Actors were asked to buy 50 DVDs, costing 198,000 yen (US$1,833) in total out of pocket
J-Cast reported on Wednesday that the Machine To Heart short anime, which was originally scheduled to air as part of the Topic Magazine variety program on Television Saitama this spring, has been cancelled. The news was announced on the anime's now deleted official website.
The website announcement also went into detail about the circumstances behind the cancellation. It stated that the anime production company was tasking the voice cast with with buying the DVDs out of pocket in order to cover the production costs. The company made the decision to stop engaging with these deals and cancel the broadcast. The committee had no participation in the production.
According to social media posts by people who applied for the voice actor roles, those who were accepted for the role were asked to buy 50 DVDs, costing 3,960 yen (US$36) each or 198,000 yen (US$1,833). In February, successful applicants posted the contents of the email they received online, prompting the anime to receive backlash.
The now deleted voice actor recruitment page advertised the role as an opportunity to work alongside the comedian trio Instant Jonson and the NGT48 idol Rika Nakai. It also promised that the cast would receive exposure through television and news sites such as Yahoo! News. It stated that a DVD with a making-of feature with the actors included would be sold, but failed to mention that the actors would be asked to buy an allotment out of their own pockets.
Television Saitama told J-Cast that it was unaware that Topic Magazine would even contain an anime segment until the controversy broke out. Regardless, the broadcaster feels "deeply dismayed" that its name was used without notice to recruit actors. It also stated: "Our company has always confirmed the contents of a program before broadcast, but due to this incident, we have now requested the agencies we work with to share the particulars of the planned content and broadcast beforehand. We will endeavor to prevent an issue like this from occurring again."
When asked whether the production company and committee bear responsibility for the issue, Topic Magazine's production committee refrained from comment.