After launching in Japan in September 2015, Netflix has aggressively gone after the nation’s streaming market with an array of content. Original programming such as “Aggretsuko,” “Terrace House” and a reboot of “Ainori” have helped capture the attention of many cordcutters who want the freedom of being able to watch content in any place and at any time without being saddled with commercials.
With decent competition from Hulu and Disney’s upcoming streaming service breathing down its neck, Netflix is doubling down on the Japanese market — and those who love Japanese entertainment — with a slew of anime content that is old, new and something in between.
Netflix had anime fans’ heads in a spin last week when the streaming giant announced that it had obtained the rights to the legendary (although difficult to understand) animated series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and will start airing the show next year. The rights to the property have been in limbo for the past few years, with the ’90s show not streaming legally anywhere online and many regions unable to purchase new DVD copies. The news invariably took Twitter by storm.
The original announcement received more than 100,000 likes as fans celebrated the show’s return. “My weeb flag is flying after that Evangelion news,” voice actress Cristina Vee tweeted.
Many on Twitter showed their excitement by simply posting a clip of an African-American gospel choir singing the “Evangelion” theme song on Japanese television.
As fans were still drafting their “Evangelion” memes, Netflix kept dropping more news, including a remake of the ’80s manga and anime series “Saint Seiya.” The fantasy show follows a group of knights who protect the goddess Athena from evil and has maintained a strong fan following since its original debut. “I’m going to cry I’m so excited,” tweeted @KaggyFilms.
Netflix kept a firm grip on viewers’ nostalgia by unveiling the latest installment in the “Ultraman” series. This new anime version diverges greatly from the live-action, child-friendly kaijū show with a seemingly more mature storyline and a decent amount of blood. “Step aside kids,” YouTube commenter Johnas wrote. “It’s our time now!”
For those who are missing out on shows they can watch with the whole family, Netflix is also producing a program based on the mascot Rilakkuma, Sanrio’s cute and lazy bear that is famous for being silent and adorable. The program, “Rilakkuma and Kaoru,” looks to turn kawaii to maximum levels, featuring the iconic brown bear and his friends lazily eating food and spending time with their human companion in a stop-motion design (perhaps think “Coraline” or “The Nightmare Before Christmas”).
“This is the best news I’ve gotten all year,” wrote Twitter user @boringtatiana. “Netflix getting Eva is nice, but they also announced a stop-motion Rilakkuma series that looks cute as hell,” wrote @popecorky.
The bombshell that really shook the internet, though, was Netflix’s announcement that it was creating a live-action version of the classic ’90s anime “Cowboy Bebop.” The TV show, which follows a group of mercenaries who travel throughout the galaxy, is widely accepted as one of the most-acclaimed animated Japanese shows ever made.
Netflix tried to relieve any concern about remaking such a beloved series by stressing that the original Japanese creator would consult on the show, but many anime fans are still bitter about the streaming service’s “Death Note” movie that was panned far and wide.
Netflix’s Twitter announcement was met with a lineup of unfavorable replies, including a gif of Ein, the dog from “Cowboy Bebop,” hopping away while the word “nope” flashes on screen. Another top reply was a gif of the show’s main character, Spike Spiegel, smoking a cigarette accompanied by a line of dialogue from the show: “Oh well. Whatever happens, happens.”
Forbes seemed to sum up everyone’s hesitation with an article titled “‘Cowboy Bebop’ Is Next In Line For The Live-Action Treatment And This Is Definitely Bad News.”
Despite the news, it remains to be seen which shows will become binge-worthy, and which will get skipped over countless times on Netflix’s recommendation algorithm.