Netflix recently put out an anime short from WIT Studio on its Japanese YouTube channel. The anime, titled “Inu to Shonen” (translated as “The Dog and the Boy”) has a very unique feature: the backgrounds are AI-generated, using concept art done by people and getting final touch-ups by people. The credits, which are in English, say the backgrounds were done by “AI (+Human).” Netflix said it chose to do this AI work because of “lack of manpower in the anime industry.”
The anime short is getting a lot of attention online, but it’s not because of the story about a robot dog and a human finding lasting love, or the fact an esteemed studio is behind it. It’s also not because of the talented people working on it. No, it’s mainly been a backlash against Netflix because of the talented people not working on it, or not working on it because they don’t get paid a livable wage, or not getting proper credit for the work they did.
Many people have pointed to Netflix’s line about a lack of manpower in the anime industry. It’s becoming increasingly well-known that people working in anime are typically not paid well and they might be forced to work long, unhealthy hours, to their own detriment. So the backlash is asking why Netflix is choosing to do AI when it could instead pay its animators better. Plus this AI move is creating a scenario with even fewer jobs for animators and replacing them with technology.
One Japanese freelance illustrator tweeted, “You want everything for free, but we need money to live. And a lot of work that can worsen our health.”
Here’s the full short:
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.