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From sharing site to anime giant, Crunchyroll is marching forward

TOKYO – Once a semi-legal sharing site, Crunchyroll is now a streaming giant credited with helping transform Japanese anime from a nerdy subculture into a lucrative global industry poised to conquer new markets .

This year, for the first time, the US-based company hosted its annual Anime Awards in Tokyo, where the art form’s heavyweights gathered to receive some of the industry’s highest accolades – and a sign of Crunchyroll’s influence.

Sony acquired the company for $1.17 billion in 2020, and Crunchyroll now offers anime in over 10 languages ​​across 15 platforms.

Its evolution from a site featuring user-generated content that faced copyright claims to a platform with over 10 million paying subscribers has helped skyrocket the popularity of Japanese anime.

“We are very excited that it is becoming a global movement and being embraced around the world,” Crunchyroll President Rahul Purini told AFP at the awards ceremony.

This year’s presenters included Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard and filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, a testament to “how anime has not only grown, but has become such a big part of the mainstream cultural zeitgeist,” said the chief marketing officer Gita Rebapragada.

While classics like Spirited Away and One Piece have long had loyal followings, anime has grown exponentially in recent years, helped in part by a pandemic-driven demand for indoor entertainment.

According to the Association of Japanese Animations, the global market for Japanese anime grew by 13 percent in 2021 all-time high of 2.74 trillion yen ($20 billion).

– “Not one size fits all” –

In the United States, “there is a surprisingly wide understanding that (anime) is not children’s animation,” Rebbaprada said.

“Opening weekend number ones are no longer uncommon for an anime film.”

Crunchyroll can claim some credit: it’s now billed as the world’s largest online anime library, with a presence in over 200 countries and territories.

It offers anime, games, and manga on its platforms, distributes animated films to US theaters, publishes manga, and sells anime-related merchandise.

However, when it was founded in 2006, it was teetering on the brink of legality as most of its content was pirated, user-made cartoon uploads that often raised copyright issues.

It broke new ground by launching a fully-licensed subscription plan in 2009 and has won over fans who love to give back to the creators.

The Company believes that the breadth of titles on offer is in part the reason for the growing anime market, whose content is moving beyond the traditional “Shonen (Boys)” anime and focusing on coming-of-age stories about swashbuckling heroes .

“A lot of people are familiar with ‘Dragon Ball,’ it’s a big franchise, but there are unique opportunities for something like ‘Spy x Family,'” said chief operating officer Brady McCollum, referring to the recent comedy hit with one telepathic girls and their fake parents.

The ingredients for a good anime are “not one size fits all,” he said.

– ‘anime can come from anywhere’ –

For those who are unfamiliar with anime and can sometimes assume that the cartoon format is intended for children, violent or sexual content may come as a surprise.

Anime is a “medium that spans many different genres,” Rebbaprada said.

“There will be a lot of things – some of which will be less palatable to some viewers than others.”

The company anticipates “really strong growth in anime and for ourselves,” particularly in newer markets like India, Rebbapragada said.

The growth of anime has also drawn competition from Japan’s neighbors such as China and South Korea, with Your Name director Makoto Shinkai recently telling AFP that he believes Chinese animation will “overtake us sooner or later”.

Most of Crunchyroll’s anime titles are still Japanese, although the company is seeing major advances in Chinese anime and will be streaming the adaptation of South Korea’s best-selling webcomic, Solo Leveling.

“I think anime can come from anywhere,” Rebbaprada said.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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