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Media & Entertainment

Netflix to help nurture young animators in Japan

US streaming company to pay tuition and living costs to expand original content

Japanese anime is a powerful form of content for attracting users to Netflix. (Photo by Hiromi Sato)

TOKYO -- Netflix will financially support young animators in Japan as part of its efforts to expand its original content in the long run, as a shortage of animators is being felt even in the traditionally talent-rich country.

Tokyo-based anime production company WIT Studio, a partner of Netflix, will launch WIT Animator Academy in April, according to the U.S. streaming company. The curriculum will be developed by a video training center owned by anime production company Sasayuri and supervised by Netflix.

For six months starting in April, about 10 successful applicants will learn how to create the frames that lie between key frames in animations. Applicants must be Japanese residents between the ages of 18 and 25 who have graduated from high school or will do so this March.

Netflix will pay the tuition of 600,000 yen ($5,720) per student and a monthly living stipend of 150,000 yen.

Graduates will be tasked with creating in-betweens for Netflix's original anime at either WIT Studio or Production I.G. in Tokyo. Netflix plans to support animators for a multiyear period, so the program will be provided on an ongoing basis. The areas of artistic support could also be expanded.

It is common for animators to hone their skills through their daily work, and they generally have few opportunities to learn skills systematically. With anime being one of Netflix's key forms of content, the company is partnering with production companies and creators.

Japan is important for Netflix not only as a source of content but as a promising market.

Netflix had surpassed 200 million subscribers around the world by the end of 2020. Japanese anime provides powerful content for attracting new users.

The company has partnered with anime studios and creators and plans to offer more than 25 original works from Japan this year.

Japan is important not only as a source of content but as a promising market for the streaming company.

With the coronavirus keeping consumers stuck at home more than usual, Netflix added roughly 2 million subscribers in Japan over the past year to bring its total to more than 5 million.

Earlier this month, Netflix raised the prices of its streaming plans in Japan by up to 13%, leveraging a subscriber base that has expanded sharply amid the pandemic to invest in its growing library of original content.

The cost of the standard plan will rise to 1,490 yen ($14) per month, 170 yen more than the current level, while the bare-bones basic plan will jump to 990 yen from 880 yen. The premium plan, which includes 4K Ultra HD, will stay at 1,980 yen.

Netflix has raised monthly subscription fees by $1 to $3, depending on the plan, in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in recent months to help fund content production.

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