Home Entertainment Sony to Launch Anime Academy as Audience for Japanese Animation Grows

Sony to Launch Anime Academy as Audience for Japanese Animation Grows


Sony is to launch an academy that will develop talent involved in the creation of anime, it was announced on Thursday.

The initiative was revealed as part of Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate Sony Group Corporation’s annual corporate strategy presentation.

“The launch of a project to establish an academy [comes] with the aim of nurturing anime creators in global markets, mainly by Aniplex and Crunchyroll with collaboration from across the industry,” said Sony Group chairman and CEO Yoshida Kenichiro and president, COO and CFO Totoki Hiroki.

Anime is a significant and growing portion of Sony’s business, though it is split across different divisions. Aniplex which is a creator and distributor of Japanese animation is currently a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) which is part of the wider music division. It has enjoyed success with anime franchises such as “Demon Slayer.”

Specialist streaming service and anime distributor Crunchyroll, however, falls within Sony’s ‘pictures division,’ the business segment that includes the U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment content production and distribution operations and Sony’s TV channels business.

It was revealed earlier this year and confirmed at the Thursday strategy presentation that Crunchyroll now has some 13 million paying subscribers. That is a significant increase since the Crunchyroll business was acquired in 2021 from AT&T and merged with Sony’s Funimation. At the time the deal was announced most estimates pegged the two platforms’ subscriber total at around five million – with Crunchyroll having 4 million and Funimation between one and three million (before duplication). Sony chose to use Crunchyroll as the merged platform’s brand name and separate access to Funimation was finally phased out earlier in 2024.

Sony says that it will develop anime in other ways too. These include improving the production environment, efficiency, and enhancing the quality of output through “AnimeCanvas,” a new animation production software currently under development.

That points towards more computer graphics and use of AI in the Japanese industry, which has remained significantly dependent on traditional hand-drawn techniques, but which is also reported to be operating at full capacity.

Sony said that A-1 Pictures and CloverWorks, production studios that are both subsidiaries of Aniplex, are central to this initiative and are collaborating with engineers from SMEJ and across the Sony Group.

Sony is also putting more emphasis on the Crunchyroll Anime Awards, which foster anime IP and culture with fans and which celebrate anime creators. The awards received a record number of 34 million user votes in its 2024 edition.

Calling the genre a “dynamic art form,” Crunchyroll president Rahul Purini, earlier this year said, “Anime is a powerful force, driving pop culture and connecting global fans.”