Netflix offering full Tokyo anime school scholarships with living expense support, open to foreigners

Casey Baseel

Tokyo: Pretty much as soon as it arrived in Japan, Netflix made anime a major pillar of its content mix. No doubt emboldened by the success anime found on streaming platforms outside Japan, Netflix has continued to expand its presence within the Japan anime industry (most recently with thick-thigh Godzilla), and now it doesn’t want to just be involved in creating animation, but animators too.

WIT Studio, best known for its work on the first three seasons of “Attack on Titan,” has announced the formation of the WIT Animator Academy. Hosted at the Sasayuri Video Training Institute (also called the Sasayuri Cafe) in Tokyo’s Nishiogikubo neighborhood, the program will be a six-month course, with classes held five days a week, and following completion students will be retained as subcontracted animators for a Netflix original anime to be produced by WIT or its sister studio Production I.G.
So how much will the course cost students? Not a single yen. Netflix is footing the bill as a scholarship, and is even pledging to help students out with their living expenses during the program.

Obviously, such generosity means the program size is limited, and for the first batch of students WIT and Netflix are looking for about 10 people. On the plus side, that also means small class sizes with more opportunities for student/teacher interaction. Speaking of instruction, the WIT Animator Academy curriculum is being developed by Hitomi Tateno, who worked for 25 years as an animation checker for Studio Ghibli, making sure the art moved fluidly and artistically in anime classics including “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Spirited Away” and both “My Neighbor Totoro” and its little-known sequel short “Mei and the Kittenbus.” Tateno will also serve as an instructor for the program.

The first WIT Animator Academy course will start in April and run until September. Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years old and have gradated from high school no later than March of 2021. While Japanese residency is required, non-Japanese citizens (i.e. foreign residents of Japan) are welcome to apply, and full Japanese-language fluency is not a must as long as applicants are “able to have everyday conversations” in Japanese.

Applications can be made online between now and Feb 28 here through the WIT Animator Academy website, with practical skill exams and interviews, as fell as final selection of successful candidates, taking place in March.