One of the largest publishers of light novels and manga in Japan, Kadokawa Corporation, which through their subsidiaries holds the rights to iconic titles such as Sword Art Online, Classroom of the Elite, The Irregular at Magic High School, Rascal Does Not Dream, and A Certain Magical Index, announced multiple seismic moves related to anime in an earnings call on November 2, 2023, as reported by Animation Business Journal. According to the report, Kadokawa plans for a rapid expansion into the anime market over the next 4 years by:
- Creating an in-house Kadokawa studio through mergers with existing ones, as well as establishing new ones to combat talent shortages.
- Creating anime series with longer lifespans by producing more seasons.
- Securing all the rights to each work, which would include publishing, merchandising, and events.
- Expanding operations overseas through a global rights division, which will handle the rights of IP in Japan and internationally.
The consequences of these changes can perhaps be best understood by comparing them to the status quo. Animation Business Journal reports that of the 40 anime titles that Kadokawa currently invests in, only 5 are produced within the Kadokawa system. Kadokawa owns 53% of Studio ENGI (Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out, The Detective Is Already Dead) and 31.8% of Kinema Citrus (Made in Abyss, The Rising of the Shield Hero, My Happy Marriage). However, Bofuri, for example, was animated by Silver Link despite having Kadokawa at the top of its production committee. Kadokawa announced that instead of 5 anime under their system, an in-house Kadokawa studio model would expand this number to 20.
An interview earlier this year with MAPPA CEO Manabu Otsuka and Kompass further highlighted the importance of securing rights across the board with IPs, as well as 100% financing anime. Otsuka notoriously referenced how the popular Yuri on Ice anime along with their other projects made MAPPA little money as a result of the profit-sharing model they had. This prompted them to self-finance anime like Chainsaw Man and Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill, which seemed successful enough to merit a second season, as announced with a new visual. Otsuka also discussed the necessity of moving into events to make money, citing MAPPA STAGE as an example. Kadokawa is already well-equipped to seize upon the growing globalization of anime, given that they own J-Novel Club and a majority share in Yen Press.
Source: Animation Business Journal
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