MBC Group has announced the launch of a new hub dedicated to the licensing, commissioning, promotion and production of 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 terms of viewership in the region,” said Sam Barnett, MBC Group chief executive.
“In recent years, there has been a huge increase in events and activities related to this art form.”
Anime has long enjoyed popularity in the region, going back to the 1980s, when TV shows such as Grendizer and Captain Tsubasa — aka Captain Majid — were dubbed into Arabic. Since then, the genre has soared to new heights, becoming a focal point of the Middle East Film and Comic Con — which earlier this month recorded its biggest turnout to date, with more than 35,000 visitors flocking to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
MBC Anime will be led by Stu Levy, a screenwriter and producer who also founded the international anime and manga distributor, licensor and publisher, Tokyopop.
“Having worked with the talented team at MBC Group over the past couple of years, I’ve been impressed by their licensing approach and dedication to the space,” Levy said.
“Their commitment to not only anime, but building long-term relationships in Japan made me confident of the real potential for exciting growth opportunities working together.”
Starting in 1997, Levy’s work with Tokyopop, publishing thousands of books and distributing anime and Asian films, has played major role in establishing a major market for manga and anime in North America.
“We are thrilled to announce that Stu Levy has joined us to head up MBC Anime,” added Barnett. “Stu is a renowned figure in the anime industry, known for his expertise in distribution, licensing, and publishing. We’re very excited about the prospects for this co-operation.”