This year's breakout anime Kemono Friends is making headlines, but not for good reasons. The show's production company abruptly fired its director and fans of the anime are not happy.
On Monday, Kemono Friends director Tatsuki announced on Twitter that he had been notified by publishing and production company Kadokawa that he was no longer a part of Kemono Friends.
"I have been suddenly released from the anime Kemono Friends," Tatsuki wrote. "I'm sorry. I am very disappointed."
Following Tatsuki's announcement, Kadokawa released their official statement on the matter on the anime's website with the statement pointing fingers at the show's production studio, Yaoyorozu, for the shakeup specifically citing leaked information by the studio and unauthorized use of content. In the statement, translated by Reddit user kjwffr, Kadokawa indicated that they wanted to deal with the issue by having Yaoyorozu come to them first with information and, when the studio declined the conditions, chose to withdraw.
Kadokawa did not specify what "leaked information" they were referring to, though fans have speculated that Kadokawa was unhappy with an online-only episode shared outside of the show's regular schedule. What has been clear, however, is how unhappy fans are with Tatsuki's firing and feel like it's an example of Kadokawa simply being greedy due to the unexpected success of the anime.
The 12-episode television anime premiered on TV Tokyo and TV Osaka on January 10 and poor initial reactions, the show's popularity exploded by the fourth episode. Many fans attribute this success to the creative work of Tatsuki/Yaoyorozu and have gone so far as to hypothesize that Kadokawa may suddenly realize the show's profit potential and wanted to change up how the show was being handled. Reddit user anttirt specifically felt it was all motivated by corporate greed:
"My take on this is that Kadokawa thought [Kemono Friends] was dead and gave Tatsuki/Yaoyorozu creative freedom because they didn't see profit potential, but now that [Kemono Friends] is a profitable phenomenon and they're planning [season two] Kadokawa decided to alter the deal in order to squeeze maximum profits, but Tatsuki/Yaoyorozu didn't like that, so they were sacked."
Whatever the motivations behind the Kemono Friends shakeups there are a few things that are certain in the wake of Tatsuki's firing. Kadokawa's stocks temporarily plummeted following the announcement of Tatsuki's firing, but perhaps more important to fans is that the situation will delay, if not completely derail, the anime's second season.