This story appears in the December 2020 issue of Television Asia Plus.

Since the 1950s, entertainment powerhouse Nippon TV has been producing classic anime series that have since been loved by Japan and the world. Titles produced by Nippon TV include series such as Lupin The 3rd, ANPANMAN, MONSTER, DEATH NOTE, Ouran High School Host Club, CLAYMORE, HUNTER X HUNTER, Chihayafuru Series, Parasyte -the maxim-, Death Parade, and most recently, Sorcerous Stabber Orphen.

In October 2020, the champion broadcaster launched its very own Anime Department within its Business Development division headed by Miss Kako Kuwahara, who serves as the Executive Vice President of Business Development. The department will be producing and distributing anime series not just in Japan but internationally as well. 

A response to the global demand for Japanese anime

Miss Kuwahara shared with Television Asia Plus that one of the factors that drove Nippon TV to launch the Anime Department is the growing global demand for Japanese anime. The department is composed of a team that produces anime for Japanese viewers and a business team that delivers the product to the international market. Miss Kuwahara also revealed that Nippon TV will be allocating greater resources to anime. 

kako kuwahara nippon tv
Miss Kako Kuwahara. Courtesy of Nippon TV.

Miss Kuwahara said, “We see that manga has been representing Japan’s culture in the same way that the traditional keywords such as sushi, geisha, and Mt. Fuji has. Because manga, games, and anime all have a high affinity to our culture, they synergistically popularised themselves in our country.”

She continued, “Globally, adventure fantasy anime that depict allies joining forces to fight against evil tend to be well-received and have increased their fan base so much so that their popularity is now deeply rooted.” Miss Kuwahara also noted that because Japanese anime doesn’t solely rely on computer graphics, it is loved throughout the world.

Plans for growth

Miss Kuwahara revealed that there is nothing more important to Nippon TV than selecting themes that will easily be received by anime fans around the world. She shared, “At the heart of my team is a legendary producer who created titles such as Hunter x Hunter, DEATH NOTE, and CLAYMORE. I have fully entrusted the creative process to him. I have also armed him with team members who are brilliant at analysing the global market.” 

Miss Kuwahara shared that before selecting a theme, they take several considerations. Among these is how an anime series would be received outside of Japan, and when deciding on producing a title, they always seek the advice of their international partners.

“Choosing titles that will have longevity is another objective that is crucial to us,” Miss Kuwahara said. “If we were to produce an anime based on original work, we would conduct meticulous analysis on how that version fared globally. In the future, we hope to take on the challenge of creating original titles, as well as having a global plan in place from the get-go when producing an anime.”

tsukimichi moonlit fantasy nippon tv
The Anime Department’s first international project is the anime based on the award-winning novel ‘TSUKIMICHI – MOONLIT FANTASY-‘. Courtesy of Nippon TV.

Talking about strategies

Miss Kuwahara said that Nippon TV believes that it is necessary to have simultaneous global releases. To do this, she said that they plan to arrange schedules that enable subtitled and voiceover versions to be rolled out at the same time. She added, “In places where censorship tends to be strict, we will produce versions that cut out scenes of concern. At times, we will also be inviting partners from around the world to invest in projects in the early stages of the process.” 

Nippon TV, which also owns anime studios MADHOUSE Inc. and Tatsunoko Production Co. Ltd., will be working closely with Miss Kuwahara’s team. However, she said that the process of determining a partner needs to be done on a content-by-content basis.

Miss Kuwahara revealed that Nippon TV’s upcoming April 2021 releases are being developed in collaboration with different partners such as Kodansha Ltd for EDENSZERO, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc. for TSUKIMICHI -Moonlit Fantasy-, and Tatsunoko for The Princess of Snow and Blood. Miss Kuwahara revealed, “Going forward, we will be working with various companies that specialise in different fields.”

Creating anime that lasts

Japanese anime has become more readily available and enjoyable to a wider demographic, Miss Kuwahara said. While achieving success in a business is important, what lies at the heart is creating anime titles that will play a significant role in sharing Japanese culture with the world.

Miss Kuwahara said, “I asked my team members to work so that their grandchildren can show off and say, ‘Look, my grandparent created this anime!’ We want to create anime, a part of Japanese culture that will be loved the world over for 10, 20, or even 50 years.”