According to Eiichi Yamamoto, the years 1970-1971 represented Mushi Pro’s “second golden age” . There seems to be some truth to this statement: the number of new productions was at its highest, and the quality of some of these is undeniable - Ashita no Joe, in particular, stands as one of the studio’s greatest achievements. However, just as had been the case during the “first” golden age - the time of Jungle Taitei - artistic excellence developed in a context of frustration, hostility and hardships.
Category: History of Mushi Pro
The History of Mushi Pro – 3 – The beginning of the end (1967-1969)
With the huge debt left by its former acting director and the end of Mushi’s partnership with NBC Enterprises, the studio found itself in an increasingly difficult financial situation from the second half of 1967 onwards. Things would only get worse from there, and every attempt to resolve them ended in failure as Mushi failed to produce any success. By 1969, the signs were clear: the studio's downward spiral could not be stopped.
The History of Mushi Pro – 02 – Anime business (1965-1966)
While I’m hesitant to speak of “golden ages”, if Mushi Production had one, it was certainly the years 1965-1966. Still riding on Tetsuwan Atom’s prodigious popularity, the studio considerably expanded its personnel and activities. It launched production of new, ambitious TV shows, notably the first color TV anime, Jungle Taitei, and seemed to reach unprecedented artistic heights. But at the same time, the atmosphere at the upper level was getting worse, as Osamu Tezuka started realizing the situation was getting further and further away from what he originally envisioned for Mushi, and the anime industry knew its first deaths. Mushi’s success was not just built on the vision of ambitious and passionate creators, but also on frustrations, failures, and human lives.
The History of Mushi Pro – 1.5 – Atom through its storyboards
In the previous article of this series, I stated that Tetsuwan Atom’s production was “centered on one document, the storyboard”. Although the production pipeline of anime has changed a lot with time, the storyboard’s central place has remained constant. It is, alongside the layout, the lifeline followed by most of the staff, the central document which has to be both adapted and interpreted. It is therefore very important to understand the history of how anime storyboards, or ekonte, appeared, evolved and were used.
The History of Mushi Pro – 01 – The Road to TV Anime (1960-1965)
Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga, is also the father of modern anime - not only did he coin the word, his Tetsuwan Atom was the first animated TV serial in Japan, and pioneered the “limited animation” techniques still associated with anime. Or so the story goes. In actuality, things are far more nuanced: the goal of this first article is to show that, and narrate the events that led to the completion of Atom in all their complexity. I hope to achieve that in mostly two ways: avoiding teleology - that is, the idea that Tezuka’s goal was to make TV, “limited” animation from the start - and shifting the focus away from Tezuka as an individual.