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Sony Leverages AI To Boost Anime Business, Streamline Production [Updated]

News comes on the back of Japan investing heavily in AI manga translation software.

Sony logo

On May 23, 2024, Sony Group Corp. held its Sony Group Management Policy Briefing, where it announced plans to boost its animation business by leveraging advanced technologies, including newly-developed animation-creation software and artificial intelligence.

Sony aims to expand through its existing subsidiaries, Aniplex and U.S.-based animation distributor Crunchyroll LLC, positioning the anime business as a major revenue source alongside its established sectors of games, music, and movies.

Sony President, COO & CFO, Hiroki Totoko pointed out that Crunchyroll is one of the fastest-growing and most profitable areas within the film division of the company.

In the briefing, the Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment giant highlighted the potential of AI to increase production efficiency and improve the quality of its animated titles.

This news comes on the back of Japan investing heavily in a startup which would use AI translations to boost the export of manga.

While they didn’t reveal finer details of how AI will be implemented – one can make an educated guess from the previous reports that had come out.

Back in February 2024, Crunchyroll president Rahul Purini had said that the streaming giant will integrate AI in various workflows within the organization, particularly focusing on subtitling and closed captioning.

Reports had also showcased how AI was being used in anime production, especially to create backgrounds, due to labor shortage.

Additionally, Sony also revealed the development of an animation production software done in collaboration with Aniplex’s A-1 Pictures and CloverWorks, along with Sony Music and Sony Group.

This software, named AnimeCanvas, aims to improve production environments, efficiency, and the quality of works. While details are still unclear, the software is reportedly said to be digital 2D-based according to visuals presented during the briefing.

A trial version is set to be launched this year.

AnimeCanva

Sony also touched upon the labor shortage issue in the anime industry. According to them, labor shortage indeed was a severe issue faced by the sector as the popularity of anime continues to grow.

The company has committed to improve working conditions of the creators in the industry in order to address this problem.

As a part of this, Sony Group has begun considering the establishment of an academy to nurture overseas creators, centered around Aniplex and Crunchyroll, in collaboration with the industry.

This aims to attract talented individuals from around the world, not just Japan.

Plans are also being made to create a community platform for or anime production, which will enable collaborative creation across locations through virtual reality.

Animation has grown from what used to be a niche genre to a world-class form of entertainment,” CEO Kenichiro Yoshida stated during a press conference in Tokyo. “We want to contribute to the industry.

Kenichiro Yoshida, SONY CEO
Kenichiro Yoshido (Source: Kyodo)

The company also aims to develop new technologies, including 3D content, to enhance its offerings.

In May 2023, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida had outlined the company’s long-term vision to expand its content user base—encompassing music, games, and movies—to 1 billion people, an increase of over sixfold.

Ever since Sony acquired Crunchyroll, the focus has been on expanding the foothold of the streaming giant in new markets with high potential, including India.

Though anime still only makes up a small part of Sony business empire, it is identified by analysts as a key growth area.

According to Crunchyroll, the anime industry will have more than 800 million fans globally by 2025 outside China and Japan.

Source: Mainichi, Animation Business

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