The Attack On Titan Season 4 studio change to MAPPA was predicted far in advance of the actual decision. It was still a surprise for many anime fans that WIT Studio would give up the reigns to the series that built their reputation within the industry.
In a recent Newtype magazine interview, insiders explained how Shingeki no Kyoijin Season 4 ended up with Studio MAPPA.
Kodansha anime producer Kensuke Tateishi said that WIT Studio approached him during the third season’s production.
WIT’s leaders said they wanted to reach a certain point in the Attack On Titan story to make their mark as animation creators but no longer wanted to continue.
“One of the reasons is that the end of Season 3 has the protagonist gazing at the ocean, which marks a turning point for the story,” Tateishi said.
Attack On Titan producer Toshihiro Maeda said that WIT Studio had the desire to take on the final season but “refused due to scheduling” issues.
The production schedule for the SnK anime series had been infamously hard. WIT Studio President George Wada admitting in an older interview that their management needed to “whip” the staff back to work.
They lived on energy bars and fought off the depression that came from sleeping at the studio due to overworking at their desk all day and all night.
“It’s a battlefield,” The Ancient Magus Bride director Norihiro Naganuma said in 2017. “Basically, what you see on screen in Attack on Titan is what I see at Studio Wit. One comrade falls after another.”
Needless to say, the people at WIT Studio were exhausted by the merciless scheduling required by animating Attack On Titan. It also didn’t help that they made far less money developing someone else’s intellectual property.
That’s a big part of why WIT began focusing on original works like Great Pretender, the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress anime series, and the upcoming Vampire in the Garden anime.
Tateishi began looking for a new anime studio, but most of them turned down the offer. In fact, the producer said he checked with “dozens of companies” that claimed they couldn’t take on the demands of the project.
MAPPA Studio was the only company that considered the offer. It was a good fit since the leaders at WIT Studio also felt comfortable with MAPPA taking over the anime series. They also made a good impression by stating that “Attack on Titan should have a proper ending for the sake of the fans.”
MAPPA is a large company with many employees and sub-studios that work on many anime projects simultaneously.
For example, in 2020 alone, they worked on Uchitama?! Have you seen my Tama?, Dorohedoro, Listeners, The God of High School, Mr. Love: Queen’s Choice, Jujutsu Kaisen, Taiso Samurai, and, of course, Attack On Titan: Final Season.
Still, some anime fans recognize that MAPPA is “working off of a hellish schedule and you can’t even imagine how much the staff [is] suffering.”
As such, some are already calling for the fandom to not “pick on” or “harass any of the AoT staff if the adaptation/animation is poor!”
The Attack On Titan Season 4 release date is scheduled for December 7, 2020.
It’s rumored that the final season won’t be a split-cour anime (it won’t take a broadcasting break and be split into parts), which means MAPPA will be working hard straight to the end.
This rumor is probably true since the producers also discussed how they were determined to adapt the manga all the way to the end rather than stopping partway through.
Attack On Titan Season 4 3DCG Director Shuuhei Yabuta returns from WIT Studio… and teases Vinland Saga Season 2
Like all Japanese animation studios, MAPPA relies heavily on freelancers like Shuuhei Yabuta. In the past, he’s worked with Studio Madhouse for No Game No Life, Overlord anime, Parasyte, ACCA 13, and other anime.
When it comes to WIT Studio, he’s previously worked with them on the Attack On Titan anime as the 3DCG Director and the lead director for the Vinland Saga anime.
Yabuta is being replaced by Yuri On Ice CG Director Takahiro Uezono for the Attack On Titan Season 4 3DCG Director position. But Yabuta announced on Twitter that he’s returning to the CG team of Attack On Titan (he’d previously worked with MAPPA on the Attack On Titan Season 4 trailer).
He’ll be the “only staff in the graphics team” to return since WIT Studio was in charge.
The director said he’s also working on directing another unspecified title. Lately, he’s been teasing fans about an upcoming Vinland Saga Season 2 anime announcement, so it’s easy to connect the dots.
Despite that other project likely being his primary focus, Yabuta says, “I’ll do my best to contribute to the team and to make you enjoy!”
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 4 on NHK explained
Besides the studio change for Attack On Titan Season 4, the other major change was that Tateishi suggested bringing the anime to NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, hoping that more people would watch it.
Legally, this meant selling the rights to broadcast to NHK, but Maeda believes this business decision was “good for the work.”
“I think it would have been unthinkable for MBS to show an animation that they funded and produced themselves on a different TV station,” Tateishi said to laughs. “Maybe not willingly, but I’m very grateful to NHK and MBS for agreeing to it.”