Netflix has been making a push to become a player in the anime industry. Earlier this month, they announced a slate of original anime that they are helping produce as well as exclusive licenses.
The community is so far lukewarm about Netflix’s involvement, largely due to their lack of simulcasting. However, script writer and film critic Tomohiro Machiyama believes that Netflix could potentially help change how anime is produced.
In an interview on Tama Musubi, Machiyama voiced his disapproval with how creators are treated in Japan. “It’s amazing, but no money is being invested in Japanese anime at all. Even the In This Corner of the World director was making it on the verge of starvation. He was making the film for five years with no income at all with his wife.”
Machiyam continued, “Japan, which has squashed and made fun of its anime creators a long time until now, is going to get big retaliation from Netflix.”
Machiyama believes that Netflix’s ability to give creators a large budget, creative freedom, and simultaneous global releases for their originals could be big positive change.
“There is a big paradigm shift happening in the entertainment industry now. Until now, people making films and anime in Japan have suffered their lives in poverty. Suddenly, people with ten or twenty times the budget appeared, and it is becoming a world where they say, ‘it’s okay to make it no matter how much money it takes.'”
Machiyama notes that the average Netflix live-action series is given five times the budget of a Japanese movie just for the first episode. However, keep in mind that doesn’t mean the same ratio will be given to anime productions.
Machiyama also believes that pushback from Japanese movie studios and production committees could escalate to a “full-blown war.” He feels that some people may view Netflix’s involvement as “an invasion of the former American military.”
One example Machiyama uses is how the French-based Cannes Film Festival announced that they are banning Netflix produced movies from their event because they lack French cinema showings. He claims this is an example of a country “avoiding an American invasion” by Netflix.
Machiyama ends his interview by stating that while anime is a wonderful medium viewed around the world, its development has been stunted because there have been no significant investments into it.
Machiyama certainly has some conflicting views about how Japan will accept Netflix in the coming years, and it’ll be interesting to see if any of his predictions will come true. In the mean time, what do you think? Will Netflix change how anime is made or will nothing too significant come of this?