As always, presented without comment.
On Friday, Chinese/Japanese firm Emon Animation Company announced that they transferred their majority stake in anime studio Artland to another organization. The entirety of Emon’s 51% stake was shifted to Tokyo-based LEVELS on July 12, though Artland President Kuniharu Okano retained his 49% stake.
Emon issued a press release regarding the news, in which they noted that they retain their long-term goal of building the Chinese animation industry based on a respect for the Japanese industry and its methods. The company noted that their 2015 investment in Artland was meant to be a bridge toward that goal. With that in mind, though, Emon’s release reports that over a year after investing in Artland, numerous unforeseen challenges that could arise from restructuring a Japanese animation studio became clear. And, after discussions between Emon and Artland President Kuniharu Okano, Emon made the decision to transfer its stake as a means of helping Artland’s future prospects, and allowing the studio to regain brand value.
Last month, corporate credit research company Teikoku Databank had ceased operations on June 30, and brought on a lawyer to handle post-operation affairs. The agency listed Artland’s debt at 298 million yen ($2,724,110.66 USD) as of the end of December 2016. They also reported that, Artland’s annual income (as of 2013) was roughly 260 million yen ($2,376,614.84 USD). By December 2016, though, revenues had fallen sharply, and the studio recorded just 21 million yen ($191,971.92 USD) in earnings. The company noted that, though Artland’s output continued to remain popular, outsourcing costs made up nearly 90% of production costs, and debt continued to accumulate.
News Source TSR, though, noted that while Artland was insolvent, they hadn’t yet declared bankruptcy. The studio was looking for ways to settle its debts without filing bankruptcy, though the feasibility of such an operation was unknown.
Artland was founded in 1978 by late anime director Noboru Ishiguro (Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars, Megazone 23). The series quickly earned a name for itself as it co-produced genre-defining hits like The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Megazone 23, and The Legend of the Galactic Heroes. More recently, Artland produced anime adaptations of Mushi-shi (2005), Senran Kagura (2013), and Seven Mortal Sins (2017, not the good one – that’s Seven Deadly Sins by A-1 Pictures).
Artland was purchased in 2006 by Marvelous, who made the studio into a fully owned subsidiary. In 2010, Marvelous split Artland into two arms: a rights-holding company and the actual anime studio. In 2016, Emon Animation Company announced that they would invest in Artland, in hopes that they could strengthen their animation production capacity. Emon purchased a majority stake in Artland (51%), and planned to restructure the organization.
Emon Animation is the Japanese subsidiary of Shanghai-based Haoliners.