GeneralIs Netflix Good for the Anime Industry?

Is Netflix Good for the Anime Industry?


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By Daniel Okotako.

Anime is childish

When one thinks of anime, there is a typical perspective that it’s for children. But, I’m here to tell you that that’s just a lack of understanding. It’s a billion dollar industry that has middle-aged men hooked. Anime has many genres for the young and the mature, which makes it unique because animations have been viewed by the west as a childlike form of entertainment.

Many avid anime viewers would agree that in the West, Dragon Ball Z and Naruto were the flagship animes that grabbed the attention of people who were exposed to it for the first time. And now, because of this popularity of anime outside of Japan, Netflix believes that it has a huge market potential, making an investment in this industry worthwhile.

Original Dragon Ball Z characters created by Akira Toriyama.

What Have They Got Planned?

Netflix have announced that they’re hoping to invest a massive portion of US$8 billion in creating 30 anime series and 80 new original films for release in 2018. This is up from their initial US$6 billion projections. Some of the anime series’ that have been given the green light include: Cannon Busters; A.I.C.O Incarnation; Devilman Crybaby; B The Beginning; and Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya, to name a few.

Despite this influx of investment by Netflix, the release of their most recent project, Neo Yokio in September 2017, whose lead voice actor was Jaden Smith, wasn’t received well. Similarly, their live action film of the globally successful anime Death Note received devastatingly bad reviews. So, why is Netflix cashing in on such a niche market?

Netflix’s Neo Yokio was met with generally negative reviews.

Bad Publicity

The company knows that bad films or series doesn’t necessarily equate to people not buying into their service. In fact, it’s rather the opposite, and here’s why:

When a form of entertainment is really bad, what tends to happen is that it receives such a backlash from social media that it raises awareness of the series existence. This creates consumer curiosity and encourages people to buy the Netflix service even though they know the quality of the product is bad. People simply don’t want to miss out on all of the hype. In other words, there is no such thing as bad publicity. And, considering the fact that Netflix is a for-profit company, their incentives aren’t necessarily to make high quality anime that ‘otakus’ (obsessive anime enthusiasts) across the world would love, but rather, to make as much money as possible.

That being said, I doubt Netflix believe that they can’t use this marketing strategy for long. Sooner or later, destroying another big hit like Death Note as a ploy to gain customers, may just backfire, resulting in a decline of people watching the anime, or even worse, a drop in subscriptions.

Netflix Need The Japanese

Over the past few years, Netflix has been trying to increase its library so that up to 50% is formed of original content. But, is including anime as part of that plan beneficial for the anime industry? The Japanese anime industry has been quite stagnant in recent years because it would seem Japanese publishers operate business more cautiously. They tend to avoid taking risks unless they are 100% sure that they would be able to succeed. Consider the fact that the Japanese rely heavily on DVDs, Blue-ray and physical CD sales even though anime is now being consumed on a digital platform and is more profitable, evidently bringing awareness to a larger market in the West.

Nevertheless, anime fans outside of Japan are very passionate about it, so if Netflix are serious about producing quality anime, they need to put their tail between their legs and liaise better with the Japanese industry. They want my advice? The Japanese should produce it and the West should solely distribute it. I refuse to sit through another Death Note.



Daniel is a Mathematics with Computer Science student at the University of Essex. He has a strong passion for technology, specifically machine learning. He is also interested in Hip-Hop, Japanese culture and poetry. In his spare time he loves creating websites.

Twitter: @_dantako

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