The Sojitz Corporation announced on Monday a substantial investment in A.D. Vision by Japan Content Investments (JCI), an investor group led by Sojitz in cooperation with the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and KlockWorx, which imports and distributes films in Japan.  A separate capital commitment came from ARM, a JCI subsidiary, for the acquisition of new filmed content.  First news of the transaction came in the Nikkei Net.


Shinichi Uchiyama, Senior Vice President of Sojitz' New Business Development Group, said of the investment, 'Anime has become a global phenomenon, and the North American and European markets are slated for sustained growth.  As the market leader, A.D. Vision is the best partner to realize that growth.'  ADV has released more anime titles in North America than any other company, founded the Anime Network, the first cable network dedicated to anime in the U.S., and also publishes an American version of Newtype magazine as well as a line of manga. 


John Ledford, the founder and CEO of A.D. Vision, will remain its majority stockholder and CEO. 


The investment caps a broad strategic alliance between A.D. Vision and the Sojitz Corporation, which will enable ADV to expand its operations in North America, Europe and Japan and become a fully-integrated multimedia company involved in all levels of content creation and distribution. 


The investment will allow ADV Films to raise its output of new anime titles, which had dropped in 2006, back to previous levels or above.  

And an ADV spokesperson told ICv2 that in the wake of this new agreement, 'ADV has big plans for its manga business.'


The Sojitz Corporation is a publicly listed Japanese holding company with sales of more than $48 billion per year and important positions in a variety of industries including chemicals, plastics, machinery and aerospace, energy and mineral resources, real estate, as well as in wireless technology and new media.  The company is not a newcomer to the anime business; it has participated in the production of 100 anime series and films. 


Sojitz's experience in wireless combined with an integrated anime rights management approach and ADV's expertise in all the distribution channels in the North American market could well provide the basis for new distribution models for anime in the U.S. in the coming years.  As ADV's John Ledford put it, 'This is a perfect marriage.   Sojitz gains ADV's specialized knowledge in the packaging and distribution of anime content for the North American and European markets, and we gain Sojitz's global network and expertise in wireless and new media, which for anime-related content is a particularly strong growth area.  The anime market is primed for a big expansion, fueled by the young, tech-savvy consumers that drive today's new media.'


ADV will also assist in the acquisition of U.S. and European content for distribution in Japan and other markets.