Having followed anime for some time, one thing I have noticed, at least from my perspective, is that there is no equivalent of the Indie/Alternative scene when it comes to anime.

What I mean by this is that the vast majority of anime seems to be produced and distributed by some corporate production studio(s). While my knowledge of anime production is quite limited, this would seem to hold for most anime.

What reasons are there for this trend or am I wrong in assuming the lack of an alternative scene?

If I am wrong, then what can be considered as Indie anime?

Notes: In response to Euphorics's comment, 'Anime' in this context refers to any and all forms of Japanese animated media. The form of distribution, length and animation style are the kind of details I'm looking for in the answers.

Additionally, I am aware of the existence of Doujinshi as a form of independently made Manga, although I wasn't aware of the fact that it included music as well (Thank you Rapitor for that) but I am mainly interested in the animated medium in the context of this question.

  • 2
    How do you define "anime" in this context? Does 5 minute long animated skit posted on Youtube/NicoNicoDouga count as anime? Can it be 2D or 3D? Does it need voice acting?
    – Euphoric
    Apr 3, 2017 at 14:24
  • 3
    Although Doujinshi circles primarily focus on Music and Mangas It wouldn't surprise me to see a few animators in that massive collective as well. but distribution rights and such of animation is far messier than music and manga, which is why we wouldn't see much of it.
    – Rapitor
    Apr 3, 2017 at 14:25
  • I believe there is a bit of an underground manga scene. I don't know any titles or artists of the top of my head, though. The art I've seen was very non-manga-like.
    – Torisuda
    Apr 3, 2017 at 15:38
  • @Rapitor There are indeed doujin anime, though they're relatively rare.
    – JAB
    Apr 3, 2017 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


There's Voices of a Distant Star, which was "directed, written, produced, character designed, storyboarded, cinematographed, edited, and animated by Makoto Shinkai". Essentially an individual effort except for some voice acting that was done by his wife Mika Shinohara. The DVD release had to go through a manufacturer and distributor, of course but I think that's as close as Indie/Alternative as you'll get.

There aren't many anime like that, as anime TV series or movies are very expensive and time consuming to produce. This is why even small anime studios often rely on production and backing from larger companies (like TV studios). Instances like Voices of a Distant Star is rare because it's short, and probably made no money.


As Euphoric mentioned in the comment, what is the definition of "anime" in here?

Because in Japan, "anime" is anything animated, whether it's:

  • a 3-episode 2D anime (45 minutes total): 1 (5 minutes), 2 (7 minutes), 3 (33 minutes)
  • a 5-episode, 30-minute 3D CGI anime (considered as doujin anime): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (only 18 minutes), or
  • a 1-hour stop-motion clay anime (got an award in Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival).

(All links are from NicoNicoDouga).

The reason has been answered by Jon Lin, that "making anime is time consuming, and it doesn't making money". Another reason is, because it's hard to be recognized (or even found) in other countries than Japan without proper media (thankfully, there's YouTube for international audience).

The keywords are 自作アニメ (jisaku anime) or 自主制作アニメ (jishu seisaku anime) for "independent anime" in Japanese:

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