Banks help to animate Tokyo biz

Gov't picks up new policy to coin local toon biz

Development Bank of Japan and New Bank Tokyo are underwriting a new scheme for animation content development, backed by the Tokyo city government. DJB will kick in $460,000 and NBT $640,000 for the initiative.

In July, the Tokyo city government announced an official policy of supporting the local animation industry through financial and other measures.

Nearly 80% of all Japanese animation companies, including majors Toei Animation and Studio Ghibli, are headquartered in Tokyo, and the industry has become an important revenue generator for the city.

To implement this policy, the government joined with Tokyo-based production house Think to launch Anime Innovation Tokyo, with the government investing $920,000 in startup funds. Total capital has since increased to $2.7 million.

AIT is raising investment funds from corporations and financial institutions with an interest in animation content, including DBJ and NBT. At the same time, it is soliciting proposals for original animated projects from both young animators and small to medium-sized production houses.

After selecting the most promising of the projects, AIT will launch limited partnerships to make 30-minute pilots, using mainly its own funds, together with contributions from the projects’ creators.

AIT is accepting project proposals until June 30. It will produce 15-20 pilots over the next four years for presentation to potential backers both in Japan and abroad. Production budgets will average $156,000. The limited partnerships will distribute revenues from sales of rights and DVDs to their backers.

“We will work closely with the creators on each project — we’re very hands-on,” Think CEO Yuji Mori said at a symposium sponsored by the Tokyo Intl. Anime Fair. The basic idea, he added, is to make pilots “with the potential to become something far bigger,” be it a TV series or feature film.

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