Next-Batter’s Circle, the company operating Tear Studio, a Tokyo-based studio that made anime for TV, theatrical and straight-to-video release, is preparing to file for bankruptcy, according to the Tokyo Shoko Research credit agency.
Founded in 2013 by Jun Kato, the company is reportedly in debt to the tune of $392,000, while owing 50 animators $73,000 in back pay. One of those animators, Gen Sato, recently took to Twitter to complain that he could not contact the company, leading other individuals and companies to try – and fail – to extract an explanation from the company’s representatives.
The studio has deleted its Twitter account and scrubbed contact information from its website.
In April of this year Tear Studio launched teartribe, an overseas production division that aimed to make anime with Chinese partners.
Among Tear Studio’s productions are, “Fragtime,” a theatrical film that opened in Japanese theaters on November 22, as well as the “Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King” and “Why the Hell Are You Here, Teacher!?” anime series and the “The Royal Tutor” anime film.
Earlier in the year, the Japanese cartoon sector was rocked to its core by the arson attack on Kyoto Animation. The attack, in July, by a disgruntled member of the public who claimed that the company stole a screenplay he had written, killed 36 people.
“Weathering With You,” directed by Makoto Shinkai, survived the unfortunate coincidence of being released only a day after the Kyoto attack, and went on to be the year’s top grossing animation title in Japan, with a cumulative box office of $130 million (JPY14.2 billion). It was not selected to be included among the Oscars’ long list.