Some unexpected news in the Japanese animation industry broke overnight as Japan’s Toho, comprising film, animation production and distribution will become the sole owner of the Science SARU production studio founded by acclaimed animator and director Masaaki Yuasa with co-founder and current head Eunyoung Choi in 2013.

The transaction, as reported by Japanese industry wire GameBiz is an all stock transaction in which current head Choi will sign over all controlling shares in the studio to Toho Co. Ltd and the business will become another subsidiary in the Toho conglomerate as of June 19, when the transaction is expected to close. The studio will then become a listed subsidiary as of later this year.

Adventure Time Food Chain Science Saru

Director Masaaki Yuasa and animator Eunyoung Choi co-founded Science SARU in 2013. The studio then hit the ground running by producing the TV anime adaptation of the Ping Pong manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and the “Food Chain” episode of the American animated series Adventure Time where the studio first garnered international recognition outside of the Japanese anime industry.

The studio then produced the original Lu over the wall feature film by Masaaki Yuasa with an Annecy Crystal award in the feature film category as one of its crowning acheivements. The keystone acheivement for the studio in terms of international recognition was the 2022 film INU-OH, which earned a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Animated Feature category.

Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
© Tomihiko Morimi, KADOKAWA / Nakame no Kai

The studio’s most recent work includes 2024 hit anime Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, along with the 2023 sequel to the 2010 Tatami Galaxy anime in Tatami Time Machine Blues. The studio also produced a series of interstitials for Japanese TV network MBS that aired this past Spring. The studio’s latest project in the feature film The Colors Within will be released this Summer in Japan.

In announcing the acquisition, Toho also made reference to its own “TOHO Vision 2032” business initiative where the conglomerate expects to increase its total animation output, following the most recent financial results for the fiscal year ending February 2024, where operating revenue from the anime business increased by 90% to 46.2 billion yen.

Ping Pong The Animation
© Taiyo Matsumoto / Shogakukan / Anime “Ping Pong” Production Committee

This is not the first anime studio acquisition for Toho either, as the group acquired a controlling stake in the previously independently run Toho Interactive Animation studio in 2022, which turned into the Toho animation Studio, responsible for hits like My Hero Academia and SPY x FAMILY

This adds to the wave of consolidation and slow contraction in the Japanese anime industry, as independent animation studios face increasing capital and revenue scarcity owing to increased inflation and higher production costs, while simultaneously facing unprecedented international demand for anime all over the world. 

Sources: GameBiz, Science SARU Official Site, Toho PR (Japanese)