The two firms have created joint venture AK Holdings Corporation, in which Sony has a majority. AK will operate the two companies’ existing Japanese animation channels, Animax and Kids Station, and also produce and distribute animation content.
With plans to expand into live animation events and to manage animation-themed restaurants, the operation is looking at worldwide expansion. The scheduled launch date is March 31.
“Anime has grown to become a major cultural export with massive commercial appeal around the world,” said Masao Takiyama, managing director of SPEJ Television Network, and representative director of Kids Station and Animax, in a statement. “Combining the strengths of Sony’s Animax with Mitsui’s Kids Station will allow us to increase our production capacity and reach fans of all ages in Japan and around the world.”
Operated under Sony Pictures Television Networks, Animax has a presence in 28 countries. With a focus on children, Kids Station was launched in 1993. Mitsui owns a 67% stake, with Tokyo Broadcasting Systems holding 16%, Jupiter Telecoms 15% and the Horipro agency 2%.