Netflix is making a big play for anime, and it could end up changing the industry in a positive way.
The streaming giant previously revealed they are investing around $8 billion in original content, and that includes the production of 30 original anime projects. Other streaming services offer anime, but Netflix is going above and beyond, and it might just change some industry standards for the better.
Part of that can be attributed to Netflix going straight to the studio as opposed to going through production committees, the standard in Japan. Production committees are made up of several companies (anywhere from 5 to 15) and almost operate as a sort of insurance net for projects. Each company involved shares a certain amount of cost and risk, keeping any one company from taking a bath if it goes wrong. Likewise, they all share in the reward if it goes well.
Unfortunately, that reward also goes to advertising agencies, Tv stations, and newspapers, which have a stake in the production so they'll cover and promote it. Netflix's process will bypass the committee, and that means it will also bypass strict TV station budgets, which have also been attributed to subpar working conditions in production houses, being as they can't afford to pay more and have to work long hours to make these projects happen.
"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," Joseph Chou told THR. Chou is a producer for Toei Animation, who is working 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."
The loss Chou is referring to has become an unfortunate normal one for studios. Production houses typically operate at a loss during the anime's initial television run, having to recoup those losses and make some sort of profit on merchandise after the fact.
Netflix's approach also means the TV stations don't have creative control over the productions, and many see that as a good thing, including TMS VP of distribution and licensing Kotaro Yoshikawa.
"There's no TV station involved to say what needs to be done to make something okay for broadcast," Yoshikawa said. "Though we may still have to make adjustments, like reducing the amount of blood on screen, for versions that will be broadcast on television."
Animators need saving. Netflix isn't changing the environment behind anime productions. Just licensing for large amounts of ¥. https://t.co/Rt4ujSVRwm— YonkouProductions (@YonkouProd) October 30, 2017
Some don't think anime needs saving at all, and others don't see Netflix as the ones to fix what's wrong, like Yonkou Productions "Animators need saving. Netflix isn't changing the environment behind anime productions. Just licensing for large amounts of ¥."
When asked about the subject, Anime News Network's Justin Sevakis sums it up perfectly.
"The impact could be relatively small, like when Random House and Kodansha joined forces for manga publishing, and the end result was simply more books being published in English faster," Sevakis said. "Or we could end up seeing ads for new series on bus stops and billboards in the middle of shopping malls all over America. The small town of anime fandom is becoming a city. And as a city