What does this mean for ecchi?
(Note: I’m not great with details. I’ve read a few different articles, gone through some message boards, and even read the announcement on Xebec’s website through a translator. It’s possible my information could be wrong, so please don’t hesitate to mention your thoughts in the comments if there is something important I’m missing here.)
After a prolonged period of financial shortfalls and several attempts to make the company financially viable failed, Xebec’s parent company IG Port has opted to sell the company to Sunrise. IG Port owns multiple anime studios, among them Production I.G. and Wit studio. Sunrise is a big multi-studio company that is itself owned by the massive Bandai Namco Holdings company.
The announcement of this move seemed to suggest that Xebec’s operations will stay intact though perhaps through a new company name as a part of Sunrise’s operations. Sunrise wouldn’t take on a struggling company out of the goodness of their heart or because they think losing money is cool. In a worst case, this move was only made to liquidate Xebec and steal away their best talent for their various mecha anime projects. In a best case, Xebec will still continue as they have before, but possibly with a different name, and perhaps with less autonomy (though with arguably increased financial security). Whatever the new company becomes will be announced in April of next year, hopefully we will learn more by then.
If it really is true that Xebec is effectively dead and gone, it’s a sad ending for a legit top tier studio with over two decades of quality anime production. And it would be particularly devastating for ecchi fans, as Xebec have been gods of ecchi, in a lot of ways they really kicked off the Golden Age of ecchi a decade ago with To Love-Ru (albeit doing mostly unnesesary censor job on Mikan nipples) and Kanokon and their dominance in the ecchi genre continues even to this day.
For every Artland or Production IMS that went under or for those like AIC or ARMS that went dormant, you could always count on Xebec to be a rock. It was too big and too popular to fail, but it seems even that isn’t true any more.
Is this news as bad as it sounds? Maybe. But it’s also pretty vague, and there’s definitely some possible good outcomes to go with the bad ones. As the news release says, Xebec’s operations are being transferred, which at least seems to suggest that Sunrise wants to keep the band together. For what end, is not as clear. If we are lucky and whatever company Xebec becomes is still able to work on ecchi stuff, then all is well. And maybe a new owner could mean more financial stability for Xebec as well.
I guess we’ll see. Lets hope this ends up being not too big a deal. But even in a best case, it’s definitely disturbing to know that Xebec’s pursuit of ecchi productions contributed to their being in this hole to begin with. That doesn’t bode well for the future of ecchi anime fandom.