Overseas anime sales surpass Japanese market

Japan's animation industry contracted sharply last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, while overseas markets saw strong sales and exceeded the domestic market for the first time.

The Association of Japanese Animations announced last year's sales in a report released this month. The association determines the annual market size by surveying sales figures of animation-related companies in Japan.

The report says the industry's sales amounted to about 21.3 billion dollars, down 775 million dollars from 2019 when the industry marked a record high. It was the first year-on-year decline in 11 years.

Among the nine categories surveyed, online distribution grew by 36 percent from the previous year. But live entertainment, including anime music events, plummeted 65 percent.

Overseas sales, including from online distribution contracts and anime-related goods, have been growing rapidly since 2015. They amounted to about 10.9 billion dollars.

Online distribution contracts expanded to nearly 20 percent more regions compared to the previous year. Anime-linked businesses are also growing overseas and pushing up sales.

Masuda Hiromichi, chief editor of the industry report, says online distribution has been strong with limited impact from the pandemic, and new projects are emerging one after another.

He says some companies are beginning to strategically plan content and businesses for the growing overseas market.