Renowned film editing company Tokyo Laboratory is closing in November, endangering thousands of unclaimed classic anime masters, according to Screen Rant. This archive serves as a veritable time capsule, chronicling nearly seven decades of anime’s evolution and cultural impact. Preserving this invaluable anime collection is now a pressing challenge as technology transforms the entertainment industry.
The shutdown of Tokyo Laboratory’s archive means nearly 70 years worth of anime masters could be lost forever, including Akira.
Founded in April 1955, Tokyo Laboratory boasts a rich history in the realm of video editing, film development, and archiving within the anime industry. Beyond these core services, the company has expanded its capabilities to include grading, conforming, data management systems, and even houses an in-house VFX team catering to various video needs, including digital cinema support for theaters. Tokyo Laboratory’s parent company TOHO, formed a business alliance with post-production company IMAGICA Lab. in September 2021, marking a pivotal shift from physical to digital video delivery.
A changing business landscape is what led to Tokyo Laboratory’s decision to close its editing and processing operations. Recognizing the anime industry’s shift towards digital cinema packages and storage as the cause of much of its work becoming obsolete, the company has taken on a monumental task. Tokyo Laboratory is now intensively working to facilitate the return of anime originals in its vault to their rightful owners before these precious artifacts meet the specter of permanent destruction.
It is highly probable that Tokyo Laboratory, renowned for its broad engagement with diverse anime projects, safeguards rare and yet-to-be-remastered treasures within this collection.
The company has announced its intention to dispose of any unclaimed anime masters by the end of October. While Tokyo Laboratory is actively making efforts to return these film originals to their clients, communication via phone, mail, and email has been challenging. To address this problem, the company has issued a heartfelt plea to anyone who harbors suspicions of possessing a film original from their vaults, urging them to contact the company through email.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the fate of this trove of anime history rests on a knife’s edge.
Presently, there is a conspicuous absence of a public list cataloging the remaining anime originals within Tokyo Laboratory’s vaults. Multiple reports speculate that a staggering 20,000 masters remain unaccounted for, raising the prospect of precious, unreleased material concealed in this extensive cache. It is highly probable that Tokyo Laboratory, renowned for its broad engagement with diverse anime projects, safeguards rare and yet-to-be-remastered treasures within this collection.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the fate of this trove of anime history rests on a knife’s edge. Animation historians and devoted fans of the medium hold their collective breath, hoping that every last frame of this invaluable footage can be preserved for future generations to appreciate. Nevertheless, time is of the essence, with Tokyo Laboratory’s timeframe for disposing of unclaimed originals just around the corner.
Tokyo Laboratory has played a pivotal role in the grand tapestry of anime history, leaving an indelible mark on the medium’s evolution. From classic titles like Akira to beloved series such as Zendaman, the company’s influence and contributions are woven into the very fabric of anime culture. Its closure marks the end of an era, but it also underscores the evolving nature of the entertainment industry, which now places a premium on digital technologies.