The Japanese government is aiming to ‘curb the outflow’ of anime and manga content overseas in light of its increasing value domestically.

The anime and manga industries generate billions of dollars every year around the world and no more so than in Japan, where the majority of anime and manga content is produced – but the Japanese government is now taking a new approach, deeming this content as ‘Cultural’ over ‘Artistic’.  

Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

Japan’s government to address outflow of anime and manga content

According to a new report from Yomiuri Shimbun, a media outlet in Japan, the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs will soon be launching a new project to help ‘curb the outflow’ of manga and anime materials overseas.

Beginning in 2024, the Agency will “begin collecting original Japanese manga and animation celluloid pictures” in light of the value of these artworks increasing and trading at higher prices overseas. The hope is that keeping valuable anime and manga content from being sold overseas at auctions will support the domestic tourism industry.

“Methods of preservation and utilization will be studied, and the construction of a new national exhibition facility will be considered. A number of government officials have revealed this. The agency plans to include the cost of related projects in its budget request for the next fiscal year. The agency is considering collecting the materials by purchasing them or donating them.”

The report also claimed that whilst the government previously viewed anime and manga content as simply “artistic materials”, there is now an emphasis on this type of content being designated as “cultural materials” to the Japanese industry and people.

This should certainly not come as a surprise to avid anime or manga fans, who have witnessed for themselves the incredible rise through the mainstream that these two mediums have experienced.

The hope for the Agency for Cultural Affairs is that these new policies will aim “to curb the outflow of manga to overseas countries through collection and preservation, and also aims to use them as a tourism resource to attract overseas fans to Japan.”

Japanese Manga
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Is this new policy bad for US audiences?

Yes and no; depending on how much you value cultural significance vs commercial sales value, and whether or not you are an avid collector of Japanese anime or manga content.

For the vast majority of anime and manga fans outside Japan, this issue will not impact you: Simply, there may be more investment in domestic anime and manga production in Japan, which in turn will have their licensing rights distributed worldwide. It also supports the already-bustling Japanese tourism industry and will provide more jobs to local people, if the national exhibition facility is constructed, as well as supporting the preservation of iconic works.

In truth, the only major way in which this could impact international consumers is if you are an avid collector of highly valuable anime and manga content. In this situation, there may be fewer opportunities for specific materials to be purchased overseas, with the report using the example of an “original [painting] of Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Astro Boy’ [which] sold for approximately 35 million yen at an auction in Paris in 2006.”

In fact, the report also details how “the total market size of the Japanese animation industry (in 2021), including overseas sales, is 2.742 trillion yen, more than doubling in 10 years.”

Statista provides the following data for the overall revenue generated by the Japanese animation industry since 2012:

Overall, this report is positive for the wider anime and manga industry, but we will have to wait to see whether this results in more resources being invested in the creation of content, or whether this will only secure the preservation of already-established content in Japan.

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