Crunchyroll is releasing its own lineup of original animated shows. The programming slate, dubbed Crunchyroll Originals, runs the gamut from family-friendly action series to dark supernatural investigations. Of the eight shows announced as part of 2020’s Crunchyroll Originals, half are co-produced shows with Japanese animation studios like Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) and MAPPA (Yuri!! on Ice).
The move mirrors the strategies of bigger, broader appeal services like Netflix and Disney Plus for more original programs. By releasing exclusive content, companies are no longer reliant on others to produce or license shows. Initially Crunchyroll, and its anime streaming competitors like Funimation, Amazon, and Netflix, would license from Japanese production companies to acquire shows for streaming on their service. That eventually pivoted into helping to co-produce the shows with Japanese companies for anime like Carole & Tuesday or A Place Further Than the Universe. This allows them to not only lock down the streaming rights for the show, but to help shows get made that would appeal to their audiences.
Crunchyroll is the first anime streaming service to have its own internal animation studio. The company announced Crunchyroll Studios in August 2018 as Ellation Studios (Crunchyroll’s parent company, which is in turn owned by Warner Bros.), with locations in both Burbank, California and Tokyo, Japan.
The full list of programming is below, with the first four being animated by Crunchyroll Studios:
- FreakAngels – Based on the comic series by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield that follows twelve psychic 23-year-olds as they attempt to rebuild society in a post-apocalyptic London.
- High Guardian Spice – A series by Raye Rodriguez about four girls who attend the High Guardian Academy in order to become heroes to fight an unknown threat to their world.
- Meiji Gekken: Swords & Guns (working title) – Set in 1870, the story follows an ex-samurai, a yakuza bodyguard, a spy, and a geisha assassin as they adapt to the rapidly changing Japan of the Meiji era, when the country moved from a feudal to an industrial society.
- Onyx Equinox – Created by Sofia Alexander, it follows a young Aztec boy who is saved from death by the gods in order to prove humanity’s potential.
- In/Spectre – A supernatural mystery series set in modern Tokyo about a young woman chosen by spirits to help them resolve the issues that arise between the human and spirit worlds. It is currently airing now in Japan and on Crunchyroll.
- Nobleese – A co-production with Webtoon and Production I.G, which provided the animation. The series is based on a comic series published by Webtoon about a vampire who wakes up to modern society after over 800 years.
- The God of High School – A high school action series, also published by Webtoon, about a high schooler and his friends who get involved in a tournament where they use the power of gods to battle. The series is being animated by MAPPA.
- Tower of God – Based on a fantasy action comic series about a boy battling his way up a mysterious tower. This is another co-production with Webtoon, but with animation from Telecom Animation Film (Lupin the Third: Part 5).