An incident that may have involved child labor or a bizarre hoax in the ongoing 2024 anime Isekai Onsen Paradise has attracted the attention of several major figures in the industry, including the animation director One Piece Mamoru Yokota and Dragon Ball film director Yoshihiro Ueda.
An animator on X (formerly Twiter) named @_kanamemadoka_ (hereinafter Kaname) sparked controversy after an incident at Isekai Onsen Paradise led to concerns about her age that. Her claims, currently unproven, are summarized below. Although she claims to be only 14 years old, Kaname still works for her uncle, who took a job from Wolfsbane – the studio that co-produced the Isekai Onsen Paradise anime. After submitting the work, Kaname realized that she would not be credited because a production staff member at the studio had already booked that particular cut. Therefore, another animator who drew the same scene will be credited instead. Kaname said that she was treated unfairly because she was new and received a warning from the production staff via DM after calling them multiple times on X.
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While the staff apologized for double booking, they said that if Kaname brought the studio or anime into disrepute, she may have difficulty with that job in the future. However, Kaname posted a letter from Wolfsbane CEO Kohei Motokawa, apologizing for the ordeal. That same day, Kaname’s age was revealed and she was informed that she would no longer be allowed to continue making anime. Kaname’s submitted cut, excerpts of conversations with production staff, an apology from Wolfsbane, and her admission that she was banned from working due to being underage, can all be viewed under. The controversy has attracted the attention of many commentators, who argue that the minimum age for this job is 15. Yokota and Ueda’s reactions are also below.
Ueda, director of Dragon Ball Z’s ninth film, Bojack Unbound, said he did not know if the rumors were true but condemned the possible behavior. He said: “Some people in the world misunderstand that being good at drawing is not enough, you must know the true nature of things and people. To do that, I think it is necessary to study life and experience. Besides studying painting.” Yokota, an outspoken One Piece animation director for Stampede, Film: Red and many episodes in the “Wano” arc, said he lost interest because it was too long to watch. However, he sympathizes with Kaname, saying, “Adults are horrible. I say that but one day we will all become them.”
Joining the high-profile characters from Dragon Ball and One Piece is Jujutsu Kaisen 0 animation director Terumi Nishii. Nishii has strongly condemned the practice of hiring animators through social media, saying it is the cause of the collapse of the animation industry, among other factors. While she believes it could be a hoax, she added if it’s true then it’s the kind of company that should be shut down. 16bit Sensation episode director Kentarou Mizuno said that it looks like a hoax but animators should think twice if they work for a company that lacks the staff to properly supervise this.
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While Kaname maintains her optimism and age through posts updating her followers about her school life, many are naturally skeptical. Her X account was created in 2011. Although her artwork is only from 2023 and she has confirmed that she shares the account with others, this is not necessarily consistent appropriate for a child’s behavior. Notably, she has a deep fandom as Kaname Madoka in the famous anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Madoka is similarly 14 years old, and Kaname has emphasized that the series and her deep respect for Madoka’s voice actress Aoi Yuuki inspired her to become an animator.
It remains to be seen what will happen with this. Kaname’s post from January 23 reiterated her status as a minor and claimed that an intermediary had verified her age. She promised to continue drawing until she could legally start working.
Source: X (formerly Twitter)