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TIFFCOM: China Market Propelling Japan’s Anime to New Scale and Form

Japanese anime and manga have made big advances in the foreign market in the current decade, especially Asia. China has played a large part in that.

In 2011 the total Asian market for anime was $1.2 billion and for manga, $356 million, a seminar at TIFFCOM titled “Overseas Expansion and Adaptation of Manga,” was told on Wednesday. By 2016 those figures had grown to $2.7 billion and $421 million, respectively.

Chinese companies are now partnering with their Japanese counterparts to reduce, through simulcasting and other means, the piracy that once plagued the market.

“Chinese broadcasters still can’t broadcast foreign programs, including anime, freely,” explained Megumi Onouchi, representing the Association of Japanese Animations. “But Chinese IT companies are strengthening their investments in partnerships with Japan and we can expect substantial business growth in China.”

Shueisha, a major Japanese publisher, and Hangzhou FanFan Comic Group, a Chinese publisher specializing in comics, have developed a different approach to bridging cultural and bureaucratic barriers while expanding their businesses. In addition to converting Shueisha manga to Chinese versions, including titles in the “One Piece,” “Naruto,” “Bleach” and “Dragon Ball” franchises, FanFan is developing its own manga business, and is now publishing its manga in Japan with Shueisha’s backing.

One is “Gunjou no Magmel,” a fantasy comic about explorers of a new continent that appears in the Pacific Ocean. First released in June 2015, it has been serialized in FanFan’s OK! Comic and Shueisha’s Shonen Jump – Japan’s largest weekly comic magazine. Four paperback collections of the comic have been published in Japan and an anime film is set for release in January 2019.

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Other Chinese titles for Japan publication and possible anime adaptation have been developed by the partners.  “But the ultimate key to success is to develop a hit game for smartphones and other platforms,” said FanFan president Shen Hao. “That’s where the biggest growth in the Chinese market will come.”

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