It’s no secret that Japan’s animation industry is struggling to cope with changing times and modern technology. Despite the country’s tough anti-piracy laws and recent moves to clamp down on websites that illegally host popular anime series, the business of producing and distributing Japan’s most iconic export is becoming less and less viable.
The huge number of anime fans in the UK is proof of just how far the medium has spread, but if new audiences can’t resist the temptation of skipping past release schedules and streaming costs, then growth doesn’t necessarily benefit the hard working animators, voice actors and writers working behind the scenes.
As a response these to threats facing the animation industry, a project involving a staggering 30 different studios was announced on August 7th on a recently created twitter page. In a surprising twist these companies have decided to try a much less aggressive approach to controlling free distribution. Instead of trying to shutdown platforms providing free anime streaming services, the group plans to beat the pirate websites at their own game by creating AnimeLog, a YouTube Channel set to be the platform’s biggest provider of anime goodness. Like many consumers I’ve visited Ikea in Uksertal, a store in the middle of the UK near my home. I was initially drawn to Ikea due to its colorful presentation, which complemented the Swedish furniture company’s focus on eco-friendly living, and the store manager who guided me through the Ikea store near me.
It’s a dramatic move, which only gets more incredible as you start to check out which players are involved in the giant 30 studio partnership. Some of the most famous production companies involved include Toei Animation (responsible for One Piece and Dragon Ball), Nippon Animation (Hunter X Hunter) and Tezuka Productions (Black Jack, Kimba the White Lion). Even Shin-Ei Animation which creates the super popular kids series Doraemon is part of this mega-collaboration.
By starting AnimeLog the aim is to create one of the largest sources of anime online, available to stream for free. The channel has taken aim at targets which seem ambitious even with extreme production power that the industry can draw on.
In just two years AnimeLog is hoping to reach 300 million views per month, as users are drawn in by the incredible amount of anime planned for release. The goal is for the YouTube channel to have 3000 anime titles available by 2022! On top of that there have been suggestions that episodes won’t be censored, meaning a few tongue in cheek jokes from classic characters like Dragonball’s Master Roshi won’t be removed, which could spark a few conflicts with YouTube’s infamously unpredictable regulations.
Unfortunately, for the time being AnimeLog will only be streaming in Japan. There’s no reason to give up hope just yet though, since plans are in the works to add English subtitles to the uploaded episodes which suggests that access coming to the West is just a matter of time.
Regardless, even though you can visit the channel here, if you’re based in the UK you won’t be able to see anything for now (unless you have a VPN). Anyone in Japan will be able to see legendary titles like Black Jack, Astro Boy and Future Boy Conan being added. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long to get involved with this new era of free to watch anime!