At last year’s Annecy Festival, Netflix hosted an event to showcase its upcoming anime originals. A slogan in its presentation read, “Thanks to Netflix, anime is shared with the world.”
Crunchyroll would have been forgiven for raising an eyebrow. The oldest and largest of the dedicated anime streaming platforms, it has a library of over 1,000 licensed titles and an audience spanning more than 200 countries.
In recent years, however, Crunchyroll and the other anime streamers have met with a concerted effort by the mainstream platforms to draw away subscribers. Netflix has entered the anime market with particular zeal, acquiring classic titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Studio Ghibli library while commissioning a raft of its own content. This week, it announced development partnerships with six Japanese creators.
Here, then, is Crunchyroll’s answer. The platform has unveiled its first slate of Crunchyroll Originals, eight series “spanning adventure, fantasy, romance, historical fiction, and more.” While it has been co-producing shows since 2015, this slate sees it take the reins and commission its own shows. Original content will provide an added incentive for anime fans to subscribe, while making the platform less vulnerable to the vagaries of licensing.
Of the eight series, half are co-productions, with animation duties assigned to high-profile Japanese studios like Mappa (In This Corner of the World) and Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell). The rest are produced in-house at Crunchyroll Studios, in Burbank and Tokyo. Crunchyroll, a Warnermedia subsidiary, launched its production unit in 2018, becoming the first anime streaming service to do so.
The first series, In/Spectre, is already streaming, with the other seven due to roll out throughout the year. According to the company, the slate “was curated using more than ten years of viewership data, paired with Crunchyroll’s deep connection to the anime community.”
Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll, said in a statement, “Since our launch in 2006, Crunchyroll has been at the forefront of anime fandom and a driving force in the popularizing of this beloved genre worldwide. In keeping with this tradition, we are incredibly excited to announce our first slate of Crunchyroll Originals. These stories range from the traditional to the innovative, blending eastern and western ideas within the spectrum of anime. We hope this content will not only delight our current fans but also create a pathway for new fans to fall in love with this amazing art form.”
Here’s the full slate, along with official synopses:
In/Spectre — In this Crunchyroll Original, supernatural romance mixes with an enthralling, fantastical mystery, as a duo sets out to solve a series of dark incidents plaguing their world. Airing now on Crunchyroll.
Tower of God — A Crunchyroll and Webtoon production, based on the comic series Tower of God created by SIU and published by Webtoon, this dark fantasy action series centers on the journey of a young man as he battles his way through the mysterious Tower, building friendships, discovering the rules that govern this tower, and facing unimaginable terrors, as he strives to find the only friend he’s ever known. Animation produced by Telecom Animation Film. Production management provided by Sola Entertainment.
Onyx Equinox — In this Crunchyroll Studios production created by Sofia Alexander, a young Aztec boy is saved from death by the gods and chosen to act as “humanity’s champion,” forced to discard his apathy toward his fellow man and prove humanity’s potential in a fight that spans across fantastical-yet-authentic Mesoamerican cultures.
The God of High School — A Crunchyroll Original, based on the comic series The God of High School created by Yongje Park and published by Webtoon, this action-packed series follows a high schooler and his friends as they compete in an epic tournament, borrowing power directly from the gods and uncovering a mysterious organization along the way… With the promise of their heart’s deepest desires, motivating their tournament victory. Animation produced by Mappa. Production management provided by Sola Entertainment.
Noblesse — A Crunchyroll and Webtoon production, based on the comic series Noblesse from Jeho Son and Kwangsu Lee and published by Webtoon, this fantasy follows a powerful vampire noble who is thrown into modern civilization after 820 years of slumber. Dangerous adventures with his new friends await as they combat a secret organization and uncover his past. Animation produced by Production I.G.
Meiji Gekken: Sword & Gun (working title) — Japan, 1870. We follow an ensemble of characters — a former samurai, a yakuza bodyguard, a devious spy, and a geisha assassin — as they try to find their place in the rapidly evolving Meiji era while escaping the sins of their pasts… Inspired by historical events. A Crunchyroll Studios production.
FreakAngels — After civilization comes to a sudden and crashing end, twelve 23-year-old psychics living in the rubble of London must check their wild impulses and discover their better angels in order to rebuild society. A Crunchyroll Studios production based on the graphic novels by Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield.
High Guardian Spice — In this Crunchyroll Studios production created by Raye Rodriguez, four fierce girls train to become great heroes at High Guardian Academy, where they form allegiances, uncover betrayals, and discover their true identities, while preparing to protect the world from an ominous unknown threat.