On November 20, 2020, The Asia Society of Southern California’s U.S- Asia Entertainment hosted a virtual panel about “Hollywood’s New Anime Gold Rush.” This panel was moderated by journalist and author of “Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Invaded The U.S,” Roland Kelts. Joined by Roland were special guests in the anime industry: John Ledford, Maki Terashima-Furuta, and Jason DeMarco.

Why Anime ?

Roland Kelts stated that Japan is the only non-English language set as the top-grossing industries. Netflix’s anime is leading in the top 10 in its streaming services. Anime overall has become a $25 billion industry, but why? The popularity of Anime isn’t new. Many anime fans liked anime before it became cool to like anime. Roland Kelts opened the discussion by asking each guest why and how did they get into anime. After hearing each answer, I believe that John Ledford, an entrepreneur in the anime industry, had the best answer. He stated that “Anime fills the gap that Disney doesn’t.” He went on to explain that anime is anti-Disney because Japanese storytelling is different. I agreed with this statement because I grew up on Disney and later discovered my love for anime when I was introduced to Sailor Moon. This is not to say that Anime is better than Disney, but that there is an alternative for children. I had to have both.

Maki Terashima-Furuta is the president of Production I.G and produces several anime shows. One of those being one of my favorite Toonami series FLCL. Although Maki works in the anime industry, she wasn’t a former anime fan. Animes that Maki grew to love were “Ghost In A Shell” and “Grave Of The Fireflies.” She explained that the gravitation to anime is from its intriguing visuals. Jason DeMarco, who is the SVP and Creative Director of Adult Swim, followed up with this question by expressing his fascination for the classic anime “Cowboy Bebop” and the anime movie “Your Name.”

Do We Really Need Live Action Films?

In my article Virtual Crunchyroll Anime Expo 2020: Arthell Isom On Anime And Race, I talked about the criticism that the popular anime “Ghost In A Shell” received when the live-action film didn’t have actresses/actors that looked like the anime characters. Roland Kelts questioned the reasoning for live-action films when the original anime series and films are doing well on there on? Each guest had their own personal opinion on this matter, but it all narrowed down to what Jason DeMarco said. He stated, “You can’t just love the anime.” This doesn’t mean that you will like the live-action films, but this approach to anime has been taken because fans of the anime stem from fans who loved the manga. Jason also brought up another good point by bringing light to the fact that if the films are bad, they will still bring attention to the original anime series. I strongly believe that if you’re going to watch a live-action film, you have to initially develop the film’s idea, not being exactly like the original.

Co-Production Good Or Bad?

Now that Anime is popular in the United States, the idea of co-production has become a discussion. Anime is loved for many reasons, but I’m sure we can all agree that Japanese culture’s influence plays a major role. I loved that John Ledford said, “The essence and passion of an animator cannot be copied.” Anime alone can’t be copied because it’s Japanese animation. If anime is made in America, it’s not anime; it’s Japanese inspired or American animation. Maki is an example that co-producing can be good for the anime industry. She co-produced the Netflix series Castlevania, Neo-Yokio, and more. This discussion led Roland Kelts to ask if they will have diluted animes to look forward to in the future. Japan’s production is backed up because of the many companies investing in anime. This will give talented animators a chance to showcase alternative anime. This doesn’t mean that future animes will be diluted.

The Future Of Anime

The future of anime is looking very promising. Animation is an industry that won’t die off in the next five years because of its constant evolution. It’s known that this industry is profitable, so companies will race to get a piece of the pie. I can see more mangas being turned into anime series and other streaming companies trying to hire animators to make anime originals like Netflix. Roland asked his guest what they could see in the year 2025. John Ledford predicted that there would be more Tv series considering the production hiatus due to Covid-19. He also believes that there will be more production studios and anime studios. John is also working with Maki on anime series; one won’t be released until 2025. Jason DeMarco currently has ten shows in production

My Question Has Been Answered

Before attending this virtual panel, I submitted a question that has been burning me inside. I asked. Do you believe that anime creators, writers, and animators get enough acknowledgment for their work like Hollywood actors and actresses? Each guest agreed that they don’t, and that needs to change. Jason DeMarco also added that anime creators are underpaid, and manga creators receive more credit. Maki also said that directors get more credit and that conventions should invite animators who have never been to the states. I’m glad that each guest answered my question honestly and proposed solutions to get animators the recognition they deserve. As an anime lover, I feel like all participants in and out of production should be acknowledged like we acknowledge Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz. Everyone involved in creating anime works really hard for low wages, yet the industry continues to gross in income. We should give these animators, illustrators, and writers their flowers while we can. Moving forward, I would like to see more recognition for the hard workers in the anime industry and appreciation towards the Japanese culture for creating something that brings us together.


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Virtual Crunchyroll Anime Expo 2020: Arthell Isom On Anime And Race