.
Due to their explosive popularity, talking about KyoAni has become a need for those who feel compelled to stay relevant in anime discussions on the internet no matter how little an idea they have about the subject. With so many people willing to make their uninformed opinions loud and clear, mythbusting the studio has become more common than it should amongst the few idiots who care enough to do it. Like myself. Looking at the bright side, this time I won’t have to argue about whether their character designs are all the same or if they deserve the praise they get in regards to the visuals.
Many of the issues here are born from fundamental misunderstandings of what the studio is. There’s way more people attributing their excellent visuals to a superior budget than those who are aware it’s the natural consequence of proper planning and the studio refusing to work in more than one project at a time. As a viewer you even have the right to be an asshole and ignore the positive influence of a studio with fixed schedules and salaries, since you’re just here to be entertained. The fact that they’ve got more women that many other studios put together might look, at least at a first glance, also unrelated to their work. However, the ridiculous comments extend to their shows as well: following the popular line of thought that “everything they do is the same”, today we’ve witnessed countless people say that “FREE! is their first series for women”. Oh boy, where do I start with this one. Maybe by once again reminding that KyoAni are KyoAni’s first fans and also, for the most part, also happen to be women? K-ON’s insane popularity makes it an excellent target for anyone with the agenda to prove KyoAni are nothing but a bunch of fiends pandering to vile latenight otaku and thus destroying mature anime, but facts are facts and the series has quite the following amongst female highschoolers and people who simply don’t watch anime. Not common for something that aired at unearthly hours, you know? Even the purchasing habits for their series have been showing their gradual shift towards not just girls but a different audience in general; KyoAni shows have been consistently underestimated by the Amazon Stalker for a while, which means that they’re not so much relying on obsessive otaku who preorder months in advance but more casual consumers. And all of this has been happening for long enough that everyone should be aware of it already. If you want to keep ignoring it because it conflicts with your particular jihad against what you think is killing Japanese cartoons, go ahead.
With that tired tired topic out of the way, allow me to tackle a somehow more ridiculous claim that’s been echoing today: Tumblr made FREE’s announcement possible. Now if this was just a bunch of silly comments by people who don’t care enough about anime to have a minimal understanding of how the industry works I’d shrug it off, but when professional companies join the craze then it becomes a bit worrying. You don’t need much math to realize that a CM broadcasted in March could never, under any circumstance, be the instigator of an anime airing in the following July. Especially when we’re talking about a studio that had its first 2013 show, a rather small project by their standards, in production since 2010. But hey, let’s assume for one moment that 3-4 months is enough time for them to produce FREE. Let’s also pretend that a Japanese company known for working only on projects they fancy would listen to overseas sites of all people. I happen to be the person who uploaded the original CM on youtube first and with almost 3.3 million views it’s by far the most watched upload for this, so I have rather representative data. This means that I can confirm that US views only amount to about 7% and that tumblr is only responsible for 0.2% of the total traffic. Which means that in the case that you want to claim that this arguable success is the reason FREE’s become a real anime, it’s the Japanese fans who you should be thanking. If you want to be rational, though, know that it’s loosely based on an honorary winner of KyoAni’s 2011 awards and that the first promotional picture went up later that year on Animation Do’s website. That should be enough of a hint as to how long the project has been around.
The issues about this new project go as far as people failing to understand who is making it. When the internet’s most trusted anime news source calls Animation Do “a Japanese studio mostly known for subcontracting work on other studios’ projects” without realizing that they’re nothing but KyoAni’s Osaka branch and that those subcontracted works belong to a time when all of KyoAni did that – you know something’s really wrong. Animation Do is an integral part of the studio that have been working on their projects for as long as they’ve existed so you should never treat them as a separate entity. Hell, the only reason they’re not called Kyoto Animation Osaka is because that would be the worst oxymoron.
As much as I wish that was enough, there’s plenty more misconceptions about the studio, more often than not contradicting themselves. It’s as easy to find complaints about KyoAni doing it all for the money as finding laments that they should go back to their big sellers. Considering that they rejected Visual Arts’ offer to work on a sure hit like Little Busters and that they’ve been doing pretty well lately; Hyouka‘s averaging over 9k over 11 volumes and turning an obscure series into the 4th best selling LNs last year. Chuu2Koi – their first 100% owned property – has had very solid sales and Tamako Market’s modest sales likely covering its costs. From this it’s easy to realize that the prior complaints are all a bunch of baseless assumptions.
However what’s truly worrying is the unhealthy attitude towards the studio. The conviction that it should be you who dictate the future of the studio, even though what makes them unique is the dedication to the projects they pick themselves. This common idea that you, who keeps professing your hatred towards the studio and everything they do, are entitled to having your favorite kind of show done by them. For every person who simply believes their skills are being wasted you’ll find two openly aggressive individuals that curse KyoAni’s very existence, but instead of ignoring them they rage about every new project they announce. Today we’ve witnessed a specially twisted version of this, with the crowd who love claiming that every KyoAni anime lately is the same (some of them also part of the army of Full Metal Panic fans who cry whenever they announce a new series) suddenly popping up to laugh at the idiots overreacting at the lack of female characters in FREE!. You know who doesn’t get to do that? Equally superficial people, who have been writing off all their projects because “they have moe girls who look the same”.
This amazing hypocrisy is just yet another disgusting behavior to add to the list of incomprehensible reactions towards the studio that, for some unknown reason, keeps getting its most vehement haters to talk about it. The problem being that they’re less likely to look up any information or even listen to other people, so you’d have to be very loud while explaining that it’s Kadokawa, the publisher and rights holder, who have a say in whether more Haruhi Suzumiya/Full Metal Panic is made to solve the problem. Therefore I’m aiming this post at you, anime fans, who are tired of hearing nonsense about the studio coming from all directions. I’ve filled this post with some of the most common misconceptions and relevant trivia, so now, will you help me FREE the internet from these KyoAni myths?
Also check out On the Self-Victimization and Truthiness on the Whole Debate of Free! and Free! and the future of KyoAni productions for some well written articles with related viewpoints.