Attack on Titan and Vinland Saga are two anime that became a hit among fans, not just because of its great plot, but also because of it’s great animation. And the credit for the visual fest is due in no small part to Wit Studio and the hours that they poured in on these titles.
Naturally, it came as a huge surprise to fans when Wit studio decided to drop animating both Attack on Titan Season 4 and Vinland Saga Season 2. Since a proper reason was never explicitly specified, rumors began taking their place.
However, in a recent interview with ANN, George Wada, the president of both Production I.G. and Studio Wit, opened up about reason behind the studio’s actions. It’s not as if they wanted to discontinue animating Attack on Titan or Vinland Saga, but there were some constraints which forced them to let go of these titles.
To make it clear, Wada first explained Wit Studio’s business mode, which revolved around DVD sales of the anime that they produced.
The studio usually got a contract for one season of an anime adaptation. And if the DVD sales of the adaptation was good enough, the studio would then get a contract to animate its sequel.
“For all the titles that Wit Studio has done, we wanted to create the continuations of those series. Five years earlier, for a lot of these titles, one of the biggest factors was DVD sales. As a business model, the decision to make a sequel depended entirely on DVD sales. At that time, for all of those titles that you just mentioned, we had only been contracted for season one. Then once the DVD sales results come in, we would get an offer to do a second season based on that,” Wada told ANN.
By the time the sales numbers for AOT and Vinland Saga came out, Wit Studio already had other projects lined up which were in the process of funding. But the fans and publishers wanted the sequels to be animated as quickly as possible.
In light of the scheduling conflicts, Wada had to make a tough choice and let go of both the titles. Humble as he is, the president also partly blamed his management skills for the outcome.
“At that time, my management skills weren’t as good as they are today so I couldn’t add [the next seasons] to the schedule right away because I already had other shows lined up for funding. And of course, the fans and the publishers want to get the second season out as quickly as possible, which is what leads to it being animated by another studio,” he said.
But even in retrospect, Wada does believe that Wit Studio dropping Attack on Titan and Vinland Saga was the right choice at that time.
“That can’t really be helped, so I think that was the right choice in those cases. So because of the increase in the number of global fans and the number of streaming platforms that are available, it allows us to make more long-ended decisions on continuing to do a series. What I’d like to do with Wit Studio in the future, is that we now have the financial basis to continue to contract for longer periods.”
He also shed some light on how the current decision making system worked, with the advent of streaming giants like Netflix and Crunchyroll. These days, the number of people who watch an anime of these platforms determine whether they will get a sequel or not.
“Streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Crunchyroll, generate a certain amount of revenue based on the number of paying subscribers, so that’s what their basis is. Before, as you know, DVDs were expensive, and not very many people could buy them. Now, that the basis for determining whether or not to continue a series depends on how many people are watching, it’s much easier to predict and make a decision,” Wada said.
Both Attack on Titan and Vinland Saga are currently being animated by MAPPA. The latter’s second season will release in January 2023.
Wit Studio, on the other hand, went on to animate Spy x Family, Ranking of Kings and other titles, which become hits in their own rights. They even animated a couple of titles for Netflix; the anime film Bubble and the series Great Pretender.
The studio is currently working on animating the special story of Ranking of Kings, and an anime based on VTuber Kizuna Ai, titled Kizuna no Allele.
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