• Srilalitha

The Best Animation Studio that Vanished

Updated: May 13



The world of anime in and of itself can be weird. The stories can range from fighting shonen that follows aliens knuckling up and testing their strength against one another or focus on a mundane set of high schoolers falling in love and attempting to find their place in the world. Sometimes, however, reality can be stranger than fiction as an anime studio apparently had disappeared into thin air. Though Tear Studio has re-emerged in recent days, the story of the disappearing animation studio had many fans, and former employees, scratching their heads.


Tear Studio Co., Ltd was a Japanese animation studio founded on March 15, 2013. The studio filled for bankruptcy in December 2019 with about 43 million yen in debt, including about 8 million yen to around 50 animators.




Tear Studio was established in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan by Jun Katō. On March 15, 2013, Teartribe was founded as Tear Studio's overseas production department, aiming to work in partnership with Chinese studios experienced in the animation industry to achieve stable economic and production quality.




Founded in 2013 by Jun Kato, the company is reportedly in debt to the tune of $392,000, while owing 50 animators $73,000 in back pay. One of those animators, Gen Sato, recently took to Twitter to complain that he could not contact the company, leading other individuals and companies to try – and fail – to extract an explanation from the company’s representatives.


The studio has deleted its Twitter account and scrubbed contact information from its website.


An entire Tokyo anime company has apparently disappeared, leaving artists unpaid for their work.




In April of year 2019 Tear Studio launched teartribe, an overseas production division that aimed to make anime with Chinese partners.


Sato revealed that he’s yet to get paid for some of this recent work, and what’s worse, the company that stiffed him seems to have disappeared entirely.


Sato says: “I have thought that a company producing theartical anime would not only not pay the workers, but also erase all trace of itself from Twitter and disappear.”




Even anime industry insiders say they’re unable to contact execs from vanished anime studio.


In the anime industry, the hours are long and the pay is low. But you know what’s worse than low pay? No pay, which is the situation a number of people who were contracted by Tokyo-based anime studio Tear Studio are looking at.




OK, so the website is no longer fielding inquiries from fans and other general net surfers. But surely those in the industry, such as the companies that had to work with Tear on its most recent projects, have some business-to-business channels that are allowing them to communicate with the studio, right?


Wrong. One of the things that makes Tear’s sudden disappearance so baffling is that its’ happened less than three weeks since the release of Fragtime, an OVA that’s still currently in select theaters as part of its limited theatrical run.


Trailer for Fragtime



In other words, even industry insiders have no idea where Tear’s employees, and most importantly its executives, are. Considering that members of the committee would have to know the address of Tear’s studio, which is located in Tokyo and is a matter of public record, as well as its business-to-business phone and email contacts, it’s hard to see this as anything other than Tear’s executives purposely dodging any attempts to find out where they are.




Things have been bizarre for Tear Studio, which is behind the anime Fragtime and Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!?. First, the studio disappeared completely from the internet, with 404 errors popping up when fans try to access their official website and Twitter account. Then, employees, many of whom haven’t received their wages yet, reported that they cannot contact the studio. But now, the credit research company, Tokyo Shoko Research (TSR), has reported that Tear Studio’s parent company, Next-Batter’s Circle, has started legal proceedings for bankruptcy filings.




However, Tear Studio has now suddenly resurfaced, though sadly only to announce the company’s demise. Meanwhile, roughly 50 workers, including animators, remain unpaid for their work, and depending on how the bankruptcy proceedings go, could possibly never receive compensation.

Srilalitha

cc@p66.me

www.p66.me

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