Crunchyroll, an online streaming service specializing in Japanese animation (anime), has officially announced the development of eight new original series. The series will be collaboratively produced with established animation studios as well as the newly created Crunchyroll Studios.
Crunchyroll started in 2006 as a platform for primarily licensed East Asian content. However, in recent years the distributor and licensing company shifted entirely to serve the large anime fan base that resides in the United States and Europe. The service currently has over one million paid subscribers and delivers licensed content to over 50 million users worldwide for $8.00 per month. It boasts over 900 anime shows and more than 200 Asian dramas, making it the premier anime streaming service in the West.
This announcement marks a huge change in the service’s main focus of licensing and localizing animation produced in Japan to that of major content producers such as Netflix.
However, the idea of Crunchyroll producing its own original content isn’t new. Back in August 2018, Crunchyroll announced its first original series, High Guardian Spice. However, it was met with extreme backlash with some users even threatening to unsubscribe from the service entirely. Many believed that the series betrayed subscribers’ expectations regarding support for the animation industry in Japan. To some, instead of using profits to fund established Japanese studios, Crunchyroll was creating their own differing Western content. Though the series was slated to release early 2019, Crunchyroll went dark about its production until now.
Alongside High Guardian Spice, Crunchyroll is also adapting several fan-favorite WEBTOONS to animation. WEBTOONS are digital comics (originally originating from Korea) which have gained a large international audience in recent years.
One such adaptation is Tower of God, jointly produced by Crunchyroll Studios, TELECOM Animation Film, and SOLA Entertainment. It’s based on the WEBTOON of the same name written by SIU, the dark fantasy features the story of a young man as he battles his way through a mysterious tower. Tower of God is set to release in the Spring of 2020.
Noblesse, another fantasy series, is based on the comic series written by Jeho Son and Kwangsu Lee. It features the story of a powerful vampire noble who’s thrust into modern society after almost a millennium of slumber. No release date has been confirmed as of yet.
The God of High School, originally a series on WEBTOON by Yongje Park follows a high schooler and his friends as they participate in a tournament utilizing the power of the gods. The series will be jointly produced with MAPPA and SOLA Entertainment. No release date has been confirmed as of yet.
In addition to the WEBTOON adaptations, Crunchyroll is also venturing into uncharted territory by producing completely original series. In/Spectre is a supernatural romance mystery that has just been released alongside the announcement.
Additionally, Onyx Equinox, produced by Crunchyroll Studios and created by Sofia Alexander sheds the traditional eastern aesthetic by introducing a Mesoamerican setting. It’s set to release this Summer.
Meiji Gekken: Sword and Gun (working title), produced by Crunchyroll Productions, features a motley crew of ninjas, samurai, and assassins as they traverse the Japanese landscape of the 1800s. No release date has been confirmed as of yet.
FreakAngels, also produced by Crunchyroll Productions, will feature the post-apocalyptic tales of a group to psychics attempting to rebuild modern-day London. It’s based upon the graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield. No release date has been confirmed as of yet.
This new slate of original productions by Crunchyroll signals a new era for the streaming service, marking a major change from merely licensing and localizing shows for the Western audience and could usher in a new era of development for the fledgling streaming service. Original series, when done successfully, have the potential to draw in new audiences and subscribers to platforms.
Crunchyroll also produced a trailer for all of their new originals which can be viewed below: