Taiki Sakurai, Netflix’s Chief Anime Producer, said he’s “always believed the potential for animation is limitless; it’s a wondrous craft that breaks all boundaries of expression that is not always possible through the camera… However, in Japan, animators have become a scarce profession compared to its rapidly growing demand. We want to change that.”
So it is with that awareness that the world’s No. 1 streaming service is teaming up with Tokyo-based WIT Studios and animator Hitomi Tateno of the Sasayuri Video Training Institute to create the WIT Animator Academy.
WIT Studios is best known in the industry for its award-winning work on the first three seasons of one of the most influential Japanese TV anime series in the 2010s, Attack on Titan. And Tateno brings three decades of experience, having overseen the animation work for movies like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.
From April through September 2021, students of the rigorous “WIT Animator Cram School” will engage in “practical case studies from the basic skills developed by the Sasayuri Video Training Institute,” “learn the video technology cultivated in Studio Ghibli, etc., and will be accepted for commercial animation production at the time of graduation.” Upon successfully completing the program, students will then work on original Netflix anime projects as a contractor of WIT Studios or its parent company, IG.
To attend the academy, applicants must be of ages 18-25 and live in Japan. And while it is not expressly required to be completely fluent in Japanese, one must be at least conversational in order to participate in daily activities. Furthermore, there will only be ten winners of the scholarship. To alleviate work and study pressure, the program will provide students with 150,000 yen (a little over $1,400) in living expenses and cover their tuition costs, worth 600,000 yen.
Applications must be submitted before February 28 and, if your submission is approved, you can look forward to interviews and tests in Mid-March to assess your suitability.
However, there is one tough stipulation: if school attendance drops to where classes can’t continue, or you can no longer fulfill your contractual obligations past the first year after graduation, you may be asked to pay all the money back.