Under the Dog Producer On The Restrictions Of Working On Anime Today


Under the Dog is an anime film project being backed via Kickstarter funding. The anime—which is a sci-fi thriller—is being written by Jiro Ishii and led by Hiroaki Yura, who is acting as its producer. Yura is also the director of the Project Phoenix JRPG, and in a recent AMA on Reddit, he answered questions about the production of Under the Dog.


Some of the questions Yura was asked got into the business side of anime production, and how restrictive production companies can be, while attempting to create a new animated show. Yura says that a lot of production committees are generally averse to anime that doesn’t feature moe designs and tend to avoid tragic themes as well. You can read some of his answers below.


What do you plan to do it Under The Dog isn’t fully funded? Will you still produce it? Or will it be abandoned all together?


If UTD isn’t funded, we have plans and offers from other people/companies to fund the project. Whilst it’s not in the creators best interest, we’ll make sure we wont tread the usual Japanese production committee version of funding.


We will still definitely produce it (we already have offer for 2 seasons, 26 episodes!) but we prefer to be funded by the people to retain our creative independence!


Since there are plans to create episodic content, is there a set direction for this? Meaning has the story/plot been fleshed out from beginning to end?


We have the plot for 26 episodes already mapped out but we believe the best medium for the story we want to tell with UTD would be feature length film, specifically a trilogy. The plot points are bound to adapt but we have a solid direction and people on the team are very excited with the prospect of what we are doing.


If you don’t get funded through Kickstarter and have to resort to secondary funding, what happens to the rewards? Do you still plan to have those as options in the future, or will they be Kickstarter-only?


We still want to be able to offer fans a way of being directly involved so we are uncertain how it would play out. With the KS, obviously the rewards would only be produced if we fund there.


Do you have any plans after the first episode of UTD gets released?


We absolutely do have plans after the first episode. We’d like to continue using Kickstarter for our future episodes but if we aren’t able, it may be funded by another film company. We want to shoot for OVA style approach.


Could you elaborate more on what’s wrong with the usual production committee version of funding? Is it so restrictive that it prevents the production of more innovative anime titles?


Is it so restrictive that it prevents the production of more innovative anime titles? >> Yes it will be. They don’t want to take the risks with innovative or edgy ideas for anime. They just want to do the anime that is selling well next door.


Without giving away spoilers, what kind of creative things are normally restricted?


Like… negative or tragedy ridden anime. Creative writing and ideas which is out of bounds of “light novels”… not-so-moe or fan-service type character designs. etc


Have you considered a highschool setting and maybe some sort of supernatural twist? I hear investors are happy about those things.


We want to make the stories that we find interesting. Right now that is Jiro Ishii’s world of UTD. We are not overly concerned with what the investors would be interested in. They will follow a product that has a proven fanbase.


In the past few years each anime season will feature shows that just seem like reskins of what aired last month. Do you hope Under the Dog will be something fresh and set a new standard in the modern anime industry?


Absolutely. There are fewer and fewer anime I feel interested or compelled to watch each season. Every year, I hear huge political struggles from industry colleagues and they are saddened by the fact if they could put more effort in their work rather than politics, it’d be so much better. Without much politics and freely doing what we want to do, I hope simply by doing that, UTD will reach new industry standards.


So the production committee process creates a massive amount of stupid unneeded politics?


Indeed they do. Most are interested in only promoting/selling their own portions. For example a music publisher may chip in for an anime but what they want to sell and what they promote is solely the music. They are not interested in anime as a whole but more of like a stepping stone.


Unfortunately, Under the Dog has only amassed around $500,000 in contributions so far. The funding goal is set at $580,000 and the project’s Kickstarter campaign will end in two days. Unless they find some very generous backers, Creative Intelligence Arts may not be able to procure the necessary funding they need to produce the film.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.