Nikkatsu, Japan’s Oldest Major Movie Studio, Launches Anime Department

Nikkatsu, the oldest major movie studio in Japan, is stepping up its animation operation. The company has set up an anime department within its video business division.

The new department will be responsible for investing in anime productions — an area into which Nikkatsu has made inroads in recent years. It will aim “to accelerate [the company’s] anime business and make it more efficient.” Hiroyuki Hayashi will lead the unit, while remaining assistant executive for the video business division and head of the company’s copyright sales department.

Nikkatsu, which was founded in 1912, is no stranger to animation. As far back as 1917, Seitaro Kitayama was conducting pioneering experiments with a primitive rostrum camera at the studio (he would go on to form what is generally considered to be Japan’s first dedicated animation studio). But Nikkatsu is far better known in the live action world, for its association with marquee directors like Kenji Mizoguchi, Shohei Imamura, and Sono Sion.

In the last decade, the studio has staged a comeback from bankruptcy, with animation as part of its activities. It has recently invested in anime productions including Arte, By the Grace of the Gods, and WAVE!! Surfing Yappe!!. It is also handling international sales for the Oscar-qualified On-Gaku: Our Sound.

Its anime division is launched against the backdrop of huge box-office success for home-grown animation in Japan. With foreign titles relatively scarce due to Covid, films like Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, Gintama: The Final, and especially Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train have drawn crowds to the country’s relatively open theaters.


By:Alex De Wit/Cartoonbrew.

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