Netflix Gears Up Anime Selections for 2021
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Netflix Gears Up Anime Selections for 2021

By Elizabeth Gibson for The J-Pop Exchange

Prepare to majorly clear up your to-watch queue on Netflix, anime fans.

After the major success of last year's “Blood of Zeus” series, Netflix has planned to release 40 anime titles throughout 2021. The high number of series and films is set to double the anime titles released last year. Netflix announced the move at Tokyo's AnimeJapan 2021 Expo March 27-30, where it also provided local Japanese fans with cast news and updates on upcoming anime shows.

Some of the previously-announced upcoming anime series include “Records of Ragnarok,” a series about 13 gods fighting 13 humans in one-on-one battles to decide the fate of humanity, set to be released all at once sometime later this year, and the slice-of-life comedy series “The Way of the Househusband,” based on the popular manga, premiering April 8. Additionally, the animated “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness,” based on a Japanese horror video-game franchise created by Capcom Co., will debut at some point later this year as well. Certain release dates are still to be determined.

Netflix also teased a new glimpse of the upcoming project “Yasuke,” which premieres on April 29, by releasing a new teaser poster illustrated by character designer Takeshi Koike. Yasuke’s plot includes a retired samurai picking up his sword once again to protect a village in a world that is filled with magic and mechs. Confirmed for a release date of May 27, another previously announced series “Eden” — which is set in a post-apocalyptic world run by robots — is expected to be Netflix's first entirely-original Japanese anime. The series is directed by the renowned Yasuhiro Irie, most well known for directing the incredible Full Metal Alchemist series.

On the business side of things, Netflix has been said to be trying a new strategy to broaden its viewer base on a global scale. Many households in America already subscribe to the popular streaming service, but Netflix is now trying to bring its services into Asian households. Anime, they say, is a way to entice new customers around the world and bump up their subscription numbers. It's clear from this announcement that Netflix is trying its best to compete with other anime-heavy streaming services such as Crunchyroll, Hulu, and HBO Max when it comes to enticing the anime market.

Many popular animes have been instrumental in pushing the company in this direction. After it launched last year, “Blood of Zeus” — an adult-animated Netflix original series set in the world of Greek mythology — quickly became one of the streaming giant’s 10 most-watched series in about 80 countries. A new season has already been approved by Netflix, and the creators have already outlined a total of five seasons.

According to a report last year by the Association of Japanese Animations, the global market for anime, including box-office takings, franchises, merchandise, and TV fees, almost doubled over the decade to 2019, reaching an eye-opening figure of $23 billion.

The booming prospect of the once-niche genre is enough to grab the attention of big-name streaming companies and other video giants. In December, Sony, the company behind the multi-million-dollar “Demon Slayer” franchise, agreed to buy AT&T’s anime-streaming unit Crunchyroll for $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, AT&T’s HBO Max landed the North American rights to legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, which produced hits like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.”


More by Elizabeth Gibson:

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