Following the recent news that Sony has spent a billion dollars buying Crunchyroll. I wanted to bang that Disney Anime drum once again again, but with a twist this time. Sony Pictures Japan and Warner Brothers Japan have both been rather successful when it comes to producing anime. I have written three other articles about Disney Anime, so now I feel it is a good time to write an article discussing the positives and negatives of Disney getting involved in the anime industry, so thank you for joining me on this journey.
Positives: Telling Different Stories and Unheard Stories
This is an obvious one. Disney has made billions from live-action remakes of classic animated movies. Still, if they decided that they’re going to make a Twisted Wonderland or Kingdom Hearts or Alita Battle Angel, these would be stories that haven’t gotten as much of a chance to be told or in KIngdom Hearts’ case, has so many subplots it’s a bit confusing. Besides already existing IPs, though, Disney could also tell Original Japanese stories in anime series and movies based on the creators’ original ideas or life experiences.
Negatives: You Can’t Buy Your Way To Success
One of the big things Disney has done is acquire several film studios as a way to bulk up their IP power, but that plan wouldn’t really work with the anime industry. Disney could buy Studio Ghibli, Kyoto Animation, Toei Animation or any other anime producer who has some well-known movies or series. Still, even then, they would be far behind the other studios. If Disney wants to win over anime fans and creators, they could buy a well-liked studio, but then there would be backlash for them taking the newly acquired series and movies off of competitors streaming services or stop them from being released on home media.
Positives: Appealing To A Different Demographic
Disney has brands that appeal to almost every single person on earth, including animation fans, superhero fanboys, sci-fi fans, and so much more, but Disney doesn’t have the genre/art form of anime nailed down. There are more anime fans now than ever. It’s thanks to shows and movies like Dragon Ball Z, My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, One Punch Man, Your Name and Spirited Away, with manga like My Hero Academia outselling Marvel comic books in the U.S. it’s clear that anime is a cultural phenomenon and Disney is missing out on that pie since they don’t have an equivalent to a lot of anime series or movies. Let’s also not forget not every anime fan is a fan of Marvel, Star Wars or Disney movies.
Negatives: So Much Competition
This should be an obvious one, due to the success of so many anime studios, there are now hundreds of studios producing shows and movies. Some notable studios include, Studio Ghibli, Kyoto Animation, Ufotable, Studio Mappa, Studio Trigger, Studio Madhouse, Studio Bones, Toei Animation and Production I.G., and that’s not including Sony’s Aninplex or Warner Brothers Japan or even the Japanese gaming giant SquareEnix. Netflix also buys distribution to so many anime movies and series, so even if Disney wants to grab certain movies or series, they could end up in a bidding war with Netflix.
Positives: Helps If There Are Any Future Content Quotas
In recent years, Australia, Europe, and Canada have added content quotas, meaning streaming services need content produced in those countries to avoid blackouts in those regions.
Negatives: The Maturity Of The Content
Yeah, I think this is one that speaks for itself. Disney is a mostly family-friendly brand, so they wouldn’t want to make a series that is as gory and violent as Demon Slayer or Attack On Titan, nor would they probably want a show which has a lot of innuendos and curse words as My Hero Academia (Bakugo swears a lot throughout the series). Disney would probably also avoid making something along the lines of A Silent Voice, which despite being rated PG-13, does show a character trying to jump to her death if Disney were to start making anime expect the series to be around the same rating as something like Pokemon, Doremon or Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop.
So Should Disney Do It?
Well, to answer this question, it really depends. If Disney was to invest in making anime, I feel as if they would invest in titles more along the lines of A Whisker Away, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop or Pokemon over maturer titles like Demon Slayer, Attack On Titan or The Promised Neverland. Disney has made anime in the past with titles like Fireball, Stitch and a few Marvel anime titles, but none of them became as big as other anime produced by other companies.
On the other hand, Disney would have an uphill battle trying to compete with Netflix for the acquisition of new titles and the amount produced. Obviously, Netflix has distribution to more titles, so the only way for Disney to get anywhere in the anime industry would be to acquire a top studio or two to grab any share of the market. Disney currently owns about a dozen anime titles, and in my opinion, Disney needs to add all of them to Disney+ before they try to get further involved in the anime market.
Disney does have several IPs that would work as anime like Kingdom Hearts, Twisted Wonderland, and Battle Angel Alita. They have the money to produce the series, and Disney+ and Hulu need content, so I feel like Disney is making a mistake if they don’t push into the anime market further after Star Wars Visions.
What do you think?
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