Who doesn’t know MAPPA? A studio home to popular anime production such as Jujutsu no Kaisen, Dororo, The God of Highschool, and Attack on Titan: The Final Season. It also produces the most anticipated upcoming anime, Chainsaw Man. Behind that glamorous fighting visual they have created, there is a dark story lurking behind it. Let us go more profound for you who don’t know who MAPPA is.
Who is MAPPA?
MAPPA is a Japanese animation studio located in Suginami, Tokyo. It was founded by a former co-founder of Madhouse, Masao Maruyama, in 2011. He created MAPPA at the age of 70. The true purpose of studio making is simple. He just wanted to produce Sunao Katabuchi’s In This Corner of the World movie. At that time, financial difficulties happened in Madhouse, so he and Katabuchi established MAPPA in hopes of producing the film. However, despite moving studios, the film faced production troubles and ended up being released five years later.
In 2016, Maruyama resigned as the CEO of the studio, and Manabu Otsuka, a studio animation producer, stepped up to be the next CEO of MAPPA. For your information, Manabu Otsuka was also a founding member and a former employee of Studio 4⁰c, which produces Berserk the Movie trilogy. This is ironic because MAPPA stands for Maruyama Animation Produce Project Association.
What anime did it create?
Since 2011, when they were established, they have created 45 TV series. Out of 45 TV series they produced, 10 of them had 8 ratings which means they do well in their work. Even the anime that has not been released is fans-most anticipated anime, such as Chainsaw Man, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, Vinland Saga Season 2, Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2, and Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 3. Knowing this, they bet on the popular anime to make a buck.
If we look at the history of anime, we can see that most anime they have made in an action genre. Look at the last five years alone; from 2019 until 2022, they made 11 TV series with fighting genres out of 20 anime being produced. They are desperate to sell themselves. Of course, their work is commendable. We can see it in almost every anime they made. Look at the fighting scene in God of Highschool, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Takt Op. Destiny. They have great visuals which spoil the eyes. But like Gamora said, at what cost? Let’s talk about the criticism around it.
What’s wrong with MAPPA?
Since Murayama left, MAPPA has become a factory of anime production. Fact time! Do you know that in 5 years since founded, there have been 11 anime series produced? But, since 2016, the same year Manabu became a CEO, they already have over 34 anime series. This is like three times the hard work they put into it. They figuratively are whipping their employee’s asses. The most gruesome project they had was in 2017 when they worked on 5 different animes in the same year. Two of them have 24 episodes. Sure, it is nice to hear when they animate the manga you love. But the truth for the animators is not that nice.
The new era of MAPPA under Manabu has been characterized by fast, quantitative growth. In just a decade, they have already become the most prominent studio around, with more than 200 employees listed in their company. But the larger company is, doesn’t guarantee a healthy environment. A freelance animator, Mushiyo, describes the condition inside MAPPA as a “factory.” He questioned the decision of MAPPA, who worked on 4 other projects simultaneously. Instead of drawing, he only asked to fix the drawings repeatedly, all day. The company didn’t train their workers enough to make them draw it right. He also stated that 80% of employees have the same issues as him.
There are a few leaks about how MAPPA treats their employee. Remember the most anticipated Attack on Titan, the Final Season? It turns out the episode director Teruyuki Omine claimed in his tweet that he finally could go home after 3 days stuck in his office. Not only this that MAPPA didn’t treat their employee right. In 2021, animator Ippei Ichii claimed that animators were being offered bottom rates pay. They suggested their check at 3800 yen (US$34) per cut. Another animator said he had been paid 250 yen (US$2) for in-between animation.
The thing with MAPPA is that they look like enlarging their portfolio for their studio. Being as young as they are, it is no wonder they take drastic measures to stay alive. As Liborek said, it will be either growing pain or signs of doom for MAPPA. With all those anime projects and the quality they want to achieve, let’s hope that MAPPA will survive and their plan, whatever it is, comes to fruition.