2. About the Style of the Current Animation Productions
Fanworks produces a lot of works with only a dozen or so employees. What are the percentages of different positions?
We do not really break down positions, and only have three sections: Creative Department, Production Department, and Accounting and General Affairs Department. We are also unique in that we have more producers than creators.
It's surprising to hear that there are fewer creators than producers.
Creators should probably be the most numerous in actual animation studios, but Fanworks doesn’t necessarily need to have many because our style is collaborating with creators from the outside. We often work with individual creators who don't belong to a specific organization, and we basically telework to get the job done. A lot of individual creators work from home. You know, people prefer staying inside, haha… For instance, Rarecho, the director of "Yawaraka Tank" and "Aggretsuko" has been working from his home in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, ever since the beginning of his career. Our idea is that if you have an ideal working environment at home, it would be better to make use of it. Since a producer is in charge of creating and managing the network among creators, the number of producers in our company has naturally increased as we got more jobs to work on. Furthermore, we are currently recruiting more in-house creators to handle projects that are growing in number and scale every year, and also projects that are several years away.
Is it unusual for an animation company to have that style of production?
It may be. Normally, animation studios build their own in-house production lines. For example, if they are making a large-scale movie, they will create one production line, and if they are making a half-hour TV series, then they will have several lines within the studio. Having said that, when an animation production company says, "We're too busy to take on any more work," it often means that their lines are all booked and full. In contrast, Fanworks doesn't have a fixed in-house production line. Our system allows us to set up a custom-made line after a job comes in, and also to set up lines with people outside the company. Our lines are built on the premise of online telework, so we may be doing something a little irregular.
This system seems quite beneficial considering the people’s desire to be able to work without actually commuting.
There are surely some things that are better if done face to face, but the Covid-19 case made me become aware of the limitation of the way of working infeasible without people actually meeting up. I am pretty sure this issue was not just for the animation industry but for the entire society. With the Internet getting more and more convenient, we can all agree it’s better to think of ways to work without having to go to office. I think it was great that we had been used to this kind of work style, because we could have had a hard time adjusting if we did not have any experience with the telework system in an emergency situation like this.