Japan’s Media Renaissance

Japan’s entertainment industry reached its heyday in the second half of the 20th century, followed by a slump as Korean media took over the continent and the world. However, Japan is once again rising as Japanese media takes to the global stage.

In fact, the number of movies released to Japanese theaters in 2022 was 1,143. Of these, more than half were domestic productions. With an affluent consumer market and rising demand for quality media and entertainment, Japan’s entertainment industry is climbing to the top quickly.

In this article, we explore this nation’s media comeback, expectations for the year ahead, as well as how translation and localization can help in amplifying the country’s reach. Let’s explore further.

Japan’s media comeback

South Korea seems to have taken over the world with its “Hallyu” or Korean Wave, which refers to the rising popularity of its popular media industry.

This can take the form of music, television series, movies, dramas, and other forms of entertainment.

However, Japan is quickly reclaiming the spot on the global stage with Japanese media showing the world what it has to offer.

When it comes to Japan’s entertainment industry, it is clear that the country is emerging as a competitive actor with significant worldwide influence.

There is a broad range of media for consumption, ranging from manga and anime to series and films, music, games, and more.

In fact, global international giants are realizing that Japan is on the brink of a media and entertainment Renaissance and that’s why they’re flocking to the region to take advantage of a highly lucrative market.

What emerges from recent figures is that Amazon Prime leads the way with a 22% market share, investing in Japanese content.

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The sector is then followed by Netflix with 21%, UNet with 14%, Hulu at 7%, Disney+ with 6%, and DAZN at 5%.

The remaining 25% is being captured by other players in the market, seeking to gain a foothold in an incredibly rewarding industry.

What we are expecting to see in the next year and beyond is covered in more detail in the section below.

High expectations for 2024

Japan’s revenue for its media market is expected to reach $114.30 billion in 2024.

While this still lags behind the US with an estimated amount of $529.7 billion, it’s still a staggering market.

In addition to this, giants such as Netflix are looking at ways to tap into the potential of the market through discussions with local production houses for quality content.

Of course, there remain a few logistical challenges to deal with, such as limitations in infrastructure. However, in 2024, these are expected to be overcome.

For example, TBS’ subsidiary production banner The Seven, opened a new 80,000-square-meter soundstage in December, built for $136 million.

This is just the start though and old franchises such as the 70-year-old Godzilla, and many others are making waves on North American soil.

This just goes to show that Japanese content is highly popular in the West and that if handled correctly, has the potential to retain its top spot as a global leader through Japan’s entertainment industry.

The role of translation and localization services in amplifying international reach

From games to films, anime to series, Japan’s entertainment industry is certainly poised for growth.

However, such growth cannot happen without quality translation and localization services that take care to address local cultural and linguistic nuances in order to enter the hearts of local audiences in other countries.

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As such, translation and localization services will play a major role in Japan’s entertainment industry in the near future, as quality output must prevail for the sector to experience the success it is destined for.

Irrespective of the medium that needs to be translated, specialist translation and localization specialists will have several challenges to address in this endeavor.

Among these challenges include the following:
Japans Media Renaissance

  • Compex Kanji writing style: Translating Japanese media requires in-depth knowledge of the Kanji writing style. This includes complex characters which do not rely on words or phrases, but rather focus on depicting concepts through a series of strokes and placements on certain characters. In addition to this challenge, there is also the fact that there are over 2,000 commonly used Kanji characters while there are several thousand more that are less frequently used. Accuracy and attention to detail are therefore crucial.
  • Cultural nuances: A major part of Japanese culture includes levels of politeness and formality. Also referred to as honorifics, translating Japanese media often requires a great understanding of the cultural and linguistic factors that work in tandem with each other. For this reason, translators often find themselves breaking up more complex sentences into shorter and simpler ones so that the intended meaning is not lost.
  • No corresponding words in English: Another important challenge is that there are some words in Japanese without a direct English translation. Therefore, translating abstract concepts can pose a unique challenge for translators.
  • Plurality of nouns: In Japanese, nouns do not differentiate between singular and plural forms. Instead, translators often have to rely on context to decipher meaning.
  • Choice of pronouns: The Japanese language is highly complex and this shines through in the complexity related to personal pronouns. Because some expressions do not offer clues about the gender of a person, determining the gender-specific pronoun to use in translation is challenging.
  • Subjects and verbs: Another complexity is the opposite rules for subject and verb placements in Japanese. For example, in Japanese, verbs are placed at the end of the sentence instead of at the beginning. What is more, subjects are expected to be understood as opposed to being stated outright.
  • Tenses: Japan’s tense system is divided into two parts: past and non-past. Therefore, describing current or future events should use the non-past tense. However, when it comes to a translation to English, for example, this can pose complications because English has three clear tenses with sub-categories under each one to describe the specific moment in time being referenced.
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Japanese media is a rising star on the global stage and it’s only a matter of time before this sleeping giant wakes up. It’s best to be prepared for your Japanese media content for international audiences through accurate and high-quality translation and localization.

Make sure to follow industry best practices and ensure that your output takes into account cultural nuances in order to produce the best possible version of your content for foreign markets.

Seize the opportunity to tap into a lucrative market and be certain to add value at every step of the way to wow your audiences and generate strong streams of revenue.