2006 May/Jun
COVER STORY:Japan's SMEs
SMEs and the Globalization of Japanese Anime
By Kimura Makoto
The Miyazaki Hayao anime, Spirited Away, won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2002, as well as the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2002 Academy Awards. Howl's Moving Castle was also nominated for an Academy Award in 2006. Toriyama Akira's Dragon Ball held the first place on the English version of the Lycos search engine from 2001 to 2005. Anime are now seen on TV in over 70 countries, and over 60% of TV anime programs worldwide are made in Japan.

The number of anime programs on US TV networks jumped from 13 in the early 1990s to 37 in March 2006. The size of the anime market in the United States, including revenues from character licensing, home videos and cinema screenings reached US$ 2,940 million in 2004, which exceeds the value of US imports of Japanese steel. Moreover, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon made it into the US's top-five rated prime-time animated programs of 2005.

On the UK's BBC4, seven Japanese film directors were featured in a program about filmmaking in Japan last January. Of these, three were anime film directors: Oshii Mamoru (Ghost In The Shell, Avalon and Innocence), Miyazaki Hayao (Spirited Away), Otomo Katsuhiro (Akira, and Steam Boy). As of February 2006, there are 18 Japanese anime on the German TV channel RTL2, including Inuyasha, Detective Conan and Crayon Shin-Chan.

Even in China, where there are restrictions on foreign content, the animated feature film Gin-iro no Kami no Agito, which was released in Japan last January, has been decided to make its debut at 1000 theaters in spring 2006.

The allure of Japanese anime lies in a quality that is different from Western animation. The chief producer of Pokemon, Shogakukan's Kubo Masakazu, has remarked that the special nature of Japanese animation can be found in "its characters that capture the viewer's heart, and the way it brings out their emotions." He also notes that anime provide "a fascinating worldview, adventure, many characters that transform and rich storytelling." Japanese anime's competitiveness stems from the fact that 60% of anime are produced from manga (comic books). The manga boom in Japan began with the inauguration of two weekly manga magazines in 1959. Today, there are 70,000 manga titles and 120 million copies of comic books and manga magazines are printed each year.

It is clear that there has been rapid growth in the anime character business. Popular series from manga magazines are made into ....

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