Research of Archiving Anime

Project Title

Research of Archiving Anime

Full-time researcher

ISHIDA Minori  Professor/Faculty of Economic Sciences


Launched in April 2016, the Archive Center for Anime Studies has undertaken the organization and analysis of two collections of “intermediate” anime materials involving the archiving and digitizing of scripts, storyboards, design sheets, key drawings, animation cels and other production materials. The first is the Watanabe Collection consisting of materials created from the 1970s to the 1990s whose management and preservation were entrusted to Niigata University by Mr. WATANABE Hideo, and the second is a collection of materials from the 1987 animation feature film Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, which was directed by YAMAGA Hiroyuki.

The center has gained wide recognition in the anime industry and academic organizations in Japan and other countries for making constructive use of such intermediate anime materials and their digital archives in areas such as research (holding and participating in symposiums, publishing papers and collections of essays), education (establishing and running practical courses), and contributing to society (holding and cooperating in exhibitions of intermediate materials of the Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise in Niigata, Hachioji, Singapore, and Sweden).

The Watanabe Collection – Various Stages and Aspects of Anime Production

The Archive Center for Anime Studies was originally established to manage and organize the Watanabe collection—the intermediate materials of anime works entrusted to Niigata University by anime director WATANABE Hideo, who currently teaches animation at universities. Mr. Watanabe was a key production crewmember in the production of many animations including Space Emperor God Sigma (1980), Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX (1982), Dream Soldier Wing­Man (1984), G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1984; a joint Japan-US project), They Were Eleven (1986), Fist of the North Star II (1987), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985), Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (1986), Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1991), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995).

Many of the intermediate materials collected by Mr. Watanabe as part of his research work as a director are from works which he himself was involved in from the 1970s to the 1990s, a key period that spans the so-called second and third anime boom periods in anime history. Thus, the Watanabe collection is an invaluable source in anime research in terms of the industry and aesthetics. Comprised of character design sheets, storyboards, key animation drawings, backgrounds, screenplays, scripts for voice recording sessions, and hand-written notes of production crewmembers, the collection offers insights into various stages and aspects of anime production. The collection also includes a considerable amount of materials outsourced from other countries.

Educational Activities of the Center

The intermediate materials stored at the center have been utilized in practical courses since 2016. Through analysis of the materials, students empirically confirm the processes leading to the creation of an anime work with a view to the students’ independent acquisition of knowledge about the production work site, history, stylistics, and aesthetics of anime as revealed by the various artefacts. Participating in scanning activities to convert documents into digital data, students have the opportunity to discover and pursue their own subjects of study. The courses also include special lectures by Mr. Watanabe.

One future challenge in utilizing the intermediate materials in an educational setting is determining how to have students build on and continue the results they achieve through the courses. One possible approach is to link the courses with other disciplines such as law and economics, and even engineering and chemistry. Given that there is a crossover between anime studies and various other fields, the role of archiving anime resources can be broadened and its importance enhanced through the development of a curriculum that is both practical and academic.

Project Members

Name Title/Department Area of Specialization
ISHIDA Minori Professor/Faculty of Economic Sciences, Niigata University Audiovisual Culture Studies
KIM Joon Yang Associate Professor/Faculty of Economic Sciences, Niigata University Representation Culture Studies
HARADA Kenichi Fellow/Faculty of Humanities, Niigata University Information Society
IMAI Hiroei Associate Professor/Headquarters for Management Strategy University Evaluation Center, Niigata University Information and Communication Network
MITSUMATA Tetsu Associate Professor/Faculty of Engineering, Niigata University Polymer and Composite Materials
WATANABE Hideo Lecturer/J. F. Oberlin University Directing Animation
SUGAWA Akiko Professor/Yokohama National University Popular Culture Studies
KAMIMURA Sachiko Professor and Dean/Faculty of Anime and Manga Arts, Kaishi Professional University Animation industry Studies
KIMURA Tomoya Associate Professor/Faculty of Anime and Manga Arts, Kaishi Professional University Anime and Cinema History
GAN Sheuo Hui Lecturer/LASALLE College of the Arts Animation Studies
Dario Lolli Assistant Professor/Durham University Media Studies
Jaqueline Berndt Professor/Stockholm University Manga and Media Studies