Aug 1 2013, 10:59am CDT | by Mark Raby
Die-hard anime fans have proven yet again that they have what it takes to fund the pathway for niche Japanese content to find its way to North America, even when traditional forms of capital raising don't make business sense. The 61-episode series Black Jack is now coming stateside thanks to a crowdfunding project on Anime Sols.
Announced last year, Anime Sols is am ambitious undertaking by Japanese company Yomiuri Group to allow Japanese production companies to get funding for their projects by the people who truly do make the anime industry what it is -- the fans. It's essentially Kickstarter, but with an exclusive focus on anime. Many of the endeavors involve producing Japanese content for an American audience.
Case in point -- Black Jack. Originally aired in Japan from 2004 - 2006, this 61-episode franchise is based on the manga of the same name. The central character is a doctor on the black market who works with his assistant on a myriad hair-raising and spine-tingling covert operations throughout the world. In Japan, there were also movies and other specials based on the Black Jack lore. The US, though, didn't receive any of it, until it started showing up on anime streaming services like Crunchyroll.
Thanks to Anime Sols, there will now be a DVD release as well, featuring all episodes of the original anime. Because of the success of the campaign, there are now plans to launch a new crowdfunding effort that would seek to create brand new episodes of the series.
It's a tale as old as time that the traditional logistics and funding required to bring niche Japanese content over to North America was simply not worth the expected return. There is now a paradigm shift in this field, though, thanks to cheaper distribution options, an ever-widening North American palate for anime, and the explosion of crowdfunding.
Another recent Anime Sols success story is the North American DVD release of Creamy Miami, which met its $19,000 funding goal last week.
I4U.com's William Pola contributed to this report.
With more than 10 years as a professional writer, Mark Raby has an undeniable pulse on the latest trends. From the quiet rumors to the breaking news of the day, his eagle eye is always focused on the newest scoop and figuring out how and why the big newsmakers are noteworthy and relevant. He is based in New York City.
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