Online streaming keeps anime afloat

Last week in California, I met with some of the top providers of Japanese popular culture in the United States and other parts of the world. It quickly became apparent that 2016 would not be at all like 2015, nor any other year before it.


The release of streaming media is rapidly approaching an avalanche. Major portals Hulu and Netflix are obtaining anime licenses in an effort to target a growing niche of young and loyal global fans. Market-leading and pioneering firm Crunchyroll explores co-production deals with animation studios as Japan’s popular Byzantine animation production committees slowly disintegrate as domestic DVD sales decline.

The Japanese Animation Promotion Association (SPJA) based in Anaheim, California, the non-profit organization behind Anime Expo, the largest anime agreement in North America, is expanding, refocusing, and rebranding. . He plans to transcend the otaku / fan culture and accept the broader challenge of integrating successful conventions into movies, games, technology, music and other forms of entertainment. SPJA will open an office in Tokyo later this year and will soon unveil a new brand name and logo.

Anime Expo celebrates its 25th anniversary in July. The scam was signed as the first Japanese artist and character designer Yoshitaka Amano, whose works include popular titles spanning decades, from “Speed ​​Racer” and “Gatchaman” to “Vampire Hunter D” and “Final Fantasy”.

Azusa Matsuda, Director of Industrial Relations at SPJA, told me the anniversary would be an opportunity to take stock of the history of animation. “It’d be great if we could organize some events, looking at 25 years of Anime Expo, and those same years in terms of anime and manga. How do we get here? More than half of the attendees are between the ages of 18 and 25. They love animation, but they want to.” Knowing more, wanting context. ”

Matsuda has been originally from Arima Onsen, Kobe, California for 28 years, nine of which have spent localizing Japanese entertainment content. Prior to joining SPJA, she was a translator for a game importing company and an localization developer for post-production, sound, and creativity studio Bang Zoom in Burbank, California! entertainment.

The biggest changes you see in 2016 are interconnected: The transition from physical products or “bundled companies” to streaming media on demand has transformed the IP licensing process.

He says, “There was“ before Netflix ”and“ after Netflix. ”And it only happened in the past three or four years. Before, you sold your content to (US-based distributors) like Viz Media or Funimation and Aniplex and Media Blasters. But with Netflix, you can sell it to them directly and go straight to your audience. You don’t need to have that industry connection and talk to the US-based licensing companies. You can go to and sell Netflix, and that’s it. ”

The success of the new model is based on the relentless dedication and insatiable hunger of fans of the field, which is what Crunchyroll CEO Kun Zhao recently called “the masses sweeping”. Anime fans were compulsive viewers long before American TV series like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” were written, and Crunchyroll, now seven years old, targeted them with their care and respect, to the tunes of 20 million users, 750,000 paid subscribers, and support. Hollywood and AT&T Communications.

For most Japanese producers, Matsuda says, the turning point came in 2013, when Tokyo-based 3D computer graphics studio Polygon Pictures struck a deal with Netflix to distribute the “Knights of Sidonia” series. .

“Everyone (in the animation industry) was like, ‘Oh my God: Can you do that directly with your livestream? And then, “Oh, you really can!” “

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