Calling all Anime Fans!

These Indie Anime Studios Need Your Help to Bring Their Passion Projects to Life

This year, JETRO (the Japan External Trade Organization) is supporting small anime studios in Japan to give them a shot at funding to share their passion projects with the world.

As part of the project, five anime studios will launch crowdfunding campaigns to raise money for their anime productions. Read on to learn about these five unique anime studios and their projects, and see how you can help!

Details of the 5 Anime Studios

These 5 anime studios need your help. Sign up with your email to get notified when their projects go live, and you'll receive access to exclusive rewards for early backers!


STUDIO4℃ is the creator of many beloved cult anime films including Tekkonkinkreet, Mind Game, Children of the Sea, and 5 stories from The Animatrix. Read More...

Public Arts

Hiroki Taniguchi is the talented creator behind Public Arts, a collective with the goal of public arts empowerment. He is working to create captivating anime projects that wouldn't be possible at a typical anime studio, where the interests of corporate sponsors need to be protected. His new anime concept Hana, the Last Diviner combines Japanese history with magic and an empowering message. Fans of series such as Demon Slayer will appreciate the mix of action with an intriguing storyline set in a fascinating period of Japan's history. Read More...


Picona is a studio in Tokyo that does animations, artwork, character designs, and more for TV and movies as well as games and other productions. The studio also creates original work including Midnight Crazy Trail, their most recent release. This time, the studio is preparing a kids TV series called Samurai Pirates that will feature song, dance, and adventure in a fantasy world where people's negative energy and feelings turn them into monsters. Read more...


Gorilla is an animation studio with 38 years of history that has created an impressive number of works over the years. Recently, the studio has been focusing on children's content, and was involved in making 60 episodes of the animated NHK series Folktales from Japan, and was also in charge of creating the storyboards for the wildly popular anime series Yokai Watch. For this project, the studio will be trying something new, creating an animated picture book for children with an original story dreamed up after decades of making children's anime. Read more...

Ekura Animal

Ekura Animal is an animation studio from West Tokyo best known for its original movie Kaze no You ni (Like the Wind) and its work on famous TV series such as Doraemon. The studio mostly makes children’s anime, but this time they are working with a paper artist to create an epic animated film geared towards adults which retells the famous historical story of the Heike Clan. The animation style and artwork will be unlike any other anime you've seen before! Read more...

Learn More About the Anime Studios' New Projects


STUDIO4℃ was founded in 1986 and has since gained a reputation as a studio that produces highly unique and genre-bending work. Many of the studio's films have been released worldwide, and it has a large community of fans around the world. The studio's first major film was 1995's Memories, which was followed by many more award-winning films such as the The Animatrix (2003), Mind Game (2004), Tekkonkinkreet (2006), Genius Party (2007), Children of the Sea (2019), Poupelle of Chimney Town (2020), and Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (2021).

STUDIO4℃ will be unveiling its latest project. Many of the details of the film are still under wraps, but it is safe to say that we can expect great things as the studio never fails to deliver something new and interesting.

The Last Diviner Hana - Public Arts

​The vision of creator Hiroki Taniguchi, Hana, the Last Diviner is an original anime project that will follow the story of Hana, a young “onmyoji” living at the end of the Edo Period (during the 1860’s). This was a time of turmoil in Japan, as the feudal shogunate government was losing its authority as opponents fought for reinstatement of Imperial rule. In old Japan, Onmyoji were a special class of diviners who worked for the Emperor and were said to possess magical powers to ward off evil spirits.

Films, TV shows, manga, and anime featuring onmyoji were incredibly popular in Japan not too long ago. However, these all featured onmyoji who were men, as historically, only men could become onmyoji. Taniguchi feels that Japan is still a largely male-dominated society, so he wanted to create an empowering story that tells of a woman’s struggle to overcome adversity in such a society. Not only does Hana manage to master the many obstacles standing in her way of becoming an onmyoji, but she earns the respect of the Emperor along with the common people, and becomes a very powerful onmyoji. The series will be filled with action, magic, and drama, and will also be set in a historically accurate 1800’s Kyoto, as Taniguchi studied with a professor of history at Kyoto Women’s University as he wrote the script.

Samurai Pirates - Picona

​Picona was founded by Ken Yoshida in 2009 and specializes in a toon-style form of 3DCG animation known as “cell-look 3DCG” in Japan. The studio’s latest project is called Samurai Pirates, which is planned as a TV series geared towards children around the world. The story follows a girl named Enne, a popular singer on the island of Takarajima who, through a strange turn of events, receives a pirate eyepatch bestowed with magical powers from a spirit called an “ometsuke” and is entrusted with the mission of purifying the hearts of people who have been transformed into evil beings called “oni.” Enne sets out on this quest together with 4 of her friends, forming a group called the “Samurai Pirates.”

Instead of fighting with weapons, the Samurai Pirates use song and dance to purify the hearts of the oni they confront along their journey. The show is fun and filled with music, color, and action, but is suitable for kids of all ages as there is no violence or inappropriate content of any kind. The father of a young child himself, creative producer Ken Yoshida came up with the concept after realizing that there are very few anime shows written specifically for young children, and even fewer that are free from violence. His hope is that Samurai Pirates will teach lessons of positivity and self-confidence for young kids. 

The Top Loft - Gorilla

Noko Yukawa is the CEO of Gorilla, a studio in Tokyo that has been making animations for 38 years. Through her experience creating many children’s anime through the years, Yukawa has gained an intuitive sense of what makes an outstanding story for young children. However, she noticed that most productions aimed at pre-school-aged children come from large, well-funded studios who are able to pour money into marketing campaigns to convince parents to show their animations to kids. She wanted to break through this paradigm and pave the way for small, independent studios to produce unique works for this target audience, which is why she decided to launch this new project on Kickstarter.

Yukawa’s new project aims to produce a “moving picture book” from a collection of 26 stories, each of which is roughly 5-7 minutes long. The story will follow the adventures of 3 young children who accidentally wander into a mysterious universe filled with friendly “kaiju” (monsters). The main characters Tatta, Tette and Totto each have a unique and realistic personality—flaws and all—so a child watching the show will naturally be able to relate to and feel an affinity towards their favorite character. Although the story takes place in a fantasy world, the challenges that the children solve each episode are based on real-life scenarios that will teach kids viewing the show important and relatable life lessons. It will be a fun and valuable work that Yukawa and her team hope will stay with kids who watch it as they grow up and face challenges in their own lives.

Heike Monogatari Emaki - EKURA ANIMAL

Ekura Animal started in 1982 under the name Animalya with the philosophy of bringing heartwarming animation to children. The studio has collaborated on many famous series including Doreamon, Lupin the 3rd, Batman, The Powerpuff Girls, and Crayon Shin-chan, as well as produced numerous original works like including Kappa no Suribachi, Sakura and Sakurin, Kuru Kurumi Chan, and Like the Wind

For this project, Ekura Animal wants to try something completely different, moving away from the children’s themes it normally works on. Instead, Ekura Animal is collaborating with an artist who makes intricate papercut artwork to create a new style of anime that follows the true story of the rise and fall of the Heike Clan. Adding animations and movement to the original paper cuttings and incorporating music and voice acting, the unique animation style will bring the story to life in a captivating and artistic way. The story is filled with battles and death, and Ekura Animal hopes that it will prompt viewers to contemplate the fleeting time that we have on this earth. 

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