Anime Catching On in U.S.

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Anime Network, the first network devoted to Japanese animation, launched in late 2002. It is carried primarily as a VOD service and is available in about 4 million homes. Network President Kevin Corcoran talks to TelevisionWeek’s James Hibberd about the challenges of selling giant fighting robot epics to the “South Park” crowd.
TelevisionWeek: What are some of the differences between American-style adult animation and anime?
Kevin Corcoran: Japanese anime is older. It goes back to `Astroboy’ and `Speed Racer’ and `Robotech.’ It’s been percolating for a long time.
TVWeek: What about demographic differences?
Mr. Corcoran: There’s a lot of overlap there. Males 15 to 24 and 15 to 30-that’s a very similar demographic to [American adult animation]. There’s also a growing female audience that skews younger: 15 to 21.
TVWeek: Is it fair to say Americans associate cartoons with comedy, while Japanese use it more for action and drama?
Mr. Corcoran: Japanese animation is a broader category altogether. There’s giant fighting robots, samurai, children’s programming, swashbuckling stories, secret agent stories, comedy-it runs [the] full gamut. What most people are familiar with is the giant fighting robots and children’s animation, but those are only two parts.
TVWeek: What are some of the challenges in selling an anime network?
Mr. Corcoran: Initially, the hurdle to overcome is that cartoons are for children. Most of the anime are not for kids; they’re more mature story lines. The story lines tend to follow a different structure, tend to spend a lot more time on background development. It’s a different way of storytelling. It’s not uncommon for a 26-episode [series] to have just background for a few episodes before the action kicks in.
TVWeek: Is all of your content imported?
Mr. Corcoran: Most of the content is from Japan. We change it as little as we can to keep the original story and intent of creator.
TVWeek: Is it more or less expensive to import and dub Japanese cartoons than to develop your own?
Mr. Corcoran: Well, it really varies show by show. I can tell you it’s getting more expensive. We also produce and co-produce a lot of our programming. In many ways, it makes sense to produce or co-produce in Asia.
TVWeek: There’s plenty of crossover between Japanese and American entertainment. Why has anime taken so long to get a foothold here?
Mr. Corcoran: We’ve seen with Japanese anime that there’s been this undercurrent of development, and it’s now reaching out now to the masses. The whole concept of animation for adults has become much more acceptable, and we think that’s a great thing.