AI could soon replace humans in anime studios

Keisuke Iwata, president of Japanese TV network AT-X, recently discussed the likelihood of a transition to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in anime production. Speaking from decades of experience in the industry during a talk at Tokyo’s Digital Hollywood University, he went as far as to say, “It is fully conceivable that anime production processes may be completely replaced by AI”. Having worked as a producer on many renowned anime titles, including Pokémon, Prince of Tennis and Shaman King, Iwata went on to express his beliefs that AI could not only replace manual anime production, but also replicate the styles of famous anime creators.

Rembrandt’s art style was recreated last year, all using AI analysis of the artist’s 346 known works. The result of The Next Rembrandt AI project, a collaboration between companies such as Microsoft and Dutch bank ING, was a brand new work in the painter’s style (as shown below). It is therefore entirely possible for this process of deep learning, based on algorithms modelling abstract data, to be applied to any art style – for instance, Hideaki Anno’s. Analysis of Neon Genesis EvangelionShin Godzilla and other works would produce an “Anno-style” imitation. All the detail that is currently synonymous with hours of human effort would be perfectly recreated, and could be used to create all-new works in his style.

Image result for next rembrandt

Iwata even believes that AI will eventually be up to competing with humans in the arena of creativity. “AI is already starting to encroach on the area of creation,” he said. “It seems AI will be able to support things like character design, storyboards, art design, backgrounds, sound production, and colour setting. Unlike AI, humans have a ‘function that can forget’ and can continue to evolve with use of the brain. If [you] continue to discipline your brain, you should be able to demonstrate creativity [that won’t fall behind AI].”

Workers in the anime industry often suffer from low wages and poor working conditions, the level and length of hard work involved drastically opposed to artists’ pay per hour. A 2015 report published by the Japan Animation Creators Association stated that animators earned US$28,000 on average in Japan in 2013, entry-level animators earning as little as US$9,200 per year. With the industry already struggling to provide for such a vast number of human workers, AI replacement may well be seen as the most realistic solution. But in a world where the virtual is holding greater sway on our reality day to day, can this concept really be shocking any more?


About Elisabeth (1360 Articles)
Otaku blogger, mum and hyper-pixie of the cosmic realms. Might have made that last part up. Or did I?

7 Comments on AI could soon replace humans in anime studios

  1. Little by little, we are falling into the world of The Matrix

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an article of Miyazaki reacting to this. He basically said it was perverse and the whole reason he, himself loves animating was to evoke and play with human emotion. An AI can’t possibly do any of that. But evolution of tech is incredibly scary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elisabeth O'Neill // February 25, 2017 at 13:16 // Reply

      Yeah, I’ve read that as well, bless him 😆 You mean AI can’t display or evoke human emotion *yet* 😉 I’m sure eventually we’ll reach true thinking, feeling AI. It’s all a matter of time. As unnerving as it is, to me the thought of that is still really cool!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. And with things like these, everyone will soon be sitting at home, never interacting with anyone anymore. It is sad to thing that things such as creativity will soon become a thing of the past. And honestly it is even a bit scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, something like this is inevitable at some point. A human may very well come up with a character design, but an AI could be trained to replicate and animate the thousands of frames that the human would otherwise need to draw.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is just fascinating, tbh if this meant it’d alleviate animators burden, then go for it. It’d mean there was more space for ideas, for imaginations, instead of trying to make it look right.
    To me animating something, the hard process of it isn’t creativity, it’s just a means to get to it, to get to the creativity and to the final product. But that’s just my perspective on this.
    It’s like saying someone that uses a WYSIWYG engine or website is lesser for not knowing how to code to make it look like that. The code doesn’t matter, what matters is if it delivers on your vision and your intentions.
    Of course I don’t approve of a fully automated thing, I just mean to alleviate the burden. An AI would just spout off things already done, recycling in a sense, unlike a human.


  6. I agree with Cat, how would it innovate? It will have to be used for labor, which we already have automation happening. Just because something is painted, doesn’t mean its “creative”. Right?


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