Netflix Anime Festival 2020
This year I was fortunate enough to catch the simulcast of the Netflix Anime Festival from Netflix Japan. Over 100 million people watch anime on Netflix. Even the creators are surprised-they acknowledge that anime now has an impetus to appeal to viewers outside of Japan. How does someone in Italy view a show from Japan? In the middle East?
"Netflix as a platform is actually uniting with these universal values and common ideas and bringing people together"
So what are the new releases? An original production from the Philippines, a historical fantasy of the first black samurai, and a CGI Reboot of a 30 year old classic are all part of the hype. Shuichiro Tanaka, Taiki Sakurai, and Maki Yamazaki weigh in on how Netflix allows Japanese creators to be discovered world wide. Sakurai-san mentions that most creators still make content for the Japanese audience, while Yamazaki emphasized that it's important for creators not to get bogged down thinking about localization. The creators describe the future of anime as limitless and borderless, two similar but not identical terms that I totally agree with. Not showing up in the Netflix top 10, it seems like Anime has so growth left to do, even as it continues to peak in popularity.
Personally, I really relate to Yamazaki-san. It seems like her life in Italy deeply affects her manga and her view of anime. I mean, we can only assume that, as her partnership with Netflix is based on her Roman-Japanese culture inspired manga. She moved from a fine art and art history background into a manga role after some of her cohort in college in Italy recommended she look into it. Obviously, it has turned her some success. As the only woman on the panel, and the only person coming in with a significantly international outlook, her comments tend to differ a little from Sakurai and Tanaka san's. I can appreciate that too. Of course, right? It's amazing that she has the confidence and independence to stand up and display her own opinion and experiences on this man-el. As a woman from America who has done my best to understand how entertainment and anime specifically manages to cross borders and be understood by so many cultures, I find Yamazaki-san's perspective understandable.
"Probably eventually, people won't even call them that anymore! Did you watch that film? Or that series?"
I can't help but be amused that the Japanese presenters are surprised that fans from Singapore and Korea are using Japanese to discuss anime. When we are discussing how anime has globalized and being a mainstream category, how can we be shocked that devotees do their best to become entrenched in the language and culture of its origin? I think this goes along with American English as a lingua franca in business. Imagine if people were surprised that their fellows at an international business conference spoke English. It's the same type of environment, is it not? A large anime convention in Singapore naturally brings together people who are committed enough and knowledgeable enough to discuss the subject matter in its mother tongue.
"If you're a true, true anime fan, they [sic] have to be versed in Japanese. I feel very proud about it."
I dipped out after the photo-session, but I was shocked that the simulcast only had about 700 viewers. For such a huge company as Netflix to only have 700 people watching their new and upcoming announcements for one of their most successful categories was a little bit of a shock. But I suppose it just goes to show, there is in some way a line drawn between fans and professions. I wonder how many competitor agents appeared? How many people attended the online-only session? Only sweet heaven knows.