Bleach: TYBW directors slammed for saying AI will “replace lazy animators”

Savannah Howard
Still from Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War directors have sparked controversy across the anime community over AI and animator rights.

Following the uproar which surrounded MAPPA and Jujutsu Kaisen, you’d think that the anime industry higher-ups would think carefully about how they treat their animators and what they say to the media. However, based on the latest controversy, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Anime’s popularity has shot through the roof in recent years. But as demand for new series grows, the quality of life for animators and manga creators has never been lower – with a recent example seeing One Piece’s Eiichiro Oda’s health suffering due to stress from trying to keep up with the manga’s schedule.

Adding AI to the mix would always be a cause for concern for creators. But now things have gone from bad to worse. Let’s take a look.

Anime directors slammed for troubling comments

A recent interview with Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War directors Tomohisa Taguchi and Keiichi Hara have sparked controversy among anime fans.

In an interview held at a panel at the Annecy Film Festival, Bleach’s Taguchi said that he thinks “We’ll use AI more and more” in animation production. Adding that “this is just the beginning, and if these technologies improve enough, they could be able to resolve the problem with animators Mr. Hara was referring to.”

So, what are these problems? Hara followed Taguchi’s comments to say that “AI could solve the problem of lazy animators by doing their work in their place.” And he continued with, “AI doesn’t complain, doesn’t get tired and doesn’t sleep…”

With the MAPPA controversy fresh in everyone’s minds, these comments couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Hara, while discussing his latest film, criticized animators for receiving payment without completing work, thereby increasing the production budget because of what he referred to as laziness and incompetence. He labelled them as “leeches” and “scum.”

Fan reactions to the director’s comments

Constant controversy engulfs the anime industry. And these comments have only added fuel to the fire.

It goes without saying that AI in the workforce sparks controversy, with creative industries most likely to undergo significant change. Therefore, the comments from the directors of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War have sparked uproar from fans.

One fan understandably posted on Reddit that the comments were “Actually horrifying for the future of the anime [industry]” While another suggested that instead of calling the animators “incompetent”, they could instead give them reasonable deadlines, good direction and better leadership to help them meet expectations.
byu/ElduRSverO from discussion

Both directors are highly regarded and have extensive careers in the anime industry. And, if you look closely at their comments, their frustrations might not entirely be unfounded. Although, they are out of order. Especially in the case of animators taking advantage of being paid upfront for incomplete work.

However, with the MAPPA controversy shining a spotlight on the terrible working conditions for most creators in the anime industry – including mental health concerns, delayed payment scandals and unforgiving expectations. And the Hollywood Writers Strike demonstrating the dangers of AI in an industry where most behind-the-scenes workers are underpaid and undervalued, it’s no wonder that fans are up in arms.

What do you think about the current controversy? Are you siding with the directors? Or do you think that this could be the turning point for the anime industry? Regardless of your opinion, many fans may find that watching their favorite shows will never be the same.

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About The Author

Savannah Howard is an Anime Writer at Dexerto. She loves dystopian thrillers, sci-fi and action series. You can email her here: