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Media & Entertainment

ADK unit tests Japanese anime in China's short-form video market

TikTok and other sharing platforms targeted with Japan-themed characters

The Japanese "Dandanjun" character has been trending on China's WeChat, the country's vast social media platform. (Photo courtesy of ADK Emotions)

TOKYO -- ADK Emotions has started distributing anime to Chinese video sharing platforms as it seeks to cash in on the country's growing appetite for short-form videos.

The move by the Tokyo-based content and rights management company -- a subsidiary of ADK Holdings -- will test how well Japanese-themed anime resonates with Chinese audiences. It is partnering with compatriot content production companies Fanworks and Quan in the venture, also based in Tokyo.

Short-form videos are typically less than a minute long and have become increasingly popular in China. One survey shows that Chinese smartphone users spend more time with short video apps than other apps, a situation that has helped push ADK Emotions into short anime, according to the company.

At least one Japanese short has already struck a chord. Quan's egg-shaped character "Dandanjun," animated by Fanworks, has been trending on WeChat, China's largest social media platform.

"We even included a sort of Japanese expletive that means 'damn you' in the anime," Fanworks President Akira Takayama said.

In the first 15-second episode, two Dandanjun characters assume the roles of a superior and a subordinate. After being rebuked by the superior, the underling gets angry and stands up to the boss, shouting "Damn you!" in Japanese

"Dealing with superiors can often be stressful, a commonality shared by people in Japan and China," Takayama said. "We thought that [Chinese] would understand the meaning of a foreign phrase owing to the context, thus we took a chance and released it in Japanese."

Fanworks intends to infuse its shorts with Japanese themes and sensibilities, and upload two a week to mobile video sharing sites such as TikTok, where viewing is free.

ADK Emotions will monetize the project using product placement. Another episode by the company has characters playing hide-and-seek in a refrigerator stocked with branded food and beverages.

In 2018, the Chinese and Japanese online video markets were worth about 2.7 trillion yen ($24.8 billion) and 220 billion yen, respectively. The market for short videos in China was worth about 700 billion yen during the year.

"The size of the Chinese online video service market is over 10 times larger than Japan's. The short video segment is growing particularly well," said an ADK official in charge of overseas operations.

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