SciFi Japan

    Anime's Growing Presence On Netflix


    With a reach of 75% in all American households, Netflix is recognized as a global media phenomenon. Established in 1997, it took some time for the service to become truly popular, with the switch to streaming from physical media proving pivotal.

    Today, Netflix boasts almost every genre imaginable, with more films, sitcoms, documentaries, and dramas than is fathomable. In a busy marketplace, with competition from Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+, new titles are added seemingly constantly.

    This includes Anime, with the library of available films and series now mightily impressive. In this article, we will examine the growing presence of Anime on Netflix and, in particular, the impact and significance of the recent NEO YOKIO series.

    Cultural traffic

    Anime’s origins are of course in Japan, where the genre retains a major stronghold. But the animation style is growing in popularity in the overseas market, and it’s a part of a much broader set of trends resulting from cultural globalization.
    Japanese fashion, food, and film are now more accessible in the western world than ever before, with dishes like sushi a major part of the culinary scene in cities across Europe, North America, and Australia.

    Traffic has also headed in the opposite direction, with traditional western pursuits helping to dictate changes to the Japanese cultural landscape. For example, traditional American sports like baseball are watched by tens of millions of fans in Japan, with the Nippon Professional Baseball League having grown in stature since the turn of the century.

    Casino gaming is another traditionally Western pastime enjoyed in Japan, with services like CasinoWings offering a local language guide to some of the most popular games from Las Vegas, such as blackjack, roulette, and poker. But where does Anime fit it into the picture?

    Classics and originals

    The selection of Anime on Netflix strikes a balance between cult classics and original titles, with modern adaptations also becoming increasingly prominent. The selection is handily categorized to guide viewers, with some of the genre’s critically acclaimed films, such as THE WIND RISES and POM POKO being highlighted to viewers.

    Across genres, Netflix is becoming known for its originals, and titles like NEO YOKIO are a great example of that in Anime. Featuring an all-star voice cast, NEO YOKIO is very much positioned to engage with Western audiences as an introduction to the genre.

    The series was created by Ezra Koenig of American indie band, Vampire Weekend, and names featured include Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Alexa Chung, and Susan Sarandon. This star power serves as a key marketing tool and helps capture the interest of those otherwise indifferent to the Anime genre.

    Although NEO YOKIO was met with mixed reviews following its release in 2017, its introduction to Netflix has helped lay the groundwork for new titles, as part of a wider selection featuring titles more familiar to established aficionados.

    Although the selection on Netflix is unlikely to rival Crunchyroll’s any time soon, the streaming platform’s increasing interest in Anime is crucial to the growing international popularity of the genre. It can also play a key part in the growing influence of Japanese entertainment culture in the West.

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