Netflix Inc has announced a multi-film deal with Japan’s Studio Colorful, as the streaming giant ramps up its anime offerings and looks to Asia for growth.
Netflix is co-producing three feature films with Studio Colores, including “Drifting Home,” which opens in September, as it invests more in original anime. The film will also be released in theaters nationwide.
Anime has proven to be a draw for Netflix both in Japan, where nearly 90% of its users watch it, and globally, where half of users tuned in last year, with rivals like Amazon and Disney also watching it. compete to offer such content.
“In order to… win globally, we must first win locally,” Kaata Sakamoto, Japan’s vice president for content, told Reuters in an interview.
The Asia-Pacific region was the only bright spot in Netflix’s first-quarter earnings, with the world’s dominant streaming service reporting losing subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. The company said it was seeing “good growth” in the region, including in Japan, where it reported 5 million users in September 2020.
Netflix offers access to a broader audience than the hardcore anime fans the industry traditionally targets, Studio Colorful president Koji Yamamoto told Reuters.
The studio favors stories in which characters are pulled out of their everyday lives by a fantastical turn of events, such as 2018’s “Penguin Highway,” in which an elementary school boy investigates the sudden appearance of penguins in his town.
This family-friendly fare fits in with Netflix’s strategy of expanding its content offerings in Japan, including the release of some 40 original anime titles, scripted dramas like “First Love,” and unscripted series like “Last One Standing.”
“We are increasing our investment in Japanese content, not just in volume but across a variety of genres and formats,” Sakamoto said.
Netflix has also struck deals with national broadcasters, which have been slow to adopt streaming, for content like the long-running variety show “Old Enough!” from NipponTV. The show, which shows very young children running errands for the first time while being filmed by costumed production staff, has generated a stir online. (Reuters)