6 August 2017

A talk about anime, Netflix, Funimation, Sony, Aniplex and Daisuki

Wow, it's been quite a news heavy week on anime side. Usually I don't bother doing "anime news" posts, since most people know to check the ANN and CR news page from time to time. But this time around, I wanted to give a few remarks. Since there's a LOT going on which has a BIG impact on the future of how we watch anime in the future.

As usual, I first looked at this with a negative approach ("All signs of a new anime bubble!"). But after a few days of thinking this through, I realized it may not be as negative as I first thought. It's just... change. And we'll have to adapt to change, whether we like that or not.

Let's go over these news stories one by one.

Netflix announces huge anime lineup for the following year

Sources: Various, from Netflix' YT channel to various press releases on ANN, Comicbooknews and others. This week was a huge week for Netflix announcements concerning anime. Netflix had a huge press conference in Japan and announced several new series coming to Netflix in the following year and gave a few dates for expected updates. Here's the updates to already known titles:
  • Little Witch Academia (second half): August 15
  • Fate Apocrypha (season 1): November 2 (US/CAN), December 2 (rest of world)
  • Kakegurui: 2018 (no exact date)
  • Children of the Whale: Already announced earlier this month, but re-confirmed this Wednesday. The anime starts airing on Netflix Japan this coming Fall season. Rest of the world will be later.
  • Godzilla: Monster Planet: Also a re-confirmation. The animated Godzilla movie will first run in Japanese theaters in November of this year. After the theater run, it will become available on Netflix Worldwide.
  • A.I.C.O. Incarnation: A Studio Bones anime original for Netflix. It's 12 episodes and will air in Spring 2018 (worldwide?).
  • Devilman Crybaby: It's confirmed to be 10 episodes that will air in Spring 2018. If you're unfamiliar with Devilman, Netflix currently streams the series Cyborg 009 Vs Devilman. You may want to watch that if you want to have an idea of what Devilman is about.
  • Baki: I'm excited for this. I like the Baki series manga (127 volumes at this moment and still running) and has already resulted in an OVA and 2 seasons of 24 episodes back in 2001. This new anime is based on the "Baki" sub-series which ran between 1999 and 2005, and will focus on the "Most Evil Death Row Convicts" story arc, which is set after the series that have already been animated (hint). The anime will be animated by TMS Entertainment (I like their more seinen-focused direction in the last few years) and will consist of 26 episodes. The anime will air (in Japan) somewhere in 2017 (I presume in December?). No news on when it will air in the West. Somehow I hope that the other Baki series will get a Netflix release as well. May help re-vive interest in the Baki franchise.
  • Cannon Busters: LeSean Thomas' comic book already had a Shortfilm anime adaptation funded via Kickstarter (cool). An now Studio Satelight is doing a 12-episode series of it. I can only say: Awesome. No specific date yet, but let's assume somewhere in 2018.
  • Lost Song: An anime original series co-created by Liden Films (infamous for Berserk '16) & DWANGO (known for Mirai Nikki among others). The anime will air in Japan starting January '18 and will probably see a release in the West on a later date.
  • Sword Gai: The manga created by the same guy who brought the world Kamen Rider is finally getting an anime adaptation. The production had some delay (it was originally announced back in 2014), but will finally see the light of day this coming Spring 2018... Globally! Animation will be done by Studio DLE inc. (known for Akiba's Trip amonst others).
  • B: the Beginning: First announced as "Perfect Bones", but now renamed to B the Beginning (with B standing for Bones, I guess?). The story is an anime original and created by Studio I.G. And the anime will be released worldwide on Netflix in Spring 2018.
  • Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya: A CG remake of the original Saint Seiya fits in with the dozens of remakes of classic anime series. It was only a matter of time Saint Seiya would be handled. However: The first season of this new series will be 12 episodes and will contain the start up to the Silver Saints Story arc... which was 35 episodes in the original. I have mixed feelings about this. I realize there's a HUGE amount of filler in the original series (not to mention slow pacing), but this reduction is just ridiculous. On animation side, this is a Toei franchise, so it's animated by Toei... in full CG. Also mixed feelings on that.
  • Rilakkuma: Kids anime about bears in Miffy / Hello Kitty style. No surprise, it's from the company behind Hello Kitty. Much ignored by news outlets due to it being a kiddy anime. But presumed release somewhere in 2018.
  • And last but not least... Violet Evergarden: Just announced yesterday in Germany's AnimagiC 2017. Kyoto Animation's new Project already had its first episode premiered at Anime Expo a few weeks ago and did the same now at AnimagiC, with a full panel explaining further details. The show will air on Netflix Japan this upcoming January, with the rest of the world following in Spring 2018.

Lots of good news. But also lots of frustrated people due to the continuous delay of releases between East and West. Kakegurui will be released only "somewhere" in 2018? It's already the most pirated anime this season, and this announced delay is NOT going to help that (*sigh*). The few "worldwide" releases in this press conference may be a sign of changes to come in the future. Let's hope for that.

Oh, and on a side-note: The Live-action Death Note Netflix movie/flop(?) will be available from August 29. That'll be fun times for movie reviewers. I'm going to tune in as well then. Wish me luck.

Financial report states Netflix is in billion-dollar deep debt

Source: L.A. Times

Next to the big fun announcements, Netflix tried to make people forget about this earlier news report. Netflix apparently has a billion dollar debt... but it's normal, according to their investors? That's about the only positive thing I can say about this, but let's just say I'm a bit worried about the continued existence of Netflix.

The L.A. Times has created a report stating that Netflix has a debt of several BILLIONS of dollars (not millions but billions). And while the initial report was wrong, it's still a big red number. The correction?: L.A. Times originally stated the debt was 15.7 billion, while Netflix corrected that to 4.8. Okay, that's less than 10% of initially stated, so a correction was necessary. But 4.8 billion dollar is still a huge debt!

And yes, everybody invested in Netflix finds this apparently pretty normal since Netflix has always worked with debts in order to finance their business. And the financial "game plan" that Netflix has layed-out to its investors has them content with their plans for the future.

I'm no financial expert, so I personally can't say if this is a normal way of working for a streaming service or TV-station. And their financial plan may indeed succeed and bring them many years of success (god, I hope so). But I'm worried, because constant debts aren't healthy for any company. And I'm honestly not alone in this way of thinking. Industry experts are already warning for a "Netflix Bubble". Let's cross fingers and hope this isn't going to be a repeat of the anime bubble from a decade ago...

Funimation is bought by Sony Pictures

Source: Variety

The big surprise early this week was the bomb that Funimation has been bought by Sony Pictures Television Networks (that IS the full name of the TV-series sub branch of Sony) for the sum of $143 million. And yes, while it had been reported earlier this year that "multiple partners" were looking to purchase Funimation, it still feels like a surprise to anime fans in general.

And this should be good news, right? While Funimation is thé standard for licensing and dubbing anime in the US for the past two decades, it's still a relatively small player in the TV and movie business overall (don't forget, anime IS still considered a niche product in the entirety of entertainment). So having a big company like Sony behind its shoulders, should put them in a real solid foundation, and may push anime towards mainstream acceptation, right?

Yes, in theory. But it's having many people worry about the future of anime in America, not to mention the deal with Crunchyroll to share their streaming libraries. Sony Pictures isn't exactly been known for their "great business decisions" in the past few years (putting it nicely here).

There's also the fear that Funimation may close its streaming service all together to have everything move to Sony's online service "Crackle". And if you've never heard of that, neither did I until this week. That's how well known this service is in the world of streaming.

And while I think the dubbing division of Funi is in no risk of any change (in fact, Sony may take use of it), the current distribution partnerships (both of movie releases as physical releases) may have to merge with whatever Sony currently has.

Another good thing is that Funimation will have a hold of all Sony anime movies (like the Cowboy Bebop movie, Satoshi Kon's movies and others). Bad thing is that Funi may have to focus their dubbing efforts in Sony/Aniplex projects (read as: anything A1 Pictures spits out, whether it's "good" or horribly bad) and less on other projects.

But a lot of these questions are still up in the air. ANN's Answerman has tried to answer some questions. But for other effects, we'll have to see what announcements are going to be made in the coming weeks/months.

Although, while talking about Aniplex projects...

Daisuki officially ends on October 31

Source: Daisuki itself

One of the bigger Streaming Services of legal anime is Daisuki. I have been praising the service as one of the alternative streaming services. This service was part of Bandai-Namco and held most of its titles (availability depended on licenses).

And yes, It has quite a few anime series on its site, like Eromanga Sensei, a LOT of Gundam series including Iron-Blooded Orphans, Tales of Zesteria the X, One Punch Man and several others. Yes, even here in Belgium.

But people were aware that things had "slowed down" on the site recently. Several of its licenses were either ending or became available on other streaming sites (like the Gundam series becoming available on Crunchyroll) and no real new titles were added this summer season (that I'm aware of). They were also absent from recent anime conventions where they usually took part in.

So Tuesday came the announcement that the streaming service is officially ending at the end of October and in December everything that was connected to Daisuki will be removed from the internet.

Has this something to do with the Funimation deal? Yes, definitely! Aniplex (subsidiary of Sony) is one of the five studios who was partnered with Daisuki and had 13.4% of its shares. So yes, there IS a connection between the two cases.

Is this bad or good? THAT all depends on what the four other anime studios backing Daisuki are going to do. Aniplex obviously is going to use Funimation and/or Sony's streaming services for their anime. But are they going to "involve" the other animation studios behind Daisuki as well into their new plans (like Toei and TMS), or did Aniplex bail this "team-up" all together? The coming months will probably provide us with more answers.


There have been some questions about the financial gains of streaming sites in general, not to mention anime streaming sites (which, once again, is a niche). But all these news messages in this post are a sign that the anime industry is changing in general. If anything, I think this may push anime into actual mainstream and out of its niche.

I'll be following the anime industry related news more closely now. And it's bound to follow.

Until next time, V out.

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