A Gender History of the Young Animator Training Project

On March 11, there will be a screening in Ikebukuro of the four newest short films produced by the Young Animator Training Project, now called “Anime Tamago.” The project is was launched in 2010 and funded with support from the Agency of Cultural Affairs, part of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Since 2011, four short films have been produced each year by various studios, the most prominent of which is Little Witch Academia, now a full-fledged TV series. Another short, Death Billiards, also got its concept taken into a full TV series, Death Parade. However, the primary purpose of the project is to train animators.

Since 2012, these trainees are granted the designation of “Young Animators.”  Typically, each project will have between 5-7 of these trainees. The projects also have “core” animators with more experience that also work on these projects¹. More recent productions have also added “instructors” as well. The 2011 productions didn’t distinguish between the trainees and the more experienced animators, but with some research, it was easy to tell.younganimators

In every single year, at least half of the young animators have been female, with the least in 2013 and the most in 2015.

For the most part, there wasn’t any particularly notable trend among the projects, studios, and the number of women on a project. The vast majority of projects had at least two female trainees, and as the chart above shows, most had much more. Two projects had all women as young animators. The first was Happy ComeCome in 2015. The project was produced by SynergySP, and is also notable as having the only woman to direct an anime throughout the short history of the project, Yumiko Suda, director of the Chibi Maruko-san series². The project also had women working as animation supervisors, but also significantly more core animators, the vast majority of them also women. It also had more producers than average, however all of them were men. Also possibly of note, the CEO of SynergySP is also a woman, Yuriko Nanano.

The other project was Studio 4C’s Utopa in 2016. They are the only animation studio to participate in the project for three years (2014, 2016, 2017) and of 19 young animators trained, 17 of them were women. Similar to SynergySP, Studio 4C is also run by a woman, one of its founders Eiko Tanaka.

Only one studio had no women as young animators, Trigger for 2013’s Little Witch Academia. However, Mai Yoneyama was a core animator on the project. And Naoko Tsutumi was the producer.

The rest of this post is dedicated to graphs on other roles in the productions.


Overall, the combination of instructors and core animators has hovered around 40 percent most years, with significant drop-off in 2017. The instructor role appears briefly in 2012 then returned in 2015. With women as the majority of animators getting trained, the numbers in 2017 are somewhat surprising.


There are only four projects are year, so it’s just as easy to have more women in the character designer role as is it to have none. Some projects had no designated character designer as well. The current year has three of the four projects with women designing the characters.


Typically, the character designer and animation director role overlap, but in this case it’s not particularly apparent.


Women were less represented in the production roles, with less than half the roles each year, and often far less.

  1. See SakugaBlog for clarification on the “Core” animators and “Instructors.”
  2. One other woman, Miyuki Ishida, served as enshutsu and storyboard artist under director Yohei Suzuki for JC Staff’s Aki no Kanade in 2015.

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