In shocking fahsion, the anime studio Manglobe has filed for bankruptcy this past week. This has to be a shock to those involved in the anime industry. Just this year, the studio brought the world Gangsta. which was heavily hyped going into this summer simulcast lineup (for Funimation). While the reviews weren’t what the production company would have wanted, the studio has done a decent job providing anime year after year for fans. So why did this happen and what could this mean for the industry as a whole? Should anime fans in the U.S. be concerned?
Manglobe Studios began back in 2002 and has quite the legacy when looking at series they have produced. The company animated the cult classic Samurai Champloo, as well as the well-known Hayate the Combat Butler series. Add in some Toonami favorites like Deadman Wonderland and Mitchiko and Hatchan, and you have an established company that produced a lot of good anime series (I was surprised to see other shows like Ergo Proxy and The World God Only Knows on the list as well). A lot of these series are not only popular in Japan, but have had great success overseas. So with all that has gone well for the company, it’s very puzzling hearing that Manglobe Studios has gone under. However when digging deep, we can see that the production company was having issues continuing to product hit shows.
(Translation: Breaking News: Said I’ve become unemployed)
The bankruptcy rumors started after the animator Toshio “SNIPES” Kobayash tweeted out about being unemployed, and not receiving any wages for his work. After seeing his tweets, this lead to a ton speculation that the company had some money issues, and could lead to it shutting down. Two days later, it was confirmed by Anime! Anime! Biz that the studio was indeed filing for bankruptcy. This is definitely sad news for anime fans because many fans loved the shows that were produced by Manglobe Studios. With these recent turn of events, some might wonder how this could affect the anime industry as a whole.
So should other studios worry about their finances after Manglobe’s situation? I wouldn’t put to much stock in that line of thinking about other companies could be in trouble. Right now, there could be an over saturation of production companies domestically (in Japan), but I’m not so sure. There are always a limited amount of resources no matter what field you get into (news media, Hollywood, etc.). Plus when it comes to animation studios, there are a lot to choose from in Japan. If that was a huge issue, then there would be a lot more companies filing for bankruptcy as well. Manglobe Studios is an established company, but they aren’t quite like BONES, J.C. Staff, and A-1 Pictures.
Anime News Network even did a story about how successful anime production companies were in the past 10 years (based on disc sales). Manglobe Studios was ranked in the bottom 10 (4th worst), with a success rate of 14.3 percent during the span. The way that ANN came to that number was during this 10 year span, only two of Manglobe Studios’ series were able to sell more than 3000 discs. A show would then be called a success with those sales, and how ANN came to the number of 14.3 percent. This whole study was reviewed back when Director Hideaki Anno said in an interview that the anime market isn’t sustainable anymore. Even going as far as to say it would collapse five years from now. Again this goes into over saturation of companies, but I don’t think things are as dire as Anno believes.
What’s makes this situation Manglobe Studios is in awkward, is now the status of the Genocidal Organ film is unknown. It hasn’t been confirmed or denied if the film was finished and will be ready to premier when it was scheduled. Anime! Anime! Biz did state that show is still being promoted to open on Nov. 13, so for all intents and purposes, it’s on. Of course the project could be moved/bought to a different company, but there hasn’t been any word of that kind of move. If it was, it is possible that the film would be pushed back to have the product completed.
Just because Manglobe Studios went bankrupt, doesn’t mean that the company was handed a death sentence (and will be gone forever). Many American fans know the history of 4Kidz Entertainment’s bankruptcy issues, and how they ended up surviving. What worked in 4Kidz’s favor, was how TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Services breached their contract, according to the courts. Not to mention that 4Kidz Entertainment showed they were trying to send “good faith payment” to the companies that were suing them. Afterwords a judge released the company from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reviving 4Kidz Entertainment to what it is today. While they aren’t as influential as they once were, the company is still active. In fact they still produce an English dub for the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, which shows they are still interested in dubbing anime series. In fact, ADV Films went through a similar situation and has now turned into Sentai Filmworks, which is now a powerhouse with the genre. So there is hope for a recovery for the studio.
It also depends on which type of bankruptcy the studio will be filing and if it’s the same as it is in the U.S. There are typically two popular chapters when it comes to declaring in the U.S., which are Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 (Chapter 13 is also a popular choice but it’s like Chapter 7 in a sense). Chapter 7 can be used by individuals and corporations, and is considered the fastest method to get out of bankruptcy. It has some risks (such as you might not qualify due to income and such), but it generally looked at as the first option for individuals and companies. Chapter 13, which piggy-backs off of Chapter 7, is a longer method and requires whoever filed bankruptcy to have a repayment plan in a timeframe of 36-60 months. Then there is Chapter 11 that is usually what business’ usually file. It offers a lot of options for companies to find a way out of bankruptcy (i.e. 4Kidz Entertainment), but it isn’t the quickest method. If you have any other inquiries about bankruptcy laws, you can find a quick overview of bankruptcy laws, click here.
However, those are U.S. bankruptcy laws, which isn’t necessarily what Manglobe Studios can file under since they are in Japan. So what is available for the company? When looking up the laws companies in Japan would have to deal with, I stumbled upon a reddit conversations that breaks it all down about how the two countries are different when filing for bankruptcy. One of the main differences seems to be that it takes longer to get out of bankruptcy in Japan. But on a positive side it looks like personnel that “caused” profits to fall can be reassigned or let go. Now some similarities with Japan’s laws and U.S. laws’ is there are two that are popular to choose from (which are Corporation Reorganization Law or under the Civil Rehabilitation Law). In fact The Civil Rehabilitation Law just like Chapter 11 due to it allowing companies to have a repayment plan (possibly saving assets as well). So while it might take years to come out of bankruptcy, Manglobe has options to recover it’s losses and assets (depending on what they file with).
I don’t feel that the anime industry is in a lot of trouble with Manglobe’s recent troubles. This company has had a hard time with discs sales, and haven’t had the kind of success as other companies have had in the past few years. Maybe Manglobe Studios put all of their eggs in the Gangsta. basket, which didn’t end as well as they would have wanted. This could mean that Gangsta. won’t be released overseas in a home video set which sucks for fans (good thing there was a broadcast dub done by Funimation for streaming). However, it shouldn’t be considered the end of anime as we know it just because one studio was having problems to sell their products. There are plenty of other companies that can pick up the slack in producing hit anime series. Manglobe Studios will be missed, and hopefully they can get out of this mess to continue to produce quality shows.
C.J Maffris is a contributor to Geek-E Inc. as well as an editorial writer for Toonami Faithful. He’s very sad that another anime studio has filed for bankruptcy. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris to console him about this sad news.