The days of anime being a niche medium are fading. Decades ago, the only way fans could get their hands on anime was to find bootleg VHS copies with questionable subtitles. These days, there are streaming sites dedicated to the medium while programs like Toonami air anime on cable. And, if the folks at Netflix have their say, then the medium will become even bigger worldwide than it is already.
Recently, Japan Times sat down with Netflix’s director of anime to talk about the company’s interest in anime. Taito Okiura is the man behind Netflix’s anime acquisition and production. The creator is a vetted one in Japan, and Okiura is just an example of how Netflix plans to make a name for itself within the anime industry.
When it comes to anime, the company wants to bring in vetted talent who have the skills to create in-house series. Acquisition is an important task Netflix must undertake if it wants to tout a competitive catalog, but in-house productions will make the website a dark horse in the industry. Just this year, Netflix has already released two major anime adaptations which it co-produced, and they were not meager series. No, the streaming site gave Godzilla and Devilman a try, and the latter series garnered wide praise from critics.
Okiura didn’t coordinate those original titles all on his own, but his clout did help Japanese animation studios open a dialogue with Netflix. As a producer, Okiura is best-known for his work on Afro Samurai, but his biggest achievement rests with David Production. The man co-founded the company before Fuji TV bought it, and David Production partially oversaw major titles like Code Geass, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Tiger & Bunny, and dozens more. Okiura is respected as a multi-talented producer with a wide range of experience, and his work with Netflix has given the company a door into Japan’s multi-billion dollar business.
According to Okiura, anime is “graduating from niche market to major player” thanks to on-going globalization efforts. The producer admits Netflix will not be able to support every studio in Japan, but the company’s interest in anime is heading up interest in the medium. Not only have foreign brands such as Amazon toed into anime following Netflix’s push, but Japanese studios have expanded their brands domestically. If you live in Japan, then Netflix has the largest anime library on the web, and US fans can only hope their local catalog will get such an expansion in the near future.
Do you think Netflix could be heading up a global shift for the anime industry? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!