Mitsubishi pencils have been “an essential necessity in animation production.”

Thanks to the otaku culture boom there’s more anime-related merchandise available than ever before. Want a pair of Pokémon jeans, or a drink holder that turns part of your body into Evangelion Unit-01? Sure, both of those are available right now.

However, that doesn’t mean each and every product can thrive, and there’s some sad news as the favorite colored pencil of Japanese anime artists is being discontinued.

Mitsubishi Pencil’s 7700-series of colored pencils have long been favored by animation/comic professionals and high-level amateur illustrators in Japan because their extra-hard leads allow artists to draw finer, more precise lines than with other brands. Unfortunately for fans, though, the company has announced that it will be halting production of every color in the lineup except red.

This is a blow that artists were at least partially braced for. Mitsubishi Pencil had been seriously considering discontinuing non-red 7700 pencils back in 2015, but reconsidered after an outpouring of requests to keep producing them. Even still, Mitsubishi retired all but four of the colors, and now it’s time to get ready to say goodbye to the orange, yellow, and blue 7700s.

While you might assume the reason for discontinuing the 7700 series is that everyone has switched to digital art production, Mitsubishi says the actual issue is that it’s become “difficult to secure the raw materials” necessary to manufacture the pencils. That vague wording, though, could be interpreted in multiple ways, and it’s unclear if by “difficult” the company means the materials simply aren’t available, or that they’re not available at a cost low enough for the 7700 series to be profitable at existing levels of demand. Mitsubishi says it even tried making new 7700 prototypes with substitute components, but the resulting quality was below the standard users have come to expect.

When Mitsubishi first considered killing off the line in 2015, the Association of Japanese Animators organized a survey/petition to show there was still strong demand for the pencils, but this time around the organization seems resigned to this really being the end. “The 7700 series has been an essential necessity in animation production, and we expect its discontinuation to have a major effect on both individuals and organizations. At the same time, on behalf of the anime industry we would like to express our deep gratitude for the utmost respect that Mitsubishi Pencil has shown the industry.”

Manufacture of the 7700 series will officially end in June, but if you’re looking to replenish your stock, doing so as soon as possible is probably a smart move.

Sources: Mitsubishi Pencil via NHK News Web, AJA
Top image: Pakutaso
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