December 7, 2021

TMS Entertainment's 1st Female Producer Explains How the Anime Industry Can Improve For Women

  • October 16, 2021
  • 4 min read
TMS Entertainment's 1st Female Producer Explains How the Anime Industry Can Improve For Women

TMS Entertainment producer Minako Fujiyoshi spoke at an online panel on Thursday hosted by the Femme International Film Festival, which exists to highlight the work of women producers, writers, and directors from around the world. Fujiyoshi is TMS Entertainment‘s first female producer; in the panel, she spoke of the conditions for women in the animation business.

According to Fujiyoshi, the number of women working in the anime industry has increased considerably over the past 20 years since she began her career at TMS. “It is no longer an environment where it is tough, dirty, and you can’t go home.”

However, she did also point out that because the number of workers has increased, it has also gotten harder to be promoted. She said that, regardless of gender, it is important for people to develop individual strengths that will get them noticed. Although women tend to be quick to acclimatize to the role of production assistants due to the need for strong communication skills and empathy, it requires a tremendous amount of effort for them to advance in the workplace over a long period of time because of factors like marriage and childbirth.

Fujiyoshi said that she is currently still the only female producer at TMS, mentioning that even other outstanding women at the company would transfer to other departments instead of continuing on the track to become a producer.

“If there is a way to create an environment where it is possible to devote to work for long periods of time, I think the industry would improve overall.”

Fujiyoshi highlighted the common difficulties for women who struggle to re-enter the workplace after childbirth, saying that if a vacancy arises from their initial departure, it would be filled by a different person before they can come back. She said she hopes that it would be great for workplaces to create an environment where women can easily return to their original positions after childbirth. “If I had gotten married or had kids in my twenties or thirties, this interview right now about me as a producer would not even be a possibility.”

Fujiyoshi also commented on her work on the Megalobox anime, the project on which she made her debut as a producer. For Megalobox 2: Nomad, she mentioned that although it is common in the industry for the script meetings to involve large groups of people, the only people who were involved in those meetings for this anime were the director, the two screenwriters, and herself. Because of this arrangement, she was able to provide input on writing the female characters to the other members of the team, highlighting the individuality of Mara, Shirato, and Oicho.

“The director and screenwriters were all male, so they would try to depict women in a way men see as ideal, through character lines and actions. However, as a woman myself, I thought, ‘I don’t like this kind of woman,’ and had a lot of different opinions, so I recall expressing my opinions a lot when it came to female characters.”

She mentioned that the female characters that other women find appealing tend to be different from the characters that men find appealing. Although she stressed that it is not a matter about which is more “correct,” she did say that it is important to be able to discuss and understand each other’s feelings, ideas, and tastes when it comes to creating characters.

As for the core part of the story, which centers on Joe’s struggles to redeem himself for a grave mistake, Fujiyoshi also mentioned a surprising difference between her perspective and that of the male members of the team: The men wanted the other characters to forgive Joe at an earlier stage of the story, while she was firm in her belief that it was too early to forgive him. She highlighted Joe’s desire to seek validation through fighting in Megalobox tournaments, and mused that perhaps the male staff members were swayed by a sentimental desire to have that kind of reckless urge forgiven. She described herself as being “annoyingly strict” on this matter.

Finally, she expressed her desire to continue making anime like Megalobox with director Yo Moriyama, and hoped that fans can look forward to future projects.

The first 13-episode anime premiered on TBS in April 2018. The Megalobox 2: Nomad sequel anime premiered on April 4. For further discussion on Megalobox 2: Nomad, including from a gender perspective, read ANN’s interview with Yo Moriyama and screenwriters Katsuhiko Manabe and Kensaku Kojima.

Source: La Femme International Film Festival eventive stream

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