Philippines and Japanese animation

Starting today, I will post some anime/Japan-related videos from time to time. Posts containing videos will be tagged “video”. This is inspired by arriacross’s Fujinsei blog. If there aren’t subtitles, I’ll try my best to translate them (the important parts) for you, although my Japanese is far from accurate yet and I am still studying the language. If you find any mistakes, please feel free to inform me right away by dropping a comment or two.

This was really fun to watch and I learned through this small portion of the episode. I hope it helps you in knowing more about animation, too. 🙂 Anyway, have fun watching and reading!

There was this episode in 潜入!リアルスコープ。 (Sennyuu! Riaru Sukoopu. / Infiltration! REAL SCOPE.), a Japanese TV variety show hosted by various personalities where they kind of learn about the different places around the world through investigations made with Video Tape Recordings/VTRs (even though it’s all digital) (reference). This episode was the first in 2011. It was a New Year’s episode. What caught my attention was they featured TOEI Animations Phils., INC. I knew beforehand that it was responsible for some percentage of the workload for some anime, but this is the first time that I actually caught nice glimpse of how they work. Then, looking at the list of anime the professionals at TOEI Phils have contributed to, I can’t help but feel happy that Philippines and Japan friendship remains strong through the years. Though it made me sad that the first reason Philippines was chosen for outsourcing was because Philippines was among the countries with the lowest cost of production.

There are 3 video parts, which are just a part of the hour-long actual episode. Have fun watching~

The show opens stating that the production location of the popular anime One Piece is actually the Philippines. It was the first time for Japan television to get a sneak peek of the company. When the VTR rolls, you can see the surprised reactions of the celebrities (which is prevalent in Japan TV shows, by the way) when they heard that One Piece is also being made in the Philippines. The female host begins asking the others “Were you aware that everybody’s favorite, One Piece, wouldn’t be made without the cooperation of Philippines?”, to which they respond that they weren’t. The VTR resumes playing and it provides some background information about One Piece: the adventure of Luffy’s Mugiwara Pirates, the whopping manga sales, and anime broadcast in 30+ countries. 

What they don’t know is that about half of One Piece is drawn in the Philippines. TOEI Phils is located in metropolitan Manila, where Japanese convenience store branches, Ministop, are also located. The popular soft ice cream is sold at P15 or 30 Yen, to which they exclaim “how affordable~!” In the Philippines, 230+ anime (by that time) were broadcast on national TV and many people would watch them at home everyday.

The first infiltration real scope is the cosplay event, where they first spotted a hand-made Gundam UC costume being showcased by a cosplayer. Other cosplays shown were Naruto, Yatterman, Haruhi Suzumiya no Yuuutsu, Kamen Rider G, Kamen Rider Decade, Transformer, Death Note, Sukeban Deka (yoyo girl), Dragon Ball Z, and K-ON!. With 2000+ people in attendance, it was dubbed as Japan Fever.

At Fully Booked (a famous bookshop), the manga section is filled with.. well, manga. The volumes were translated in English and imported from America. In the shop, Naruto was the best-seller manga. An interviewee, who claims that his life-changing book was Dragon Ball, comments on how manga sell very well and how many titles are sold out. And the video ends with the question “How is One Piece being made in the Philippines?” and the mission of uncovering the truth in the production site of One Piece in the Philippines.

The video starts at the appearance of the location of TOEI Phils, in a big building with 31 storeys and about 120 m height. The first two levels of the building are a shopping mall. TOEI Phils office is in the 9th level. Many anime posters were aligned outside and inside the entrance. Spotted inside are the animators who were in the middle of work. About 160 employees (99% Filipinos; only 2 were Japanese) were hired. Luffy was being drawn by an animator when the camera closes in to check the state of the work. Next was Hancock drawn by another staff. Seeing the two characters, the glasses guy #1 wonders if Luffy and Hancock were gonna get together, and the glasses guy #2 rejects the idea.

For the original drawings, 2B pencils are used by the animators. This is a critical part of the progress, so it is only left to the veteran staff. Francis (43) shares his story that when he entered, he underwent a training where he drew and drew and became better at this skill. He is really happy to be placed in a job as he loves anime. Paul (41) exclaims “anime daisuKE instead of anime daisuki, and glasses guy #1 remarks “Matsuzaka”? (note: Matsuzaka Daisuke is a famous Japanese Major Leaguer; his special pitch is called the Gyroball.)

Beside the original drawings is the storyboard, which is produced by the director at the Japan office. So how do the storyboards converted into original drawings? Just how does the Japanese staff tell the Filipino animators about the process? The answer is: through live TV/video meetings that occur at one-hour local time difference. Three reps from the Phils office are present in the meeting: an interpreter, original drawings in-charge, and the company president. The hosts poke fun at the expressionless face of the director while waiting for the interpreter to finish relaying the instructions to the in-charge.

The third part starts choppy. So let’s just skip to the question “Why is the center of anime production Philippines?”, to which the Phil office president answers. “Frankly speaking, it was because we [Japan] didn’t have enough people to do it. Then, we chose to partner with S. Korea in the 1980s and worked with them. But after that, inflation went high in S. Korea, which effectively made costs higher than in Japan.”

After that, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Philippines showed up in their radar, but Philippines was the best choice in terms of cost and skills. Most of the current work is done digitally in the Phils office. In fact, the number of Phils staff is greater than the Japanese staff. Most of the animation, coloring/painting, and background detail works are produced in the Philippines. “I thought we are only indebted to their bananas”, says glasses guy #2.

Numerous animation schools/academies have risen in the Philippines. “My dream is to go to Japan and make animations!” (Abbie, 18). Majority of them aspire to get involved with the production of One Piece.

The last part for this feature was the showcase of both Japanese and Tagalog dubbed One Piece characters. “Please, don’t wreck Luffy!” -Glasses guy#1. The Japanese voice for Luffy is provided by Tanaka Mayumi-san, so who is the one for the Tagalog voice? For the three characters, Luffy-Nami-Zoro, Japanese dub is presented first and followed by Tagalog. The hosts found Luffy and Nami Tagalog dub good, leaving out Zoro as the slightly strange voice.

The portion ended with the gratitude of the Japanese show staff upon knowing the deep love and effort by Filipino animators.

So, how did you find the portion? Did you learn something new? Stay tuned for the next video-assisted lessons in the future~ Thanks for staying and reading!

Disclaimer: videos aren’t mine

27 responses to “Philippines and Japanese animation

    • Please note that not everything of ONE PIECE (and other TOEI anime) is animated by Filipino staff. Every episode is typically KA’d (key animated) by several animators. For ONE PIECE episodes, most of these key animators are Japanese and Filipino key animators are occasional exceptions. What most Filipino animators do, however, is in-between animation.

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  6. I love this episode. I was actually planning to write about this for a long time. Well done! I’ll do a post about this in the near future. And thanks for the shout-out. Keep on blogging!

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