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Netflix bets on anime to battle Disney, Apple in streaming wars

Masatsugu Horie, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

Disney Plus, which launches Nov. 12 for $6.99 a month, will cost about half as much as Netflix and offer a library of movies and TV shows backed by its huge franchises, including "The Avengers" and "Star Wars," to "The Simpsons" and "Toy Story."

"Because Disney has pre-existing media and an established brand, Netflix will have to make sure its viewers retain a lifestyle in which they watch Netflix daily," Hasegawa said.

To gain an edge, Netflix is bringing its strategy of developing original exclusive shows to anime as well. The film "Roma" was nominated in 10 Academy Awards, categories and series such as "The Crown" have won Golden Globe Awards.

Now, Netflix says it is developing a library of exclusive anime shows, clinching long-term partnerships with five of Japan's notable animation studios.

The result of that partnership is "Ultraman," a animated reboot of the classic Japanese show of the silver-suited hero battling giant monsters. The exclusive series was developed with Kenji Kamiyama, the anime director who's works include a series for "Ghost in the Shell," and Shinji Aramaki, another well-known director whose designs were behind the Gundam series.

The two directors said developing shows for Netflix gave them more control over the story and content, such as being able to show gory scenes of monsters being vanquished, which is usually suppressed for on-air shows. "I see distributors such as Netflix as another turning point for the anime industry," Kamiyama said.

Netflix isn't the only player invested in Japanese anime to give them an edge. Amazon Prime and Apple's iTunes also offer some of Japanese anime shows, and Amazon has also released an original anime series, "Blades of the Immortal." Disney will have new Star Wars and Marvel animated series available on their service, seeking to attract core fans from the two works.

 

But Netflix is confident it can ride out the competition. With long-term partnerships with local studios that are slated to bring original series one after another, Netflix is set to have a steady flow of Japanimation under the belt. The company has also gone beyond to dabble in experimenting with new type of animation along with partner Production I.G., announcing that they're developing the world's first hand-drawn, 4K HDR animation series.

"We're going to partner with studios for 5 years, 10 years, so they can take that money to have certainty of revenue and invest in space and tool and people," said Derderian. "We're in an anime boom, but we're not investing in boom-or-bust cycle."

(With assistance from Shoko Oda.)

(c)2019 Bloomberg News

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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