Kickstarting Anime: Is it Worth it?
Many people today love anime, just as I do. We watch it on Crunchyroll, Adult Swim’s Toonami, or we buy the DVDs and Blu-Rays and enjoy our favorite series. But the cost of creating anime is vast, and many companies have actually taken fandom a step further, by asking fans to contribute to new projects on Kickstarter. Now, being the super fan that I am, I have helped to Kickstart three anime projects: Little Witch Academia 2, Under The Dog, and NEKOPARA. So, having helped bring three new anime into the world it got me wondering: Is Kickstarting anime worth it? To answer that question, I think we should take a closer look at the anime I backed.
Little Witch Academia 2
Little Witch Academia 2 (or Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade, LWA2) is the crowdfunded sequel to Little Witch Academia, the first animated project made by Studio TRIGGER, who are now famous for anime such as Kill La Kill, Inferno Cop and most recently, Darling in the FRANXX.
The studio may be famous now, but back when they were asking for money for Little Witch Academia’s sequel, a short film was all the studio had produced. The sheer quality of that first OVA (Original Video Animation) brought thousands on board and got the project funded well over its initial goal in August of 2013. So, what happened next? With all the attention TRIGGER had gotten thanks to the Kickstarter project, they were able to create their original breakout anime series Kill La Kill, and in doing so, left the Kickstarter updates relatively quiet, save for a few holiday messages on Christmas and Halloween.
Actual production of LWA2 didn’t begin until April of 2014, after Kill La Kill had finished airing in Japan. Despite the lack of updates, many people were positive toward any update the company gave, or, like myself, forgot that they backed the project and were enjoying Kill La Kill too much to remember. So the project went onward and backers got to see the finished film in July of 2015. And, after two years of waiting, I can confirm that this project was worth backing. Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade is an amazing follow up, keeping the lighthearted spirit of the original while building on what they made with brand new characters and absolutely breathtaking animation. It is worth every cent of the hundred dollars I spent to make it happen.
Under The Dog
Under The Dog, the second anime I Kickstarted, is a different story. Under The Dog is the first project by a company known as Mentat Studios, Inc. The anime was the dream project of creator Jiro Ishii, who had previously created the series CANAAN. Admittedly, the only reason I backed this project was due to its character designer, Yusuke Kozaki, who was the character designer for the Fire Emblem video games at the time, and I was a huge fan of those. Unfortunately, I soon learned that good character design does not make a good anime, much less a good Kickstarter campaign. The anime was funded, but the costs were more than the new studio anticipated, so they struggled to fulfill all the rewards that they had promised backers, to the point where the statue of the main character that fans who contributed 500 dollars or more was cancelled. Not only that, but there was noted infighting during production, which resulted in almost the entire original team being fired when all was said and done. What released in 2015 was a far sight from what people expected or wanted. The anime focused almost entirely on a new character who was nowhere to be seen in any of the previous trailers or promotional materials, and only featured the character we’d seen (the one people wanted statues of) in the last six minutes of this twenty six minute OVA. Not only that, but the project promised that all backers would be in the credits, and they were, in unreadable, tiny neon green against a black and green background. Honestly, I regret every bit of the hundred dollars I spent bringing this thing into the world.
The third and most recent anime I Kickstarted was NEKOPARA, an Original Video Animation based on the visual novels of the same name. In fact, the project was created by the video game company who made the original games, Sekaiproject. This project, like Little Witch Academia 2 was also well over its initial funding goal by the end of the campaign, but unlike TRIGGER, the turnaround from the campaign’s end to the project’s completion was lightning fast, taking only ten months to complete the almost hour long anime. Despite the expediency, the anime was no slouch in quality, with the animation being crystal clear, all the original voice actors and actresses from the games reprising their roles and overall just being a fun watch. Not bad for a fifty dollar investment.
So, with these three cases in mind, is Kickstarting anime a good decision? Well, I would say it is, provided it’s from a company who has produced quality products before and knows the costs of production. Most importantly, it should be something you believe in, and something you want to see in the world. After all, what else is Kickstarter for if not doing things the big studios won’t take a chance on?