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How are Big Corporations Profiting from Anime? Posted May 26, 2020

Within Japan, anime refers to all forms of animated media. However, once outside the country, it refers specifically to Japanese animation. Anime has a distinct style, characterized by vibrant characters and bright graphics. The anime industry is huge, boasting over 400 production studios. Some of the best-known studios include Studio Ghibli and Toei Animation.

How are Big Corporations Profiting from Anime?

Gaining traction across the globe

The anime industry continues to defy expectations. It has fans at every age level, although the majority are between the ages of 18 – 34. The popularity of anime is also distributed relatively equally across gender. The appeal of anime translates across many platforms, including TV, gaming and publishing.

Over the years, major corporations have realized the huge potential there is to be had from this billion-dollar industry, and have tapped into this genre. Today, you will see that anime is deeply embedded in the toy industry, TV and movie industries and the gaming and gambling industries, to name just a few.

Let’s take a look at how anime has been incorporated into these industries and how major corporations are profiting from it.

Gaming and Gambling Corporations

Anime has taken the gaming industry by storm. There are multiple video games with anime characters, as well as online gambling slots and games with anime themes, as seen here.

Examples include:

  • The wild success enjoyed by Toei Animation and Viz Media in the gaming industry, including mobile and video games. Their games such as Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Naruto Shipudden: Ultimate Ninja Storm have practically become household names.
  • Another brand, Level-5 builds its anime brands such as Inazuma Eleven across multiple platforms, which include gaming and TV.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club – One of the latest anime crazes, this game looks like a basic dating sim, but look below the surface and you’ll find a violent, psychological horror game that churns the stomach and keeps you strangely entertained all at once.
  • Microgaming, the Isle of Man online gambling software developer creates anime-inspired online slot games, such as its 2019 release, the 5 reel, bonus-rich Our Days slot.

These major gaming and gambling corporations make literally billions from their anime-inspired products.


Anime and the toy industry are a natural fit, since cartoons sell toys. Interestingly, the success of many anime series depends on a toy line. In fact, many anime series were specifically created as big-budget commercials for new toy lines by major toy and game corporations.

Some prime examples include:

  • The Transformers – This property started off in Japan as Takara, a toy line of transforming toys but has expanded into a multi-billion dollar product.
  • Bakugan – A joint creation between Japanese and Canadian toy companies, this product went on to be a global cash-cow. It triggered the birth of card and marble games and the brand went on to be named toy line of the year.
  • Hello Kitty – Perhaps the earliest example of how anime was used to advertise a Japanese toy line, Hello Kitty is the most recognized commercially-used anime. Her simple and basic look is a far-cry from the modern-day anime we find today, but she definitely deserves a mention.

TV and Movies

As early as the 1980s, anime went mainstream in Japan, with brands such as Gundam and Dragon Ball becoming household names. In 1988, Akira set world records and became a global success. Over the years, anime movies have taken home major awards, such as Spirited Away, which won an Academy Award in 2003 for the Best Animated Feature.

In the 2000’s, anime saw a giant rise in popularity in the US market, triggered by the launch of Toonami on the Cartoon Network. Anime series such as Pokemon, Digimon and /beyblade/.Beyblade became an integral part of American kids’ childhoods.

Anime accounted for 60% of global animated TV shows in 2016.

Some of the most popular TV shows and movies from the anime genre include:

  • Ghost in the Shell – What started as a serialized manga in the late 80’s, turned into the major 1995 feature film. The futuristic thriller tells the tale of a policewoman whose mission is to hunt down The Puppet Master.
  • Perfect Blue – Directed by Satoshi Kon, this brooding human-tale-meets-supernatural movie has some stunning graphics that can hypnotize.
  • Metropolis – Inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi classic, this 2001 animated version took a lot of its ideas from the 1949 manga novel written by Osamu Tezuka.
  • Vampire Hunter – This 1985 classic, directed by Toyoo Ashida, carries a popular theme in anime movies – that of a post-apocalyptic society. This time around, vampires are the enemy in a world set in 12,090 AD!
  • Hunter x Hunter – A 1999 TV series following the adventures of Gon Freecss.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins – This Netflix TV series is based on Nakaba Suzuki’s manga.
  • Naruto – A Japanese mange series written and also beautifully illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. Follow the tales of the teen ninja, Naruto Uzumaki who wants, more than anything, to become leader of his village.

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