Dentsu Inc. and the Mitsubishi Corporation announced the formation of a business alliance encompassing the production, sale and rights management of Japanese animated works in Japan and globally.  The two companies hope to build an integrated business model focusing on all areas related to the animation business from production to global sales and rights management. 


Under the terms of the agreement d-rights, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi, will acquire a 34% equity stake in Dentsu's Geneon Entertainment and will nominate two members of Geneon's board of directors.


Dentsu, Geneon Entertainment and d-rights will establish a joint investment fund specializing in projects relating to the production of Japanese animated works.  The fund, which will attempt to create anime appealing to global markets (and North America in particular), will be capitalized at 2.0 billion yen with Dentsu contributing 30%, Geneon 20%, and d-rights 50%.  The plan is to invest in 15-20 anime projects a year, which should provide a solid stream of anime offerings for Geneon to distribute in North America. 


The first project funded by the new fund is Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, an anime TV series based on a popular fantasy novel, which will be produced by Production I.G., directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), and aired in Japan on the NHK network in 2007.


The agreement also includes a focus on new media including the Internet and mobile devices and hints that Geneon will develop methods to exploit the jointly created animated properties via the Internet and mobile phones.  This would mark a considerable change from the policies of most of the Japanese-controlled American anime companies, which have for the most part eschewed selling downloads of key anime series in spite of the success of ABC and others selling downloads via Apple's iTunes and other Internet services.


Dentsu, a major Japanese advertising agency, acquired Geneon (then known as Pioneer Entertainment, see 'Pioneer Entertainment to Change Its Name') from the Pioneer Corporation in 2003.  Dentsu has partnered with another ad agency, Hakuhodo, to finance and promote the new Studio Ghibli film Tales From Earthsea, which will debut in Japan this July.  Mitsubishi is Japan's largest trading company and it has built a strong record of its own in the export of Japanese animated works.