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NHK Enterprises, Inc. is a subsidiary of Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai: NHK in Japanese), the Japanese national public broadcasting organization. NHK Enterprises, Inc. works closely with NHK and plays a key role in the planning, production, sales, and acquisitions of TV programs for NHK. The Animationweek editorial team had an interview with Akira Ichikawa (General Manager, Program Sales) and Yuji Shibata (General Manager, Animation) from NHK Enterprises via email. We are honored to share with you how they closely work with NHK and contribute to quality animation works.

Left: Akira Ichikawa (General Manager, Program Sales, NHK Enterprises, Inc.)

Right: Yuji Shibata (General Manager, Animation, NHK Enterprises, Inc.)

Animationweek (AW): Could you please tell us the relationship between NHK Enterprises and NHK, in regard to animation titles?

NHK Enterprises (NEP): We (NEP) support NHK in broadcasting animation titles in every aspect, from planning, producing and production, to sales and acquisitions of animation titles domestically and internationally.

For instance, in terms of planning and production of animation titles, which are broadcasted by NHK, there are two cases. One is that NHK commissions NEP production of animation titles. Another case is that NEP funds the project and produces it by ourselves and then licenses its broadcasting rights to NHK. In both cases, we plan the program and make proposals to NHK.

We license our titles domestically and globally. We license broadcasting and video on demand (VOD) rights of the animation titles to broadcasters in Japan and abroad, VOD service providers, and publishing DVDs by ourselves within Japan. For DVD rights, we license it to business partners in Japan and abroad. We license animation merchandising rights domestically and globally as well. International Licensing is one of the fields that we would like to especially focus on.

Furthermore, NEP has acquired the rights to several international animations. The rights we have taken are broadcasting, VOD, DVD, and merchandising. We sub-license the broadcasting rights to NHK.

AW: We would like to hear about the international sales of animation titles. What kind of animation titles would you like to deliver to the global audience?

NEP: Our Animation titles have great varieties, and can be enjoyed by several types of viewers, ranging from pre-schoolers to adults. We believe that our titles can be enjoyed by a wide international audience.

The animation title that we are focusing the most at the moment is The Dragon Dentist (2 x 45’), which will be aired on NHK in February 2017. It’s an ambitious TV animation special produced by Hideaki Anno, who received international fame from the animation series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Dragon Dentist is a story which is set in the “Dragon’s country”. A girl named Nonoko is the protagonist who protects a dragon, the guardian of the country, from getting a cavity. It’s her epic fantasy adventure that could attract adult audiences. We also hope that fans of Hideaki Anno’s past works would enjoy watching this title.

The Dragon Dentist (© Otaro Maijo, nihon animator mihonichi, LLP./NHK, NEP, Dwango, khara)

AW: What sort of animation titles outside of Japan are you interested in?

NEP: We are always looking out for international animation titles which are enjoyable for the Japanese audience. NHK currently broadcasts several international animations for which NEP has acquired All TV rights. Among those, we have also taken the merchandising rights for Curious George (produced by Imagine Entertainment, WGBH Boston and Universal 1440 Entertainment, LLC.), Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears and ADVENTURE TIME, and have released various products with domestic licensees. As the popularity of these shows increases on TV, we hope it will result in the appearance of many new attractive goods.

We Bare Bears (TM & © 2017 Cartoon Network. A Time Warner Company.)

ADVENTURE TIME (TM & © 2017 Cartoon Network. A Time Warner Company.)

AW: What are your views on the international co-production of animation titles? Could you please tell us to what extent NEP has interest?

NEP: We already have a track record of international co-production to make the best use of outstanding IP from abroad. For example, the TV animation series Thomas and Friends which NHK currently broadcasts is an international co-production among NHK, Hit Entertainment Limited, and NEP. Thomas and Friends is very popular in Japan, and along with the regular weekly broadcast every Sunday,we have produced additional original programs featuring the beloved characters from the show.

Thomas and Friends (© 2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited.)