Revenue at animation houses climbed by nearly 10 percent, but a lack of capacity is likely to hamper further growth, with most studios now fully booked for years.
The Japanese anime industry pulled in a record $17.7 billion (￥2.01 trillion) last year, boosted by the smash hit Your Name, growing exports and revenue from mobile game licensing.
Revenue was up just under 10 percent to take the total past the ￥2 trillion mark for the first time, the culmination of seven years of consecutive growth for the industry, according to the annual report from The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).
Domestic box office with anime features was up 14 percent to $585 million (￥66.3 billion), with nearly half of that accounted for by Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name.
Total revenue from overseas sales, which includes broadcast rights, box office, DVD/Blu-ray sales and merchandising, jumped almost a third to $6.79 billion (￥768 billion) over the previous year. Sales to China increased, an AJA spokesperson confirmed, but figures for individual countries aren’t compiled for the report.
TV series broadcast on Japanese networks brought in $936 million (￥106 billion). Revenue from Netflix and Amazon, which are ordering more original series, is broken down differently by the 52 anime production houses that make up the AJA, and therefore divided between domestic and overseas revenue.
Licensing fees from mobile games are proving an increasingly lucrative revenue stream for anime, including the highly profitable Fate/Grand Order. The game is operated by Sony Music in Japan and has been bringing in so much money that Sony Corp. has been citing it in its quarterly earnings reports. Licensing anime characters for use on the machines used for pachinko, a Japanese gambling game, is also highly lucrative, with both types of gaming delivering billions of dollars to the industry.
The anime industry is currently operating at full capacity, with many studios fully booked until 2020. A general shortage of young workers in Japan caused by its aging demographics is exacerbated by the low wages paid to junior animators, leaving limited room for further growth.