Troubled Production / Anime and Manga

  • Berserk (2016): According to a July 7th 2017 article by Callum May (The Canipa Effect) on ANN, the show was plagued by behind-the-scenes production difficulties. May's English article is based on information from a Japanese article in the January 2017 issue of CG World Magazine which Kim Morissey (Frog-kun) translated for him:
    • The idea of making a 3D Berserk anime came from producer Tetsuro Satomi of LIDENFILMS. He reached out to Studio GEMBA, established in 2006 as a subsidiary of Digital Frontier, which had done supporting work but never handled principal animation production for a show. There were concerns from the president and animators of GEMBA that Satomi's proposal was a very tall order, but ultimately they agreed to do it with LIDENFILMS producing and Millepensee creating the 2D.
    • They chose Shin Itagaki as director, who was better known for directing lighter fare such as the Rapid-Fire Comedy Widget Series Teekyuu (which he also scripted, edited, storyboarded, and even composed music for). Devil May Cry: The Animated Series (2007) was the most similar thing to Berserk he had ever directed; however he had not directed a 3D anime before, and his determination to replicate the particular and highly detailed aesthetic of the manga held up the start of production as his vision ran up against the limited capabilities of Studio GEMBA. Production began in the spring of 2015, when they created the first teaser, but it was not until December that year when the project was formally announced that Itagaki and the staff actually reached a compromise about what the show would look like. Because he wasn't satisfied with the more realistic first version and wanted to get more of a stylized 2D look, they had to scrap all the assets they had created for the trailer, and in January 2016 they started making 150 new character models from scratch. They started animating in March, just four months before the show was set to air, and things got worse. It turned out that their hardware wasn't able to handle rendering the highly detailed character models they had created, forcing them to simplify the models since they didn't have the time to come up with a better solution, and they also had to scrap their plans to use a system called Global Illumination to enhance the 3D backgrounds.
    • Itagaki's request for "touch-up lines" also created problems. The hatching texture was added in by Millepensee, and the lines were automatically tracked onto the models by Adobe After Effects, but they had to manually apply the texture to any metallic objects like swords and armor, which made up a considerable portion of the assets. The show's technical director Keita Mizuhashi was overburdened trying to troubleshoot many issues cropping up between staff members who weren't working under the same roof.
    • Ultimately, says May, the overly ambitious proposal combined with Itagaki's perfectionism and the lack of time to work out the technical issues turned the anime into a production nightmare, and the visuals suffered as a result.
  • Code Geass's first season. Sunrise was wary of trusting a full series to director / co-creator Goro Taniguchi, thanks to his reputation for perfectionism and his other quirks, so he was only handed 25 episodes to begin with. The staff often had to piggyback off of other parts of the studio that were working at the same time (for example, the Geass staff didn't even have their own photocopier) and the writers were only three or four episodes ahead of the broadcast, about half the "buffer" that most series have. When the series became a runaway success, things went much better, but fans tend to blame the series' being split in half for the perceived drop in quality in the second half.
  • The three Latin American Spanish dubs of Detective Conan have had lots of messes in their productions:
    • According to the people who worked in the first dubbed version (from the first to the fifth season), which was dubbed by VDI - Point.360 in Los Angeles, California, the entire dub was a complete mess from the start, since many episodes were dubbed in the same day and sometimes by five different voice directors, who normally ignored what the other director did in the previous episodes they dubbed before causing regular characters, like Sonoko Suzuki, to get her name changed in almost every episode she appeared. This and the series suffering low ratings were the reasons why the series was canceled in Latin America, despite its Cult Classic following.
    • The two first movies were dubbed in Mexico, and while the acting itself was pretty good, the translation was awful, since it not only suffered from the Too Long; Didn't Dub trope (something that rarely happens in a Mexican Spanish dub), it was later found out the Mexican dub illegally plagiarized a script from a fansub for the translation, causing a quite embarrassing incident with both the fans and the Japanese licensors, and losing the rights to dub any related material regarding the series. The ban was only lifted in 2016, when another Mexican dub company got the rights to dub the 18th movie (Dimensional Sniper) and one of the crossovers with Lupin III for a digital release, and the 19th movie (Sunflowers of Inferno) for a theatrical release.
    • After the incidents with both the Hispanic and Mexican voice actors teams, the series was dubbed for good (from the sixth season onwards) in Chile instead, after a Chilean TV channel specifically bought the rights of the series and the movies due to older Chilean fans's love of the franchise. The ironic twist of this, at least in the Chilean Spanish dub of The Last Wizard of the Century, is that this version also has a plagiarized script from a fansub - except, unlike with the Hispanic and Mexican cases, it only happens in the subbed version. Whoopsie?
  • Digimon Adventure 02 got one as a result of Creative Differences and Executive Meddling. For one, the head writers, Genki Yoshimura and Atsushi Maekawa, were told to write in their preferred styles, which resulted in the two being unable to see eye to eye on what direction the story would go. While this was happening, the head writer for the first season, Satoru Nishizono, left because he didn't want a second season to be made. This got so bad that much of the staff, including Chiaki Konaka, were desperate to leave despite being still under contract. Bandai, unwilling to let them leave, gave them their own series, which resulted in the creation of the Digimon's first Alternate Universe, Digimon Tamers.
  • The Dream Machine, the final movie of the late Satoshi Kon, has experienced its share of trouble, having gone from production into Development Hell, back into production only to fall back into development hell. First Kon's death from pancreatic cancer put the film on hold to determine the next course of action. Kon's widow and Studio Madhouse's Masao Maruyama said they would finish the film and production resumed. However, at Otakon 2011, Maruyama reported the movie has been put on hold due to financial difficulties. Maruyama is still determined to finish the film eventually, with about 600 shots out of 1500 had been animated at that point.
  • The Fruits Basket anime was full of this, as Natsuki Takaya not only was more involved than other authors in it, but she had huge Creative Differences with the director Akitarou Daichi. This is cited as the reason why there is no second season, despite the series' popularity and its open ending.
  • Gundam:
  • Hols: Prince of the Sun was being made when Toei was restructuring itself to focus more on cheaper productions over lavish animations, and when its animators were starting to unionise. By coincidence, most of the aspiring, "troublesome" pro-union animators were assigned to work at the studio focusing on lavish animations, one of which was Hols. Originally intended to be a two-hour epic, the film was cut down to just 80 minutes as it exceeded its then-standard eight-month production period. When the film was finished, Toei did very little advertising and gave it a theatrical run of only ten days. At the end of it all, Isao Takahata was demoted, told he would never direct again, and Hols became an influential classic widely hailed as one of the best anime ever created.
  • Hyouge Mono had a few cases of some behind the scenes drama. It started with the band member of cro-magnon which co-composed the music and wrote the theme song getting arrested on a drug charge suspicion then the original author and the editorial staff walking off the project and asking for a credit change from Original Creator to Original Concept.
  • Lost Universe is a notorious case. The show's budget was already low, but a studio fire resulted in lots of work from the first few episodes destroyed. They had to be reanimated on an even lower budget by a South Korean studio while the rest of the show resumed production. This all occurring during a recession. One episode looked so bad on TV, that it had to be almost entirely re-animated again for home video and re-runs. A second season was also canceled so the studio could make way for more Slayers movies.
  • For a long time, Mahou Sensei Negima! looked like a happy subversion. Ken Akamatsu wanted to do a shounen-action series from the start, but his producers wanted a harem show like his extremely popular Love Hina series. Akamatsu faked a harem series, using the first two volumes to lay down characterization, then slowly segue into the fighter series he wanted from the start. This resulted in an extremely intelligent and popular series known for its Amazon Brigade and ridiculously badass ten-year old protagonist. However, some three hundred chapters later, the executives tried to take the rights to the series away from him. He responded by ending the series abruptly, with a carefully crafted final chapter that managed to use the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue to make sure no one else could use his series, only returning to it years later with Stealth Sequel UQ Holder!.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. Aside from the unexpected decision to extend the show to 39 episodes (hence the Korean-animated filler arc - so detached from the rest of the show that even director Hideaki Anno declared it all non-canon except for episodes 30 and 31), there were other problems plaguing the show's production progress. Anno reportedly disliked the original script for the show, and decided to rewrite it from scratch. Furthermore, any "suggestions" from NHK on how to "improve" the show were instantly disregarded, hence the Darker and Edgier tone for most of the canonical episodes. Because of Anno's demand for perfectionism, many episodes ran late, with Anno spending more than eighteen hours per day on the show! At one point, after episode 20 was broadcast, it took an entire month for audiences to see the subsequent one. The budget for the show also caused Gainax to lose more than ¥800 million (half a million dollars!) in finances. They were also denied any of the rights. Perhaps because of this, neither Gainax nor NHK worked together on another show. Nadia is also often pointed to as the cause of Anno's depression and breakdown leading to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Creator Breakdown and severe depression on behalf of Hideaki Anno, Gainax's shifty accounting practices ending in their CEO being arrested for tax fraud, a mostly-finished script for the second half of the show having to be completely rewritten because of a plot point being too similar to the Aum Shinrikyo cult's terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, sponsors pulling out in droves once the show dove off the deep end... Yeah, it's amazing that they even managed to finish that show, even with all the budget-saving Limited Animation at the end. Do we have another candidate for the Apocalypse Now of anime?
    • The third Rebuild of Evangelion movie was hit with this was well. In addition to massive script rewrites and some very unpopular creative decisions, Anno had another Creator Breakdown while working on it. In interviews, he revealed that working on the series again had brought back his serious bouts with depression, and that he'd often go for long periods of time without even showing up to the studio. He credits his friend Hayao Miyazaki and working on Shin Godzilla for helping him through this troubled period and his eventual Creator Recovery. Incidentally, that Shin Godzilla gig led to the fourth and final Rebuild film rotting in Development Hell, with its release date (initially in 2013) being repeatedly pushed back or revised.
    • The English dub for Evangelion 3.33 has suffered its own share of problems. Funimation had originally announced that that the dub would be released on DVD in February 2014, but Anno's apparent dissatisfaction with the job they did led the company to re-record the entire thing and push back the release date to February 2, 2016.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The series had just aired its 10th episode when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Most shows held back a week out of courtesy, but while most shows were returned the following week, Madoka Magica wasn't. Despite using the time to polish up the final two episodes, the channel that had first air rights to the series refused to air it for nearly two months before relenting and airing the last two back to back.
    • In certain locations the 10th episode was also delayed (though there was an internet livestream on Nico Nico Douga) and was aired with the other two episodes. Note that none of this seemed to hurt the ratings (there was even a newspaper advertisement for the last two episodes) and the episodes even managed to have a Meaningful Release Date.
    • And before all that, the voice actors weren't told beforehand that this was not a lighthearted Magical Girl show (really more of a Cosmic Horror Story), and were rather traumatized as a result (Emiri "Kyubey" Katou broke down crying when she found out her character's true nature). Goddammit Urobuchi.
    • Urobuchi originally wanted things just to end with The Rebellion Story. This was denied, and while it helps that he gladly embraced the alternate ending suggested to him for that installment, he has considered just leaving, claiming to lose control over the franchise.
  • The original DiC/Cloverway English dub of Sailor Moon is the only English anime dub with an entire book written about its production.
    • The show was licensed by DiC following a lengthy bidding war with Toon Makers who wanted to remake the show entirely (producing Toon Makers Sailor Moon). Once they did finally get it, they didn't know what to do with it since they mistakenly assumed they were only distributing it in North America and that an English-language adaptation was already produced. Due to their lack of knowledge of Japanese animation, Carl Macek was originally hired to write the adaptation, but was fired early in production due to Creative Differences with Andy Heyward (DiC's then-CEO). Fred Ladd (a veteran of English anime dubs, with experience going back to Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion) was then hired.
    • On the recording side of things, Optimum Productions, a Toronto-based dubbing company, was selected to record the dub, however they ran into issues early on. Tracey Moore, the original ADR director and voice actress for Sailor Moon, quit after 13 episodes due to stressful Creative Differences and was replaced with Roland Parliament as director and Terri Hawkes as voice actress (also, Rino Romano quit his role of Tuxedo Mask around this time as well). Production was so far behind schedule, Hawkes began recording the night she was cast and ended up recording entire episodes in one take. Parliament worked long hours into the night, often slept at the studio, and became ill during production. He also had to deal with angry executives with DiC, who complained about the actors' Canadian accents and told him that the show was "not for fucking Canadians. It's for fucking Americans."
    • DiC themselves were also at the mercy of Toei in Japan, who had to approve of each and every change made, often without consulting the series' creator, Naoko Takeuchi. The episodes were on their air only a couple weeks after being recorded, with 65 episodes being dubbed in three months.
    • It was canceled on a cliffhanger and couldn't continue at all until 1997 when YTV in Canada and Irwin Toy paid to fund more episodes to give it some closure, with Pioneer funding dubs for the movies. For these, Parliament was fired over Creative Differences within Optimum and replaced with John Stocker, who was also fired later on. The voices for Sailor Mars and Tuxedo Mask were also recast (though Mars later returned), and Fred Ladd was replaced with writers at Optimum.
    • S and SuperS had it worst though. DiC declined to license more episodes, so Cloverway (Toei's then-US branch) stepped in after YTV and Cartoon Network ordered more episodes. Cloverway gave Optimum almost complete creative freedom as long as 77 episodes were recorded in four months. This resulted in many voice actors not returning (including Terri Hawkes, who went on maternity leave) and replaced with poor substitutes. Production was so rushed, that as many as 11 episodes were recorded in each 4-hour session with the voice actors recording each line only twice, with the better take used. In addition, the new voice director, Nicole Thuault, could not speak English (only French) and was a Prima Donna Director to boot, and relied on an interpreter to communicate with the actors. The writers at Optimum all worked independently without any kind of "bible" on what the attack names, transformation phrases, etc. were supposed to be, resulting in them changing many times throughout these episodes. Fans could usually tell which writer wrote which episode based on the terminology used.
    • All of this contributed to an extremely messy dub that's very polarizing to this day. The dub didn't even cover the final season due to the franchise's legendary legal issues. It's now being replaced with a newer faithful dub from Viz Media and Studiopolis.
    • Even the Viz dub couldn't quite escape this. Around the S season, the dub was noticeably taking much longer to come out, with very long gaps in between volumes. According to Robbie Daymond (the voice of Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask), the dub was put on hold at one point for a long time due to a pay dispute with the cast.
  • Samurai Flamenco: Though, there are bunch of magazine scans and news updates to promote the show after it was announced; the animated trailer only appeared in 3 days before it aired on its premiere date. A week before that, there was a pre-screening event of episode 1 except that it got incomplete parts which explains the lack of the animated trailer. When the show actually aired which is a two-cour show, there was an uneven quality on the animation. Then, the first version of the second opening became more of a slideshow which is a recap of first half. The actual second opening came in around episode 16 which was still just a slideshow of sorts, in the style of the home release covers. The show was sold poorly in Japan which is the first domino in a series of dominoes that would eventually lead to the shut down of Manglobe, less than two years after the series aired.
  • A Silent Voice deals heavily with ableism in Japan. There were legal disputes over publishing and there was difficulty getting someone to publish it period. The original one-shot was created all the way in 2008 but the most common version is from 2011. It took another two years for it to become a proper series.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross had shades of this trope. Originally envisioned for 48 episodes when the show was first greenlit, one of the financial backers went out of business, forcing a cut to 23 episodes when a new backer was found but did not have the money to fund the original 48. But the show was a hit upon premiere. And so, to bump the episode count up, they brought in legendary production company Tatsunoko Production. They foisted upon Studio Nue a host of questionable farm studios who brought in Off-Model work, and even at one point managed to get a nearly-completed episode left on a train, nearly forcing a complete redo of the entire episode. And then, the fact that Macross was a hit and the interesting financial situation between Big West and Tatsunoko caused the production to be troubled long after the last episode went off the air. Even the title was due to Executive Meddling, as one of the producers, an admirer of Shakespeare, wanted the show to be called Macbeth, and had to be negotiated down to Macross as a compromise.
  • American fans were thrilled when FUNimation got a hold of the 3rd Tenchi Muyo! OVA series. However, Funimation screwed up the contract and only got the rights for the first three episodes. It took a year to renegotiate for the other four episodes and get them out, barely averting a case of The Other Darrin when voice actor Bob Papenbrook passed away soon after the release of the series.
    • This trope already occurred when they got back the entire voice cast... except Ryoko, arguably the most popular character in the show. While the details of what happened are kept private, her original voice actress, Petrea Burchard, simply said "we just couldn't work it out." This change remains one of the more controversial aspects of the OVA.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne television series went through several years of Development Hell, in which time the attendant manga series based on pre-production materials was being published, and by the time the series itself made it to air they had to abruptly cut down the plot from their planned 39 episodes to 26, resulting in a very rushed ending that lacked much closure and left several plot threads hanging.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's had this creep up in the post Dark Signer seasons. Among the issues that came up included extensive Executive Meddling from Konami to promote certain cards, staff being taken off to work on the 10th anniversary movie resulting in a lot of filler to wait for them to be back for the big plot episodes, and real life issues that ranged from the major female character's actress having to take time off to be married thus demoting her to extra, to another female character's voice actor being fired after, of all things, being linked to a cult that forced the series to also remove any and all supernatural elements from the series. The later series in the franchise Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V had some of the same issues with a V.A. causing a major character to appear sporadically and movies taking talent away throwing off schedules, though so far no cult problems.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TroubledProduction/AnimeAndManga