Tokyo studio Mappa has issued a statement in response to recent criticism, stating that it has never paid unfairly low wages.
Earlier this month, animator Ippei Ichii claimed on Twitter that Mappa were paying artists as little as 3,800 (USD$34) per cut — a rock-bottom rate for tv anime — on a production for Netflix. Ichii, who served as an animation director on Mappa’s Zombie Land Saga Revenge, blamed the streaming giant for ordering shows on such low budgets. His comments prompted commentary on social media about working conditions at Mappa and in the anime industry in general.
According to Mappa, the online discourse has distorted facts about its practices, though the studio did not deny the low rates that Ichii mentioned in his tweets. The studio, which does not mention Ichii by name, notes that the show in question was not ordered by a major platform: it is a new, as-yet-unannounced work in a tv series produced and planned by Mappa, then sold for distribution to the platform. The sale price determined the budget. The studio says its pay to “creators” (i.e. artists working across animation production) is always fairly determined in relation to the budget.
Mappa also condemns the public discussion of working conditions on the new show, which it says amounts in some cases to a violation of contract. The studio “strongly opposes this kind of leaking of information, and intends to take firm action” against it.
Mappa’s productions include Netflix’s Yasuke, the final season of Attack on Titan, Jujutsu Kaisen, and the feature In This Corner of the World.
In May, a freelance animator who had recently left Mappa complained that the studio overworks its artists and fails to properly training them. The studio said in its statement that it “intends to continue to do its utmost to improve its working environment, conditions, etc.”
Mappa recently opened a new 5,000-square-foot studio annex in the Suginami ward of Tokyo, in response to a recent increase in projects. The space was designed with “an awareness of improving the work environment.”
Image at top: “Zombie Land Saga Revenge”