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“There was never a moment like this in the middle”

It is important to understand that it is not an isolated phenomenon, but perhaps it is the epicenter of popular culture at the moment,” says Brady McCollum, the director of operations of Crunchyroll, a company that has been able to capitalize on the current medium, anime, and generate from one platform, movie premieres, global awards and more. It has even achieved something dreamed of by fans: the ability to release almost at the same time as Japan. The classics and novelties are many: from Dragon Ball to Chainsaw Man, the genres too. Everything is a kind of Alexandria platform, giant and full, that speaks to all anime fans, potential and current, eventual and die-hard, and so on. McCollum himself gives an account of the phenomenon that is the norm: “The popularity of anime defines multigenerational consumption, but at the same time it has managed to speak clearly and directly to an audience that is sometimes ignored by other products: young people. There is something in the language of anime, in its variety, that really ended up generating a global market. He’s had it forever, but there’s never been a moment like this, really. That is why Crunchyroll has achieved what it has been doing globally, and listening, in a particular way, to the different regions”. And he adds: “The basis is reading and understanding, understanding these fans who have grown up reading manga, cosplaying, going to big events like CCXP in Brazil. It is very important to understand how to speak to the fan, because the fan is the epicenter of this form of consumption and at one point he has known how to cultivate alone, he is a fan very different from others. Now it has an echo, without a doubt, but it was not always like that, it was more flashes here and there ”.

—The different regions must have their particularities, but I wanted to ask you, how would you explain what is happening in this region?

—It is important to understand that we have global strategies, yes, but we listen a lot, and carefully, to regional executions. That way you really pay attention to the fans. For example, the fans in the United States really have very big differences compared to the fans in Latin America, and that Latin America is many regions in itself. For example, from a historical, formative point of view, in places like Latin America, think about what was available in other decades, anime from other decades (or shown in the 80s and 90s, when cable was big and popular in these places) and we talk about classic animations like Dragon Ball, The Knights of the Zodiac, and even Robotech, they are a very large part of the fans in that region. So it’s important to read that, to understand it. The big differences, for example, have to do with what is exclusive in the region or what the fans ask for. In the United States, the physical edition of this material is still something, while in Latin America it is not. It is important to understand that we are healing and what resonance it may have.

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—You talk to me about the fans, I ask you then, what relationship do they have with the creators?

—It’s a mix: on the one hand, our most direct link is with the distributors, therefore, the creators appear there. It’s not that we don’t pay attention, but something else is generated there. For example, Latin America is one of the fastest growing regions. And that allows us to recover creators, show what works and what doesn’t, what characters work or not, and return that feedback, and see how the industry and the creators themselves experience it and see what they decide to do with it.

—You have managed to speak like nobody else to young people, so how do you live that and what do you think that represents in the platform landscape?

—The idea is always to guarantee an experience, and I don’t use the term on air: an experience, physical, involves a video game, a meeting, a cosplay contest, an event. It is important for us to be in places where community is generated. Anime is a very powerful medium, which guarantees many ways to experience it. We have to be the version at home of that life outside.

—What are your plans in Latin America, for example, when it comes to theatrical releases?

—It is important to mark how important, although we are largely a platform, the theatrical release is for us. In movie theaters. In Latin America we have released My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball Super and more, and we are releasing them globally. More premieres are coming, without a doubt. Many things, in January, in April, and that is important. Why is it important to release in theaters? They have to do with what I was saying before: do not underestimate the communal experience, the creation of the bond. Events are fundamental, be it a Comic-Con or something specific from anime. Whatever it is, it excites them. Events are usually other people’s original creations. On the other hand, the premieres allow us that our public can go to a room at the same time throughout the world. And that’s a radically new experience in the world of anime, that’s something. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the big city where the big event takes place: you’re part of it if you’re in Latin America, in Buenos Aires… The anticipation of the room is a feeling that is very difficult to capture anywhere else in the world.

—Why do you think there are so many fans all over the world today?

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—I think the time has come when the richness of these stories is finally enjoyed globally, and what happened in Japan now happens all over the world. We have discovered that it is not just an oriental consumption, or a specific one from Japan. As a medium, it increasingly explores more veins, more authors, more genres, shonen, or popular titles here like Captain Tsubasa. People are increasingly admitting that they have grown up with this. You can see it in well-known soccer players, or Hollywood actors who talk about classics of the medium. The anime has overflowed and it is good, because it involves stories that we did not see before, it implies understanding another way of telling that now it is global and not particular to a region, and yes, with its variants, particular to a genre. Its magnitude of masterpieces, of warm works that have defined childhoods, of others that define new childhoods, of love stories that adolescents adore, of fights with an epic never seen on a screen. All its forms, even the new ones, imply a discovery for many of our eyes. And then it is simply following the love that others already have, that is, falling in love like someone falls in love with movies, comics and other media. But there is in the anime world, I think, a story for everyone. It is a medium with a lot of history, a lot, and that implies a universe of stories.

Awards at their best

—They have just announced the new edition in Tokyo of the Anime Awards, which will take place in March and it is the first time that it is in Japanese territory. What can you tell us about the answer?

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—It is very important for us to generate events where creators are celebrated. It is the reason why we are here, it is the reason for the love for this author’s medium. In that enjoyment, we wanted to generate some prizes, but finally do it in Tokyo. Because beyond the success of other years, they have not been in Tokyo, therefore, since it is production season, most of the creators cannot come. Going to his home, or where most of the companies are, was a logical decision. There’s the industry.

—How do you live with your most hardcore fans and at the same time how do you manage to talk to the fan who is just taking his first steps?

“It is something that can be seen in this universe. We have fans we want to honor. Whether you call it otaku, or whatever you want to call it, is to understand that anime, whether a casual fan or a frequent one, is full of incredible stories, characters. We usually publish more than 30 titles this year, and that’s a lot. But the fans consume it, they like it, they see what they like and what, and thus see what we have. There are hundreds of episodes, dozens of series, many genres, from horror to comedy.

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