Disney+ has no doubt been a hit. They offer something for everyone—whether that be Pixar’s entire film library, almost all of Star Wars, almost all of the MCU, a selection of 20th Century Studios titles, as well as Disney live-action remakes galore. But if there is one genre of content Disney severely lacks, it is anime.
Many would consider titles like Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) or Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender as “anime,” but the genre merely inspires them. I will discuss actual Japanese anime titles made by Disney and their subsidiaries, such as Marvel.
Let’s look at what anime Disney owns and which ones are currently streaming on Disney+. *Note: only Disney and Marvel have produced anime out of their five core brands*.
Marvel Anime Titles
- Iron Man (12 episode series) (Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- Iron Man: Rise Of Technovore (Direct-to-video anime movie) ( Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- Wolverine (12 episode series) (Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- X-Men (12 episode series) (Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- Blade (12 episode series) (Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (Direct-to-video anime movie) (Distribution handled by Sony Pictures)
- Future Avengers (39 episodes over two seasons) (Distribution handled by The Walt Disney Company) (Currently streaming on Disney+)
- Disk Wars: The Avengers (51 episodes) (Distribution handled by The Walt Disney Company)
With Marvel titles, we can see out of the six anime series and two movies Disney owns distribution of Future Avengers and Disk Wars: The Avengers, with only Future Avengers currently streaming on Disney+. Disney will have to make a deal for all the missing Marvel anime titles, excluding Disk Wars: The Avengers.
Disney Anime Titles
Now let’s look at actual Disney anime titles. *Note: These are titles Disney owns/made, so the Studio Ghibli films they dubbed aren’t included*
- Fireball (39 shorts + 1 special) (Distribution handled by The Walt Disney Company) (Currently on Disney+ Japan)
- Stitch! (82 episodes + 3 specials over eight seasons ) (Distribution handled by The Walt Disney Company) (Currently on Disney+ Japan)
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! (52 episodes over four seasons) (Distribution handled by Buena Vista International Television, i.e. Disney) (Currently On Disney+)
As shown by this list, Disney currently has a total of eleven total animes in their library, with only two being available on Disney+ and six of them having distribution rights owned by Sony.
Now we know Disney has the anime anthology series Star Wars: Visions scheduled for this year, but besides that, they have no other titles coming out. Titles like Ying Yang Yo and Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) which are anime-inspired, do not count, as they weren’t created by an anime studio and are mere inspirations.
How Do They Keep Up?
Disney hasn’t got the breath of anime that the likes of Netflix have. I don’t think Disney needs its own mature anime series like Demon Slayer, Devilman Crybaby, Blood Of Zeus, etc.
When Disney struggled with other genres, they have acquired companies. If they went this route, anime studio, Kyoto Animation would be a great choice. This studio has made several TV series and movies that hit around the TV14/PG13 age rating, which tackle various topics, including love, discrimination and friendship. Some notable titles which have in their catalogue include A Silent Voice, Munto and Liz and the Blue Bird.
From my point of view, Disney shouldn’t buy an anime studio. Though it could be a good idea just encase the Japanese government bring in local content quota like there is in Europe. But there will almost certainly be legal issues for them trying to acquire an anime studio. I think they should acquire worldwide distribution rights of upcoming anime shows and movies, then bring them to Disney+ if they’re PG13 or under and Hulu/Star if rated higher. This would involve investing in more Japanese titles.
Disney also published the manga (with the help of SquareEnix) known as Twisted Wonderland, as well as having the rights to Alita Battle Angel, which could both be adapted into anime series or movies for Disney+. Twisted Wonderland is based on a Japanese mobile game that Walt Disney Japan co-created with Aniplex and Alita Battle Angel was a live-action adaption of the manga series Battle Angel Alita which had a failed anime series in the 90s which lasted for two episodes. It could be revived to finish the story. Disney is also working on a Kingdom Hearts series, although that is said to be 3D animation.
The biggest upside of Disney acquiring an anime studio or an anime library is it gives Disney+ a larger selection of titles and more of a variety of what they offer as they move to take on Netflix globally. The biggest downside would be a potential legally ramification (in the anime studios case) as well as a possible backlash from both the fans of the studio and the creators within the studio as well.
If Disney were interested in buying up some anime for Disney+, the smarter decision would be to collaborate with smaller studios to make some original anime content. Most anime series have a budget between $125,000 – $300,00 per episode, and a lot of high-quality anime films like A Silent Voice were made on a budget of $33 million, which is well within the average Disney+ Original Movie budget between $20 – $60 million.
Disney is a titan of animation and has roughly 100 animated movies in their catalogue from their studio, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and 20th Century Animation. Still, they don’t invest in anime which is rather disappointing. Disney should jump into the anime game with both feet and make some family-friendly titles, whether that’s based on the IPs they own or are some original titles they’ve bought in from someone else. Until Disney+ has its own anime library, then I guess I’ll keep my Netflix subscription as well.
What do you think? Do you think Disney should invest more into anime and try to dethrone Netflix in this market? Comment below to join the dialogue.
You can find me on Twitter @/realENHolloway