"Future Boy Conan" "Future Boy Conan"

Anime fans have never had so many legitimate streaming options to choose from. Between Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix and their competitors, these services bring the bulk of new shows to the world, along with an array of older titles. To break into this booming market, you need a niche.

One option is to serve up classic shows that the major streamers haven’t touched — that’s the Retrocrush way. New player Animelog is taking a similar path. The platform, launched this month as a Youtube channel, will offer library titles with an explicit focus on family audiences.

The initiative carries weight because it has the backing of major Japanese animation producers, including Toei Animation, Nippon Animation, Shin-Ei Animation, and Tezuka Productions (founded by anime and manga luminary Osamu Tezuka). The idea, as a press release makes clear, is to consolidate the companies’ online offerings, heretofore scattered across their individual Youtube channels, into a single, far broader platform.

The result is an impressive line-up of well-known shows, including Hayao Miyazaki’s directorial debut Future Boy Conan (image at top) and the Tezuka manga adaptation Black Jack. Other series set to join the platform include the 1980 remake of Tezuka’s pioneering Astro Boy and Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata’s 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother. The stated goal is for 30 companies to provide 3,000 titles within two years, clocking up 300 million views per month.

"Astro Boy" (1980)
“Astro Boy” (1980). © Tezuka Productions

For now, Animelog is only accessible in Japan. According to the press release, the plan is to eventually add subtitles, including English and Chinese, and to “help bring Japan’s precious animation to the world.” What that means in practice remains unclear. Without dubs, the appeal to children outside Japan will remain limited; it may be that the channel will be marketed overseas at fans, not families.

To date, many shows bound for Animelog have only been viewable outside Japan as bootlegs. (That option became that bit trickier this week, with the closure of major anime piracy site Kissanime.) While it makes sense to try to monetize those unlicensed shows, Animelog doesn’t represent the radical shake-up to the industry that some claim.

Family entertainment accounts for only a small portion of anime piracy. In any case, a niche service based on Youtube ad revenue won’t be rivaling the big subscription-based players like Netflix and AT&T-owned Crunchyroll. If it does reach North America, it will be a welcome complement to those platforms.

It’s worth noting that Animelog is by no means an exclusively Japanese venture. It was launched by Analyzelog, a digital solutions company formed in 2018 with backing from U.S.-based venture capitalist Benjamin Grubbs (formerly YouTube’s global head of top creator partnerships) and his Next10 Ventures.