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MAPPA In Trouble? Uncovering The Complete Story On Animators’ Backlash Over Workplace Issues

Mappa

Over the course of the last 4-5 days, MAPPA has been getting a lot of flak from fans, especially overseas fans regarding how poorly they are treating their animators in the ongoing production of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2.

The reason? A couple of prominent animators came out on X (formerly Twitter) lashing out at a ‘particular studio’ for their poor scheduling and working conditions. The animators in question are Shunsuke Okubo and Itsuki Tsuchigami, both of whom are well known in their circles for their works.

We’ve broken down the whole fiasco for you to get a better understanding about what’s really going on.

What did the animators say?

The following posts (check image) are from the animator Shunsuke Okubo, who clearly looked fed up with the working conditions at the company. Some of these tweets are now deleted.

From what the animator wrote, he was ready to risk being sued in order to get the word out about the workplace harassment that he experienced.

Shunsuke Okubo tweet
Shunsuke Okubo tweet

Along with Okubo, animator and storyboard artist Itsuki Tsuchigami also made posts on the platform which pointed out poor working conditions at the particular studio.

The general consensus is that both of them were talking about the same company in their tweets.

Just like Okubo’s, Tsuchigami’s posts were also very critical about the workplace environment, calling it a “mess” and asking other animators to not get involved in it.

Itsuki Tsuchigami tweet
Itsuki Tsuchigami tweet

All these tweets confirm one thing for sure. The working conditions of animators largeley remain undesirable in the booming anime industry, which is a shame. Even though their plight has been highlighted in the past, it seems that the situation has not seen much improvement.

Possible NDA and past tweets:

Both Okubo and Tsuchigami’s posts also suggested that this studio had made their employees sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in order to keep the mess under the wraps.

Itsuki Tsuchigami tweet

This is not the first time that these two had pointed out about poor scheduling and working conditions on the project that they are working on. Both of them had put out posts between Sep 4, 2023 and Sep 10, 2023 with similar concerns, suggesting that the staff have been suffering during the production for quite some time now.

One of Okubo’s tweets literally suggested that the staff might have abandoned production at point owing to the bad conditions.

Shunsuke Okubo tweet
Shunsuke Okubo tweet

Just like Okubo, Tsuchigami’s post too pointed out the poor scheduling of the production. And going by what they said, fans were expecting a certain level of animation quality from the series.

Itsuki Tsuchigami tweet
Itsuki Tsuchigami tweet

Now coming to the main question,

Is it really MAPPA?

Neither did these animators name MAPPA particularly in their posts, nor did they mention Jujutsu Kaisen. Also, both Okubo and Tsuchigami are yet to be credited as staff in Jujutsu Kaisen season 2. So, it is entirely possible that both these animators are talking about a different studio altogether.

However, there are connections here we can’t ignore.

The reason why MAPPA has been dragged into the mess is because Shota Goshozono, who is currently directing the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen at the studio, had previously worked with both the animators in question in Ranking of Kings anime.

Additionally, Okubo and Tsuchigami were also a part of Heavenly Delusion anime’s staff, which finished airing earlier in June this year.

Considering that these animators work on a freelance basis, and that they had previously been affiliated with I.G Port subsidiary studios, one of which is currently involved in Jujutsu Kaisen season 2’s production – Production I.G, netizens concluded that both of them are working on some upcoming episodes of the anime.

Along with the above mentioned reasons, MAPPA is notorious in the anime fandom for what is a ‘perceived mistreatment of animators’ all thanks to previous reports that had surfaced about the factory like working conditions at the studio.

In no time, a noteworthy chunk of social media users started calling out the studio for their bad practices, with some even asking the studio to shelve the production of JJK season 2.

Here’s the point, all of what’s mentioned above is assumptions and speculations, linking the two animators to MAPPA. On top of that Okubo himself has asked audiences to not “supplement” subjects and modifiers which he is omitting in his posts.

Shunsuke Okubo tweet

How bad is Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2’s schedule:

At the time of writing, there are no official or substantial reports which suggest that the schedule at Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is overly bad, or any information that directly implicates MAPPA.

However, some Key Animators DID say that there was a last minute rush to meet the deadlines. Does this point that the production schedule was any worse than those of other anime? It’s hard to say.

Key Animator tweet for JJK s2

On top of that there are overlapping staff on Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 and Chainsaw Man anime, including director Goshozono, which just finished production in December 2022. And both these anime are being handled by the Seshimo branch of MAPPA.

If we are to believe that JJK S2’s production did not start until Goshozono was relieved of his duties from Chainsaw Man anime (his last credited work is on Episode 8), then the staff only had under a year to work on it before the anime started airing.

JJK And CSM Staff Comparision
Staff comparison (Source: ANN)

This was brought up by numerous fans who had complained about the sub-standard quality of animation in the Yuji vs the Grasshopper curse fight in episode 8 of season 2. Once again, it’s a very believable argument.

Now that these posts by the animators came out, it only added fuel to the fire, and MAPPA has been facing serious backlash from the community since then. They surely did some good things over the past year, including increasing animator salaries, but that was not enough to shield them from what was in store.

However, there were other animators in the industry who mentioned that a lot of fans were jumping the gun without getting a complete grasp of the situation.

Max phillips

Some netizens too pitched in and said that the systematic exploitation of animators was not just a problem at MAPPA, instead, it was something that crippled the anime industry as a whole, including hectic schedules and low pay.

TLDR;

In the end, while MAPPA looks extremely suspicious based on the circumstances, the verdict is still out in the open. If the animators outright deny that MAPPA was the studio they were talking about, we shouldn’t be very surprised either.

Regardless of whether MAPPA is the alleged prepertrator or not, the key takeaway from this should be that the animators work place condition leaves a lot to be desired. If at all anything, action should be taken to ensure that systematic and chronic production issues revolving around poor schedule is dealt with.

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