Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Japanese Powerhouse


Japan has been strong in the animated content department for a long time, and continues to move briskly forward.

... Of all forms of content that have made it out of Japan, none have had as much of an impact as animation. Whether it’s the legion of animators who entered the craft after watching a Hayao Miyazaki movie or the millions and millions of people who were sucked into the Pok√©mon GO craze this summer, the widespread influence of anime in global pop culture is clear.

“Japanese content’s greatest strength is animation as it travels broadly all over the world from developed to developing countries,” notes Satoko Shimbori, the director of the international business department at TV Asahi.

The broadcasting giant has a strong record in animation distribution, with a portfolio that includes the megahits Doraemon, Shin Chan and Ninja Hattori.

One of Japan’s biggest anime production outfits is Toei Animation, which has been in business since the 1950s and boasts a catalog that includes the award-winning Saint Seiya and Sailor Moon. Among its newest highlights is Dragon Ball Super, a sequel to Dragon Ball Z. Ryuji Kochi, the president of Toei Animation Europe, is hopeful that the show will usher in a new period of dominance for Japanese animation in the region after having lost broadcast slots to content from other markets.

“I want Japanese animation to come back in the European market,” Kochi says. “We believe there is potential…. Japan has a huge comics market. We have a lot of the story writers, the [comics’] original authors. It’s competitive, so writers want to improve themselves. That’s why the stories are improving. The strength of Japanese animation is in the stories.”

Kochi also sees strength in the licensing business for Japanese anime. “Recently, games and apps have been growing the market. Also, anime fans like collector’s items, like action figures.” ...

While various foreign animated features do exceedingly well in Japan, the United States and other countries seldom return the favor. Your Name, the latest Japanese feature to break domestic box office records,
will likely do okay in selected foreign markets, but probably won't be a blockbuster.

Nevertheless, animated content out of Japan will continue to wield big influence on the style and stories that get made in the U.S. and Europe.

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