For example, to originally script dialogues in English and set the story in a country of any and the characters are non-Japanese.

If anime became world-renowned, why can't animation studios bother to create animes that target foreign audiences rather than its own Japanese audiences?

For example, the video game Resident Evil is produced by Capcom, a Japanese video game developer, but the game was created for American audiences because originally the English acting was recorded. Also, Afro Samurai which was animated by Gonzo was an anime that originally recorded English voice acting, so I would presume that anime was catered to American audiences.

So I find it strange why Japanese animation studios can't even produce animes to target non-Japanese audiences.

  • i believe the problem is the culture
    – Gagantous
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 4:40
  • @Gagantous if a rich american for example paid an anime studio to make an anime to carter american audience wouldnt that be possible? Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 4:45
  • well netflix surely did that, polygon.com/2017/10/16/16486304/netflix-anime-original-films
    – Gagantous
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 4:50
  • 2
    They can. But they won't
    – Darjeeling
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 4:53
  • Afro Samurai is one of those cases which had an American hand in, something that can't be said for alot of anime that's made for the Japanese. ofcause Samuel L. Jackson does like anime. hentai too so he might have been a fan of the manga
    – Memor-X
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 6:08

3 Answers 3


I'd say that it's not that they can't, but rather that there simply isn't much incentive for them to do so. It just doesn't make much business or financial sense to target a foreign audience, not when a Japanese audience is much closer, more familiar, and less costly to target.

To target foreign audiences, I would imagine that an animation studio would need to expend a lot of additional time and effort on things like dealing with overseas licensors, TV networks, distributors, as well as having to handle language barriers and translations (since I'd imagine that most people working in a Japanese animation studio wouldn't be fluent in English). Even for typical anime, studios tend to avoid hiring native speakers of foreign languages if they need a voice for a character with a foreign language, because it's generally much cheaper to hire someone born in Japan. So, if even one foreign voice actor is too costly, then the entire production being in a foreign language would be out of the question.

Okay, but what if we just let the studio produce everything in Japanese, a language that the staff are all familiar with, and then let another company handle the translations for the foreign audience? Well, if the original language is in Japanese, they might as well just target it to Japan in the first place! The localization is probably best left to companies in the target country who natively know the language anyway (or else we might get something like the Engrish in the Psycho Pass Movie). Also, as Memor-X points out, Japanese studios for the most part have little control over which English actors are used and how the English localization and distribution are done.

That's not to say that anime targeted at foreign audiences have never happened. The barrier is just higher. As you and Memor-X mention, Afro Samurai was a production that happened thanks to Samuel L. Jackson's interest and contribution. Gagantous also points out that Netflix has financed a number of original anime series that seem to be animated by Japanese studios, and like with other Netflix original series, are released worldwide all at once.

So, as these examples have shown, Japanese animation studios are capable of creating anime for foreign audiences. It's just that in most non-exceptional cases, they wouldn't have much reason to do so.

Note that if the incentive is there (e.g. either personal interest or with investment from a foreign party, like with Samuel L. Jackson and Samurai Afro), it is doable. After all, if there's a foreign producer already in the loop, then the entrance barrier is much lower.

While Japanese anime studios haven't really created any foreign-targeted anime on their own, they have however been involved in a number of foreign animation productions. So in a way, I suppose you could say that Japanese animation studios have (co-)created a number of anime (for some definition of anime) for foreign audiences. For example:

  • Batman: The Animated Series was produced by Warner Bros. Animation, but animated by various overseas animation studios, including the Japanese studios Spectrum Animation, Sunrise, Studio Junio, and TMS Entertainment (as well as various other studios from South Korea, Hong Kong, Spain, and Canada).
  • The Animatrix, a compilation of nine animated short films based on The Matrix trilogy, was produced by the Wachowskis, but a large number of the films were animated by Studio 4°C and Madhouse from Japan.
  • Transformers Animated (I watched this series growing up!) was produced by Cartoon Network Studios, but animated by the Japanese studios MOOK DLE, The Answer Studio, and Studio 4°C.
  • Legend of Korra had some parts of it animated by Studio Pierrot from Japan (as well as Studio Mir from Korea).
  • Miraculous Ladybug is produced by French studios Zagtoon and Method Animation, in collaboration with De Agostini Editore from Italy, Toei Animation from Japan, and SAMG Animation from South Korea. Actually, it was originally going to be a 2D anime-style series (see this trailer for a taste of what could have been), but for design reasons, they switched to 3D CGI animation later on.
  • Also, Toei Animation has actually been commissioned to provide animation for lots of American studios in the past.

As a final side note, I'd like to add that there is precedent in other media where the producers mainly target domestic audiences over local audiences when there's money to be had. For example, Hollywood and China.


My answer to this would first have to be a question right back at you: Why would they?

Really, where is the incentive? Anime became world renown without doing any of that, so why would they start now? I would argue that it's that style, bred by their foreign sensibilities and culture that made it so popular in the rest of world to begin with.

Now, the second thing is, you are wrong. No, they probably don't script dialogues in English, but that's a bit of a huge hurdle to put in their lap when they are already strapped for time on most projects.

However, they definitely know of the Western/other audiences and take them input things (it can be general themes, or jokes that clearly wouldn't be in there if it wasn't for such audiences) related to that. The point being that they are aware and influenced - in small or big ways depending on the project - by that part of their audience. The proof of that is that you have a few projects that get slammed by Japanese fanbases for seemingly altering parts of their work to cater to western sensibilities. That is something more often seen in the video games industry, because Western influence is a lot more direct and palpable (to the people making money from it) in that industry.

The third thing is, to follow up, that they still make most of their money, at least initially, from the home market. Simulcast and other such appearances of anime in a more direct manner in the west are bound to make these influences more numerous, whereas it used to be that the only thing Western audiences brought was goodies/DVD sale's income.

The fourth and last thing is, in most cases, this isn't something that depends on the animation studios at all. To this day, most anime that are actually made come from manga (a rapidly growing number from light novels, and even mobile games, and some, completely original), a market that is even more centralized to Japan. And the popularity(and therefore the likeliness for it to be made into an anime) of a manga is almost solely based on the reviews/scores people give to the magazine publishers, chapter by chapter.

It's not to say that Western influence isn't there though. A clear example would be Watamote, I encourage you to look into the popularization of this specific manga/anime. How different the reception was in America and Japan.


When anime is exported overseas, very little of the money makes it back to the creators. Most of the profit is absorbed by the companies that buy the international rights to the show and then proceed to sell them to various western networks.

Unless an anime becomes massively popular (DBZ, Pokémon, SM, Naruto, AoT, etc) the bread and butter of the anime studios is the local Japanese market.

If you want an anime made for America, look at the anime style American made cartoons. Avatar, the last Airbender comes to mind.

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