February 06, 2020

Netflix in Japanese

Netflix has around 200 Japanese language titles (and counting), mostly anime, some live-action, along with additional content related to Japan in terms of subject matter, setting, or cast.

Although investors blanch at Netflix's content acquisition burn rate, as a subscriber, I certainly appreciate how often new Japanese content shows up in the catalog.

Crunchyroll in particular acquires so much content every season that you have to study the descriptions and early reviews to see which ones you want to follow. Netflix, on the other hand, adds a new Japanese title every week or so. Its curated approach makes me curious to see what caught its attention.

Though I'll still head over to ANN and Crunchyroll to check out the reviews. One unfortunate turn taken by Netflix was nixing user reviews, a prime factor in what makes Crunchyroll a stand-out site. Though I get that moderating such a huge catalog in multiple languages wouldn't survive a cost-benefit analysis.

While Netflix still has fewer anime titles than HIDIVE, smallest anime site of the Big Three, it is actively creating and acquiring live-action content too, and may soon have the largest VOD catalog of localized live-action Jdramas. dLibrary Japan has the most live-action titles, though very few of them are localized.

By establishing "comprehensive business alliances" with studios like Production I.G and BONES, Netflix avoids carriage and licensing disputes while giving its partners greater creative control than broadcasting regulations in Japan allow. Just as importantly, it can localize the content everywhere it does business.

Notes Kotaro Yoshikawa, VP of distribution and licensing at TMS Entertainment, another one of Netflix's Japanese production partners, "Netflix is producing dubbed versions in several languages and subtitles in more than 20 languages, with a release to around 200 countries in one go, which we couldn't do."

One of those countries is, of course, Japan, meaning that Japanese language titles on Netflix often include Japanese closed captions. It's a feature offered by no other similar service, not even TV Japan or NHK World. This unique language learning resource alone places Netflix in a category of its own.

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