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Animation industry in the UK and Japan Symposium

Date: 2009 October 23 15:05

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Academic anime fans will want to get London on Friday 30th October 2009 for the Animation industry in the UK and Japan: Creativity, identity and the global marketplace. It's going to run in Council Room, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

It's free to attend but booking in advance is required. We suggest you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

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Details as follows:

Animation industry in the UK and Japan: Creativity, identity and the global marketplace

Date: 30 October 2009 (Friday, 1-6pm)
Venue: Council Room, Strand Campus, King’s College London

This symposium intends to discuss the dynamics of the animation industry in both global and national contexts, focusing on its experiences in the UK and Japan. The main questions for the papers and panel discussion will be as follows: why and how the UK and Japan have developed different types of animation industry; how the development of the animation industry is mediated by various institutional environments such as broadcasters’ programming policies as well as national cultural policy; whether globally financed, produced and distributed animations have a national cultural identity; and how the advanced digital technology and the ubiquity of the Internet are changing the landscape of animation consumption on the global scale. The animation industry is an essential part of the creative industries but there has been a lack of attention to it in existing studies of the creative industries. The symposium is expected to enhance our understanding of this dynamic industry by providing up-to-date and thought-provoking empirical findings and experiences. There will be an animation display within the venue. The symposium is open to all.

1.00-1.10 Introduction

1.10-1.40 (including discussion for 10 minutes)
British Animation and the Channel 4 Effect
Clare Kitson, former Head of Animation, Channel 4
In much of the world there is concern that funding and effort is being expended on technology and industrial output, at the expense of creative innovation and development in animation. In the UK, funding for innovative animation has always been very limited and only forthcoming at certain periods. In the 80s and early 90s some funding of this kind came from TV, especially Channel 4. What was the nature of C4’s stimulus to UK animation at that time? What was the ethos behind it? What were the mechanisms whereby that stimulus was achieved? For a while C4 was able both to fulfil its remit to innovate and also to satisfy its commercial imperatives, thanks to a favourable context for commercial TV. Now the broadcasting environment has changed beyond recognition, making it far harder for commercial channels to commission riskier work – and the solutions some networks appear to be adopting seem self-defeating. Maybe the future of British animation lies outside television for the foreseeable future. Or perhaps we have grounds to hope that the BBC will provide a new seedbed for this art.

Making Children’s Animation in the UK
Phil Davies, Producer, The Elf Factory Studio
This presentation will talk about the Elf Factory Studio’s experience of making children’s animation in the UK. Its main focus is placed on developing, funding and producing the children's television series Peppa Pig. The Elf Factory Studio’s original pitch of Peppa Pig and some clips from the current series will be shown. This will be followed by examples that show how the property has developed commercially into a multi-million pound brand (this year the licensing of Peppa Pig is expected to gross £85 million of sales in the UK). The experience of the series will be also reflected in the current environment of animation financing in the UK.

Boom or Bust?: British Animation in the Looking Glass
Professor Paul Wells, School of Arts and Design, Loughborough University
This address will provide an overview on some possible perspectives by which British animation in the contemporary era might be defined and understood. This will include an evaluation of current debates in British universities in relation to animation course delivery and quality; a review of British Animation Festivals; the role, function and output of the independent sector in commercial and artistic contexts; the role of archives; and the impact of British animation globally. At one level, there is the sense of boom, buoyancy and optimism; at another, the sense of doom, gloom and backward glances to supposedly more halcyon days. This is inevitably related to matters of perception – is British animation defined by Wallace and Gromit, or Bob Godfrey, for example – or more pertinently, by matters of the history, politics and economy? This illustrated discussion will seek to evaluate these issues, and offer some possible conclusions for future debate.

2.40-3.10 Coffee Break & Animation Viewing (Darker than Black, episode one, directed by Tensai Okamura & produced by Bones Studio)

The Horror!: Anime Explorations of the Transnational Horror Genre
Dr Rayna Denison, Lecturer, Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia
Considerations of genre in film and television have long been implicitly interested in the cultural contexts of genre, but the implicit nature of these examinations, and their medium-specific findings have worked to mask the ways in which genres flows across global borders. This talk will deal with one such set of cultural mixing and genre mixing: anime horror. Borrowing from a variety of sources for horror, anime, itself a medium rather than a single genre of film and television, provides a verdant set of texts through which the (trans)national nature of the horror genre can be readily foregrounded, and questioned. The paper will range across contemporary anime’s horror films and television programmes in order to showcase both the difficulty of pinning down the horror genre to one nation of origin; but also, in order to highlight the tensions apparent between deployments of traditional Japanese horror iconography and the uses of the genre’s Western (and Eastern) counterparts. Given that this paper charts the creation of horror anime after the recent J horror film and DVD boom, it works to question the status of home-grown and transnational horror both within and outside the Japanese market.

Fan communities and the Consumption of Anime in the UK
Hugh K. David, UK Media Consultant, Palisades Tartan
Fan communities are both the boon and curse of the modern home entertainment business. UK fan communities organised themselves and their access to anime ahead of the industry – which they can do, since they act without regard for law or IP costs. The level of fan organisation enabled clear marketing and enabled the UK anime sector to expand. However, the fan communities did not prove to be enough to sustain a commercially viable anime sector of even remotely comparable breadth and depth to other European territories. This presentation will discuss the now and then of anime fandom and business in the UK by looking at fan organisations with specific reference to anime conventions, student organisations and internet communities. In addition, it will discuss methods of consumption, from VHS and laserdisc to DVD, to the internet, fansubbing, torrenting, direct downloading and now streaming sites. This will be followed by the question of the way those methods have interacted with the development of legal methods of distribution and how they have affected potential revenue in the UK. Finally, the presentation will comment on their consequences from the point of view of the Japanese industry and how they have been manifest in the last three years.

Anime Fansubbing: Global Consumption of Japanese Animation in the Digital Age
Dr Hye-Kyung Lee, Lecturer, CMCI King's College London
The advancement of digital technology and the ubiquitous Internet has brought out new dynamics between the cultural industries and their consumers: fans and consumers have emerged as powerful players as creative producers of their own works, and modifiers and voluntary distributors of their favourite products. This presentation addresses the changing relationship between the industry and its consumers with reference to fansubbing, i.e. translation and distribution of anime (Japanese animation) by fans. The rise of digital fansubbing as anime fandom and the rapid expansion of the number of fansub viewers have diluted existing fansubbing ethics (for example, the norm of ‘stop fansubbing once the anime has been licensed’ or ‘don’t rip off DVDs’), resulting in the widely-held view that sees fansubs as a replacement for or alternative to licensed anime. Fansubbing appears to continue and prosper unless the time and geographical gaps between anime broadcast in Japan and overseas release disappear. Witnessing consumers’ voluntary, non-market distribution which is more efficient and speedy than the industry and which can easily facilitate the global flow of anime, the industry (and fans too) are debating new business models. It seems that the debates should take into account various factors including the public good nature of TV anime, physicality of anime products, and anime fan culture both domestic and overseas.

4.40-5.10 Panel Discussion (Chaired by Andrew Osmond, animation writer and author of BFI Film Classics: Spirited Away)

5.10-6.00 Reception

Booking Details
This symposium is open to all. However, we would be grateful if you could confirm your attendance by email to as the seats are limited. For a map of Strand Campus please see For further information please contact Dr Hye-Kyung Lee ( The symposium is organised by the King’s College London Centre for Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Research (CMCI) and is supported by the Japan Foundation.

Source: King\'s College London
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