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Studio Orange Founder Reflects On Rise Of CG Animation In Anime & Initial Skepticism Of Establishing CG Specialized Studio

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In a recent interview with Comic Natalie, studio Orange founder Eiji Inomoto shared his initial doubts on the establishment of a CG specialized animation studio and the remarkable rise of CG animation within the anime industry.

Initially a freelance CG creator in the game industry, Inomoto transitioned to anime with ‘Zoids: Chaotic Century‘ in 1999. He handled all aspects of production for projects like ‘Geneshaft‘ and ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex‘.

His pivotal moment came when he was offered to manage CG for Shoji Kawamori’s ‘Aquarion‘, leading him to establish Orange.

Initial Skepticism:

Reflecting on the early days, Inomoto revealed that he was unsure if such a company could sustain itself as a viable business even with the increasing use of CG in anime.

At that time, the demand for CG in the anime industry was growing as a way to fill in the gaps that were difficult to handle with traditional animation. The situation was so unstable that I honestly wasn’t sure if a CG-only production company could continue to generate profits.

However, despite the skepticism, studio Orange flourished, significantly expanding its workforce.

According to Inomoto, at the time Orange was working on Land of the Lustrous, the studio had around 80 employees. By 2023, this number had grown to approximately 150, and in 2024, the staff increased by another 20.

Today studio Orange is renowned for its successful CG works, marking a significant shift in the industry.

Rise Of CG Animation:

Inomoto also reflected on the initial challenges of using CG animation in anime. According to him, fans were critical of the technique, questioning why CG was necessary when robots could be traditionally animated.

He acknowledged that the studio felt pressure to avoid such criticism and primarily used traditional methods.

However, Inomoto explained that projects like Zoids, with its intricate mechanical designs, and Aquarion, featuring complex special moves envisioned by mecha designer Shoji Kawamori, pushed the boundaries of traditional animation.

These projects, Inomoto noted, ultimately convinced the studio of CG animation’s potential.

Two decades later, Inomoto is pleased to see CG works like The First Slam Dunk achieving massive success without facing criticism for their use of CG.

He attributed this to various factors like increased familiarity with CG among audiences and the continual improvement of creators’ skills.

A major turning point for Orange came in 2017 with the release of Land of the Lustrous anime, which was adapted into a full CG series and marked the studio’s first project as the main contractor.

The success of the anime significantly boosted Orange’s reputation, as well made CG much more accepted by anime fans.

As the main contractor, more people became aware of Orange. This project is still considered one of our flagship works”. From a creator’s perspective, it was a significant milestone in making CG more accepted by anime fans. Previously, we had positive feedback with robots, but ‘Land of the Lustrous’ showed that CG characters could be embraced. Since then, we’ve continually improved our quality and varied our expressions, all based on the foundation laid by ‘Land of the Lustrous.’

Orange’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of CG animation was exemplified in the 2023 anime series TRIGUN STAMPEDE.

Despite anticipating some resistance, the series garnered praise for its dynamic animation, even earning a nomination at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards 2024.

‘TRIGUN STAMPEDE’ aimed to push the limits of current CG capabilities and pose the question to viewers, ‘How about this?’ While we anticipated some negative feedback about the dynamic movement, the series concluded with surprisingly positive reactions. It was a great success for us.

We always thought ‘TRIGUN STAMPEDE’ would be better received overseas, and that turned out to be true. Our next goal at Orange is to achieve a major hit with a full CG production and further expand the acceptance of CG works.

In addition to reflecting on past achievements and discussing the evolution of CG animation in anime, Inomoto also offered insights into the studio’s future projects.

‘BEASTARS’ will reach its final season, so please look forward to that,” he announced, adding, “Our next project, which is yet to be announced, will have a more realistic approach, based on historical elements, marking a new challenge for us at Orange.

Source: Comic Natalie

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