Once seen as little more than a fan-subbing and streaming site by the Japanese animation industry, Crunchyroll has since entered the Japanese market as both a major buyer of and investor in anime titles.
From its Tokyo regional office, the company has recently launched a co-production project with Korean partners that Nobuhiko Kurosu, Crunchyroll senior producer, business development calls “the first of its kind.” “We can’t reveal the title yet but it’s in the suspense/horror genre, similar to ‘Tales of the Unknown’,” says Kurosu. He was speaking at TIFFCOM, the rights market associated with the Tokyo International Film Festival. “The plan is to make 12 30-minute episodes for TV broadcast in both Japan and Korea, followed by worldwide distribution.”
The company has invested in nearly 70 anime titles over the past three years for airing on NHK, TV Tokyo and other Japanese broadcasters, but international distribution is also a priority. “We release them in eight languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Arabic and Russian,” Kurosu explains. “We also dub them for the worldwide market.”
Three or four Crunchyroll-backed titles are currently broadcast monthly on Japanese TV, but the company is now ramping up the pace. “By 2018 we plan to invest in 100 titles a year and be acquiring 100, for a total of 200,” says Kurosu.
Crunchyroll finds anime stories in manga, “light novels” and other properties, but has recently made an anime series, “Urahara,” from an original story. The series, about three high school girls who band together to save their beloved Harajuku – a Tokyo hot spot for teen fashion – from an alien invasion, began broadcasting on Tokyo MX from Oct. 5. “We hope to do more projects of this type in the future,” says Kurosu. “We look for good material from a range of sources.”