cannonbusters cannonbusters
Internet Television

Netflix Reveals Major Slate Of 12 Original Anime Series

Netflix has a new philosophy when it comes to anime: go big or go home.

The internet streamer announced a pick-up of a dozen new anime series and one feature, a significant investment that will make Netflix a new home for first-run original animation produced in Japan. Prior to this, most of Netflix’s anime content was licensed, but not exclusive to the streamer; for example, One-Punch Man has also had a run on its competitor, Hulu.

This intensified focus on anime puts Netflix on a collision course with anime-only subscription services like Crunchyroll and Funimation, the latter of which was acquired earlier this week by Sony Pictures Television Networks.

Netflix’s key advantage here is scale. The company boasts 100 million subscribers compared to its leading competitor in the anime space, Crunchyroll, which recently passed the 1 million mark. While Netflix doesn’t offer anywhere near the variety of Crunchyroll, it needs just a couple of original hits to start convincing anime fans to add Netflix to their monthly subscriptions.

But this isn’t necessarily a winner-take-all scenario. Netflix’s investment in anime could benefit the niche services as well, because Netflix is opening up Japanese animation to tens of millions of casual tv viewers who would’ve never considered subscribing to an anime-only subscription video service. Netflix’s exposure could potentially create millions of new fans who would then want to dive deeper into the art form through the more specialized services.

Two of the more high-profile pick-ups in Netflix’s 12-series anime binge are LeSean Thomas’s Cannon Busters (pictured at top), which grabbed online attention after raising $156K on Kickstarter to produce a pilot, and Devilman Crybaby, a Go Nagai creation that is being turned into a 10-episode series by Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, The Tatami Galaxy, Ping Pong).

A complete list of series, most of which appear slated to premiere in 2018, can be found below, with Netflix’s official descriptions:

  • Cannon Busters
    Created, directed and executive produced by LeSean Thomas (Children of Ether), the series follows the adventures and exploits of S.A.M, a high-end, royal-class friendship droid who’s joined by a quirky, discarded maintenance robot and a brash, deadly fugitive. Together, the unlikely trio embarks on an unforgettable journey in a fantastic and dangerous world in search of S.A.M’s best friend, the heir to a powerful kingdom under siege. Twelve episodes are being produced by Manga Entertainment Ltd, Nada Holdings, and Satelight (Macross Delta).

    Writers: Natasha Allegri (creator of Bee & Puppycat), Anne Toole (Writer’s Guild nominee for The Witcher video game), Nilah Magruder (M.F.K. web series) and LeSean Thomas, among others.
    Story Editor: Matt Wayne (Justice League Unlimited, Niko & The Sword of Light)

  • Devilman Crybaby
    The protagonist Akira Fudo (Koki Uchiyama) learns from his best friend, Ryo Asuka (Ayumu Murase), that an ancient race of demons has returned to take back the world from humans. Ryo tells Akira that the only way to defeat the demons is to incorporate their supernatural powers, and suggests that he unite with a demon himself. Akira succeeds in transforming into Devilman, who possesses both the powers of a demon and the soul of a human. The battle of Devilman and Akira Fudo begins. The series, comprised of 10 episodes, is a Science Saru production and will launch on Netflix globally in Spring 2018.

    Original story: “Devilman” by Go Nagai
    Director: Masaaki Yuasa
    Screenplay: Ichiro Okouchi
    Music: Kensuke Ushio

  • B: The Beginning (formerly known as Perfect Bones)
    In a world powered by advanced technology, crime and action unfold in the archipelagic nation of Cremona. Koku, the protagonist. Keith, the legendary investigator of the royal police force RIS. A mysterious criminal organization. A wide variety of characters race through the fortified city as it is beset by the serial killer, Killer B, and a chain of crimes in this suspense drama by director Kazuto Nakazawa and Production I.G. The series is comprised of 12 episodes and is a Production I.G. series that is set to debut globally on Netflix in Spring 2018. B: The Beginning stars Hiroaki Hirata, Yuki Kaji, Asami Seto, Hiroki Touchi, Minoru Inaba, Ami Koshimizu, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Shintaro Tanaka, Atsushi Goto, Toshiyuki Morikawa and Kaito Ishikawa.

    Original: Kazuto Nakazawa x Production I.G.
    Directors: Kazuto Nakazawa, Yoshinobu Yamakawa
    Producer Rui Kuroki
    Screenplay: Katsunari Ishida
    Character Designer and Key Animation Supervisor: Kazuto Nakazawa
    Color Designer: Narumi Sakai
    Art Supervisor: Yukio Nagasaki
    Music: Yoshihiro Ike
    Editor: Junichi Uematsu
    Song: The Perfect World
    Song-Arrange-Guitar: Marty Friedman
    Bass: KenKen (aka LIFE IS GROOVE/RIZE/Dragon Ash)
    Arrange-Programming: Koji Fujimoto"B: The Beginning."

  • Sword Gai: The Animation
    A weapon that has drawn the blood of countless victims becomes legend, and at times takes on a life of its own. When such a weapon’s human host is filled with hate and murderous intent, he becomes a demonic combination of weapon and man that thirsts only for slaughter. An organization has faced these dangerous beings over the centuries. A young man named Gai is destined to live as a weapon. As humans are enthralled by their weapons’ power, epic battles unfold with the fate of humanity in the balance in this battle action fantasy. The series will debut globally on Netflix in Spring 2018.

    Screenplay: Toshiki Inoue"Sword Gai."

  • A.I.C.O. Incarnation
    In Japan in the year 2035, an accident known as the “Burst” occurs during a research project, spawning an out-of-control artificial life form called “Matter” that has spread throughout the Kurobe Gorge. The research city that was once hailed as the hope for humanity is cordoned off by the government. Two years later, 15-year-old Aiko Tachibana, who lost her family in the Burst, learns something unbelievable from Yuya Kanzaki, a new student at her school. A secret is hidden within her body, and the answer to the puzzle lies at the “Primary Point” that was the center of the Burst. Aiko resolves to infiltrate the restricted area, escorted by a team of divers and with Yuya as her guide. When boy meets girl with the fate of humanity in their hands, what new truth will come to light? The series comprised of 12 episodes is produced by Bones, whose notable works include Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven and My Hero Academia. The series will debut globally on Netflix in Spring 2018.

    Director: Kazuya Murata

  • Lost Song
    An all-new, classic fantasy starring Yukari Tamura and Konomi Suzuki as the two heroines. Rin (Konomi Suzuki), an energetic girl who loves to eat, lives in a verdant frontier village. Deep within the royal palace in the bustling capital city, the songstress Finis (Yukari Tamura) spends her days in solitude. Both share a special power no other person has. A miraculous power that can heal wounds, create water and stir the wind — the power of song. Guided by destiny, the two young women each face an arduous journey with the power of song. The shadow of war looms over the kingdom, tainting even the miraculous songs with the blood of innocents. Loved ones meet their deaths as silent screams echo through a stone prison. As two destinies intersect, will the final song be one of despair, hope or…? The series is comprised of 12 episodes, and is a Lidenfilms x Dwango co-production. Lost Song will debut globally on Netflix in 2018.

    Director and screenplay: Junpei & Morita
    Original character design: Tomonori Fukuda
    Lyrics: Aki Hata
    Music: Yusuke Shirato
    Background art: Dehogallery
    netflix_lostsong

  • Rilakkuma Series (working title)
    Ever since its merchandise first went on sale by San-X in 2003, the “Rilakkuma” character has enjoyed immense popularity especially among women. After being featured in many merchandising and industry campaigns, it is now widely recognized both in Japan and abroad. To mark its 15th anniversary, Dwarf Studio now brings to bear its world class stop motion animation skills to produce the first animated series featuring Rilakkuma. Rilakkuma is a soft toy bear who showed up one day to live with an office worker named Kaoru. He spends his days lounging around the apartment. Although there’s a zipper on his back, what’s inside is a mystery. He loves pancakes, rice omelets, custard pudding and “dango” rice dumplings. His friends are Kaoru’s pet bird Kiiroitori and a small white bear cub named Korilakkuma who also showed up out of the blue.

    The series, comprised of 13 episodes, is produced by Dwarf and is the first stop motion animated series featuring Rilakkuma.netflix_rilakkuma

  • Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya
    Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya follows modern day adventures of young warriors called “Knights”, who are sworn protectors of the reincarnated Greek goddess Athena. Each Knights wears a powerful armor based on their chosen zodiac constellation, and are called Knights of the Zodiac. They aid Athena in her battle against powerful Olympian gods who are bent on destroying the humankind. The series is comprised of 12 episodes and is produced by Toei Animation.

    Based on original stories and characters created by: Masami Kurumada
    Director: Yoshiharu Ashino
    Story Editor & Head Writer: Eugene Son
    Character Design: Terum Nishii
    Armor Design: Takashi Okazaki

    "Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya."

  • Baki
    The protagonist, Baki Hanma, trains with an intense focus to become strong enough to surpass his father, Yujiro Hanma, the strongest fighter in the world. Five of the world’s most violent and brutal death row inmates are gathering to face Baki. Their objective is to taste defeat — their unmatched strength and skill have led them to grow bored of life itself, and they now seek out Baki in the hopes that he can overwhelm and utterly crush them. In this crisis, other underground martial art warriors gather to fight by Baki’s side: Kaoru Hanayama, Gouki Shibukawa, Retsu Kaioh, and Doppo Orochi. An epic showdown between violent death row inmates and Baki and his friends begins! More than 63 million copies of the original manga series have been printed and the series will be comprised of 26 episodes for Netflix, produced by TMS Entertainment.

    Cover art of original "Baki" manga.
    Cover art of original “Baki” manga.

  • Kakegurui
    There is one absolute rule in gambling — at the end of the day, there is a winner and a loser. The winner gains riches and prestige, while the loser is branded a failure and left with nothing. In the silence leading up to the moment that separates winners and losers, instincts are sharpened and desires reach the point of ecstasy. This is a harsh microcosm of life in a capitalist society. Why are people captivated by a world filled with risk? What lies beyond the madness? As the class system of modern society crumbles, an unprecedented adrenaline-pumping anime sweeps the world. Based on the manga by Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura (serialized in Monthly Gangan Joker published by Square Enix), twelve episodes of the series are being produced by MAPPA. Kakegurui stars Saori Hayami, Minami Tanaka, Tatsuya Tokutake, Yuki Wakai, Karin Nanami, Mariya Ise, Yu Serizawa, Tomokazu Sugita, Mayu Udono, Ayaka Fukuhara, and Miyuki Sawashiro. The series will premiere in 2018 on Netflix, everywhere except Japan.

    Director: Yuichiro Hayashi
    Series Composition: Yasuko Kobayashi
    Character Design: Manabu Akita
    Art Directors: Haruka Matsuda, Masanobu Nomura
    Color Designer: Chikako Kamata
    CGI Director: Shin Jaehoon
    Director of Photography: Takashi Yanagida
    Editing: Kiyoshi Hirose
    Sound Director: Akiko Fujita
    Sound Production: Half H・P Studio
    Music: Technoboys Pulcraft Green-fund

  • Fate/Apocrypha
    Fourteen Heroic Spirits gather for an apocryphal Holy Grail War. In a city called Fuyuki, seven magi and their Heroic Spirits once clashed in a Holy Grail War. But amid the chaos of the Second World War, a magus made off with the Grail. Decades later, the Yggdmillennia clan holds the Grail high and secedes from the Mage’s Association, declaring their independence. Angered by the move, the Association sends assassins after them, only to have them wiped out by a Yggdmillennia Servant. The choice is made to fight Servants with Servants, and the Holy Grail War system is expanded to two factions of seven Servants each. A Holy Grail War of unprecedented scale — a Great Holy Grail War — begins in Trifas, Romania.

    The series stars Natsuki Hanae, Maaya Sakamoto, Koki Uchiyama, Miyuki Sawashiro, Junichi Suwabe, Saori Hayami, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Koji Yusa, Ryotaro Okiayu, Makoto Furukawa, Rumi Okubo, Tetsu Inada, Mitsuru Miyamoto, Satoshi Tsuruoka, Ai Nonaka, Kei Shindo and Sakura Tange. Fate/Apocrypha is an Aniplex/A-1 Pictures production. The series will be 25 episodes that premiere is the U.S. and Canada on November 7, and everywhere else, except Japan, on December 2.

    Original Story: Yuichiro Higashide・Type-Moon
    Original Character Design: Ototsugu Konoe
    Director: Yoshiyuki Asai
    Story Editor: Yuichiro Higashide
    Music: Masaru Yokoyama
    Studio: A-1 Pictures

  • Children of the Whales
    In the 93rd year of the Sentence of Sand… In a world covered by oceans of sand, 513 people live in complete isolation on the “Mud Whale,” an island-like ship adrift on the sand. Children of the Whales is an adaptation by director Kyohei Ishiguro and anime studio J.C.Staff based on Abi Umeda’s hit manga of the same name (serialized in Akita Shoten’s Monthly Mystery Bonita). Chakuro, the island’s archivist endowed with special powers, meets a mysterious girl named Rikosu as he investigates an abandoned ship that drifted up to the Mud Whale one day. It is the first time anyone on the island has made contact with someone from the outside world, but is it an auspicious sign that a new world awaits?

    Children of the Whales stars Natsuki Hanae, Manaka Iwami, Yuichiro Umehara, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Mikako Komatsu, Daiki Yamashita and Hiroshi Kamiya. The series will debut everywhere except Japan on Netflix in 2018.

    Director: Kyohei Ishiguro
    Series Composition: Michiko Yokote
    Character Design: Haruko Iizuka
    Art Director: Toshiharu Mizutani (Moonflower)
    Color Designer: Miyuki Ishida
    Director of Photography: Yoshio Okouchi
    Editor: Masahiro Goto (REAL-T)
    Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa
    Music: Hiroaki Tsutsumi
    Animation Production: J.C.Staff

    "Children of the Whales."

  • Godzilla
    Since it was first released as a feature film in 1954, Godzilla has become a colossal cultural icon loved by millions around the world. The 2016 release of Shin Godzilla, directed by Hideaki Anno, reinvigorated the franchise with a novel and realistic depiction of the iconic monster story, earning $82.5 million US dollars at the box office and capturing the imagination of new and old fans alike. Now in 2017, Godzilla evolves in an unexpected direction as a feature-length animated film.

    The animated movie takes the franchise into uncharted territory — a harsh world of the future in which Godzilla has dominated the Earth for the past 20,000 years, and a fateful final confrontation with mankind looms. The animated film stars Mamoru Miyano, Takashiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Tomokazu Sugita, Yuki Kaji and Junichi Suwabe. Prepare for the earth-shattering roar of a brand new Godzilla, unlike anything heard or seen before.

    Production Studio: Polygon Pictures
    Directors: Kobun Shizuno / Hiroyuki Seshita
    Original Story / Screenplay: Gen Urobuchi (Nitroplus), Sadayuki Murai"Godzilla."

  • I’m really looking forward to LeSean Thomas’ Cannon Busters. Congrats LeSean!

  • GOATmaybe

    You mean to tell me that after all these years I have to thank Netflix for giving me more Grappler Baki? Oh hell yeah.

    Anyone else fans of over the top martial arts action laced with a pseudo-historical backdrop? Manga basically had Ronnie Coleman fighting Che Guevara. I wonder if they bring in the cave man.

  • Elsi Poe

    Crunchyroll will surely roll on its back a year from now.

  • Too Many Cooks

    So is Netflix funding these (partially or entirely), or just distributing them in the US?

    • AmidAmidi

      Considering that most of these are globally exclusive to Netflix, or global-except-Japan, it’s safe to assume that they’re paying enough money to fund the production (or major parts of production) for a number of these projects. Some of the trailers are branded Netflix Originals, others aren’t, so they seem to have different levels of financial involvement in each project.

      • npcomplete

        I do want to say that “Netflix Originals” is often a misnomer. Even mere streaming licenses but with initial exclusivity like Knights of Sidonia was branded as a “Netflix Original”. However even with exclusive online streaming, all anime on Netflix so far have been also been broadcast on Japanese TV, and they don’t have any license to distribute the home video releases.

        Since literally every anime title has intra-episode changes and/or additional content for home video, and Netflix has no rights over the whole production, they don’t get this piece of the pie and Netflix audiences are also always missing these versions. For example, Knights of Sidonia for home release has different scenes in every episode and the final episode was extended by about ~15mins if I recall. Sentai distributed that release and they licensed it from the Japanese production committee rather than Netflix.

        Those subscribing to Funimation have access to and some of Crunchyroll’s non-simulcast titles are the final-master home video versions. (Funimation switches their streams from broadcast to master home release after their release)

        So far I have not seen any true Netflix Original anime yet like their real original live action series or non-anime animation series.

        • @SpitAndSpite

          Yea, the production model is all over the map, I’d be suspect to think Netflix is financing… but who knows nowadays.

        • Jerome Mazandarani

          I don’t understand why this is an issue? It’s happening regardless and if fans of certain shows can then buy a Blu-ray later with additional bonus content then that’s great for the producers as it allows them to secure some additional ancillary revenue, which is no doubt much needed. Also! It would behove NETFLIX to allow anime producers to do this after their license holdback because home video has always been a vital ingredient in the monetisation and financing of anime productions. If Crunchyroll could just get its act together on home video we’d probably also see them do the same.

          • npcomplete

            I’m just dispelling the myth about any so called “Netflix Original” anime, as if they entirely funded or own the production. If they did, they would not be licensing or paying for part of the rights from another production company who actually produced the anime.

            Rather, if a show was truly a Netflix Original, like their live action series are, then Netflix themselves would be the master license holder and other companies looking to release the Netflix title only home video or in other foreign markets would then have to ask permission from Netflix. As it stands now, the only thing Netflix is getting now is the streaming rights for the broadcast version. Again, unlike a real Netflix original title which is completely exclusive to Netflix, these anime shows are also shown on Japanese broadcast TV and then licensed to seperate companies for home video and their bonus content.

  • BurntToShreds

    I’m very excited about this for a couple of reasons.

    First, I’m really glad that LeSean Thomas has managed to get both of his projects off the ground. I’m stoked for Children of Ether on Crunchyroll, but knowing that Cannon Busters got picked up has me super pumped. I backed the Cannon Busters Pilot, loved it, and after silence on it for so long, I thought it was doomed to stay a pilot. This is one of those times where it’s awesome to be wrong.

    The second reason I’m excited for this is because it seems like what I predicted years ago is coming true: Internet-original animation is becoming the place to go for Western-made series (or series from Western creators produced in Japan or elsewhere) that focus on action, character development, and overarching plots. Rooster Teeth’s RWBY had piqued my interest when it premiered in 2013. It was rough around the edges, but I liked how ambitious it was, and wanted to see more stuff like it. When LeSean’s Cannon Busters went to Kickstarter for their pilot the next year, he wrote on the Kickstarter page about how modern TV networks have become more risk-averse thanks to the current economics of western animation, leaning on people with built-in followings, established properties, and episodic comedy. Looking at how so many action cartoons around that time had been treated like dirt, I was inclined to agree.

    From RWBY to Cannon Busters to Voltron, this Action Cartoon Renaissance is an amazing thing.

  • Strong Enough

    is that pedo bear? lol

  • StephaneDumas

    Deviman and a new Saint Seiya/Knights of the Zodiac series. Looks promising. :-) Now if we could have a sequel to UFO Robot Grendizer alias Goldorak in French. Or an animated adaptation of Mazinger Angels. ;-)

  • Jen

    Awesome! These all sound great. I finally started watching Castlevania on Netflix and really enjoying it so far too. Like someone else mentioned, it’s interesting to think about the different tiers of ownership Netflix has with these shows, if they are just distributors or co-financers or what not.

  • VOODOOSPAZM

    Netflix Originals has been keeping me going. Keeping Cannon Busters on my radar, like a lot of other people commenting.

  • Mill MitMan

    The official title is called Rilakkuma The Secrets of Life