Production committee for Fragtime, studio’s most recent anime that’s playing in theaters right now, say their repeated attempts to communicate have yielded no response.

In the anime industry, the hours are long and the pay is low. But you know what’s worse than low pay? No pay, which is the situation a number of people who were contracted by Tokyo-based anime studio Tear Studio are looking at.

The situation came to light when Gen Sato, an artist who’s been working in the anime industry for over 30 years, took to Twitter to say that not only has he not been paid for work he performed for Tear, the company had erased its Twitter account and website. While the Twitter account seems to have been scrubbed entirely, Tear’s website has since returned, showcasing its most recent releases Fragtime, Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!?, and The Royal Tutor.

However, if you, perhaps being someone who’s still waiting for a promised paycheck, click on that tempting “Contact” in the upper right corner…

…it won’t earn you an email address link or contact form, but instead an infuriatingly friendly greeting from a 404 error, indicating that whatever used to occupy this part of Tear’s website has been erased.

OK, so the website is no longer fielding inquiries from fans and other general net surfers. But surely those in the industry, such as the companies that had to work with Tear on its most recent projects, have some business-to-business channels that are allowing them to communicate with the studio, right?

Wrong. One of the things that makes Tear’s sudden disappearance so baffling is that it’s happened less than three weeks since the release of Fragtime, an OVA that’s still currently in select theaters as part of its limited theatrical run.

▼ Trailer for Fragtime

For a quick crash course in how the anime business works, the studio that animates an anime doesn’t necessarily own the finished product. Instead, the rights are usually held by a publisher/distributor or production committee, which consists of various companies and investors who ponied up the money to pay the studio and whoever is handling the marketing and distribution. So even if Tear has gone dark, Fragtime can still play in theaters and get released for home video.

That said, having an anime’s studio go missing is a major concern for the production committee, especially if the studio or its executives need to be coordinated with for decisions, revisions, or other necessary matters. But Fragtime’s official website, which is administered by its production committee, just put out a statement that reads:

An announcement regarding Tear Studio (Next Batters Circle Inc.)

Since last week, there has been a lot of talk on the Internet and social media about Tear Studio, the studio that produced the theatrical OVA anime Fragtime.

We have a need to understand the situation, and for some time we have been attempting to secure a statement from Next Batters Circle’s representatives, but we remain unable to make contact with them.

In order to achieve an accurate grasp of the situation, we will be continuing to attempt to contact Next Batters Circle’s representatives in order to request a statement.

In other words, even industry insiders have no idea where Tear’s employees, and most importantly its executives, are. Considering that members of the committee would have to know the address of Tear’s studio, which is located in Tokyo and is a matter of public record, as well as its business-to-business phone and email contacts, it’s hard to see this as anything other than Tear’s executives purposely dodging any attempts to find out where they are.

Source: Fragtime official website via IT Media, Tear Studio official website
Insert images: Tear Studio (1, 2)
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