It has been 20 years since cels disappeared from anime production. While the digitization process has brought significant benefits in terms of efficiency, those of us working in anime production couldn't forget the essential element that was lost with cels. The creation of a single anime work involves numerous stages, each requiring various specialists who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their respective roles with a sense of responsibility and pride. Across different professions and companies, hundreds of people work together to bring anime to life. Cels were just one step towards the end of that process, but they carried a weight in being tangible objects that served as a reminder of a work's true existence.
After cels disappeared, I thought such tangible experiences were no longer possible. However, when I heard about CEL LAB's project to revive anime celS, I realized that I couldn't let this opportunity slip away. Interestingly, a few years ago, another anime studio approached me asking if I knew anyone who could restore the cels stored in their warehouse. When I witnessed the vast mountain of cels lying dormant inside the warehouse, I was at a loss for words. I knew we couldn't leave them as they were; we needed to create an environment where they could be properly restored and preserved. Deep down I recognized that everyone shared that sentiment, but there were numerous challenges, including finding storage space, that prevented us from realizing this dream. That's why I felt someone needed to take that first step.
However, it took us one year for CEL LAB to actually start its activities. Even though we were determined, we had no materials or tools for creating cels. Our first challenge was finding a way to address this issue. Then there was the issue of personnel. Following 20 years of digitization, there were very few individuals with experience in cel creation remaining in the industry. Even the youngest among us would be around their 50s, and the veterans were even older. Considering these circumstances, I knew if we didn't start now, this project would become even more difficult in the future.
Fortunately, within our company, Wish, we had over ten experienced cel professionals as well as over 100 creators in our animation production and finishing departments. Wish is a large-scale production company specializing in the drawing, animation, and finishing processes of anime and is involved in the production of approximately 50 to 60 titles at any given time, irrespective of the company's affiliations. I believe that having a studio where these animation production professionals can gather enables us to tackle this "Cel Revival Project" with full force, while utilizing our many capabilities in an environment advantageous to the task at hand.
Preserving the craftsmanship of artisans, the culture of anime, and the inherent charm of cels as a medium in and of themselves holds significant value. However, we also want to take up the challenge of exploring new possibilities for cels in ways never seen before. Figuring out how we can spread the tradition of cels throughout the world today is an important task that we face. We hope to gather the support and cooperation of anime studios and professionals in related industries to harness our collective strength for this effort. Furthermore, through the various activities of CEL LAB, we aspire to contribute to the cultivation of a diverse range of creators who will shape the future of the Japanese anime industry. We will also strive to create an environment where studios and creators can continue to work passionately. We are determined to accomplish this significant challenge and make a positive impact on the world of anime and cels.