Anime Industry Report Editor: 2021 Was a Year of Recovery – Interest

Anime Industry Report editorial supervisor Hiromichi Masuda held a presentation at AnimeJapan on Monday to describe current animation business trends. The seminar on information from the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA)’s Anime Industry Report 2021, but also briefly touched on how the situation has changed since 2020.

Although Masuda mentioned that the numbers for 2021 are still coming in, he pointed to several areas of the market which have experienced notable rebound since 2020: films, the number of TV productions, and live events.

In 2020, Japan’s box office revenue experienced a significant dip except for one significant outlier: Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, which accounted for 38.7 billion yen (US$313 million). The next top performer was Doraemon the Movie: Nobita’s New Dinosaurwhich made 3.35 billion yen (US$27 million)—less than one tenth of Demon Slayer‘s amount.

On the other hand, 2021 appears to have obtained solid results from a broader range of titles, including Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, Belleand Jujutsu Kaisen 0. This is partly because some titles were delayed to 2021, although Masuda also commented that audience turnout has generally improved since the state of emergency in Japan lifted. There have also been fewer film delays in 2021.

Likewise, the number of TV productions in 2021 has risen, from 185 in 2020 to 199 in 2021. There was some bleeding of delayed 2020 titles into 2021, but Masuda also pointed out that the number of TV productions has been declining since 2019 anyway ( the peak was 254 titles in 2018). The recovery of TV anime will most likely be seen in 2022.

Live events suffered the biggest dip during the pandemic, dropping 65.6% year-on-year at 29 billion yen (about US$254 million), but Masuda also mentioned that the situation prompted organizers to proactively pursue virtual and livestreamed events, which don’t have limits on the number of people who can participate. This can potentially expand the audience and introduce alternate revenue streams for the future.

Although Masuda believes that demand for physical events and real-life interactions will always exist, he is unsure whether the eventual revival of the live concert will restore things to their pre-pandemic state. Physical and online events may coexist in the future. For the anime industry, which relies heavily on live events, this is an important issue to consider.

As for the production studios, Masuda cited an anonymous survey from the animation industry report to indicate that studios are still confident that they will continue to receive work in the future, especially from foreign streaming services. There has also been a rise in budgets, which reflects a broader understanding among investors that the industry needs more money to address prevalent issues such as labor shortages. Despite the ever-increasing demand for anime, however, Masuda highlighted the issue of foreign regulations. He said that the anime industry is grappling with the question of whether freedom of expression can still be maintained when creating for international markets.

Interesting, Masuda concluded his presentation on an optimism note: “The numbers from 2021 are coming in right now, and it’s clear that they’re better than in 2020. I they will keep going up in believe the year 2022. As a closing remark , I believe that Japanese anime will keep spreading its wings all around the world. Please keep an eye out for future developments in Japanese anime.”

Background of Anime Industry Report 2021

The Anime Industry Report 2021 found that the wider anime industry (including merchandise, music, etc.) contracted by 3.5% in 2020, with a total market value of 2.4261 trillion yen (about US$21.32 billion). The market value strictly for anime productions contracted by 9% to 274.4 billion yen (about US$2.41 billion).

For comparison, the market rose 15.1% to 2.5145 trillion yen (about US$22.10 billion by present conversion) in 2019, representing a near doubling of the industry in the last decade since 2009 (the year’s preliminary report stated a market value of 2.5112 trillion yen) for 2019, but the final report indicates a value of 2.5145 trillion yen).

The 2020 market value remains a high mark, second only to 2019 for every prior year since 2002, in both the broader anime market, and the narrower anime production industry. Interest, this represents the first contraction of the overall market in 11 years since 2009.

The streaming market increased in 2020 by 35.8% year-on-year, with a total value of 93 billion yen (about US$817 million), and was also the only market segment to see growth. Live entertainment was down 65.6% year-on-year at 29 billion yen (about US$254 million). Anime merchandise also saw a 0.8% downturn, valued at 581.9 billion yen (about US$5.10 billion) in 2020. Overseas anime sales, now accounting for about half of the market, increased 3.2% year-on-year, amounting to 1.2394 trillion yen (about US$10.89 billion). In contrast, the Japanese market saw a 9.7% reduction, now valued at 1.1867 trillion yen (about US$10.41 billion yen). This marks the first time the overseas market overtook the Japanese market.

Anime industry analyst, professor, and journalist Tadashi Sudo has provided commentary on last year’s AJA report, including commentary on how the popularity of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Impacted the numbers for 2020, production costs, labor shortages, and the future of the rising industry.

Source: AnimeJapan Business Seminar

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