It’s hard to say exactly when A play crossed the line from cult manga to global media phenomenon.
But with 15 feature films, more than a dozen television specials and multiple video game spin-offs, not to mention Eiichirō Oda’s original comic book which sold over 500 million copies worldwide. world, the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates have become as familiar to the current generation of fantasy fans as those of Harry Potter were to the previous one.
The last A play feature film, One Piece Movie: Redwas the first to go truly global, earning $198 million worldwide as of December 2, according to box office analysts Comscore, making it the sixth-highest-grossing Japanese film of all time.
In the USA, One Piece Movie: Red was one of the box office successes of Crunchyroll, the anime joint venture between Japan’s Aniplex and Sony Pictures Entertainment, alongside the likes of Dragon Ball Super: Super heroes and Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie.
Evidence of A playThe global appeal of was evident at this year’s Lucca Comics and Games in Italy, where One Piece Movie: Red had its Italian premiere and where director Gorō Taniguchi was greeted by hordes of A play fans as a returning hero.
In Italy, One Piece Movie: Red has earned over €800,000 ($841,000) to date for distributor Anime Factory, a Plaion Pictures label.
Gorō Taniguchi sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to Lucca Comics and Games to talk about the worldwide success of A playJapanese anime in general, and how the current boom will change the traditionally insular Japanese industry.
Did you expect A play would be such an international hit?
Of course, every director wants to be successful, but no one can be certain that it will happen. When I was offered to direct One Piece Movie: RedI was asked to go beyond, to change things: this is the mission entrusted to me, and I did my best to succeed.
Why do you think anime is so popular even outside of Japan?
Anime, as a language, (has) the power to transcend national boundaries and reach everyone. Moreover, we have reached a very high level of know-how and competence; industry members are now able to respond to a wide variety of requests, whether technical or narrative, meeting the expectations of a global audience.
Streaming platforms also invest heavily in this type of animation.
In my opinion, major platforms have seen some potential in Japanese anime. Anime represents an opportunity to easily reach a large number of people. Incidentally, towards the end of the 80s, many Japanese animators mainly worked overseas, as there were other countries that wanted to develop their own anime; and, at that time, Japanese producers were unable to meet this demand. Today, we are ready to serve the market. The [global] the success of the anime is proof of that.
What was your starting point in developing this film and what was the biggest challenge?
It took almost three years to make One Piece Movie: Red. One of the big challenges was A playthe popularity of: everyone knows the brand among manga readers, as well as anime watchers; and almost everyone has heard of it at least once in their daily life. On the other hand, however, a movie should be a party, a celebration. The challenge becomes how to convince the audience, an audience that is already constantly exposed to A playgo to the theater.
How do you judge the state of Japanese cinema in general at the moment?
Japanese cinema, in my opinion, has reached a fairly high level of maturity. Obviously, we cannot know the future growth prospects of the market. But if things were to remain as they are now, with these same rules and limitations, things could be very difficult. We are at the crossroads. The production of live-action movies, anime and video games cannot be solely based on local demand; we need to start looking around and pay more attention to overseas market. So far, all of our productions have been enough to supply the Japanese domestic market. In the future, the most successful products will be those that can touch on different genres and diversify their staff, while keeping an eye on the rest of the world.