– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Not sure how much you all know about the anime industry, but as pervasive as it is in Japan, it isn’t the most healthy industry in the world. These anime series are often made on shoestring budgets, which are often dictated by greedy TV networks.

In fact, working conditions are often so bad that some studios have been black-listed by the Japanese media. Ironically enough, however, the same media that criticizes such business practices are very much to blame as a result of their tight budgets.

Netflix has been producing their own original anime content for a few years now, and with them spending $8 billion on new content next year, a sizable chunk is going to anime (they currently have 30 anime projects in some stage of production or development). What’s more, the budgets for their series are reportedly significantly larger than those from Japanese TV networks.

Regarding this, Joseph Chou, a producer for Toei Animation on the Netflix original Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya series, said:

“Lately the media has been bashing the anime industry over working conditions; the TV stations have been reporting on it, but they’re a big culprit. Netflix is restoring it to a sane business model. You’re looking at maybe a 15 percent margin rather than a 5 percent loss. [And Netflix isn’t the only one.] There’s Amazon, Crunchyroll and Apple Studios all talking to people, as well as rumors there’s another major player about to get involved. They’re all scrambling to meet with everybody, but Netflix is the most aggressive.”

Additionally, Netflix also has no need for production committees. These are representatives from as many as 15 companies per series that help get the shows funded, as well as give advertisers incentive to promote. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and the results are series by committee, which are often shows with a series of trope checklists, and man are they awful.

“There’s no TV station involved to say what needs to be done to make something okay for broadcast,” says Kotaro Yoshikawa, VP distribution and licensing at TMS Entertainment, of working with Netflix. “Though we may still have to make adjustments, like reducing the amount of blood onscreen, for versions that will be broadcast on television.”

So what does this mean for the industry in Japan? If they want to lock down some of these big creative talents, they may need to start paying more to do so, and they may need to also allow more creative freedom. This could result in fewer shows, but at the end of the day, we can hope that it means better working conditions and higher quality projects.

But the entertainment industry is never that easy. We’ll have to see what happens.

Don’t forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers! Just hit the buttons on the top of this page.


  • Victor Roa

    Man, Toei…. they have had a long history like sneaking in anime into america. Like Puss in Boots is impossible to find in english, I had to see it in Italian because Spanish is like 40 bucks even on VHS fan sub days at flea markets. But yeah, them actually getting their shows out into more markets is actually better than Jetsons, Smurfs, Ghostbusters, yeah some people know One Piece but fanboys don’t know they did alot of 80s animation that was considered American.
    I bring back Puss in Boots because that’s their Logo, good film, love their design work better then Shriek’s design.

  • TheOct8pus

    I’ve only seen a handful of Netflix anime series, but so far I haven’t really been impressed. Even Castlevania, which a lot of people were raving about, was pretty meh for me. And sadly, many of their reboots of classic anime (like Cyborg 009) are 100% CGI, which just doesn’t fit the genre very well. Anyone have any recommendations for a decent Netflix anime?

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      While it’s not a Netflix series, I always recommend Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It’s a dumb name, and it has the appearance of a stupid magical girl show, but it’s really a whole lot more interesting. Animation is pretty gorgeous too.

      • TheOct8pus

        Wow….the name really is ridiculous…I’ll check it out though. Thanks Jammy!

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.