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Animate Buys into Broccoli, Creates AniBro Partnership (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
New joint venture to create new character goods, open new stores in Japan

Animate and Broccoli, two Japanese companies that manufacture anime/manga/game character goods and run retail stores to sell these goods, have announced on January 23 that Animate is buying a 11.31% stake in Broccoli. Furthermore, the two companies are forming a partnership through a new joint venture called AniBro. Animate has obtained 3.7 million shares, or 11.31%, of Broccoli from the Digital Adventure company. Although the value of those shares have not been officially announced, 3.7 million Broccoli shares were worth about 250 million yen (US$2.3 million) at the close of trading on Wednesday. Animate is now the second largest shareholder of Broccoli, after GungHo Online Entertainment.

AniBro is being headquartered at Animate's current offices in the Higashi Ishiguro neighborhood of western Tokyo. 70% of its 200-million-yen (US$1.9-million) startup capital is being provided by Animate, with Broccoli providing the rest. Animate president Yutaka Takahashi is also presiding over AniBro. The new venture is set to develop new products, open new stores, assist in the management of the stores, and streamline the systems of purchasing, human resources, and other operations. Animate and Broccoli is planning to cooperate on the operation of existing stores.

With around 80 stores, annual character goods sales of over 30 billion yen (US$280 million), and total annual sales of 45 billion yen (about $420 million), the Animate Group is considered the largest character goods retailer in Japan. Besides the retail stores, the Animate Group creates character goods, books, videos, and CDs under MOVIC, Frontier Works, and other brand names. It also runs the Animate.tv website of news, videos, audio materials, and blogs.

By comparison, Broccoli has about 15 Gamers! stores in Japan with 9.3 billion yen (US$87 million) in annual sales. Its best known original creation is Di Gi Charat, the character created by Koge Donbo. Di Gi Charat has since become the official mascot of Gamers! and spawned dozens of manga, anime, and game titles. The North American manga publisher Broccoli Books is a division of Broccoli International USA, which is also the parent company of Anime Gamers! USA and Synch-Point. Both Animate and Broccoli attempted to operate retail stores in Los Angeles in 2000-2002, but the Animate USA store and Broccoli's Anime Gamers! Los Angeles store have since closed.

Update: Added a note on Broccoli Books' relationship to the rest of Broccoli.

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