First use of AI by Netflix in anime The Dog and The Boy
The three-minute short film “The Dog and The Boy” is the first creation of the Anime Creators’ Base, which Netflix founded in 2021 with the ambition of supporting anime creators. However, the scenic mountain and city landscapes in the short film are not created by a human cartoonist, but by artificial intelligence (AI). On Twitter, Netflix described the AI help as an “experimental attempt to help the anime industry”. This is because the anime world is facing a labour shortage. To this day, Japanese anime films are drawn by hand – a hugely labour-intensive undertaking. The popularity of the animation genre makes the demand for illustrators ever greater. However, the fact that the Netflix film studio has allegedly turned to artificial intelligence and image generators for its first project for this reason is mostly leading to jeers. Several artists reacted to the news with displeasure. Especially on social media, illustrators managed to express their frustrations. Under the banner ‘No to AI generated images’, a massive online protest against AI-generated illustrations emerged late last year. On the online platform ArtStation, where digital artists share their work with other artists, several users posted a logo of a red prohibition sign over the word AI. The anime industry has long been under fire for its poor working conditions and low wages. According to US newspaper The New York Times, some animators in Japan earned barely $200 a month in 2021. However, according to Variety magazine, that year was the most profitable year ever for the anime industry with a profit of $18.4 billion. The advent of AI tools that can create illustrations will not boost the employment of animators, according to fears in the artistic world.