Author Topic: Anime History in Japan  (Read 130 times)

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Anime History in Japan
« on: January 13, 2022, 09:38:21 PM »
Japan: A Worldwide Conqueror through Animation

Japan is a major player in some aspects of the media and entertainment industry. In particular, it is strong in the global trading of animation and horror films. Japanese animé (animation) and horror movies represent a level of expertise that is not seen in any other country. In the last few decades, Japan’s film and animation industries have been remarkably successful both in their home and in the overseas markets. One of the reasons why Japanese films and animations have made their mark worldwide is their themes.
Japanese film exports are highly concentrated on animations and horror movies. Figures 13.1 and 13.2 depict the market share of Japanese animation films and their box office revenues. Animation films accounted for the majority of Japanese exports to the United States. For example, between 2000 and 2008, 91% of the Japanese titles released in the US market were animations whereas other genres of films accounted only for 8%. The figure was 60% for Italy, and 27% for South Korea. Horror films comprised 44% of Japan’s film exports to South Korea. In general, Japanese animation makes up more than 60% of the world animation market.
Bar graph illustrating Japanese animation’s market share, with vertical bars for years 1992 (132.7), 1993 (133.8), 1994 (140.8), 1995 (161.1), 1996 (159.8), 1997 (163.7), 1998 (165.1), 1999 (151.9), etc.
Figure 13.1 Japanese animation’s market share, 1992–2003.
Source: Based on data from JETRO, 2005a.
Bar graph illustrating box office revenues for feature-length animations in Japan, with vertical bars for years 1997 (37.9), 1998 (20.1), 1999 (22.1), 2000 (25.3), 2001 (53.3), 2002 (37.7), and 2003 (33.7).
Figure 13.2 Box office revenues for feature‐length animations in Japan, 1997–2003.
Source: Based on data from JETRO, 2005a.
The big‐hit films in Japan’s domestic market or the films that win awards at international film festivals are widely distributed abroad. For example, Howl’s Moving Castle, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 and won another eight awards in 2005–2006, broke several records at the Japanese box office and was shown in many foreign countries such as Korea, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States (WebJapan, 2005). According to statistics published by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in November 2004, the film’s success raised the total animated film ticket sales to 16 times more than in the same month of the previous year.
In order to expand its global reach, Japanese film production companies started joint productions with their American or other Asian counterparts. For example, Disney is now buying Japanese animé, together with games and other products, for distribution in other regions. It is also considering joint film and animé productions in Japan. Disney has established an entertainment content purchasing division within its Japanese subsidiary. Like Disney, many foreign television stations and distribution companies are now investing in animation and film productions in Japan or in joint productions with Japanese companies.
An animé production company, IG, whose productions Ghost in the Shell and other titles won numerous overseas fans, established a US subsidiary that retains lawyers and accountants familiar with American business practices and legal affairs to help their sales negotiations and joint productions with American distributors. Another major production company, Toei Animation, also established a US subsidiary in 2004.
Using new communication technology, Japanese producers and distributors are testing a new global joint venture. Toei Animation is now distributing animation titles via the Internet, and its consumers can directly download and watch their programs from its archives. Since the direct sales from the producer to the consumer through the Internet allows consumers all over the world to access the content without distributors or exhibitors, consumers can enjoy the programs at a more reasonable price and in relative comfort. Hal Film Maker set up a joint venture with a Chinese company for animé production, programming, and character merchandising (Japan External Trade Organization, 2005a). With these new approaches, Japanese animation and films are aiming to expand business across various regions in the world. In the past few years, Japanese animation market sales have increased by 5.1% from $1.48 billion in 2006 to $1.88 billion in 2011.
Many Japanese productions are increasingly outsourcing to subcontractors in China, Korea, and elsewhere. They send original prints and other digital data to the subcontractors for animating, coloring, and other less complex operations. While Japanese production companies concentrate on planning, financing, and other processes that require high expertise, the subcontractors perform the more mundane tasks of animating and coloring the work. Some market experts estimate that over 90% of the Japanese animation industry is outsourced. Most market experts agreed that Japanese animation production’s outsourcing stands at 60%. There is no doubt that very few animation titles are produced solely in Japan now. For example, Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation company headed by the world‐renowned directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, subcontracted part of the work on Spirited Away to Korean companies. Some animation productions now even have their own production studios in other countries. For example, Toei Animation has more than 130 employees at its production house in the Philippines (Bynum, 2008).
The remaking of Japanese films has recently been very popular in Hollywood. After the remake of a Japanese horror film, The Ring, turned out to be a big hit in the US market in 2002, many American film producers have bought the rights from Japanese films (mainly horror films) and animations. As shown in Table 13.1, recently remade Japanese films include The Grudge, Dark Water, Pulse, The Ring, The Ring Two, and Shall We Dance? The Ring and The Grudge were the most profitable in the US market. Remade by DreamWorks, it garnered more than $129 million in the US box office and $230 million worldwide, almost six times the remake cost. DreamWorks bought the remake from the director Nakata Hideo for only $1.2 million and spent another $40 million to remake the film (Xu, 2008). Between 1996 and 2008, 10 Japanese films were remade by the major Hollywood studios. Table 13.1 shows the titles, genres, and release years of these films.

Remake title   Japanese title   Genre   Year   Total gross ($million)   No. of theaters
Last Man Standing   Yojimbo   Action   1996   18   2,579
Godzilla   Godzilla series   Action   1998   136   3,310
The Ring   Ringu   Horror   2002   129   2,927
The Grudge   Juon: The Grudge   Horror   2004   110   3,348
Shall We Dance?   Shall We Dance?   Drama   2004   58   2,542
The Ring Two   Ringu   Horror   2005   76   3,341
Dark Water   Honogurai mizu no soko kara   Horror   2005   25   2,657
Eight Below   Antarctica   Adventure   2006   82   3,122
The Grudge 2   Juon: The Grudge 2   Horror   2006   39   3,214
Pulse   Kairo   Horror   2006   18   2,323

The remakes in recent years have received much more attention than previous remakes of Japanese films because of their scale and profitability. Previous remakes were isolated and random events, but in recent years marketing strategies have changed. For example, the Americanized Ring’s success was followed by other sales of Japanese horror films such as Ring Two (purchased by DreamWorks), Dark Water (purchased by Disney), and Jouon (purchased by Columbia Pictures) (Bynum, 2008; Xu, 2008).

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