In early January, Netflix Japan released the anime short THE DOG AND THE BOY. The credits list “AI (+Human)” as the background designer. The fact that the anime’s backgrounds were completed by an AI company’s image generators based on individual hand-drawn sketches provoked strong reactions on social media. Netflix was forced to issue an explanatory press release.
Netflix defends the use of AI programs in the production of animated films by saying that the use of image generators gives the “creators” a new tool to have more time for their actual creative work. Another argument used in corporate communications turned out to be a boomerang: the assertion that the use of AI was necessary because of the shortage of labor in the animation industry really fueled the shit storm. Many professionals in the industry also responded with incomprehension, pointing to the poor working conditions and low pay of anime artists in Japan (1 to 2 euros per frame).
Created in the environment of Osaka University, Ryotaro Makihara’s film is about the heartbreaking relationship between a boy and a robot dog in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by disasters.
Netflix sees THE DOG AND THE BOY as an experiment in “best practices in the production process to support animation production in the long term.
“The Dog and the Boy” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9DpusAZV_0
Netflix Japan about the production of the film: https://about.netflix.com/ja/news/the-dog-and-the-boy