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Original Net Animation Attracts Fans (October 27, 2006)

A scene from Yawaraka sensha ((c) Rarecho/NetAnime)
Japan is currently witnessing a boom in short anime created by individuals on a computer and uploaded to the Internet. Demonstrating the popularity of some of these efforts, merchandise featuring characters from these anime have begun appearing. The Internet is providing opportunities for new anime artists to display their talents and achieve renown.

Birth of a Smash Hit
One anime that has become a runaway hit by word-of-mouth is Yawaraka sensha (Soft Tank), the creation of an artist who goes by the handle Rarecho. The protagonist of the story is a tank that takes pride in the "weakness of invincibility." The tank thinks of nothing but retreat and escape; it runs away after just being bitten by a mosquito, and it easily falls prey to tricks. Its conversations with real, older tanks are fun to read.

Anime creator Rarecho ((c) Rarecho/NetAnime)

The Internet firm Livedoor began asking people to post anime to its website "Livedoor Net Anime" in December 2005. When the first group of entries was made public, they were instant hits, and floods of offers to commercialize them followed. The site has so far hosted seven animated films at a time for free viewing, and it also sells such character-related merchandise as T-shirts, stuffed dolls, and straps for cell phones.

Few details are known about Rarecho, but rumor has it that this person became a Net anime creator after having worked as an assistant to a manga artist. Having previously released the anime Kuwagata Tsumami (Stag Beetle Tsumami), a story about a young girl born to a human and a stag beetle, Rarecho created Yawaraka sensha at the request of Livedoor. Rarecho also wrote the music and lyrics to the theme song and dubs the voices.

Technology Fuels Emergence of New Talent
Before Yawaraka sensha, another artist who made a major splash on the Internet was a creator who goes by the handle Frogman. Frogman does almost everything himself, including direction, writing, production, and voice acting, and his funny, surreal works soon became a topic of conversation in cyberspace. Some of his cartoons were broadcast on terrestrial TV this spring, and DVDs are also on sale.

The opening frame of Yawaraka sensha 5 ((c) Rarecho/NetAnime)

What Rarecho and the others use to create their anime is nothing more than a PC and Adobe Systems' FLASH software, which costs just a few hundred dollars. With this combination, it is easy to produce animated films with sound that take up a small amount of data and then to post them on the Net.

Previously, creating an animated film required a lot of man-hours and funds, so it was necessary for a creator to join a production company and work his or her way up the ladder. But now it has become possible for one person to cheaply and easily produce what he or she wants, and the loosening of these old restrictions has led to the emergence of new talent. What is not so easy, of course, is to come up with an original, enticing story that will entertain viewers.

In addition to the one operated by Livedoor, there are any number of websites where users can upload and release their own anime. Following on the heels of the success of Yawaraka sensha, more and more anime creators are making their Internet debuts in the hope of scoring a hit.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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