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Indian Anime

Posted on Saturday, May 3rd 2008

[This is an October 2005 piece that I am repeating in the context of our earlier discussion on the Indian Film Industry. I would be interested in hearing from people with experience with and knowledge of the animation industry in India, and how it is shaping up.]

The global digital animation industry is poised to grow to $70 billion by this year. The Indian animation industry is expected to reach $15 billion by 2008. Big numbers, pointing to India’s next big outsourcing boom. Labor arbitrage numbers are absolutely fantastic: $125/hour in the US versus $25/hour in India for animators. $75 Million to $175 Million for a full-length features film in the US versus $1-$15 Million in India.

As in the software industry, much of the growth is driven by off-shoring and contract services. Original productions are still very rare, although this month, an animation feature called Hanuman has been released by Sahara India Mass Communication and Percept India in association with Silvertoons. Hanuman is the Hindu monkey god, a superhero of sorts who can move mountains, eat the moon, fly (of course) …

The quality of indigenous animation films have traditionally been quite pathetic, because of huge budget constraints. Networks pay in the range of $500-$1500 per 20-25 minute episode of an animation TV series, where it costs a good $5,000-$10,000 per minute of finished animation, bringing the cost of that episode to $100k+. The economics of television, as it stands, does not work, and need to be re-engineered, if the animation channels need to continue broadcasting quality productions.

Film economics, on the other hand, DOES work. $1- $5 Million is still a relatively low budget film, and if India can develop enough sophistication in story-telling, direction and animation, I see this as a very viable route to attempt to build a genre a la the Japanese Anime. Princess Mononoke, the crown jewel of this genre had a production budget of $20 Million, and grossed $150 Million+ worldwide. It was, needless to say, enormously successful in Japan, first, but also grossed a decent $2.3 Million in the US (dubbed in English).

So, for India, the goal should be to develop a genre like Anime with deep and exciting plots, exotic imagery and ambience, make the films successful in India first, and then market abroad. The film economics can be extremely compelling.

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Dear mam,
I was delighted to read someone was thinking about Indian Anime. My brother introduced Japanese Anime to me a few years ago and i have been totally hooked 🙂 Like the Disney cartoons some of the Anime have got a wealth of information in them and i have always felt its a great tool for educating kids. Friendship, love, honesty, righteousness…..just some of the attributes conveyed.

I guess there are a few indian themed cartoons on Indian television but nothing in the scale of the recent Hanuman animation. The figures that you quoted, staggering they maybe, gives me some perspective. If one day when i make a million pounds i would like to invest in making an Indian Anime Epic. Until such time i should get back to my postgraduate medical exams 🙂

Thank you, it was a good article. Now that i have stumbled across your site, will explore it after my exams next week!

Murali Veerabahu Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 4:56 PM PT

[…] I wrote an article last Fall called Indian Anime. If you are looking for another multi-billion dollar outsourcing phenomenon, animation could be one. […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Concept Arbitrage: Infosys Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 1:01 PM PT

[…] A while ago, I had looked into the animation market from the perspective of TV serials. However, the economics did not look compelling. [You can read the analysis, Indian Anime, here.] […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Indian Television Market: Opportunities Tuesday, February 13, 2007 at 2:28 PM PT

Hi Sramana,
I work in eBay India. Recently I started a small 3-D content outfit at Kolkata with my cousin. Since we are so small, our first jobs have been for the Bangla television market. It’s exactly what you said, the market is depressing. The biggest challenge is getting these units to scale up to full-fledged production houses capable of producing good films. Seed funds are totally absent. Almost every one of us want to be another Pixar / Disney or Lucas Film without the means to buy even a genuine software. Talent is abundant. How can we tap it and create something really world class in India? Look forward to find some answers in your blog.

Arun Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM PT

You should read my Vision India 2020: Elixar column.

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 12:38 PM PT

i am a big fan of anime and have watched most of the movies and series. my favourite anime movies are spirited away, princess mononoke and sword of the stranger . i watch animax all the time and even download anime series. Ninja scroll and flame of recca are my favourite series. at the moment i m working on a thesis for my course in college and i couldn’t think of a better topic than anime. anime should be explored and spread so that the number of anime fans increase in this country

avvantika Monday, September 15, 2008 at 7:36 AM PT

Hi there!!Glad to see people thinking about Indian Anime,I am in the process of creating one!!Please take a look at the trailer –
Hope you like it!! Really need someone to finance the movie XD.I would like you to remark on the animation,If you can Please!!

Krishna Banerjee Monday, December 6, 2010 at 7:47 AM PT