Today it was announced that Crunchyroll and Kadokawa would be forming an alliance. Decided to make a video detailing my thoughts about this news. If you can’t or don’t want to watch the video, I transcribed it the best I could below the video:
Hey everyone, how’s it going? In case you haven’t heard, Crunchyroll and Kadokawa have entered what they are calling a strategic alliance that will see Crunchyroll gaining exclusive rights to the worldwide digital distribution outside of asia of all Kadokawa anime series for at least the next year. In addition, Crunchyroll will be co-financing future Kadokawa anime productions.
Needless to say this is a historic move with wide ranging repercusions. In one fell swoop Crunchyroll made FUNimation’s co-funding of last season’s Dimension W, Netflix’s funding of the upcoming Perfect Bones, and Amazon’s acquisition of noitaminA anime all look insignificant.
Even worse is this is a massive blow to FUNimation’s future seasonal lineup prospects, as a substantial number of titles to grace FUNimation’s seasonal simulcast lineups were titles with involvement from Kadokawa.
The reason this whole thing is such a big deal is how big Kadokawa itself is. Kadokawa isn’t just involved with anime, they are one of, if not the biggest publishers of manga and light novels in Japan, an aspect of their corporate makeup they also flexed when they announced the acquistion of a majority stake in Yen Press around the same time the news of this alliance with Crunchryoll broke.
The thing is, despite knowing Kadokawa is a big name in the Japanese entertainment world, I didn’t know exactly how big they were. Upon doing some, admittedly brief, research into this in preparation for making this video, the scope of Kadokawa’s reach blew me away. The Kadokawa Corporation and Kadokawa Shoten publication company alone have vast holdings, but upon seeing the sheer number of titles and brands tied to Kadokawa’s other subsidiaries like ASCII Media Works, Enterbrain, Fujimi Shobo, and Media Factory, it became clear that there aren’t many anime series, especially big name titles with light novel and manga source materials or spin-offs, that don’t have Kadokawa’s involvement somwhere in the franchise.
In other words, it is quite honestly best to think of Kadokawa as the otaku media industry’s Disney, as much like Disney, they have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. They both even have iconic animal-based logos for crying out loud.
What this all means is this is basically the biggest piece of news to come in the legal streaming era of anime so far, with possibly the only thing to come close was when Crunchyroll decided to become a legal streaming source in the first place. Depending on just how many anime this applies to, as they might treat shows that Kadokawa was only involved with a print version of as being excluded, this could completely shift the legal simulcast scene outside of Japan in a way that the only way companies like FUNimation can keep up is answering in kind and partnering with big publishing companies of their own, like say Bandai.
In fact we might already be seeing the effects of this deal this very season, as while FUNimation did still manage to grab a show that has Kadokawa involvement in the source material, FUNimation’s lineup is rather weak especially when compared to Crunchyroll’s mammoth of a lineup. It should be pointed out that many of the early standouts of Crunchyroll’s Spring lineup, including Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, Bungo Stray Dogs, Joker Game, and Re:ZERO all have their source material published by Kadokawa or one of its subsidiaries.
So what do you guys think? Does this deal fill you guys with dread or elation? Feel free to leave a like and/or comment down below.