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Unico Pilot (1979)

The idea of marketing a film over a long time may be unthinkable in today's TV anime industry, but that is in fact the more orthodox strategy. Disney's Snow White, for example, still brings in good business. Sanrio's aim is to produce films which the next generation can still find entertaining; in other words, films which will stand up to the test of time.

Sanrio also has strong aspirations towards overseas distribution.  In fact, their own distribution company in Hollywood (Sanrio Communications Incorporated) has established its reputation by distributing Nutcracker Fantasy and Story of the Northern Fox. Although some mecha and meisaku anime originally produced for Japanese audiences have become hits overseas, that was an unintendeded consequence; basically pure luck. In that sense, Sanrio Films is intentional.

Winds of Change has a mythical atmosphere similar to Lord of the Rings, but the characters look somewhat unusual to a Japanese eye. That was intentional. The character designs were created by foreign animators. In fact, these character designs were attained by a process of testing various designs on foreign and Japanese children to find out what was most appealing to both groups.

"Foreigners are totally unreceptive to shôjo manga characters -- the type with big watery eyes with twinkling stars and such. Most Japanese comic book characters have no appeal to foreigners in terms of beauty."

This is an astute judgment.

The character problem has often been cited as one of the reasons Japanese animation has been unable to extend its market overseas. Yet seemingly never before has any attempt been made to solve this problem. It's no surprise that Sanrio, leader of character goods marketing in Japan, has been the one to attack this problem head on and come up with a solution.

"The groundwork for people over there to unconditionally accept Japanese animation has yet to be laid. Mere optimism won't help open up the international market. The objective needs to be not to create something disseminable throughout the world, but something that can be loved throughout the world."

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