If you’ve grown up in the Middle East, you’re probably familiar with Grendizer, Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures, and Captain Tsubasa –– anime shows dubbed in Arabic as popular programming for children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Well, Middle East anime enthusiasts, time to rejoice: MENA media company MBC Group has launched MBC ANIME, a new hub dedicated to licensing, promoting, and producing anime content in the region.
“Anime and manga are incredibly popular in the Middle East and North Africa, with Saudi Arabia being the leader in viewership in the region,” said Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group. “In recent years, there has been a huge increase in events and activities related to this art form.”
With the initiative, MBC ANIME will commission, produce, and invest in a series of anime titles in a venture led by anime and manga expert Stu Levy, the founder and CEO of leading international anime and manga distributor and publisher TOKYOPOP.
Levy commented on his enthusiasm for working with MBC Group, impressed by their licensing approach and dedication to the industry. “Their commitment to not only anime but building long-term relationships in Japan made me confident of the potential for exciting growth opportunities working together.”
Over the following years, MBC Group plans to invest heavily in the venture to expand further. During the first investment period, MBC ANIME will collaborate with key anime studios in Japan, supporting and investing in a number of projects.
Anime has long been popular in the region—a 2019 YouGov poll conducted across the MENA region showed that Saudi Arabia had the largest anime audience. It’s also a key focus in cultural events in the region, such as the annual Middle East Film and Comic Con. In March this year, it recorded the biggest gathering, with more than 35,000 visitors.
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