Anime market outside Japan grew 11% in 2022
Plus: Binding fees surge among anime workers; Golden Globes nominate anime films; Early anime mecca towns chart future after tourism boom; and more
This is the weekly newsletter of Animenomics, covering the business of anime and manga. Today is Wednesday, December 13, 2023.
In case you missed it: The Boy and the Heron was North America’s highest-earning film last weekend, generating nearly US$13 million in revenue, more than double the entire earnings of Hayao Miyazaki’s previous film The Wind Rises.
Rewind: This is the third year in a row an anime film has debuted at the top of North American weekend box office rankings.
Anime revenues abroad to overtake domestic market
Overseas revenues for the Japanese anime industry climbed 11.1 percent last year, nearly reaching the size of the domestic market, according to new data compiled by the Association of Japanese Animations.
Why it matters: Excluding a blip in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 data puts the anime industry on track earn more money abroad than in Japan this year or in the near future.
By the numbers: Overseas anime revenues stood at ¥1.46 trillion (US$10 billion) in 2022, just behind the ¥1.47 trillion (US$10.1 billion) for Japan’s domestic market.
Domestically, physical home video sales of anime Blu-ray and DVD continue to decline, while streaming revenues are growing.
Merchandising remains the largest source of revenue in Japan, accounting for approximately 45 percent of that market.
Zoom in: A report published by Nikkei Entertainment magazine suggests that the revenue contribution of mobile games based on anime is significant.
Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle, One Piece Bounty Rush, and The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross have climbed mobile game rankings in multiple countries.
The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) does not disclose what portion of overseas revenues comes from sales of broadcast rights.
What we’re watching: The AJA’s annual Anime Industry Report will be published on Thursday, with more detailed breakdowns of each market segment.
Binding contracts surge among anime studio workers
Japan’s animation production studios are increasingly relying on binding fees in employment contracts to secure manpower for anime productions, a new survey by the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) found.
Why it matters: JAniCA’s survey data points to a tight labor market even as producers are commissioning a historically high number of anime productions.
Studios use binding fees to reward animators for committing long-term to an anime project on top of standard payment rates.
By the numbers: Of the more than 400 anime industry workers who responded to the survey, 55.8 percent were a contract employee, freelance, or self-employed.
Contracts that fully bind independent animators to anime projects have existed for years, but rising use of partially binding contracts is a recent trend.
Between the lines: Veteran animators are more likely to be offered binding fees in their contracts because their experience is highly desired by studios.
This is reflected in the 2017 and 2021 survey data, which saw higher average years of experience among respondents compared to the 2013 data, possibly contributing to the higher share of contracts with binding fees.
Zoom out: Survey respondents also indicate working on more anime productions for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as feature films, in the last three years.
This trend is contrasted with decreasing amount of work for television anime and direct-to-video productions.
The fine print: There is a significant time lag in the JAniCA survey results, which means it may not fully reflect current conditions.
The survey was conducted between October and December of last year and asked questions about working conditions in 2021.
Clippings: Golden Globes nominate two anime films
Suzume and The Boy and the Heron received Best Animated Motion Picture nominations in the 81st Golden Globe Awards. The Boy and the Heron composer Joe Hisaishi also earned a nomination for Best Original Score. (Jiji Press)
Suzume’s nomination is a win for Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures, which have been pushing it in the current U.S. film awards season, even bringing it back to North American theaters in October.
Anime News Network editors told attendees of its Anime NYC panel last month that the 25-year-old news platform struggles to attract Gen Z readers, continuing to draw millennials and older generations instead. (Anime Herald)
Animenomics reported the same trend with traditional anime news outlets in other parts of the world.
Japanese anime companies are demanding more input and control on foreign adaptations of its properties, pushing back on Netflix and content producers that seek exclusive rights. (Bloomberg Screentime)
Private broadcaster TV Asahi acquired a 12.6 percent stake in Kotobukiya, becoming the anime character figure and plastic model manufacturer’s largest shareholder as the broadcaster seeks to grow its IPs. (Animation Business Journal)
MyAnimeList is partnering with Tokyo-based marketing agency Thirty Three to provide services for overseas marketing support in the anime and manga industry. (Press release)
Disclosure: The author is a former database moderator and news managing editor at MyAnimeList.
Ghibli directed English title change for Miyazaki film
“The call came from inside the house. I can’t speak to the exact reasons for the title change, but I think there was a desire to move away from the name of the book, as people were constantly mistaking the movie for an adaptation.”
— Dave Jesteadt, GKIDS president on The Boy and the Heron
Context: U.S. film industry website IndieWire spoke at length with executives at GKIDS and The Boy and the Heron’s voice team about the film’s English-language dub, recorded at New York City-based NYAV Post.
Zoom out: Jesteadt’s anecdote corrects a commonly held misconception that overseas licensees determine how to localize anime titles. Such decisions are almost always dictated by Japanese rightsholders.
Regional towns chart future after anime mecca boom
More than a decade after many Japanese small and rural towns began to promote themselves as pilgrimage sites for anime fans, these meccas of anime tourism are evaluating their future as the works inspired by these towns fade from popularity.
Why it matters: Some anime tourism destinations are trying to remain relevant in a time of abundant anime content, even as overtourism becomes a concern elsewhere with tourists returning.
Driving the story: Shundo Kakizaki, a former anime magazine writer who leads tours to places used as anime settings, told the WithNews web portal that the tourism industry’s idea of a generic anime fan no longer exists.
Kakizaki highlights the fact that the number of anime production exceeds 300 annually. “Given this situation, no one can watch everything, so you won’t be able to call yourself an ‘anime fan’. We all have different favorite genres.”
What’s happening: Two towns outside Tokyo that became settings for popular anime in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami have continued to reinvent themselves as those shows age.
Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, was the setting of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and is also the hometown of its screenwriter, Mari Okada. After the series concluded with a movie in 2013, Chichibu continued to hold screenings of Okada’s subsequent anime projects to create excitement.
When Komoro in Nagano Prefecture became the setting for Waiting in the Summer in 2012, local inn owner Ryuta Hanaoka believed it would be difficult to sustain visitor interest with a single feature, so he began helping the tourism bureau collaborate with other manga and anime works set in Komoro.
Bottom line: “If a town wants to revitalize itself with anime and appeal to domestic and foreign tourists, I think it’s important to target people as fans of individual works, rather than just the vague existence of anime fans,” Kakizaki said.
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