With the proliferation of OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime in the world, the popularity of Japanese animation has grown rapidly over the past few years, even in the midst of COVID-19. According to the Association of Japanese Animations, overseas market of Japanese animation reached around 10 billion USD (1 trillion 313 billion yen), having expanded by more than 7.6 billion USD (1 trillion yen) in 10 years.
In order to further bring Japanese animation to the world, JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization, has started a project to support the launch of crowdfunding projects for animation production by Japanese animation studios on Kickstarter.. This time, five studios will launch their projects at Kickstarter from January 10-February 13, 2023.
Through crowdfunding on Kickstarter, we aim to raise support for each anime studio’s production and thereby create a fan community for Japanese anime.
JETRO project feature page on Kickstarter:
*Five projects of the anime studios will be put on the above page on January 10, 2023.
Project period: January 10–February 13, 2023
Participating Anime Studios:
1. STUDIO4℃ ”Future Kid Takara”
2. Public Arts “Hana, The Last Diviner”
3. Picona “SAMURAI PIRATES”
4. Gorilla “The Top Loft!”
5. EKURA ANIMAL “Heike Monogatari Emaki”
JETRO, or the Japan External Trade Organization, is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad, JETRO’s core focus in the 21st century has shifted toward promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium sized Japanese firms maximize their global export potential. JETRO has 76 overseas offices in 54 countries worldwide, as well as 50 offices in Japan.
STUDIO4℃ was founded in 1986 and has since gained a reputation as a studio that produces highly unique and genre-bending work. Many of the studio’s films have been released worldwide, and it has a large community of fans around the world. The studio’s first major film was 1995’s Memories, which was followed by many more award-winning films such as the The Animatrix (2003), Mind Game (2004), Tekkonkinkreet (2006), Genius Party (2007), Children of the Sea (2019), Poupelle of Chimney Town (2020), and Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (2021).
The vision of creator Hiroki Taniguchi, Hana, the Last Diviner is an original anime project that will follow the story of Hana, a young “onmyoji” living at the end of the Edo Period (during the 1860’s). This was a time of turmoil in Japan, as the feudal shogunate government was losing its authority as opponents fought for reinstatement of Imperial rule. In old Japan, Onmyoji were a special class of diviners who worked for the Emperor and were said to possess magical powers to ward off evil spirits.
Not only does Hana manage to master the many obstacles standing in her way of becoming an onmyoji, but she earns the respect of the Emperor along with the common people, and becomes a very powerful onmyoji. The series will be filled with action, magic, and drama, and will also be set in a historically accurate 1800’s Kyoto, as Taniguchi studied with a professor of history at Kyoto Women’s University as he wrote the script.
Picona was founded by Ken Yoshida in 2009 and specializes in a toon-style form of 3DCG animation known as “cell-look 3DCG” in Japan. The studio’s latest project is called Samurai Pirates, which is planned as a television series geared towards children around the world. The story follows a girl named Enne, a popular singer on the island of Takarajima who, through a strange turn of events, receives a pirate eyepatch bestowed with magical powers from a spirit called an “ometsuke” and is entrusted with the mission of purifying the hearts of people who have been transformed into evil beings called “oni.” Enne sets out on this quest together with four of her friends, forming a group called the “Samurai Pirates.”
Instead of fighting with weapons, the Samurai Pirates use song and dance to purify the hearts of the oni they confront along their journey. The show is fun and filled with music, color, and action, but is suitable for kids of all ages as there is no violence or inappropriate content of any kind. The father of a young child himself, creative producer Ken Yoshida came up with the concept after realizing that there are very few anime shows written specifically for young children, and even fewer that are free from violence. His hope is that Samurai Pirates will teach lessons of positivity and self-confidence for young kids.
Noko Yukawa is the CEO of Gorilla, a studio in Tokyo that has been making animations for 38 years. Through her experience creating many children’s anime through the years, Yukawa has gained an intuitive sense of what makes an outstanding story for young children.
Yukawa’s new project aims to produce a “moving picture book” from a collection of 26 stories, each of which is roughly 5-7 minutes long. The story will follow the adventures of three young children who accidentally wander into a mysterious universe filled with friendly “kaiju” (monsters). The main characters Tatta, Tette and Totto each have a unique and realistic personality—flaws and all—so a child watching the show will naturally be able to relate to and feel an affinity towards their favorite character. Although the story takes place in a fantasy world, the challenges that the children solve on each episode are based on real-life scenarios that will teach kids viewing the show important and relatable life lessons. It will be a fun and valuable work that Yukawa and her team hope will stay with kids who watch it as they grow up and face challenges in their own lives.
Ekura Animal started in 1982 under the name Animalya with the philosophy of bringing heartwarming animation to children. The studio has collaborated on many famous series including Doreamon, Lupin the Third, Batman, The Powerpuff Girls, and Crayon Shin-chan, as well as produced numerous original works like including Kappa no Suribachi, Sakura and Sakurin, Kuru Kurumi Chan, and Like the Wind.
For this project, Ekura Animal wants to try something completely different, moving away from the children’s themes it normally works on. Instead, Ekura Animal is collaborating with an artist who makes intricate papercut artwork to create a new style of anime that follows the true story of the rise and fall of the Heike Clan. Adding animations and movement to the original paper cuttings and incorporating music and voice acting, the unique animation style will bring the story to life in a captivating and artistic way. The story is filled with battles and death, and Ekura Animal hopes that it will prompt viewers to contemplate the fleeting time that we have on this earth.