Authors: Tim Craig, Mike Adams, Joe Kesslering, Niko Iftner
Published August 2017.
Length: 26 pages (plus exhibits)

In January 2017, Little Witch Academia, an anime series created by Studio Trigger, made its debut on Japanese television. Trigger, an up-and-coming anime studio founded in 2011 by three ex-employees of the major Japanese anime studio Gainax, had a lot riding on Little Witch Academia: it was an original work in an industry where most anime were based on already-successful manga, novels, or video games; it was Trigger’s first anime that targeted kids as well as adults; and its production had been financed using innovative means that increased both the risks and the potential rewards for the studio.

The first half of this case covers the history of anime and provides an overview of Japan’s anime industry, including industry structure, the anime production process, anime financing and the “production committee,” and industry working conditions. The second half focuses on Studio Trigger, including the studio’s origins, philosophy, works, and the “Trigger aesthetic.” The path that Little Witch Academia has followed from a short in 2013 to a full-length TV series four years later is traced, including the roles played by non-traditional funding methods and interaction with Western anime fans.

Topics: Anime and the anime industry, Project financing and production committees, Creators and motivation