When it comes to animation, Bilibili means business.
At its recent showcase Made By Bilibili, the online video platform gave a sense of just how big that business is. The company revealed that it will release a full 33 animated titles next year.
Here are the details:
- The slate of 33 “Chinese anime” titles will include four theatrical features — an area into which Bilibili has recently diversified. (Although the company labels its productions as “anime,” Cartoon Brew reserves that term for animation chiefly created and produced in Japan.)
- Partnering with Beijing’s Light Chaser Animation Studios (White Snake), Bilibili is co-producing the feature New Investiture of the Gods: Ne Zha’s Rebirth (a.k.a. New Gods: Nezha Reborn), a retelling of the legend that inspired last year’s break-out hit Ne Zha. The film, which was presented as a work in progress at this year’s Annecy Festival, will be released in February.
- Other projects on the slate include Manual of Hundred Demons, a feature based on the eponymous series, which has racked up over 100 million views on Bilibili since its launch in April; series based Ma Boyong’s novel The Longest Day in Chang’an, Xia Da’s comics The Long Ballad and Zi Bu Yu, and the live-action franchise Detective Chinatown; and the features Shennong: Taste of Illusion and Shadow Diver.
- In a statement, Li Ni, vice chairwoman and COO of Bilibili, commented on the company’s animation strategy:
Bilibili’s ten-year ambition between 2014 and 2024 is that we hope to become a Chinese anime hub that drives the Asian animation industry and leads the way in terms of both animation output and audience scale in the next decade. After 2024, we hope that Bilibili will be able to support and witness the birth of new Chinese anime superheroes and blockbuster animation hits. Only this way can we have the ability to continuously export excellent animation works to the global market.
- Bilibili started out in 2009 as an online community focused on anime, comics, and games. It has grown to encompass user-generated content, licensed and original shows, live broadcasting, and mobile games across a range of genres. At the end of 2019, it claimed 130 million monthly average users and 37.9 million daily average users.
- The website remains a hub of Chinese animation: its “Chinese anime” channel is now more popular than the Japanese anime one. It has launched 106 Chinese animated titles in 2020, with viewing hours up 98% year-on-year.
- Last year, Bilibili partnered with Funimation, the Sony-owned U.S. anime distributor, to jointly license anime titles for the U.S. and Chinese markets. Funimation announced in October that it had acquired its first Chinese animated title, Heaven Official’s Blessing, which is co-produced by Bilibili.
- In April, Sony acquired a stake of just under 5% in Bilibili, investing around USD$400 million. The companies committed “to pursue collaboration opportunities within the area of entertainment business in the Chinese market, including anime and mobile games.”
Image at top: “New Investiture of the Gods: Ne Zha’s Rebirth”