Are Funding Platforms a Possible Future For Anime?

Update! Dannychoo has written his own post about this! Read it HERE!

Let me start by telling you a story of a video game company called Double Fine. On 7th February, they started a fund raising project on a website called Kickstarter, one of many so-called “funding platforms”. The idea of these websites is that you come up with an idea you want to realize, but cannot afford, and you let other people donate money to your project. You could say it is a product paid by its customers.

Double Fine had set their pledge amount of money to $400,000, a rather high sum of money. Their aim was to, as they put it, “create a brand-new, downloadable “Point-and-Click” graphic adventure game for the modern age.” Now, this project started on 7th Februrary and will end on 13th March. The amount of money was supposed to be $400,000.

What happened?

In only eight hours after the project’s start, it was already fully funded. $400,000, just like that. Boom, and a month left to go. Today, 4th March and nine days left, the amount is roughly about $2,400,000. Six times the original amount. To put it bluntly, that is a hell of a lot of money.

But, you might ask, what does anime have to do with this? Excellent question! But before that, let us talk about how much one anime episode cost to produce.

Kazuya Tsurumaki from Gainax lectures on animation. Link

According to an article on Anime News Network from 2009, one episode would cost $110,000 to $220,000 to produce. In addition to that, the companies have to pay a sponsoring fee for the timeslot. It is a hefty amount of money for a single episode, considering that most series are 13 episodes or longer.

For further insight, Crunchyroll has an article from last year which breaks down the different expenses for the creation of a 30 minute TV episode with the total cost of around $145,214. It follows:

Original work – $660
Script – $2,640
Episode Direction – $6,600
Production – $26,402)
Key Animation Supervision – $3,300
Key Animation – $19,801
In-betweening – $14,521
Finishing – $15,841
Art (backgrounds) – $15,841
Photography – $9,240
Sound – $15,841
Materials – $5,280
Editing – $2,640
Printing – $6,600

Let us assume that the cost for one episode is $150,000. In that case, 13 episodes would end up at $1,950,000. Think about it for a while.

Do you understand where I am going here?

If a video game company is able to create a full game without any restrictions by publishers or production costs, is it not possible that an anime company could do the same? Think about the possibilities! In a time where the best choice is to play it safe and create series that are guaranteed to bring profit no matter how unimaginative they are, this could become the new thing.

With the help of funding platforms and donating fans, anime studios, or even amateurs, could create whatever they want to create, without any restriction in the world. It could be a new revolution in media.

After Double Fine’s initial success, other video game developers have shown interest in these types of platforms. If the project goes well, who knows how it will affect the industry. Personally, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us.

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32 thoughts on “Are Funding Platforms a Possible Future For Anime?

  1. Cholisose says:

    This is an interesting possibility, and online funding programs such as this could indeed lead to more prominent indie animations being produced. I imagine these programs tend to work best if the people behind the project already have a devoted fanbase of some kind though.
    For example, if Kikiyama were to suddenly have a plan for a Yume Nikki anime… WOW, that would be amazing. And there really might be enough people willing to pitch in to make it happen.

    • Marow says:

      Naturally, a devoted fanbase makes it easier. But I highly believe people who are curious, want to try something new or just like anime overall would donate too.

      Never heard of Yume Nikki before. Is it good?

      • Cholisose says:

        Yume Nikki is my #1 favorite video game, made entirely by one man in Japan. You can download it for free:
        https://rapidshare.com/#!download|46tl2|106691872|Yume_Nikki_0.10_English_v3.rar|56448|R~0
        Basically it’s an exploration game with 16-bit graphics set in the worlds of the main character’s dreams. It’s very bizarre and discomforting, but can give you a lot to think about. Helps to be in the right mood for it, since it’s not exactly a “fun” game, nor is it something you try to “win.”

      • Marow says:

        Sounds like I game I would like to try. But I got a bunch of others I have to finish, so sadly it will have to wait…

  2. Jura says:

    Gaming is a massive industry with fans who are much more willing to pay for products and services. A really cute idea, but I’d doubt it’d go much further than licensing and publishing manga here and there.

    • Marow says:

      Honestly, gamers tend to be a bit “greedy” too. Maybe not to the same degree though.

      But I believe this could work. You would just have to make a big buzz out of it. And even if it only comes down to licensing and publishing, that’s still something, right? 🙂

  3. SparkNorkx says:

    Whoa, this is an awesome idea. Hopefully, that idea continues to grow.

  4. Hurvilo says:

    The best part of it is that it gives us in the west a real oppurtunity to actually give money directly to the creators, without having to go through all the hoops that are importing, licensing and whatnot.

    I can see crowdfunding working for a select few titles (more Full Metal Panic, more Claymore!) but the studio and director really have to resonate heavily with the audience, much like Tim Schafer and Double Fine has.

    Well, at the very least someone should givet it a shot. A possible failure in getting funded wouldn’t cost much more than wasted time, after all.

    • Marow says:

      Crowd funding, that’s the word! I completely forgot about it when I wrote this post, so I tried to go around it as best as I could, haha.

      The studio and director would need to communicate with the audience, as you say. I may be wrong here, but at least I rarely see either of them actually taking a step forward and profiling themselves. There’s no Tim Schafer and the likes. These kind of projects could be a great way to change these things!

  5. du5k says:

    Like that Hurvilo says, the best part is that the money goes straight to the creators. If the anime production team start getting a proper paycheck, it might spur a stronger talent pool and a more competitive industry, which would churn out better stuff.

    Now we just need someone to get that idea across to the industry people. How would one do that?

  6. Jura says:

    You wouldn’t be trying to get that idea across to the industry people if your goal is to give money directly to the creators.

  7. feal87 says:

    Doing it for video games is easy (lots of market share), but with something as nichè as Anime it’s going to be rough…:|

    • Marow says:

      As I replied to Jura, I believe this could work. If one spread the news to sites like MAL, ANN and other sites I’m sure it could work. Sure, it depends on what kind of anime will be created, naturally, but under the right circumstances I have no doubt at all. 🙂

  8. Mushyrulez says:

    “You could say it is a product paid by its customers.”

    Yes…

    …what product isn’t paid by its customers?

    A Kickstarter project just pre-pays. It’s the difference between releasing a game to sell for $5, and getting $5 in donations to release a free game. Both are paid, in full, by the customers. (After all, how do advertisers get money?)

    P.S. ’13th Mars’ 😛

    • Marow says:

      It’s vastly different.

      Normally, you use “your own” (the company’s, you get it) money to create a product. If it costs 100 dollars to create it, you will have to sell enough of it so you gain 100 dollars or more, otherwise you won’t have profit. There’s a huge risk in this, all depending on the sales.

      With crowd funding, people, not the company, pay to create the product. In this case, you don’t have to gain 100 dollars or more to have profit, as you didn’t invest in the product yourself! You have nothing to lose and you can only gain.

      Because of this, the product was sponsored/paid by its customers.

      PS. Thanks for the tips, fixed it 😛

      • Mushyrulez says:

        Well, yeah. It just pre-pays. At the end, you’ll still get the money, as long as it’s a good game – and if it’s a crappy game, there’s still risk involved, as nobody will ever invest in you ever again. Really, it’s just the difference between a few people (or a company) funding a game and a lot of people (the public) funding a game. There’s still risk involved.

        (After all, most indie games are funded by sponsors, not by themselves. They’re guaranteed to earn money, but if their game fails, they’ll lose all the trust they’ve earned…)

        tl;dr: me, talking about games in an aniblog. sorry 😦

      • Marow says:

        No no no, it’s not the same risk, it’s far from the same risk. Losing trust is not equal to losing money.

        With crowd funding, money isn’t at risk. Instead it is trust.
        With “normal” funding, money is at risk and so is also trust, though not as much as with crowd funding.

        But if you lose trust, there won’t be a backlash. If you lose money, you will be hurt financially, which is far worse.

        Yes, some people might not buy your next game, but that is a risk that doesn’t even matter in comparison. And if your next game is more promising, people will buy/fund it anyway.

        So no, I don’t agree with you. Fund raising is safer, way safer.

  9. Nopy says:

    I’ve already seen a lot of good projects being presented on these funding platforms and the majority of them fail miserably; I think Double Fine is the exception.

    Regarding anime, I don’t think the problem comes with the cost, but with the idea. Most animation studios scramble to find things to animate, drawing from manga, games, visual novels, and light novels. Very few original anime come out compared to adaptations.

    • Marow says:

      I’m “new” to this, so I don’t have a clue if they use to fail or not. I might be naive, but I think it depends on how you market it. When I look at projects that have succeeded, they are both informative and such. But maybe I’m just naive.

      That’s true, but there’s bound to be some ideas 😀

  10. Ty-chama says:

    If the anime industry was dominated by anime produced with the aid of funding platforms, anime that only receive this funding because a large majority of people would like to see this animated, what would happen to the minority? I know that I certainly wouldn’t want to see generic, ecchi crap produced over and over, as that’s what, sadly, seems to sell these days…

    • Marow says:

      That’s true, I never thought of it… if only ecchi is funded, only ecchi will be created. But that wouldn’t be too much different from how it is now… ^^’

  11. bobbierob says:

    This sounds indeed interesting, and seeing Danny Choo’s post on his involvement with Mazer or whatever is quite exciting. However, projects like this must have existed before, and the reason that we’re not talking about them all the time now is probably because they failed, or didn’t live up to expectations. Who is to say this will also succeed?

    Not trying to be pessimistic, though. If it’s as simple as “people donate” and then animation companies use that money to make what the people want then it seems sound. But what Danny Choo listed in his post is far too vague, and doesn’t relay enough information about how “what people want” will in fact be produced. Assuming thousands of people donate, each demanding one small thing, the results would be imaginably chaotic.

    Still have my fingers crossed for something like this to succeed, though.

    • Marow says:

      No, no, I understand why you are a bit skeptic, I mean, it sounds too good to be true (which is why I’m so eager to see what happens in the future).

      I have no clue if this has been tested before, but I am sure we would’ve heard of it if that was the case. And besides, the climate changes quite fast, so what was not possible one year ago, would work now.

      The best thing about this, is that if the project doesn’t get enough donations, everyone will have their money back. At least, this is the case with Kickstarter. If the project isn’t funded, it won’t start and life goes on. If it is funded, they project recieves the money and they start working on it!

      As for how this Mazer works, I don’t really know. But it sounds similiar to Kickstarter, which is like this:

      The person asking for donations have a clear vision in mind. Perhaps he wants to publish a book, create a new game etc. He writes down his ideas, so the donors will understood what the project is about, and then let people fund. Usually people recieve small perks if they fund a certain amount, such as a “Special Thanks” or “Limited Edition”. The creator decides what.

      So if an anime project would go something like this:

      1. A person/company has an idea the want to realize. It will be a sci-fi mecha series that will be 13 episodes long. They show us some artworks, tells us it will be streamed/on tv and so on. So we know what it is about.

      2. They ask for donations! And some people might recieve perks.

      3a. The project is funded. They start working on the project and shares updates with us along the way. Depending how how much “extra” they are funded, there might be changes or additions. Perhaps it will be longer, feature a special seiyuu etc. Eventually, the project is released.

      3b. The project is not funded. The project doesn’t start and the donors get their money back.

      Something like this ^^’

  12. […] you remember my old post back in March 2012 on how I raised the question whether or not funding platforms were a possible […]

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