Entertainment Tech Talk

Netflix wants to grow anime audience, beefs up exclusive Original anime content

Netflix is serious about anime. At its Anime Slate 2017 event in Tokyo today, the company announced that it is producing and releasing more original anime titles this year and next year. The global video streaming giant had previously announced original titles like the Death Note live-action movie, and BLAME! Anime aside, there are more than 10 Netflix Originals produced in the country.

Anime celebrates its 100th anniversary in Japan this year, and surprisingly (or not), the segment is growing in not only in its home country of Japan, but also in the US, Europe and Asia. The company revealed that 50% of Netflix users watch anime in Japan.

Bringing anime to the world

While this makes anime the biggest genre in Netflix’ vast content library, it’s interesting to note that 90% of anime viewing is happening outside of Japan. It’s a huge growth opportunity for anime viewing both in Japan and the world at large.

Hence the company is working with the best anime producers in Japan to develop high-quality anime Originals. To date there are already 20 anime Originals available globally. It’s a departure from the traditional strategy of merely buying streaming rights from content producers in Japan.

We’ve seen Netflix employ the same strategy in its non-anime portfolio. Since 2013, Netflix has become a content creator, with award-winning original productions like House of Cards, Narcos, Marvel’s Daredevil, Sense8, Orange is the New Black and more.

Netflix is said to spend USD6 billion on content, including creating original series, in 2017. It’s unclear how much of that spend is channelled to anime. What’s clear is that Netflix wants to bring anime to the world, and grow the anime audience outside of its traditional ranks.

It wants to achieve this by firstly making anime content accessible. This means simultaneous global releases, without delay. It also means availability on all platforms. This includes mobile devices, cable set top boxes, smart TVs, PCs and notebooks, and internet connected devices like Apple TV, Xbox and more). To date, Netflix is available on thousands of internet-connected devices.

It will continue to focus on localisation, personalised recommendations and deliver the best user-friendliness, as well as the best viewing experience. Recent announcements with HDR and Dolby Atmos to complement 4K resolution support continue to push the boundaries of video and sound quality.

Some titles with Dolby Atmos support include Okja, BLAME! and Death Note.

You’ll also see Netflix continue to improve encoding of its content, to deliver the best viewing experience at any bitrate or internet speed.

Netflix Original anime

In his opening keynote, Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer said that the anime market will grow significantly over the next few years. While traditionally anime may be based on a manga series, new productions not based on manga will also debut.

Just as we’ve seen with Castlevania, an animated series based on the legendary video game from Konami, productions may involve mixed creators and talents from around the world. Castlevania debuted last month and the second season is slated for 2018.

Castlevania’s executive producer Adi Shankar praised Netflix for being “a blessing to the arts”, and lamented, “Making this show with Netflix was the best experience I had in Hollywood.” He went on to say that he had wanted to make Castlevania 10 years ago, and Netflix made it possible today.

Another example is live-action sci-fi thriller Death Note, directed by Adam Wingard, and produced by Roy Lee (“The Ring” series), Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes”) and Masi Oka (“Heroes” star and first time producer). It’s loosely based on the original manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Death Note debuts exclusively on Netflix, on 25 August 2017.

We’ll also see non-Japanese IPs appearing in the market as well.

A great example is Cannon Busters, a 12-episode TV anime series produced, directed and created by US-based LeSean Thomas, in collaboration with top Japanese animation studio Satelight (Macross Delta).

Some new exclusive titles coming to Netflix in 2018 include “Baki,” “Knights of the Zodiac,” “Lost Song,” “Sword Gai: The Animation,” “A.I.C.O Incarnation,” B: The Beginning” and “Devilman Crybaby.”

Other Netflix anime Originals include:

  • Little Witch Academia (coming winter 2017)
  • Cyborg 009: Call of Justice (streaming now worldwide)
  • Kakegurui (coming 2018)
  • Fate/Apocrypha (Season 1: streaming now worldwide, Season 2: streaming worldwide 15 August)
  • Children of the Whales (coming 2018)
  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (TBD)

New live-action titles include “Erased” (winter 2017) and “Blazing Transfer Students” (winter 2017).

Let’s not forget the “Rilakkuma Series,” the first stop motion animated series based on the merchandise of the same name, created by stationary company San-X.

Netflix will also get Season 3 and 4 of the Dreamworks’ “Voltron” reboot, premiering August 4 and in October respectively.

For anime fans all around the world, it’s certainly exciting times ahead. Which are you excited about and which are you most looking forward to? Comment below.

By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.