What is the reason for the breakthrough of the hit studio ‘MAPPA’ in ‘Magic Round Battle’ and ‘Chainsaw Man’?

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MAPPA is the studio attracting the most attention in Japanese anime. Including “Chainsaw Man” currently on air, “Jujutsu Kaisen,” “Attack on Titan The Final Season,” “Yuri!!! on ICE”, “BANANA FISH,” “Bet Kegurui,” “In This Corner of the World,” etc. So we send out and hit in succession. First, Naoshi Sudo, a journalist who studies the animation business, explains why it is gaining so much popularity.

Standing at the forefront of the anime world: MAPPA’s vision for the studio, Denji is a boy who makes a contract with the “Chainsaw Devil” and drives demons as a devil hunter at the Public Security Headquarters.

The popular manga “Chainsaw Man” has enthusiastic fans worldwide, with unexpected developments, intense action, and daring violent scenes. Tatsuki Fujimoto will start serialization in “Weekly Shonen Jump” in 2019, and from October 2022, it will be made into a TV animation. The high degree of perfection of the video has surprised fans, and its popularity is expanding further.

MAPPA, based in Suginami, Tokyo, is responsible for animation production for this work. Established in 2011, and its history is short, it is one of Japan’s most popular anime studios.

Recent production titles include the record-breaking hit “Jujutsu Kaisen 0”, the final version of the popular series “Attack on Titan The Final Season,” and the male figure skating stage, which has gained tremendous support from female fans. “Yuri!!! On ICE”, which received the award, “BANANA FISH,” “Kakegurui,” etc. As they create several topical works and hits one after another, not only the results but also the production studio MAPPA itself attracts the attention of fans.

That’s why fans were delighted with the decision to make Chainsaw Man into an anime in December 2020 and the announcement of the production company MAPPA. “That MAPPA makes a chainsaw!” The footage in the PV that was released perfectly reflected the world view of the work, with its delicate yet bold action, crisp atmosphere, and slightly disturbing atmosphere. The fans’ expectations have risen, and with the start of the leading broadcast this fall, MAPPA has lived up to those expectations.

“High quality,” “Innovative planning,” and “Abundant production system” MAPPA’s strengths One of the reasons why MAPPA’s works are famous is their “reliable quality.” In animation works, high quality is often talked about. However, it is challenging to define high quality in animation. Still, if it is broadly divided, one is the “attractiveness of design such as characters,” “comfortable movement,” “beautiful background art,” and “shooting and effects” that are reflected in the eyes of the viewer.” Visual side. Another thing is how the story is structured. There are “scenarios that move the heart” and “production that conveys the story.”

In MAPPA’s work, they are supported by talented staff who participate in the production. From veterans such as Sunao Katabuchi, director of “In This Corner of the World” and Tadashi Hiramatsu, who worked on the character design and animation of “Yuri!!! on ICE” and “Jujutsu Kaisen,” Yamamoto of “Yuri!!! on ICE”. Director Sayo, Director Park Seiho of “Jujutsu Kaisen,” and Director Yuichiro Hayashi of “Attack on Titan The Final Season” are lined up with talented staff representing the times.

Another strength is the fun of planning. Sakamichi no Apollon, one of his early masterpieces, is a richly emotional depiction of a literary manga original. Contrary to the many famous works such as the horror-flavored dark fantasy “Dorohedoro,” the original projects “Yuri!!! on ICE”, and “Zombieland Saga,” MAPPA does not necessarily focus only on classic and popular subjects but also challenges. Create a plan. And make them successful. It is characterized by the certainty of the eyes that determine the strategy.

Even with “Chainsaw Man,” just because it’s a popular original or a topical work doesn’t mean MAPPA acquired the animation rights. There is a strong feeling that MAPPA should produce animation in this era. That feeling is also the reason why the degree of perfection of the work is high.

Of course, the works produced by the studio are not necessarily the studio’s projects. Instead, most will take orders and deliver projects brought in from outside.

However, many production projects are brought in when the name of being a hitmaker and a studio producing high quality is known. If so, not only the size of the production cost but also the content of the project can be examined. The range of choices for orders has expanded, and you can think about which work is most suitable for your company and your staff from among the many projects brought in. It further strengthens MAPPA’s uniqueness and raises the evaluation of the studio.

Another thing that should be remembered is MAPPA’s high production capacity. Besides MAPPA, some studios are famous for their high-quality images and productions. Now, studios such as Ufotable of “Kimetsu no Yaiba,” Trigger of “Promare,” and “Kill la Kill,” and Kyoto Animation must be mentioned.

The big difference between these studios and MAPPA is the number of titles that can be produced in the same period. The size of a studio that is considered quality-oriented is small. There are only a few production teams called Line within the company, and the number of titles announced yearly is only a few, including TV series and feature films. To maintain high quality, such studios deliberately do not increase the company’s scale quickly and limit the number of productions.

On the other hand, MAPPA is actively expanding its production system. The current total number of employees is more than 300, and there is also project contract staff, and the scale is already close to that of a major studio with a long history. Recently, there have been times when nearly ten titles are released in a year. In 2018, he established a Sendai studio; in 2019, he established Contreil to produce works directed by Sunao Katabuchi. And in 2023, he plans to start an Osaka studio focused on CG. Expanding the number of productions broadens the range of genres of works and realizes creativity with diversity.

Will you become a revolutionary in the anime business? The impact of Chainsaw Man on the industry The incredible attention to MAPPA is more expansive than just fans. In particular, MAPPA’s decision to produce animation for “Chainsaw Man” caused a stir in the anime industry. This is because the rights notation for this work was “©︎ Tatsuki Fujimoto/Shueisha/MAPPA.” A rights notice indicates the copyright owner or the work’s sponsor. Generally, in animation production, the production committee is often written here. The production committee is a system in which multiple companies contribute money and share financial risks and rights—an investment union.

However, in the notation of “Chainsaw Man,” only the original author and publisher, Shueisha, and others are “MAPPA.” MAPPA is undertaking all the production funds for “Chainsaw Man.” From rights management to rights management, everything is MAPPA’s job.

In recent years, there has been a trend of de-production committees, and it is common for a single company to invest. Still, it’s a story about a large studio with a long history, a manufacturer with substantial capital, and a large company. Moreover, 11 years after its founding, MAPPA, which is positioned as an emerging company in the animation industry, has acquired the animation rights to the famous “Shonen Jump” serialization, which the industry is now competing for the rights, with a single investment, which is big news. Be.

The structure of the new studio was built in a short period.
Therefore, MAPPA is different from other studios in the history of its birth. The origin of creativity is inherited from Masao Maruyama, the founder, and the first representative director. Maruyama is one of the founding members of Madhouse and has supported Madhouse as a producer and manager. As a famous producer for many years, Maruyama has not only planned and produced numerous hits and masterpieces and delivered them to the world but has also demonstrated his ability to discover talent.

Maruyama’s connections remain strong among the staff currently active at MAPPA. For example, Sayo Yamamoto of “Yuri!!! on ICE” came from Madhouse, and it is said that Maruyama noticed her talent early on and approached Seiatsu Park of “Jujutsu Kaisen.”

A new color will be added to MAPPA by replacing the representative director with a young Manabu Otsuka in 2016. Otsuka, who has accumulated experience as a production producer at Studio 4°C, aims to expand the number of productions and the high quality he has produced.

He actively responds to original projects and projects brought in by other studios. He sometimes takes over the production of famous works produced by other studios, such as “Attack on Titan” and “Vinland Saga.” Be. With this, MAPPA realized the scale of a vast, comprehensive studio in just ten years.

MAPPA’s official website states that the studio’s mission is to “produce works that emphasize the originality of creators” as well as to “enhance the production environment, strengthen in-house production, build an educational system for each process, focus on quality, and production.” improvement of sexuality.” At the same time as the creative realization of the work, we also pay attention to the studio management that sustains production in a stable environment.

Another significant change in recent years is the expansion into the licensing business side. This was triggered by Makoto Kimura, who worked on Fuji TV’s “Noitamina” frame animation, participating in MAPPA in 2018. So think not only about animation production but also about how to deliver what you have produced to the world.

We will also set up a rights business department to build a system that can handle everything from rights management and operation, product planning to event planning and management, and public relations and advertising. One of them is creating a production financing mechanism to realize it, and in 2020, we signed a partnership agreement with Netflix, a major distribution company. We aim to plan and produce high-quality anime based on the significant investment funds of distribution companies.

“Chainsaw Man” was an extension of this new business movement. MAPPA will lead in animation production and license management and create the world of the anime “Chainsaw Man” without blurring.

On the contrary, why was it “Chainsaw Man”? The reason is probably that MAPPA had a strong passion for “Chainsaw Man.” If it’s this work, it’s the strength of the feeling that I want to pour all my energy into it. The secret of MAPPA’s strength is that creativity and business continue to grow while being firmly connected.

A turning point that you can’t miss when learning about MAPPA
Finally, we will introduce four works produced by MAPPA that must be noticed.

“Slope Apollon” (2012)

Speaking of early masterpieces, it is “Sakamichi no Apollon.” Based on Yuki Kodama’s manga, this highly literary coming-of-age drama depicts the friendship between high school boys Kaoru and Sentaro, who met through jazz. The impromptu live performance at the school festival in episode 7 brought the drama’s climax to life with light piano performances and powerful drums. It is a famous scene that remains in anime history. Although it was co-produced with Tezuka Productions, the challenging project and subject matter made us intensely aware of the existence of the animation studio MAPPA.

“In This Corner of the World” (2016)
It depicts the life of Suzu, a woman who lived in Hiroshima before and after World War II. Director Sunao Katabuchi has meticulously researched and calculated the images without any gaps. It’s just perfection. It has been acclaimed all over the world and won numerous awards. Starting with a small-scale release, it has been a commercial success with a box office revenue of 2.7 billion yen.

“Yuri!!! on ICE” (2016)

A sports anime in which Yuri Katsuki, a figure skater on the edge of a cliff, makes a revival and growth by coaching Victor, who won the world championship. It was a challenging project with an “original story” and “the subject of ice skating, which is highly difficult to draw,” but the splendid skating scene that overcame such hurdles caught the eye of the viewers. As a result, it received enthusiastic support, especially from young women, and gained new fans in the studio.

“Theatrical version Jujutsu Kaisen 0” (2021)

A big hit anime. The movie version, which appeared in response to the popularity of the TV series, is a prequel to the series. The box office revenue of 13.8 billion yen is the 14th highest in Japan. Its name recognition is already at the national level. With this work, the name of MAPPA will go down in history as a studio representing the 2020s.

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