The Hollywood Reporter: Is Japanese anime finally making money abroad?

'Stand By Me Doraemon'

‘Stand By Me Doraemon’
The Hollywood Reporter (by Gavin J. Blair):

Japanese anime has attracted a cult following around the globe for decades, but has long struggled to parlay that dedicated fandom into revenue.

Complex rights holder arrangements in Japan, slow international releases and pirated versions with fan-created subtitles have all contributed to restrict the financial rewards for both anime TV series and movies in the global marketplace.

However, the latest Doraemon movie brought in nearly $100 million outside Japan, while Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is nudging $50 million in the middle of a 74-country release.

Meanwhile, TV anime series are getting faster international distribution, including day-and-date releases on some platforms. With a shrinking home market, the pressure is on to better leverage the global fan-base that has helped make anime one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural symbols.  

The most successful Japanese anime film to date is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 2003 Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, which scored around 85 percent of its $275 million global tally in its home market. To put that in perspective, Stand by Me Doraemon took nearly double Spirited Away‘s overseas total over the course of 11 days in release in China alone.

Nevertheless, Toho, which handled its domestic release and international sales, thinks it’s too early to say that the overseas box-office conundrum for anime has been cracked.

I think it’s the strength of the film itself. And the Doraemon brand is very strong, especially in Asia,” Takemasa Arita of Toho’s international business department tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not like any animation from Japan is going to automatically succeed overseas now.”

Stand by Me Doraemon was no slouch at home, clocking up $70 million last year before landing $3.2 million in Italy, $3 million in Indonesia, $2.7 million in South Korea and $1.2 million in Thailand. It was the $5 million-plus, record-breaking take in the small Hong Kong market though that was a harbinger of its performance on the mainland.

Released on May 28 – due to political tensions, the first Japanese film in Chinese theaters in nearly three years – the cat-type robot racked up $86.9 million in less than two weeks. Although the rise of China as a box-office giant is a game changer across the global film industry, anime is getting paid elsewhere, too.  

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the 19th installment in the franchise and not the first to get a wide release internationally. 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods did approximately 40 percent of its $50 million global box office outside Japan, and Resurrection ‘F’ is on course to surpass that. Co-produced with Fox International, the anime feature’s world premiere was held in Los Angeles in April. Still performing well in South and Latin American markets, it has U.S. and China releases to come.  

Toei Animation, the company behind Dragon Ball, is one of five studios, along with two ad agencies, that launched the Daisuki online anime platform in 2013, aimed at overseas fans of TV anime. At the end of last year, the private-public Cool Japan Fund invested around $8 million in the venture, forming the Japan Anime Consortium, to boost its worldwide presence.  

Many Japanese anime content holders are small companies, and it’s difficult for them to breach the global market, with all the costs of localizing productions,” a Cool Japan Fund spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Piracy has also been a major problem, and the plan is to release some anime series simultaneously with their broadcast on Japanese TV.”

In addition to pay-per-view offerings and original content, the Daisuki platform also sells anime merchandising, though it doesn’t disclose its viewing figures.

Japan’s population fell by more than 260,000 last year and is rapidly aging. Under-25s, the key demographic for anime fans, now make up only around 20 percent of the population, and their numbers are set to continue falling.

Amid those trends, the industry will have to learn to tap more of the global market if it is to survive in anything close to its present form.   

McDonald’s Japan releases Doraemon Happy Meals!

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RocketNews 24:

It’s no secret that McDonald’s Japan has been enthusiastic about collaborating with various anime and character franchises to come up with goodies for children. In the past we’ve seen toys featuring Pokémon and Yokai Watch, as well as Pretty Cure, Super Mario and Transformers, among others, being offered with their Happy Meals, and kids certainly seem to be, well, happy with their Happy Meals, since almost 100 million of these sets are apparently sold in Japan each year.

This month, none other than Doraemon, the time-travelling blue cat robot, makes an appearance as six different Happy Meal toys, and they definitely look ready to delight children across Japan!

The Doraemon toys have just been released from McDonald’s this past Friday, in collaboration with the new movie Doraemon: Nobita’s Space Heroes that is currently being shown in theaters across Japan. 

There are three types of toys available at this moment, and a different set of three toys will be offered starting March 20. Some of them feature Doraemon gadgets we know well (and wish we owned), and we can see how these baubles may get kids excited!

▼ These are the three toys currently available: the “Anywhere Door Game”, “Doraemon and the Spinning Burger” and “Look into it! Scope”.

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▼ And from March 20, these three will become available: the “Run! UFO”, “Exciting! Space Camera” and the “Memory Bread Drawing Kit”.

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Here’s a closer look at each of the items.

▼ The “Anywhere Door Game (Dokodemo Door Game)” is actually a miniature pinball machine in the shape of the Anywhere Door, which has to be one of Doramen’s most popular tools. There’s a different game on each side of the door, so you get two games in one toy.

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▼ The “Doraemon and the Spinning Burger (Doraemon to Kurukuru Burger)” features the Burger Director character that appears in the new movie. With this toy, when you place Doraemon and Burger Director close to each other, the Burger Director will start spinning.

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▼ This “Look Into it! Scope (Nozoite! Scope)” acts as a periscope, and you can look through the lens from the back of the planet on which Doraemon is sitting.

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▼ You can wind up this “Run! UFO (Hashire! UFO)” to propel it forward. What’s neat about this toy is that it can detect and avoid obstacles and also avoid falling off the edge of the table.

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▼ This “Exciting! Space Camera (Dokidoki! Space Camera) lets you see four different Doraemon movie scenes by looking through the lens and turning the dial on the side.

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▼ The “Memory Bread Drawing Kit (Oekaki Anki Pan)” contains five picture cards that you can copy and trace to create 10 different types of illustrations.

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In addition to the toys, the Doraemon Happy Meal comes in three adorable types of boxes, which should also put a smile on kids’ faces.

▼ The boxes all look cute, but we think Dorami-chan in the middle looks particularly charming. The boxes with Doramon’s and Dorami-chan’s face have a bit of a pop-up shape on the top. dora-box

Well, we think these toys actually look quite nifty, and we can easily imagine kids who’ve seen the Doraemon movie begging their parents to take them to McDonald’s for the trinkets. Hmmm … we wonder how many parents will be forced to make six trips to McDonald’s for all the items.

The Happy Meals are available at prices between 432 yen (US$3.56) and 504 yen ($4.15) depending on the food item you choose, but we expect the Doraemon toys will go quickly, so if you plan on getting your hands on one – or a few – of them, you may want to get to a McDonald’s sooner rather than later!

Village in Taiwan has dozens of anime and children’s characters painted on its houses!

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RocketNews 24:

Don’t you agree that our surroundings influence our mood? Being in a bright, vibrant environment usually makes one feel more positive and happy, and the positive energy in us in turn has the power to influence the mood of others around us.

A small village in Tainan City of Taiwan has been attracting attention online and attracting visitors because of the cheerful vibes that emanate from its brightly colored walls. With walls covered in colorful paintings of SpongeBob, Totoro, Doraemon and other characters and motifs, there’s no doubt this village must be a happy place!

Now more famously known as Cai Hui Cun (彩繪村), which literally means “painted village,” Hujia Village, located in the Shanhua District of southern Taiwan, used to be a quiet, rundown district until about a year ago. Since then it has blossomed into a vibrant tourist spot that continues to see an increasing number of visitors each day, and it’s said that property prices have even risen, thanks to its brilliantly painted walls. What’s more impressive than the numerous wall murals is the fact that this amazing transformation started with a home project that stemmed from the filial piety of five sisters.

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According to Yahoo News Taiwan, some time last year, the Li sisters, who spent a couple of their childhood years living in Hujia Village, went back to the village to visit their grandmother. The trip back to the old village brought back fond memories of when their grandmother used to care for them, and that triggered Fan Ting Li’s inspiration to paint the outer walls of her grandmother’s house as a way to express her gratitude to her 86-year-old granny.

With no experience or training in painting wall murals, the Li sisters had a rough start. The elderly woman watched with worry as Fan Ting and her sisters, Hui Qing, Guan Yu, Qing Yan and Wei Zhen, spent long hours under the scorching sun, and asked her “silly granddaughters” to give up on the idea several times, but the sisters were determined to complete their project.

Studio Ghibli murals

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Residents of the village gazed upon them with curiosity and doubt at first, but were eventually moved by their passion, and some even volunteered to join them. Their little home project gradually spread throughout the village, and their painting team once grew to the size of 18 members coming from all walks of life, including an eight-year-old elementary school girl.

▼ Western influences

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Watching as the voluntary painting team contributed their time, effort and money to beautifying their village, the other villagers too, often contributed to their cause by bringing them snacks and beverages. There have also been private companies that donated items to aid in the decoration of the walls, but due to the residents’ limited funds, they narrowed down their mural locations to the houses of elderly residents who lived alone, hoping to brighten up their days.

▼ Japanese anime characters

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Since word of the painted village spread across cyberspace, tourists from near and far have begun visiting the village, not only bringing some liveliness to the once-sleepy place, but boosting profits for local businesses as well. The local authorities have since acknowledged the efforts put into Hujia Village, and have given their word to contribute to the beautifying and expansion of the painted village.

▼ Chinese motifs.

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The Li sisters and their team of mural maestros can still be spotted creating more wall paintings in the village on weekends. If you’re interested in stopping by, the location details are below! Although the area has pretty much turned into a tourism spot, bear in mind that these murals are painted on actual residences, so it would only be nice to show some consideration for their residents, just as you probably wouldn’t appreciate strangers littering or creating a racket outside your house.

Village information:
台南市善化區胡家里300號 (陽明國小)
Tainan City, Shanhua District, 300 Hujia Village (Yang Ming Elementary School)
*Note: The Painted Village is in the vicinity of the elementary school.

 

Look out for this school as a landmark to guide you to the Painted Village.

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Fan parody of Ghostbusters set in Tokyo is totally “crossing the streams”

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RocketNews 24:

Genre streams that is! There isn’t an ’80s movie that is more perfectly matched for an anime makeover than Ghostbusters. The story is flawless, the ghosts would feel right at home, plus all the crazy special effects could be easily accomplished through animation. The fact that they were able to do all of that in a live-action movie is part of what makes it such a classic.

This parody simply nails the movie, but you don’t have to take our word for it, you can see for yourself after the jump.

The YouTube channel Nacho Punch is no stranger to 1980s-style anime parodies, but this one feels just right. Set in Tokyo and drawn in a style of animation perfect for the era in which the movie and original animated series were born, the Tokyo Ghostbusters really shine in their one-minute debut.

▼“Who you gonna call?”

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Since this parody is set in Japan, a few of the familiar Ghostbuster details have been changed to fit the Land of the Rising Sun. The team chows down on curry udon and travels around busting ghosts in a Japanese hearse.

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The role of Slimer is played by a green version of Whisper from Yokai Watch.

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The rest of the ghosts and baddies are assembled from some other very popular youkai (demons/monsters) from Japanese folklore. You can see Rokurokubi (long-neckedyoukai), Kappa, and Karakasa Obake (the one-eyed umbrella).

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Just as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man rumbles through the streets of New York City, a giant Doraemon is the oversized terror in this parody. The Tokyo Ghostbusters climb up Tokyo Tower in order to get a better vantage point to fight off the robot cat ghost menace.

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It’s a wonder why this mash-up didn’t happen sooner. The cartoon TV series of The Real Ghostbusters did a fine job of expanding on the universe after the movies, but a Japanese anime version done in the 1980s style adds a little more wackiness that is always welcome with the Ghostbusters name. Great work, guys!

Doing it Wrong: 20 laughably bad Chinese character cakes

RocketNews 24:

 

The aesthetic quality of a character cake can be judged by the degree of reluctance felt before cutting into it. Some cakes are so well-crafted that taking a knife to them would be nothing other than desecration of art. Conversely, some cakes are so insultingly terrible that basiac survival instincts would compel most people to take knife in hand and stab them out of their misery.

A series of images recently shared on Chinese Facebook ripoff social networking site Renren suggests character cakes in China fall into the latter camp.

The images below were shared by a RinRin member who writes that she ordered a panda cake for her friend’s birthday, even providing the maker with a photo of how she wanted the cake to look like.

 

 

However, the product that came back to her wasn’t quite up to par:

 

Worried that her friend might be put off by a cake that looks like its silently judging you, the poster took it back to the shop to have them scrape off the frosting and give it another go. This was the result:

 

While frustrated, the poster feared that asking the shop to fix it a third time might result in retaliation, and she settled on the second cake.

The images that follow suggest that this poster isn’t the only one in China who has had to deal with butchered birthday cakes. But while the quality may be rock bottom, the laughs are top-notch.

 

▼ Doraemon (?) strike an erotic pose

 

▼ Doraemon on a sacrificial alter of fruit. Notice the claws.

 

▼ In China, asking the cake shop to recreate this…

 

▼ Yields this…

 

▼ Hello Kitty should be simple enough to draw in frosting, right?

 

▼ Goodbye, Kitty

 

▼ This might be setting the bar a bit too high…

 

▼ Not too bad! But why the candle? Why?

 

▼ The characters of Chinese animated TV series Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf are always a popular request…

 

▼ And result in various culinary interpretations

 

▼ The Pink Panther…?

 

▼ And a few generic animal cakes

Link

Anime news: Disney XD to run Doraemon anime in U.S. this summer

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 7.32.30 AMRocketNews 24/Anime News Network:

 

The financial news source Nikkei reported on Friday that the American media conglomerate Walt Disney will begin running the quintessential Japanese anime Doraemon on television throughout the United States this summer. 44 years after the original manga about a robotic cat from the future debuted, the anime has already aired in 35 countries and territories in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. However, this will be the first television showing of Doraemon in the United States.

The manga creator duo Fujiko Fujio (Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko) created Doraemon in 1969. In the story, the robotic cat was sent by a boy in the future to the present day to help the boy’s hapless grandfather, Nobita. Doraemon, Nobita, and other children deal with everyday childhood issues, solve (and cause) problems with the gadgets in Doraemon’s fourth-dimensional pocket, and embark on escapades through time and space.

According to Nikkei, Disney XD, a children’s channel available in 78 million households, will run a total of 26 episodes five times a week. Disney has run Japanese programming before such as Naruto Shippūden, but it will use Doraemon as content for elementary school children in the lower grades.

The three Japanese companies that hold the copyrights — TV Asahi, Fujiko F. Fujio Production, and TV Asahi‘s anime studio subsidiary Shinei Animation — are producing the English version by contracting it to American studios.

The story and the names of characters and gadgets have been partially changed out of consideration for American culture and customs. Doraemon’s owner Nobita is now “Noby,” the bully Gian is now “Big G,” the flying contraption Takecopter is now the “Hopter,” and the magical portal “Dokodemo Door” is now the “Anywhere Door.” The recent English edition of the manga also has similar names.

Unlike the unauthorized versions out there, this English version is first being produced so it can run in America with its strict guidelines on violence, depictions of discrimination, and depictions of sexual content. However, it is possible for this version to run in other English-speaking countries later.

Doraemon has already aired in Southeast Asia and Europe. Nikkei reported that along with the NHK live-action television series OshinDoraemon has contributed greatly to the sense of affinity and image that other countries have of Japan.

In addition to the television anime that premiered in Japan in 1973, the Doraemon manga also inspired a string of annual anime films. This year, Takashi Yamazaki (ReturnerAlways: Sunset on Third Street, BalladSpace Battleship Yamato) and Ryûichi Yagi (Pénélope tête en l’air line director, Moyashimon 3D CG director) are helming the first 3D CG film of DoraemonStand By Me Doraemon.

Image © Fujiko Production, ShogakukanTV AsahiShineiADK

 

Check out this link:

Anime news: Disney XD to run Doraemon anime in U.S. this summer

Video

Fan-animated Doraemon / Akira mashup!

What do you get when you mix the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games ambassador, the iconic and famous Doraemon, with a fictional doomsday scenario, as foretold by Akira? An eerie crossover that will populate your nightmares for weeks.

This amazing, yet terrifying, video was animated by Aleix Pitarch; you can check out some stills from the video on his Facebook page.