The Outsourcing Problem: ‘Dahlia in Bloom’ Animated in North Korea?

Outsourcing has become a major part of the anime industry, and while it might not look like a big problem, it certainly is. It so happens that one such outsourcing gig ended up in North Korea. 

The production company for ‘Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools’ has been in trouble due to North Korean involvement in the animation process.

The official website for the ‘Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start With Magical Tools anime’ announced that the staff would redo scenes suspected to be animated in North Korea.

1. The Outsourcing Problem: Animated in North Korea?

38 North filed reports in April, and an investigation was conducted for the staff producing the Dahlia in Bloom anime. The investigation found that some work was outsourced from the anime production studio Typhoon Graphics, a Japanese production company.

Typhoon Graphics again outsourced to another Chinese production company, which outsourced to another Chinese company. The investigators asked for a list of staff involved in each episode, but the company refused to comply. 

The investigators concluded a high probability of a North Korean production company being involved in the production process. The parent anime company decided to redo all the suspected scenes with Japanese animators before the show’s broadcast.

2. Production company unaware of the North Korean involvement?

The anime’s official website and Hokkaido-based anime studio Ekachi Epilka released a statement claiming that “neither the production committee nor the production studio was aware of the North Korean involvement.” They added that the staff were currently investigating the situation.

Later, on April 24, 2024, Ekachi Epilka posted a statement on its homepage, stating that its layout sheets were used without permission and that the studio has no connection to the drawings and art on the server. 

The company said it speculated that there was a leak from a subcontractor company. Ekachi claims never to have placed any orders to a North Korean company, and there is no evidence of such orders.

3. 38 North and Its Connection to the Report!

38 North is a website that provides an analysis of North Korea. According to their report, a North Korean Internet blog reporter, Nick Roy, found a cloud server with a North Korean IP address.

It was incorrectly configured, allowing even users without a password access. North Korean companies usually use these servers as their IT workers do not have access to the Internet.

Roy kept observing the files on the server throughout January and discovered that they included instructions for animation work and the results of that day’s animation work. 

Some files contained instructions in Chinese and translated into Korean, which suggested a third company was responsible for relaying information between the animators and production companies.

38 North noted that while it found no concrete evidence on the exact North Korean animation studio involved, it is likely to be SEK Studio.

4. Evidence Proves Ekachi Epilka’s Innocence 

38 North noted that there was no evidence to suggest that the official production company was involved in the process. 

The report added, “In fact, as the editing comments on all the files, including those related to US-based animations, were written in Chinese, it is likely that the contracting arrangement was several steps downstream from the major producers.”

Despite the situation, the official X/Twitter account for the anime confirmed that the series is still scheduled to debut in July.

Anime “#Magical Tools Master Dahlia Doesn’t Look Down”
To everyone who is looking forward to it

Everyone who supports our work
To the teachers of the original work and comicalization
We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Anime is on schedule
We are preparing for broadcast in July 2024.

For more information on broadcast information…

English Translation, Twitter Translate

5. The Underpaid and Overworked Animators: Is Outsourcing a Major Problem?

There wasn’t much outsourcing in the anime industry before. However, this has changed in recent years. And this has indirectly increased the number of people working on each project. 

In the past, it might take 2 months to complete a job, but these days, you have double the number of people working to try and complete a project in 1 month.

So if you have a series that goes from a 12-episode season to 24 episodes and 36 episodes and continues, then it expands the number of people working on the project. It requires more management and just makes everything more complicated.

Instead of an anime project being made in one studio, it is outsourced to 10 different studios, and everyone is working on multiple projects simultaneously. And if you have to keep the quality high while trying to shrink the timeline down to complete projects, then that just makes the job tougher and tougher. The project managers really can’t sleep. They are working hard 24/7.

This is leading to multiple problems in the industry. The overworked and underpaid animators suffer major health issues due to poor working conditions. These situations need to be addressed as soon as possible before more of these talented artists suffer.

Source: Official Website 

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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