In the recent news, Netflix India has decided to broadcast One Piece. In this article we explore the background to it and what it holds for anime fans in India.
So, put on your explorer hat and read on.
Netflix – the worldwide popular video streaming provider is making a bold attempt in its India venture. Yes, the company intends to grow its base by making anime popular in India. As of early 2020 Netfix has around 2 million subscribers in India. The company aims to take the base to 100 million. A hard goal but not an impossible one considering the humongous population of India who has access to Internet. Its a long shot but the company intends to target one million subscribers at a time. We will see the foray of Netflix in many such uncharted territories like the Anime. It’s going to be interesting to see the response from the diverse Indian audience.
Anime in India – There is no official count of anime fans in India as the topic is not mainstream despite two decades of growing fandom and broadcast of popular titles like DBZ, Naruto, Pokemon, Detective Conan and the first season of our beloved anime One Piece. Many TV channels have made the attempt to leverage anime in India including Cartoon Network, Sony India, Hungama, Animax Asia but the growth never reached its full potential or at times didn’t get the expected response from the wider audience. The growth of anime in India has happened through a rather non-traditional medium calling “sharing and caring”. Someone watched few episodes of a popular anime online, got hooked to it, downloaded it with great patience and effort – remember those were the days of slow internet speed. Later saved it onto computer, DVDs or external disks. It so happened that these first otakus got their friends to watch it and from there began the slow and steady rise of anime in India.
We otakus know, how difficult it is to convince and explain anime to those who have never seen it. Anime is still perceived as cartoons in India by the older generation. Anime fans are made fun of, many times due to this lack of awareness. It’s negligent or hard for the older generation to see the values of determination, friendship, deep philosophy, courage and goal chasing in an animated version of story telling. The poor quality of home grown animation and cartoon series are also reponsible for this perception.
To tackle this perception, spread awareness and to grow popularity of anime in India we have seen blog posts from several anime fans, launch of anime merchandise by online retailers such as 9tails Apparels , comicons and intermittent attempts by streaming services to launch anime series in an online mobile formats.
There was also a time when #IndiaWantsAnime hashtag which was seeded by Indian Anime youtube community became so trending (petition got signed by 50000+ people) that Japan’s one of the biggest blockbuster movie ‘Weathering with you’ was launched in India with the help of Vkaao and PVR Cinemas. And the movement didint stopped there. With such momentum of Anime taking place in India, Netflix launched a poll where it asked to its Indian Audience, that of they could have only one thing between Sacred Games S2 and Anime in Hindi, what will they choose. The results were so astonishing that within 2 Lakh+ votes were given with 60% People demanding Anime in Hindi on its platform. And dont forget that Sacred Games created a different level of cult status for Original content made by Netflix in India, where people were going mad when it was being delayed month after month; and that became a testement of our trues values that what it meant to be a hardcore otaku in India and we showed the power of Anime community in India.
And now lets fast forward it today; the Netflix is making another such move albeit in a right direction. It has picked one of the epic anime shows of all time – One Piece for its new experimenation for LIVE ACTION ANIME SERIES. There couldn’t have been a better pick considering its an ongoing series for 20 long years. So, what does this mean for anime in India? Let’s take a look.
1) Anime in dubbed version:- to help people relate with the storyline of anime, Netflix is likely to launch it in English/Hindi dubbed version. A large section of Indian population prefers content in Englisg/Hindi so this will be right step. We otakus know that anime sounds and feels best in the raw japanese audio version but if dubbed gets to increase traction of anime, fans would highly appreciate it.
2) Competition from other streaming providers:- With Netflix picking up the anime baton, its competitors are verly likely to launch other anime series to woo anime market segment. With competitors like Amazon Prime and Hotstar(owned by Disney), its further going to propel anime penetration in India. The coming decade is likely to see anime taking shape in India. So we hope to see enthusiastic response from Indian netizens and content consumers.
3) Merchandise launch and tie ups with influencers:- The market for anime merchandise is still in early stage and the cosplay influencers are limited to few. With streaming set to raise the bar for anime, we will see online retailers doing anime merchandise launches. Anime events like comicons will be sponsored by growing and established brands forming an ecosystem of fandom, advertising and business.
4) A parallel universe to traditional Indian content:- Traditionally, bollywood movies and indian daily soaps have dominated the entertainment mediums in India. With the inception of new platforms like youtube, amazon prime video, hotstar and social platforms in the decade gone by, India has seen paradigm shift in the way content is consumed. Many new forms of entertainment are in the play now and we will see more as tech and entrepreneurs keep exploring opportunities. Anime holds one such mega billion opportunity. It has potential to rise meteorically if marketed right. In the long run, it can become a universe of content much like in the way, it is in Japan today. Hope, we see that happening in the unfolding decade.