A major Japanese movie and television program production company, aiming to cash in on the growing popularity of anime and manga overseas, is now offering an Internet pay channel in the United States.
Toei Co. started the “Toei Japan Channel” service in September to distribute its hit works, including “Kamen Rider (Masked Rider),” a popular TV series for children.
The company hopes to enhance Japan’s cool status in the United States with hero shows that were shot utilizing unique “tokusatsu,” or special effects, technologies.
Toei plans to distribute its movies and TV programs through the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) in the United States 24 hours a day.
Initially, there will be no English subtitles, so viewership is expected to be limited to Japanese living in the United States. In about a year, however, English subtitles will be added.
Using the pay channel as a foothold, Toei said it aims to make inroads into the movie and TV program market in the United States, as well as expand its character goods business in the country.
Toei especially wants to generate interest in special effects that are particular to Japan. Using those technologies, Toei has produced not only the Kamen Rider series, which began airing in 1971, but also the “Super Sentai” (Super fighting unit) series that started with the 1975 “Himitsu Sentai Go Rangers” (Secret fighting unit Go Rangers).
“Now is the time to promote the attractiveness of our special effects because (overseas) people’s interest in ‘Cool Japan’ is high,” said Yasuhiko Nakashima, a member of Toei’s International Sales Division.
“In the future, we want to provide the series (in the United States) around the same time as we broadcast them in Japan,” he added.
Through the pay channel, Toei also plans to distribute Japanese yakuza movies, including the “Prison Walls of Abashiri,” released in 1965, and the “Yakuza’s Ladies” series of the 1980s.
Those movies are expected to win over a certain number of fans in the United States, partly due to the influence of Quentin Tarantino, director of the U.S. action movie series, “Kill Bill,” who is well-versed in Japanese films, Toei said.
The monthly fee for the pay channel is about $20 (2,000 yen). Rental equipment designated by Toei is necessary to watch the channel. The rental fee is $9.99 a month in the case of a one-year contract.
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