Takashi Watanabe, director of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, is concerned by the way he’s seeing anime studios handling COVID. He said he’s aware of an anime studio that has had to go into lockdown because of a COVID outbreak. Apparently there’s a gag order around talking about this, but it still came to his attention. He believes this information should all be brought out into the public and considers it “dangerous waters” to leave people in the dark when there’s an outbreak. He thinks he may have been exposed.
He knows that production assistants and production desk-level workers do not have power over companies’ decisions on this, and squarely asked about the anime companies, “Will they not understand unless animation workers start dying one after another? Or is it the workers’ responsibilities because they’re often freelancers? Is the company itself not responsible?”
A number of well-known Japanese voice actors have made it publicly known that they caught COVID recently. This includes Rina Hidaka, Shinichiro Miki, KENN, Kento Hama, Yuko Sanpei, Chiharu Sawashiro, and Hiroyuki Yoshino. Other well-known people to have caught it include mangaka Tomohiro Hashimoto, TV personality Makoto Nonomura, and multiple members of AKB48. This also comes after live-action actor and voice actor Sonny Chiba died at age 82 from complications arising from COVID.
An animator going by Nyonnyon also expressed concerns online. Nyonnyon claims to be aware of at least five anime studios that have gone into lockdown after people tested positive for COVID. Nyonnyon is not sure how many people at these companies were getting COVID, meaning they don’t know if it were one employee or a whole bunch.
Besides being the director of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Watanabe is also working as the assistant director of The Honor Student at Magic High School. These are being done at two different studios.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.