The world is watching more anime—and streaming services are buying, the WSJ reports.
The pandemic is helping Japan’s animated video style—aka anime—which has long been a niche taste for fans in the U.S. and elsewhere, finally make the leap to the global market, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to Variety, Netflix said that over 100 million households globally watched at least one anime title on the platform between October last year and September 2020, and that figure represents an increase of more than 50% on 2019. Anime titles appeared in top ten lists in almost 100 countries so far this year. Its Seven Deadly Sins became one of the top 10 titles among all series and films in over 70 countries since its launch, and that Baki did the same in almost 50 countries. Just recently, Netflix expanded its roster of anime suppliers, by signing production deals with Anima & Company (owner of NAZ), Science Saru and Mappa from Japan, and with Studio Mir based in Korea. The new deals took its anime partnership count to nine.
“Lately the media has been bashing the anime industry over working conditions; the TV stations have been reporting on it, but they’re a big culprit,” says Joseph Chou, a producer for Toei Animation on the 12-episode Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya series for Netflix. “Netflix is restoring it to a sane business model. You’re looking at maybe a 15 percent margin rather than a 5 percent loss,” says Chou, who is also president of Sola Digital Arts studio in Japan.
And while Netflix isn’t the only streaming game in town, it is the biggest, writes Gavin J Blair for The Hollywood reporter. “There’s Netflix, Amazon, Crunchyroll and Apple Studios all talking to people, as well as rumors there’s another major player about to get involved,” says Chou. “They’re all scrambling to meet with everybody, but Netflix is the most aggressive.” Netflix ordering directly from the anime studios also eliminates the need for production committees, a fact of life in the Japanese entertainment industry for movies and TV series. Involving anywhere from five to 15 companies, the committees help share costs and risk, as well as giving advertising agencies, TV stations and newspapers a stake in the production’s success and an incentive to promote it. The downsides are a slowing down of decision making and some stifling of creative risk-taking because approval is usually required from all parties.