Is Netflix the Future of Anime?

Screen Shot 2019-04-21 at 8.24.19 PM.png

American streaming giant, Netflix, has secured its place in the market as a premiere source of anime with its official acquisition of streaming rights to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Up until now, no mainstream anime streaming service has offered the series. With this offering, Netflix has declared its latest target market: Anime fans.

It’s no secret that Disney will be launching its own streaming service soon, and many have speculated that Netflix’s sudden investment in Anime is to continue to have an animation offering. It's clear however, that Netflix knew the anime market was profitable long before there was threat of Disney pulling its content.

After the success of The Seven Deadly Sins it was clear that there was money to be made in offering not just anime in general, but anime exclusive to Netflix. For years, fans around the world felt their needs were met by a single subscription to Crunchyroll, Funimation, or a double subscription to both. For the fans who like to be in with the new, Crunchyroll and Funimation will not cut it anymore. Even VRV, Crunchyroll’s brainchild and home of geek-media cannot hope to compete in the immediate future.

Netflix Competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have followed suit when it comes to offering exclusives; Amazon, offering Noitamina titles (after it’s failed attempt at its AnimeStrike subscription channel) and Hulu now partnering with Funimation (after the collapse of Funimation and Crunchyroll’s attempt at collaboration). What sets Netflix apart is the investment/funding of titles of its own that include smash hits like Devilman Crybaby, Violet Evergarden, Little Witch Academia, Kakegurui, and many more.

With Netflix producing new titles, comes major changes in the anime industry. It’s a well-known fact that the anime industry isn’t exactly where one works if they’re looking for a top-knotch salary. Both in Japan, and in the United States, creators are overworked, underpaid, or both. Like any industry with these issues, unions are continuing to develop in order to encourage improvement. Robby Daymond (Boruto, Final Fantasy XV, Sailor Moon), commented at Tekko in April 2019 “There’s a lot of Netflix anime to work on….It’s taking over all the studios in LA…A lot if it’s union, which is good.”

Netflix is ready and willing to throw money at industry talent not just in Voice Acting but also at known Japanese creators and studios. In an industry where many different offices formerly had to fight to pool together resources necessary to take on the financial risk associated with the production of an anime, suddenly there’s an option to have a single giant ready to bear the risk. Production IG (Attack on Titan, Psycho-Pass, Haikyuu) and Bones (Boku no Hero Academia, Noragami, Mob Psycho 100) have already formed partnerships with Netflix.

With a suddenly reliable industry backbone that is seeking to increase its market share of the anime streaming market in the United States, its clear things are starting to shift. Will we see an influx of new faces to the American voice acting field as they may work for lower wages? Will Japanese producers find themselves having to merge in order to stabilize against the growth of Netflix in order to keep anime production on par with new series under Netflix’s care? With a rapidly changing market in the US, will the Japanese anime industry feel pressure to adapt and transition to a streaming model over the archaic-but-still-used broadcast model?