A sign from a film based on the popular Japanese manga “Demon Slayer” by Koyoharu Gotoge is seen in a movie theater in Tokyo on the opening day of the film on October 16, 2020. (Photo Kyodo)

TOKYO: Sales in the Japanese animation production industry fell 1.8% year on year in 2020, the first decline in a decade. Blockbuster movies such as the record-breaking blockbuster film Demon slayer The manga series have failed to offset the impact of the pandemic, according to a credit research firm. Industry sales totaled 251.1 billion yen (76 billion baht) last year, up from a record 255.7 billion yen in 2019, Teikoku Databank said in a recent investigative report. In the film industry, the industry has been a resounding success Demon Slayer – The Movie: Mugen Train, which became the highest grossing film in Japanese box office history with more than 40 billion yen in revenue. Among the other blockbuster films was Violet Evergarden: the movie, a Kyoto Animation Co film on which some of the victims of the deadly arson were working at a company studio two years ago. Yet the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed production processes at many studios, leading 48.6% of the 300 animation production companies surveyed to report declining sales in 2020. While the average annual sales per company fell for the first time in four years in 2020 to 831 million yen, some 31.6% said their sales increased last year.

From a profit perspective, 37.7% suffered losses and 29.5% said their profits had fallen, while 31.1% said profit growth, according to the survey.

The outlook for the Japanese animation industry looks bleak, with competition likely to intensify from Chinese animation companies, the research firm said.

Chinese companies are offering higher salaries for hiring Japanese talent and learning Japanese production skills by taking stakes in Japanese studios. Their animation quality has improved in recent years with advanced installations, said Teikoku Databank.

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