Anime licensing rights in North America

Lets be honest, we all take many things in our daily lives for granted and can be hypocrites (I’ll be the first to admit!) Often, we do not realize the intricate details that go into the everyday things we use or desire. Anime for example, is something we are very fortunate to consume at our disposal and too often is taken for granted by its fans. Not only is the creation of the Anime initially a large and complex ordeal in it’s origin of Japan, but the distribution to fans all over the world is just as much, if not a more difficult ordeal for the original creator(s) and owners.

Luckily for us, the market for Anime in North America has been large enough for Anime producers in Japan to seek licensing and distribution opportunities abroad. Although it’s been a bumpy ride, the slow rise in popularity of Anime in North America has had large market effects in the Anime industry and has created a North American Licensing market for Japanese material (which is highly competitive) that has grown rapidly in recent years and continues to expand.


Specifically, companies like FUNimation, Bandai Entertainment, Discotek Media, Manga Entertainment, and Viz Media are the vital reasons why we have such a large Anime fanbase in North America and the U.K. (English speaking countries) to begin with. When we look back at the rise of Anime in America, shows like DragonBall Z and Fullmetal Alchemist are commonly cited as major influences on American Anime culture, all thanks to industry giant and USA based FUNimation. Without licensing companies to essentially market and sell Japanese owned products on their behalf, there would be no Anime for us to enjoy, particularly in English dubbed voice-overs. Online anime streaming sites such as Crunchyroll and recently Animestrike are Distribution/Production companies in their own right, as they hold to the license properties/rights to many Anime, although they vary in their license rights of English-Dubs.


Many licensing companies have attributed to the success of Anime in North America, even Disney has played it’s part in English releases in the U.S. following multiple deals with Studio Ghibli. Anytime you hear an official english dubbing of your favorite Anime (official meaning not “fan-dub”), you can be sure that a North American Licensing/Distribution company agreed to a licensing contract with the Japanese-based property owners of that Anime. Even prior to the actual dubbing-recording process, striking a deal between the two parties is a long and tedious process that involves multiple negotiations and discussions over every detail of license rights. A further in depth explanation of this process is in the link below.

Once a deal for license distribution rights has been agreed upon by both parties, many different actions of marketing, production, and distribution begin to take place. Most importantly however, is the English Dubbing process. In my next post I will discuss the English Dubbing process, which includes Translating, Scriptwriting, voice-casting, and the actual recording itself. As always, thanks for reading along and Stay Tuned for more!


One thought on “Anime licensing rights in North America

  1. I wish crunchyroll had existed when I was a teenager! There is so much more content out there now for people who are getting in to anime due to the licensing industry.


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