Crunchyroll, the anime and manga platform and community, continues to make big moves to increase anime’s accessibility outside of Japan.
In 2015, they started a joint venture with Sumitomo to fund co-produced anime, giving them the ability to immediately acquire foreign distribution rights. Last year, they partnered with Funimation, allowing the two companies to share titles. And today, they announced a partnership with NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan (NUEJ) to co-develop new anime with “international appeal.”
Comments from the Partners
The collaboration builds on Crunchyroll’s previous role as NUEJ’s international distribution partner, which brought series like BERSERK and DRIFTERS to a global audience. Via the official press release, Crunchyroll Co-Founder and General Manager Kun Gao had this to say on their new relationship: “Crunchyroll and NUEJ share a passion for producing anime that has widespread appeal around the globe. The partnership made sense as an exciting opportunity to bring more high-quality content to the anime community. We are excited to build off our relationship with NUEJ to collaborate on green-lighting new titles that anime fans will love.”
“Crunchyroll has always been a trusted partner in bringing the series we produce to screens everywhere internationally,” said James Takagi, NUEJ’s Managing Director. “With Crunchyroll, we will make the newest and best anime titles accessible to audiences outside of Japan. Together, we look forward to working with fresh and exciting talent to bring anime fans around the world more of what they love — premium anime content.”
Adaptations of existing titles and new projects are set to come out of the partnership, with the juicy stuff — details on the series they’re creating — to come at a later date. When asked over email for further comment on when fans can expect to hear more, Gao said: “To our knowledge, a collaboration of this scale has not been done in the past. Ultimately, we want to tell amazing stories with anime as the vehicle and want to make sure the end result is something we feel really good about. It is as much about the process, and it’s done when it’s done.”
As for what kind of series they’re looking to make, they haven’t made too many decisions yet. “The great thing about anime is the variety of genres, and we are open to all of them,” Gao told ComicsVerse. “At the end of the day, it’s about telling amazing stories, character development, all the things that make a great show great, told in the way that only anime can — suspending disbelief and drawing viewers into incredible worlds.” Meaning it could be a while before we see the fruits of the partnership, but it should be worth the wait.
ComicsVerse also asked Gao whether he was wary of developing content for a global audience in the long-run. The question was a response to Deb Aoki’s article on the reasons the American comics market is losing readers and viewers to manga and anime, in which a tweet from comics creator and storyboard artist Jake Wyatt was used where he explained that “US studios are driven by breadth,” while “the markets for manga & anime allow/demand a lot of niche content for specific audiences.” “We are not restricting ourselves to any particular IP source,” Gao replied, “and I think if you set out to do what you creatively want to do — tell stories that we ourselves as fans want to watch, hopefully there will be others like us who will enjoy it as well.”