Netflix is at the center of criticism from fans for the use of AI now. This is because of their new animated short story titled Inu to Shonen (Dog and the Boy).
Made by Studio WIT, the anime’s backgrounds are AI-generated, using concept art done by people and getting final touch-ups by people. The credits, which are in English, say the backgrounds were done by “AI (+Human).”
Netflix said it chose to do this AI work because of “lack of manpower in the anime industry.”
In a tweet, Netflix Japan claimed that the project, a short uses AI-generated art in response to labor shortages in the anime industry.
“As an experimental effort to help the anime industry, which has a labor shortage, we used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts!”
Netflix アニメ・クリエイターズ・ベース×技術開発のrinna株式会社×WIT STUDIOによる共同プロジェクトアニメ『犬と少年』のショートムービー。
— Netflix Japan | ネットフリックス (@NetflixJP) January 31, 2023
The tweet was met with heavy criticism and anger from Twitter users who say this was Netflix trying ways to cut costs.
As AI image generation is becoming increasingly popular, it is also receiving heavy criticism from various fronts.
Artists believe that the use of such AI is unethical, as it uses data from the internet to create images. They also believe that it will devalue workers, effectively affecting their pay and demand.
Netflix Japan’s announcement that AI was used to meet labor shortages has now become the epicenter of raising concerns.
One Japanese freelance illustrator tweeted, “You want everything for free, but we need money to live. And a lot of work that can worsen our health.”
The illustrator isn’t alone, as there have been multiple news articles and videos about the shocking reality of the animation industry in Japan.
In 2017, an illustrator died while working, allegedly from a stress-induced heart attack and stroke.
Many animators in the industry have openly stated to not earn enough to sustain themselves and their families. In fact, even top animators are paid relatively meager salaries.
This has also become a topic of heated discussion as the anime industry is hitting all-time high revenues, topping $18.4 Billion in 2021 while the workforce suffers.