What Are the ‘Issues’ Affecting the 86-Eighty-Six Anime Production?

86 has been one of this season's breakout hits, quickly amassing plenty of loyal fans who are keen to see what happens next in this sci-fi tale of war and struggle. However, the studio behind the anime, A-1 Pictures, has announced that the next episode will be delayed, making some fans question what's going on behind the scenes.

Episode 18 of the series has been kicked back to November 20th. The official reason for this delay is production difficulties. However, the studio hasn't elaborated further. Many reviewers and fans have been heavily speculating about what the reason could be, especially as Episode 17 received numerous negative reviews, with many viewers complaining about a perceived downgrade in animation quality. These complaints include everything from continuity errors, overuse of still frames, missing voice acting in scenes that needed it and a general lack of detail, which is very noticeable in a show that has been repeatedly praised for its detailed animation.

Lena in 86 Eighty-Six

Several common theories have been formed regarding the cause of this delay. The most common is that this is a side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a general slowdown in many industries as new procedures and policies are introduced to account for changing local situations and government regulations. This can often lead to things going wrong or tasks taking longer than planned. The spread of the virus can also easily lead to a whole office being out sick at the same time, making things extremely hard for projects that run on a tight schedule.

Another popular theory is that this is a sign of the animators being overworked. This is a known problem in the industry, with many industry heads calling out the trend of overworking animators and staff. Workers have frequently stated that this needs to stop, as it could harm the long-term health of both the animators and the industry as a whole. While 86 is a split-cour anime, the first half ended in June and the second half started in October, giving the team little time to fix issues or prepare far in advance. Combined with a tight broadcast schedule, this means that any small problems can quickly snowball into a massive issue.

Eighty-Six going to training

Many viewers are also wondering if some of the new objects introduced in recent episodes are turning out to be more difficult to animate than expected. Several theories point to a new weapon called the Morpho. This weapon, while visually impressive, features many moving parts that could overwhelm an animation team, especially if there are unforeseen issues in other areas.

We may never learn what production issues are slowing down the release of 86. However, A-1 Pictures must be commended for noticing that there's a problem and taking steps to fix it. It's better to delay a project than ruin the accumulated goodwill from fans by releasing something that doesn't live up to their expectations. Hopefully, this break will give the studio time to fix the problem and get production back on track. However, 86 does show that while the split-cour format is helpful, studios should consider leaving more substantial gaps between parts to allow staff and animators to recover and recuperate. Larger breaks will also allow studios to get ahead of schedule, as well as help them notice and fix problems before they become massive issues.

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