RESTORING THE SYMBOL OF ANIME: THE REVIVAL OF CELS
At Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture, there is a tradition called "Shikinen Sengu," where the shrine buildings are rebuilt every 20 years to preserve the craftsmanship, skills, and traditions of the shrine carpenters. Similarly, it has been 20 years since anime cels, a symbol of Japan's treasured artistic culture, disappeared from anime studios.
Anime were once created using the meticulous technique of drawing by hand on celluloid, or "cels." However, since the completion of Episode 99 of "Inuyasha" in 2003, no major studios in Japan have produced works of anime using cels, except for "Sazae-san." The shift to digital production in the anime industry led to the disappearance of both the production techniques and the very existence of cels themselves.
But, one must question whether it was truly for the best to erase this artistic tradition simply for the sake of "convenience" and "efficiency."
Cels are one-of-a-kind, each being handcrafted by skilled artisans to create a single scene in an anime. Every drawing is unique with only one existing in the world. Within cels, one can sense the distinct sensibility and delicate expressions that weave together to form the fabric of Japanese culture. In this sense, cels could be considered a cultural heritage of Japan.
That said, it is not too late. Let us once again take on the great cause of reviving cels after 20 years with our very own "Shikinen Sengu" for cel art.
Bringing together the artisans and creators of the cel era, we will pass down and preserve the techniques of anime cels in a contemporary form, breathing new life into this cherished tradition.
This is surely the first real attempt to revive cels in Japan. We believe that this endeavor holds significant importance for the future of Japan's anime culture and appreciate your support moving forward.
From all of us at CEL LAB