JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles YouTube Channel
What is so special about anime? Japanese anime is the only non-English-language global IP that has produced several of the world’s top-grossing franchises and a long list of Hollywood adaptations. Anime is now transforming and being transformed by the worldwide growth of streaming media, which has seen massive expansion during the pandemic. In Japan, the recent record-breaking smash-hit anime movie, “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train,” has shaken the global box office, earning $200M domestically in just 24 days. In Hollywood, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open with its first exhibition dedicated to a Japanese artist: maestro Hayao Miyazaki.
Leading industry experts including John Ledford, founder and CEO of Sentai Filmworks, and Maki Terashima-Furuta, the president of Production I.G. USA and Jason DeMarco, Senior Vice President/Creative Director, Adult Swim/Cartoon Network On-Air discuss the value and charm of anime, not only as a form of entertainment, but also as a form of culture that appeals to both adults and children in Japan, Hollywood and the world.
This session is moderated by author Roland Kelts, the Tokyo-based journalist and scholar known for his bestselling book, “Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US.”
The recording can be viewed within this event page or on the official JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles YouTube channel.
This session is a part of Asia Society of Southern California’s U.S.-Asia Entertainment Summit. For more information about the summit, please click here.
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John Ledford is a serial entrepreneur and leader in the North American anime industry. Prior to founding Sentai, in 1992, he founded A.D. Vision (ADV Films), paving the way for other businesses and the exponential growth anime has had within North America. In the first ten years, ADV cemented itself as the leading distributor of anime with hit titles such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sailor Moon, and Hello Kitty.
With ADV's success, Ledford turned his sights to making the imaginative world of anime even more accessible with the founding of Anime Network, North America’s first cable TV network dedicated to anime. In 2001, it grew from 500,000 households to over 40,000,000. Shortly after, he partnered with Kadokawa and began “Newtype USA” with translated Japanese content and exclusive U.S. material related to all things anime, manga, and model reviews. This endeavor expanded into ADV Manga, which obtained licensing and publishing rights for hundreds of Japanese manga and Korean manhwa.
In 2008, Ledford founded a new anime focused company called Sentai Filmworks (Sentai). Since its founding, Sentai provides thousands of hours of content across traditional and digital platforms. Sentai’s dedication to bringing captivating stories, including acclaimed titles such as Grave of the Fireflies, Ninja Scroll, Danmachi, Haikyuu and Made in Abyss to audiences, is ongoing. Ledford’s most recent success is with the 2017 founding of the streaming service HIDIVE. Since launching, HIDIVE is now available via a web browser, mobile devices, gaming platforms, and more. HIDIVE offers new simulcasts every season, an ever-growing collection of dubs, and exclusive titles. The service features DUBCASTSM editions, early access local-language dubs of simulcasts directly produced by HIDIVE, as early as two weeks after the original Japanese broadcast. For nearly thirty years now, Ledford continues his goal to further the expansion of anime and the Japanese culture as a whole.
Maki Terashima-Furuta is the President of Production I.G. USA as well as the producer of many shows including the most recent ones “FLCL 2: Progressive,” “FLCL 3: Alternative,” and "Uzumaki."
Terashima-Furuta founded the U.S. subsidiary in 1997 and during her time with the company she has overseen all phases of development, production and distribution of the company’s marquee projects including Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” the original “FLCL,” Mamoru Oshii’s “Avalon,” “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence,” “The Sky Crawlers,” Cartoon Network’s “IGPX,” Lucas Animation’s “Clone Wars,” Warner Bros’ “Batman: Gotham Knight,” Netflix’ “Cyborg 009” and “B: The Beginning,” and more recently DreamWorks’ “Ghost in the Shell (2017),” as Co-Producer, and Netflix’s “Castlevania” as Animation Producer.
She has been hailed by Avi Arad as “the driving force of spreading [anime] in the USA” and by "Ghost in the Shell" director Mamoru Oshii as “a world-renown ‘Wild Business Woman,’ someone with incredible instinct and courage.”
Jason DeMarco is the SVP/Creative Director for on-air at Adult Swim. DeMarco began his tenure at Cartoon Network by co-creating Toonami with Sean Akins, then as a senior writer/producer for Toonami, writing and producing packaging and on-air promos for the programming block.
As associate creative director for Toonami/Miguzi – two of Cartoon Network’s premier animated action-adventure blocks – DeMarco was critical to the development of signature on-air packaging for shows such as Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon that helped established Cartoon Network’s on-air look and feel, and won multiple design awards in the process. In 2008, DeMarco founded Adult Swim’s Williams Street Records, where he served as the primary A&R (Artist and Repertoire) contact, creating original music albums, as well as successful programs like the Adult Swim Singles Program, supporting on-air series and delivering one of a kind creative partnership solutions for key ad sales clients.
Since 2013, as senior vice president and creative director for on-air at Adult Swim, DeMarco has been responsible for leading the creative direction, development and implementation of all areas of on-air communication, promotion, packaging and sponsorships.
In addition, he curates the yearly Adult Swim Festival. In recent years, DeMarco has moved into production on several original anime titles for Adult Swim, including FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative, as well as the upcoming Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Uzumaki and Fena: Pirate Princess upcoming series.
Roland Nozomu Kelts is a half-Japanese Tokyo-based author, editor, journalist and scholar specializing in Japanese culture and literature. His highly acclaimed and bestselling first book, Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US, is considered the ultimate guide to Japan’s pop culture juggernaut —required reading for many Hollywood producers, global artists and academics worldwide.
He has been a primary Japan source and contributor to The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, the BBC, NPR and NHK, among others, and he has contributed to several books on Japanese history and culture. He is also a columnist for The Japan Times and the Nikkei, and an editor for the Japanese literary magazine, Monkey. He has interviewed several of Japan's leading artists and authors, including Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami, Makoto Shinkai, Mieko Kawakami, Yoshiyuki Tomino and Mamoru Oshii. His fiction and memoirs have been published in Playboy, Zoetrope: All Story, Guernica and other publications.
Kelts was awarded a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in Writing at Columbia University and a Nieman Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University, where he was in residence through 2017. He has also served as a consultant on several documentary film, television and book projects, and most recently edited author Robert Whiting’s forthcoming memoirs, Tokyo Junkie. He is the Japan media consultant for the entertainment and IT firm, Gamma Law, based in San Francisco and Tokyo.