The Outsourcing Issue: ‘Dahlia in Bloom’ Produced in North Korea?

The anime industry has increasingly turned to outsourcing as a key component, and although it may not seem like a significant issue, it certainly is. In fact, one instance of outsourcing led to the involvement of North Korea.

The involvement of North Korea in the animation process has caused trouble for the production company behind ‘Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools’.

The creators of the Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools anime, as announced on the official website, have decided to redo certain scenes that were potentially animated in North Korea, in response to reports claiming so.

The Outsourcing Problem: Animated in North Korea?

In April, reports were filed by 38 North and an investigation was carried out regarding the staff responsible for producing the Dahlia in Bloom anime. The investigation revealed that certain tasks were contracted out to Typhoon Graphics, a Japanese production company, by the anime production studio.

Typhoon Graphics once again subcontracted to a different Chinese production company, who in turn subcontracted to another Chinese company. The investigators requested a list of personnel involved in each instance, but the company declined to cooperate.

According to the investigators, there was a strong likelihood that a North Korean production company was involved in the production process. As a precaution, the parent anime company made the decision to have all the suspected scenes redone by Japanese animators before the show’s broadcast.

2. Production Company Unaware of the North Korean Involvement?

The anime’s official website and Hokkaido-based anime studio Ekachi Epilka stated that they were not aware of any involvement from North Korea, as neither the production committee nor the production studio had any knowledge of it. They also mentioned that the staff was currently investigating the situation.

On April 24, 2024, Ekachi Epilka released a statement on its homepage, revealing that its layout sheets were used without authorization and clarifying that the studio has no affiliation with the drawings and art found on the server.

The company stated its belief that a subcontractor company may have been responsible for the leak. Ekachi denies ever having made any purchases from a North Korean company, and no proof of such transactions has been found.

3. 38 North and Its Connection to the Report!

According to its report, 38 North, a website specializing in analyzing North Korea, discovered a cloud server with a North Korean IP address, as reported by Nick Roy, a North Korean Internet blogger.

The server’s configuration was incorrect, granting access to users without a password. Typically, North Korean companies utilize these servers since their IT employees do not have access to the Internet.

Throughout the month of January, Roy continuously monitored the files on the server and made the discovery that they contained instructions for animation tasks and the outcomes of the animation work that had been completed on that day.

The files included both Chinese and Korean instructions, indicating that a third company was responsible for facilitating communication between the animators and production companies.

According to 38 North, the specific North Korean animation studio involved could not be determined, but it is highly probable that it is SEK Studio.

4. Evidence Proves Ekachi Epilka’s Innocence

According to 38 North, there is no indication that the official production company played a role in the process.

The report stated that the editing comments on all the files, including those for animations based in the US, were written in Chinese. This suggests that the contracting arrangement was multiple steps removed from the primary producers.

Despite the current situation, the official X/Twitter account for the anime has confirmed that the series is still set to premiere in July.

Anime “#Magical Tools Master Dahlia Doesn’t Look Down” To everyone who is looking forward to it

Everyone who supports our workTo the teachers of the original work and comicalizationWe apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Anime is on scheduleWe are preparing for broadcast in July 2024.

For more information on broadcast information…

English Translation, Twitter Translate

The Underpaid and Overworked Animators: Is Outsourcing a Major Problem?

In the past, outsourcing was not commonly used in the anime industry. However, in recent years, there has been a shift and outsourcing has become more prevalent. As a result, the number of individuals involved in each project has also indirectly increased.

In previous times, a job could require 2 months to finish, but now there are twice as many people working to attempt to finish a project within 1 month.

Having a series that progresses from a 12-episode season to 24 episodes and eventually 36 episodes means that there will be an increase in the number of people involved in the project. This leads to a greater need for management and results in a more complex production process.

Rather than being produced solely in one studio, an anime project is often outsourced to 10 different studios, with each team juggling multiple projects at once. This not only poses a challenge to maintaining high quality, but also adds pressure to meet tight deadlines. As a result, project managers are constantly working, sacrificing sleep in order to keep up with the demanding workload.

The current situation is causing several issues within the industry, with overworked and underpaid animators experiencing significant health problems as a result of their working conditions. Immediate action must be taken to address these situations before more of these skilled artists are negatively impacted.

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