MAPPA And Madhouse Founder Maruyama Fears That Anime Is Too Commercialized

Maruyama claimed that the reason for the decline in Japan’s anime industry was due to its focus on commercialization.

MAPPA director featured
Masao Maruyama0

Masao Maruyama, a veteran of the anime industry and the founder of Madhouse and MAPPA studios, expressed his concern in an interview with AFP News that Japan may lose its position as the leader in the anime industry to its neighboring competitor, China.

Maruyama claimed that the reason for the decline in Japan’s anime industry was due to its focus on commercialization.

He stated that the industry is overly reliant on profit-driven genres, and as a result, it falls short in terms of innovation compared to its American and French counterparts.

China’s current administration has increasingly restricted freedom of expression, impacting its domestic TV and film industry and its decision to permit foreign programming.

Despite this, China is investing heavily in its animation industry.

On the other hand, Japan enjoys greater artistic freedom, but its animation studios often opt for commercialized formulas that prioritize profit over creativity, as per Maruyama’s view.

While such anime may achieve success, it hinders the development of genuine talent in the country.

Maruyama fears that the situation would change in no time if the animators and creators in China were to get more leeway in their works.

“In Japan, people are no longer trained in animation,” Maruyama said. “The only reason China hasn’t quite caught up with Japan yet is because of a bunch of restrictions imposed on free expression there. If more freedom is unleashed, Japan will be overtaken in no time.”

“But creating works is all about challenging yourself to do something new, regardless of what you said in the past. That makes you selfish in a way, and it’s a trait I’ve inherited in its pure form.”

He additionally made it clear he doesn’t want to get in the way of anyone’s creativity: “I don’t steer the directors but I just follow them and their talent.”

Maruyama acknowledged that the arts can be difficult. “The more challenging, painful and excruciating the project is, the more motivated I become.”

Maruyama’s other studio, M2, is currently working on the production of the anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto, which is exclusively set to release on Netflix in 2023.

This is the third time he will be adapting one of Urasawa’s works, with Madhouse previously having animated both Monster and Master Keaton.

Maruyama has been involved in the anime industry for around 50 years. He started his career at Mushi Pro in 1965, a studio that was headed by legendary manga author Osamu Tezuka.

He co-founded Madhouse Studio in 1972 along with his colleagues including Osamu Dezaki, Rintaro, and Yoshiaki Kawajiri.  He left Madhouse in 2011 to create MAPPA Studio.

In 2016, Maruyama stepped down as the president of his latest production company to Manabu Otsuka, opting instead to establish Studio M2, his third studio venture.

Source: AFP News via CNA