As a Canadian fan of Anime who started their own research journey in the early ’90s, I know how difficult it was to feed that fandom. Back in my day (sits back in rocking chair) discovery of new shows and movies came from friends-of-friends-of-friends, eager to share their latest collections of VHS series, likely purchased from an obscure shop on Spadina or one of the local conventions, or badly, sometimes unreadable fan-subtitled VCD’s played on my PSOne thanks to some modification and a bulky adaptor. Occasionally we would get a feature-length movie at one of the smaller theatres that showed during a limited run. As time passed, some channels started showing collections of Shonen shows, dubbed of course and heavily edited (I’m looking at you Escaflowne). In spite of that, we gobbled up everything we found, never knowing when the next chance would come.
But, technology evolved, and thanks to the rise of streaming platforms, this changed. Finally, there was an easy, access-for-all platform where fans could not only watch, but discover a whole new menu of series and movies. And they could watch to their heart’s content, without having to stop and wait for the next con to roll around or for your favourite shop to get a new shipment in. One such service, Crunchyroll managed to stand at the forefront of this movement.
Originally launching back in 2006, the service has quickly built a following, offering some of the best shows out of Japan, mere hours after they air on Japanese TV. With over 45 million users, it is no wonder more people than ever are enjoying the medium of Anime, but are also finding easier access to the community. Talking to Ellation's VP of Communications Joellen Ferrer, CGMagazine discussed how Crunchyroll is working to build and bring new members to that community, and how it is reaching out to spark community involvement.
CGMagazine: How does Crunchyroll work to reach out to the fans in the community?
Joellen Ferrer: We’re humbled to have the largest community of anime fans — 45M strong and counting — and we engage with them both online via social and forums, as well as offline via events. Our community in Canada is passionate and engaged, representing our largest contingent of fans outside of the US.
CGMagazine: Are there specific events, worldwide, where Crunchyroll attends to meet and greet fans?
JF: Our signature event, Crunchyroll Expo, brings tens of thousands of fans into our backyard in San Jose during Labor Day Weekend. In addition to the Anime Awards, another hosted annual event, we participate in over 180 events across 18 countries.
In Canada, we have a presence at International Fan Fest, Otafest, Anime North, Yeticon, Montreal Come-on, Ai-Kon, Animation, Otakuthon, DreamHack, and Halcon.
CGMagazine: As anime grows in the west, how has Crunchyroll adapted to its role to being the foremost source for anime?
JF: Our approach is to be “everything to someone” and not “something for everyone.” As such, we’re always looking to create more experiences for fans to connect through the content they love. While our core is streaming video, we extend this into events, merchandise, games, and more. We’re excited to share more soon!
CGMagazine: What new things does Crunchyroll have planned as we move into 2019?
JF: Crunchyroll Games is a relatively new division for us, but it’s a natural extension, considering 90% of our community identifies as a gaming enthusiast. We have three games in the market and will share more on this front soon!
CGMagazine: I am seeing more dubs on the platform, is this a concerted effort to bring new ways for fans to consume the anime they love?
JF: We’re always working to bring fans more ways to consume content, and to-date we’ve produced over 50 seasons of dubs across five languages: English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and German. Keep an eye out for more!