Anime fans may need to brace themselves for a few of their favorite shows to face delays as it seems there may be a COVID-19 outbreak affecting several studios. According to Takashi Watanabe, the director behind famous anime like Slayers, Shakugan no Shana, and Ikki Tousen told fans via Twitter that there was an “implicit gag order” about sharing the news, that at least one anime studio had shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.
He also said that “there should be others,” but has no information on this as information is not being shared between employees and voice acting talent between studios. He says that not sharing this information puts studios and their employees in “dangerous waters” by not disclosing potential outbreaks.
Watanabe is currently directing How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom for J.C. Starr and as the assistant director of The Honor Student at Magic High School for CONNECT narrowing down the list of potential studios that may have the lockdown and potential delays. An animator named “Nyonnyon” wrote that they had heard rumors of at least five other studios going into lockdown after positive COVID-19 tests as well.
This doesn’t seem to just be affecting the animators or other staff at the studios with voice actors suddenly coming down with the illness as well. 12 voice actors working on The Idolm@ster SideM all tested positive for COVID-19 during the past week. This forced Bandai Namco Entertainment to postpone the live tour for the show that had been coming soon. This means it’s possible other voice actors working on projects with the company might also have positive COVID-19 tests soon too, slowing down production.
Watanabe also commented on his frustrations with the current way the anime industry seems to be handling the pandemic in a follow-up tweet.
“Will they not understand unless animation workers start dying one after another? Or is it the workers’ responsibilities because they’re often freelancers? Is the company itself not responsible?”
At this time, Takashi Watanabe does not know if he has come into close contact with the COVID-19 virus. There is currently no official word on which other anime studios may be locking down.