How Tonari Animation is Changing the Anime Industry
A Global Studio
Tonari Animation is a global anime studio, founded in March 2020. Our mission is to combat the poor working standards of anime industry workers. We provide education for aspiring animators around the globe, while creating high quality, world-class animation. Since our founding, we have worked on internationally adored franchises such as: Digimon, Boruto: Naruto the Next Generation, Black Clover, and Zombieland Saga and as well as many independent projects including YouTube series, games, and music videos.
Tonari Animation has a wide-reaching global impact, allowing artists from all over the world to contribute to the beloved medium of anime. Our artists are from the USA, The Philippines, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Chile, France, Singapore, UK, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Belgium, Czech, Germany, India, Italy, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Our global staff is always growing and reaching new locations. The medium of anime is a global phenomenon, inspiring animators all over the world to make a living by creating art.
Two industries dominate animated features on a global scale: Western and Eastern Animation. Both have their own sets of problems, but Tonari is specifically focused on the issues present in the Eastern Animation industry.
The context for why animators in my generation are so interested in the Eastern Animation comes from the fact that many of our adolescent memories revolve around Digimon, Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, FullMetal Alchemist, and Ghibli classics, like Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
We fell in love with Anime, and as we grew older, we started exploring more thematically dense anime like Cowboy Bebop, Fooly Cooly, and Ghost in the Shell. As Western Animation abandoned high-art 2D animation, Japan kept pushing the medium further. As a result, a global culture spawned around anime, inspiring a generation of artists whose dream is to join this compelling industry.
What makes anime so visually compelling, in our view, is the medium of 2D hand-drawn animation. 2D hand-drawn animation has a magic that 3D animation will never have. This is attributed to the amount of skill and talent required to make this possible. For every series or film, you need a staff of 100+ world-class artists to make the work possible, making this arguably the most inspiring, magical, and compelling art form the world will ever know.
We believe that the processes used in anime production should be spread far and wide to expand the medium, bring back 2D hand-drawn animation, grow the industry, and create a new animation renaissance.
We are developing a textbook called the Anime Survival Kit. The goal of the textbook is to become a one-stop reference and design bible for freelancers and studios worldwide seeking to learn from the tools and tricks of the anime industry.
In 2018, I founded the Sakuga Foundry forum. It served as a free resource and community for people to collaborate on projects, learn about animation, and work together on grinding skills to enter anime or other 2D hand-drawn animation careers.
Sakuga Foundry later moved from a forum into a Discord server, which has a thriving community of over 1500 aspiring animators around the globe. The Sakuga Foundry Discord hosts regular events that are inspirational, informative, and invaluable to artists beginning their journey in animation.
The Tonari Animation YouTube channel has resource videos, streams, and podcasts created with the intent to actively teach, spread awareness about the issues in the industry, and demonstrate the processes that are required to make anime.
How Tonari Animation has Already Changed Lives of Artists
Because of Tonari Animation’s mission, it naturally had an incredibly positive effect on the lives of the people who work with us. A lot of the animators specifically come from poorer nations where they either are used to being exploited by the global animation industry. Additionally, many are from nations where the lack of a local animation industry means their only opportunities to achieve their dream are by joining a studio like Tonari.
Here are some anecdotes from animators at Tonari Animation who feel their lives have been impacted positively by the mission and vision of Tonari.
“It was the very first time, in my 30 year career that I was able to get sustainable and regular work with regular pay… I was able to pay in full at present the biggest personal loans I had to acquire during my pandemic days of unemployment and are now, at present paying back the more little ones from my friends and fellow co-workers who never batted an eye to help me monetarily… My work is also getting credited by my name, which is a first in my career.”
-Willie Blue Bussell, Philippines
“Dreaming about doing something and accomplishing it are two different things. I spent most of my life too scared to really pursue art as a career. I was convinced that only special, perfect people could do it, that I was better off going the “normal” route through life — but I never really let the dream go. I was always drawing, always coming up with stories…it just never went anywhere. Eventually, I graduated college and was able to move to Japan to teach English — but even after meeting with florigen animators working in Japan I still struggled to find the self-confidence and wherewithal to put myself out there as a professional artist.
Tonari changed all that. I happened to wake up early one morning and see a call for submissions in a community Jarrett also ran — Striving for Animation — and worked up the courage to ask if I could be accepted. In less than two days I was working on my first gig, cleaning up some cuts for Boruto. It was really hard! I had no clue what I was doing and I felt completely incapable. I probably spent more time stressing about messing up than actually drawing. I knew I was an imposter…but I asked for help, got a lot of great feedback from tons of great people, and, suddenly, I had done it! There my name was, in the credits of an anime. Since then, I’ve had the chance to work on several other shows and expand my experience into layout, storyboarding, and many other skills I never would have had the courage to pursue alone.
Tonari is as much a community as it is a company. It’s a place where you know that you can push your limits because other people are going to be there to help you along the way. It helped teach me the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in art: it is as hard as it looks, but with the help of good people, we’re capable of some incredible things.”
-Guiseppe Boyd, Japan
“Tonari animation Help me a lot in terms of learning new things and help me to have a steady income despite the pandemic crisis. I’ve worked for different studios and animation companies before but only tonari animation gave me credit. They appreciate the hard work of the artist. I’m lucky to be here.. I wish my fellow artists will be here so they can experience the non toxic working environment and appreciate their work. Thank you tonari animation for the excellent Management!”
-Julius de Belen, Philippines
“Tonari allowed me to feel like I fit in, and everyone is very nice and accommodating, so I will do my best!”
-Nasjir Foat-Hodge, USA
“Working for Tonari Animation has been quite a pleasant experience for me as an artist and as a person. It is very calm here with everyone being respectful and extremely helpful. The production managers and executives are kind and understanding and will go out of their way to aid you resolve any problems you currently face in any given production. As an artist my various inadequacies have been highlighted and I always feel motivated to improve so as to not let anyone down. Thank you, Tonari Animation.”
-Testimony Igwebuike, Nigeria
In conclusion, I hope people can find Tonari’s story and mission inspiring and that it will help create a positive global impact on the world of 2D animation, not just for Tonari but all the artists and studios around the world that are struggling. Let’s strive to make this an industry that recognizes the work and passion of the artists involved!