Anime broadcasters gain new viewers on TikTok
Plus: Think tank calls on gov't to reform anime industry; Anime comes to Sony Honda electric vehicle; Introducing comic book grading for manga; and more
This is the weekly newsletter of Animenomics, covering the business of anime and manga. Today is Wednesday, January 17, 2024.
In case you missed it: Yoichi Takahashi is ending his Captain Tsubasa manga series after more than 40 years, citing his declining health.
Publisher Shueisha told Japanese media that the story of the title character could continue in another format, such as anime, but not as manga.
Nippon Television finds new anime audiences on TikTok
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End has been climbing Japan’s television ratings since it first aired in September, thanks to a savvy social media approach on TikTok by broadcaster Nippon Television.
Why it matters: Nippon Television’s success with TikTok suggests that the social media platform could become a means for Japanese television networks to attract and engage with younger audiences.
“Through this initiative, we found that TikTok users are watching television, and we have reaffirmed the compatibility between the two mediums,” Nippon Television marketing communications producer Naoya Inoue told MarkeZine.
By the numbers: A brand lift survey found that 30 percent of users watched Frieren after Nippon Television ran ads for the series on the platform, said TikTok for Business client partner Hidetake Ushijima.
Ushijima also said the ads led to increased awareness of Frieren among users, with two out of three respondents answering they had heard about the series.
How it happened: Nippon Television advertised Frieren on TopView, an ad format that shows sponsored content in full screen when a user opens the TikTok app.
The ads were created using TikTok Creative Exchange, a service connecting brands and creative agencies that launched in Japan last November.
Zoom in: Frieren earned an average household rating of 4.8 percent and average individual rating of 2.8 percent for the week of January 1, according to household survey data by Video Research.
These are the highest ratings for the program since it first aired in September in a popular two-hour timeslot usually reserved for feature films.
Only three anime programs, all family-oriented, had more viewers: Detective Conan, Sazae-san, and Chibi Maruko-chan.
Think tank calls for gov’t-led reform of anime industry
Government policymakers must regulate the distribution of business capital and strengthen labor bargaining power in Japan’s anime industry, according to a newly published economic policy paper by the Japan Research Institute.
Why it matters: The policy paper is the first by a Japanese think tank to advocate for government intervention in order to reform the anime industry.
It is authored by JRI senior economist Yosuke Yasui, who studies the labor market and macroeconomic policy.
What they’re saying: The paper contends that overseas anime sales has the potential to climb to ¥5 trillion (US34 billion), nearly 1 percent of Japan’s GDP and more than triple current figures.
Yasui believes the government must help establish a labor union styled after The Animation Guild in the United States to improve working conditions, prevent a “race to the bottom” in wages, and attract new anime talent.
Yasui also proposes for anime studios to be able to retain 30 percent of an anime production’s intellectual property for a ten-year period to improve their financial stability.
Most drastically, Yasui calls on the government to investigate production committee transactions for potential violations of the Antimonopoly Act and the Subcontract Act when contracting anime studios.
Bottom line: Overseas revenues in the anime industry are not flowing into the hands of anime studios and anime workers, and the author believes government action is necessary to correct this imbalance.
Clippings: Sony Honda EV to add Crunchyroll content
A Crunchyroll executive suggested that the Afeela electric vehicle developed by Sony Honda Mobility that was revealed at CES 2024 will include anime watching features from Crunchyroll. (M. Darren Traub on LinkedIn)
Layoffs at Amazon Prime Video’s Southeast Asia unit is prompting the streamer to shift from original productions toward licensing more Asian regional content, including anime. (Deadline)
Anime director Kunihiko Ikuhara won a defamation lawsuit, previously reported by Animenomics, against a woman who claimed her work had been plagiarized. A court ordered her to pay ¥1.21 million (US$8,200) in damages. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Toei Animation’s metaverse project Onn’on Studios is organizing a virtual anime festival later this month on the VRChat online virtual world platform. (Animation Business Journal)
A Japanese tech executive group is promoting the use of blockchain technology for the anime industry to address ethical and coypright concerns around the use and training of generative AI systems. (Cartoon Brew)
School comedy ‘Skip and Loafer’ wins Chinese viewers
“The most-viewed Japanese anime overseas are action and ‘isekai’ titles, so when it comes to day-to-day school titles like Skip and Loafer, there are some reservations from the [licensee] side. Also, schools overseas don’t have Japan’s school club system. Would such differences in school life from Japan be accepted by Chinese audiences?”
— Zhang Zhanhao, Overseas Licensing Manager, DMM Pictures
Context: DMM, an e-commerce and Internet company which began producing anime in 2017, interviewed the planning team of last year’s Skip and Loafer anime about the title’s popularity in China.
Catch up quick: Skip and Loafer won the Golden Dragon Award for Best Overseas Animation at last year’s China International Comics Festival in Guangzhou.
The series had a high engagement rate on the Weibo social media platform and was scored the highest on streaming platform Bilibili out of all anime titles released in China last year, said Zhang.
Of note: Skip and Loafer’s story is set in Ishikawa Prefecture, which was struck by an earthquake earlier this month. The series and its original manga are helping bring the attention of fans to the region as it begins the recovery process.
Beckett brings comic book grading to manga market
Beckett Collectibles, a trading card and comic book grading and authentication company based in Plano, Texas, is expanding its services to manga volumes, a sign of manga’s growing desirability in the United States.
Why it matters: As interest in American comic books wane after the COVID-19 pandemic, manga is emerging as the next market for collectors.
How it works: Beckett hires a verifier to research the submitted manga before it is sent to two graders for a quality assessment and assigned a final grade.
The manga is then sent for encapsulation in a PETG plastic case, which when opened will invalidate the assigned grade.
Beckett says it can grade and authenticate manga published in any language.
Zoom out: Grading and authentication of secondhand anime and manga items may be a new concept in the United States, but not in Japan.
As previously reported by Animenomics, secondhand retailer Mandarake, which has been authenticating and appraising items for decades, has sold items at auction for millions of yen (tens of thousands of U.S. dollars).
Yes, but: Mandarake’s lucrative business is based on the sale of rare items such as animation cel drawings and manga manuscripts, not entire manga volumes intended for mass market distribution.
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