Netflix Launching 40 Original Anime Titles in 2021

Netflix returned to the virtual AnimeJapan March 27-28, 2021, to showcase its pending slate and voice casts. Netflix is trying to strengthen its anime portfolio with the premiere of about 40 new original titles this year — double the number of titles released in 2020.

Netflix announced the upcoming release of Record of Ragnarok (premiering in June), an anime adaptation of the successful manga of the same name. The story about the epic fight for the fate of humanity will join previously announced titles The Way of the Househusband (premiering April 8) or Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (premiering later this year).

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Netflix also gave sneak peeks at upcoming projects Yasuke (April 29) and Eden (premiering May 27), including special artwork by Yasuke’s character designer Takeshi Koike. Both projects are new stories brought to life by international creators, further strengthening Netflix’s ambition to diversify its line-up of original anime by working with creators from both in and outside of Japan.

The event also included appearances from Japanese voice talents Kenjiro Tsuda (The Way of the Househusband), Marika Kono (Eden) and Toshiyuki Morikawa (Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness).

 

Poe-Based ‘The Bloodhound,’ Japanese ‘Invisible Man’ Classics Due on Blu-ray in March From MVD

Two Arrow Video mystery thriller releases, the double feature The Invisible Man Appears/The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly and The Bloodhound, are coming to Blu-ray in March from MVD Entertainment Group.

Released outside Japan for the first time, The Invisible Man Appears and The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly are available on one Blu-ray March 16. Unique riffs on H.G. Wells’ classic character (though undoubtedly also indebted to Universal’s iconic film series), these are two of the earliest examples of tokusatsu (special effects) cinema from the legendary Daiei Studios. In The Invisible Man Appears, written and directed by Nobuo Adachi in 1949, a scientist successfully creates an invisibility serum, only to be kidnapped by a gang of thugs who wish to use the formula to steal a priceless jewel. In addition to being the earliest surviving Japanese science fiction film ever made, the film’s  special effects were an early credit for the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya, five years before he first brought Godzilla to life. Eight years later, Mitsuo Murayama’s The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly tells the story of a series of mysterious murders where the only clue is strange buzzing noise at the scene of the crime. Could it be linked to secret wartime experiments in shrinking humans to the size of insects? And can a scientist who’s just invented an invisibility ray be the one to stop it? Extras include “Transparent Terrors,” a newly filmed interview with critic and genre scholar Kim Newman on the history of the ‘Invisible Man’ in cinema; the theatrical trailer for The Invisible Man Appears; image galleries for both films; a reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Keith Allison, Hayley Scanlon and Tom Vincent.

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Due March 23 is The Bloodhound (2020). First-time feature director Patrick Picard brings a fresh take to one of the best-known stories from the master of mystery and the macabre Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher. Francis (Liam Aiken, A Series of Unfortunate Events), a dispossessed young man, is summoned to the secluded home of his wealthy childhood friend, J.P. Luret (Joe Adler, The Maze Runner), who is suffering from a mysterious affliction. Upon his arrival, Francis realizes that J.P. and his ethereal twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso, Ouija: Origin of Evil) are the sole surviving members of the privileged Luret family, whose legacy has been one of depression and self-destruction, and are the only occupants of their family estate. As the old friends attempt to reconnect, a number of inexplicable incidents begin to occur within the house, and Francis finds himself drawn into a world of malaise and despair, where an act of betrayal might provide his only way out. From Leal Naim and Thomas R. Burke, producers of The Endless and Synchronic, The Bloodhound explores themes that are as relevant to today as ever, such as the yearning for emotional connection, the perils of social isolation and the fragility of mental health. Extras include audio commentary by Picard and editor David Scorca; four experimental short films by Picard; “On the Trail of The Bloodhound: Behind the Scenes of a Modern Chiller,” a 45-minute making-of featurette; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel.

Netflix Set to Raise Subscription Fees in Japan

Netflix is reportedly planning to raise the basic subscription fee in Japan by as much as 13%, following a trend that has seen the SVOD behemoth raise monthly prices in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average disclosed the news, which helped send Netflix shares up more than 2% in midday trading.

The increase, which does not affect the premium-priced plan, would see the basic plan price increase to ¥990/month ($9.39) from ¥880/month ($8.34).

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Netflix launched service in Japan — then the world’s No. 2 home entertainment market — six years ago in 2015, largely through the efforts of Greg Peters, current COO/chief product officer, who back then was GM of Netflix Japan.

Peters, on the October fiscal call, said Netflix increased spending of more than $15 billion annually on original productions justified subscription price hikes.

“We feel like there is that opportunity to occasionally go back and ask. for members where we’ve delivered that extra value in those countries to pay a little more,” Peters said.

Netflix added 1.99 million subs in the Asia Pacific region in the most-recent fiscal period (ended Dec. 31, 2020). The region totaled 25.5 million subs, including more than 3 million in Japan. The region is Netflix’s third-lowest generating revenue per subscriber at $9.32, ahead of Latin America at $7.12 per sub. The North American region leads Netflix with $13.51 in monthly revenue per sub.

“With its rich culture and celebrated creative traditions, Japan is a critical component of our plan to connect people around the world to stories they love,” co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2015 at the Japan launch.

‘Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1’ Coming to Hi-Yah! Streaming Service Feb. 12, Digital and Disc March 2 From Well Go

The Japanese action epic Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! Feb. 12, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD March 2 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Director Yuji Shimomura (Death TranceRe: Born) crafts action choreography around leading Japanese martial arts icon Tak Sakaguchi (VersusRise of the Machine Girl) who plays Japan’s most legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), a warrior undefeated in at least 60 documented duels. When the master samurai arrives to duel the disgraced Yoshioka dojo, he walks into an ambush.

The film includes a 77-minute action sequence shot in one continuous take in which Musashi (Sakaguchi) fights for his life against 400 warriors, earning a place in history as the Crazy Samurai Musashi.

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Japan, IOC Officially Postpone Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021

As expected, the International Olympic Committee and Japan March 25 formally announced postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics until 2021. The Games were originally slated from July 24 to Aug. 9.

“We have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a brief statement.

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The delay comes after mounting pressure from countries and athletes regarding ongoing concerns about the safety of traveling and competing during the coronavirus pandemic that has infected nearly 390,000 people and killed 17,000.

Australia and Canada had already announced they would not send delegations, a move the United States Olympic Committee was set to follow.

Comcast, which is the exclusive TV and streaming video distributor of the Games in the United States, has about $1.2 billion in advertising commitments for the two-week event. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance against cancellation of the Games.

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Tokyo Disneyland Closing Until Mid-March Due to Coronavirus

On the heels of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announcing the closure of all schools in the country until April due to concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19), Disney said it would be closing Tokyo Disneyland through mid-March.

“We plan to reopen on March 16, but we will make an announcement after keeping close contact with relevant institutions,” park operator Oriental Land Co. Ltd. announced on its website.

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Japan has more than 800 reported COVID-19 infections.

New Disney CEO Bob Chapek most-recently headed the company’s theme park division — Disney’s largest business segment — which has already shuttered amusement parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as the COVID-19 outbreak began in China, where the vast majority have cases have been reported. Disney has warned the closures will have impact on second-quarter fiscal results ending March 31.

Universal Studios Japan is also closing operations during the same time period.

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Netflix to Stream 21 Studio Ghibli Animation Films — Outside the U.S.

Netflix announced that on Feb. 1, 21 films from Studio Ghibli, the Academy Award-winning Japanese arthouse, will be made available on the service globally (excluding the U.S., Canada and Japan) through distribution partner Wild Bunch International.

For the first time ever, the expansive catalog of Studio Ghibli films will be subtitled in 28 languages, and dubbed in up to 20 languages.

This partnership will enable fans in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America to enjoy classics, such as Academy Award-winner Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Arrietty, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, among others, in their native languages.

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“In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences,” Toshio Suzuki at Studio Ghibli said in a statement. “We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.”

Aram Yacoubian, director of original animation at Netflix, called the deal “a dream come true” for Netflix subscribers.

“Studio Ghibli’s animated films are legendary and have enthralled fans around the world for over 35 years,” said Yacoubian. “We’re excited to make them available in more languages across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia – so that more people can enjoy this whimsical and wonderful world of animation.”

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The release schedule for Studio Ghibli films on Netflix:

February 1, 2020: Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Only Yesterday (1991), Porco Rosso (1992), Ocean Waves (1993), Tales from Earthsea (2006)

March 1, 2020: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), Spirited Away (2001), The Cat Returns (2002), Arrietty (2010), The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

April 1, 2020: Pom Poko (1994), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), The Wind Rises (2013), When Marnie Was There (2014)

Ampere: It’s Still a YouTube/Netflix Video World

Google-owned YouTube and Netflix remain the top sources for online video and subscription VOD, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm found that 63% of survey respondents streamed a video on YouTube in the past month, followed by 39% doing the same on Netflix and 27% on Facebook.

The survey is based on 41,000 online respondents across 20 markets conducted in the first quarter (ended March 31).

Ampere found YouTube ranked the No. 1 source for online video consumption in every region worldwide except the United Kingdom (BBC iPlayer) and China (iQiYi).

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Indeed, more than 60% of respondents in France and Japan watched YouTube, while less than 50% of respondents in the U.K. did so.

As expected, SVOD consumption is highest in the United States – birthplace to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Notably, American tech platform – Facebook – continues to lose video views – down 5% to 23% of respondents since the third quarter of 2016. YouTube fell 4% to 66%, while Netflix increased 15% to 37% of respondents.

“YouTube’s global dominance in this space is evident in its monthly usage,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement. “The differences in viewing between the U.S. and Europe in relation to catch-up and SVOD services is interesting because it shows that SVOD providers will have to work harder in Europe to grow their [market] share as they take on traditional TV channels’ catch-up services. This could be through their catalogue, price-points or communications strategy.”

 

Shortened Windows Drive South Korean Digital Movie Sales to No. 2 Behind U.S.

Move over Japan. After years of lagging sales, South Korea has emerged as the No. 2 market for digital sales of movies behind the United States, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.

The London-based research firm said consumer spending on transactional VOD has increased 800% during the past six years largely due to a shortening of the theatrical window.

Dubbed “Super Premium” and introduced in 2013, the campaign afforded consumers with access to theatrical titles four weeks after their box office debut — shortened from 12 to 16 weeks.

Disney and Sony Pictures were the first studios to incorporate the shorter window, followed by other studios in 2014.

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The Super Premium window has become one of the biggest revenue drivers for the Korean market and typically accounts for two-thirds of transactional revenue, a key factor in the renaissance of the South Korean home video market — and diminished piracy, according to Futuresource.

The report found inconclusive evidence whether the shorter theatrical window negatively impacted exhibitors – as is the rallying cry against narrowing the window in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Futuresource found that the South Korean box office remained steady following the “Super Premium” rollout; albeit at a slower growth rate than before the campaign began.

The report found the Super Premium VOD/EST window has jumpstarted a South Korean home video market in decline following ongoing shrinking packaged-media sales.

“We could see this initiative rolled out to further territories, leveraging South Korea as a leading example,” Futuresource said.

It cautioned that shorter theatrical windows must still be analyzed as to their impact on box office.

“Perhaps [box office revenue growth] could have been higher had this not been introduced,” Futuresource reported. “What is clear is that traditional windows are coming under increased pressure, faced with a fast-paced, digital-first landscape.”

Japanese Court Rules People Using Cell Phone to Watch TV Must Pay Subscription Fee

The Tokyo High Court has ruled that people using cellphones to watch TV must pay a subscription fee to NHK, the country’s public broadcasting network.

The court March 12 ruled that people using a cell phone to access TV broadcasts must pay a subscription even if they don’t own a TV in the home.

The ruling underscores a 2017 decision that mandated anyone having a TV in Japan had to pay a monthly fee to NHK. That monthly fee covered portable media devices as well.

But as over-the-top video flourishes and access grows across portable devices, increasing numbers of consumers are opting to go without a traditional TV and consume live video content via the One-Seg mobile TV app.

A lower court had ruled in favor of a consumer who argued he shouldn’t be required to pay a regulatory fee to watch TV on his cellphone.

Separately, NHK World — Japan is now available on the Roku streaming media platform in the United States. Subscription required.