Animax (アニマックス, Animakkusu, a portmanteau of the words anime (アニメ) and max (マックス, makkusu)) is a Japanese anime satellite television network, dedicated to broadcasting anime programming. A subsidiary of Japanese media conglomerate Sony, it is headquartered in New Pier Takeshiba North Tower (ニューピア竹芝ノースタワー, Nyū Pia Takeshiba Nōsu Tawā?) in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, with its co-founders and shareholders including Sony Pictures Entertainment, noted anime studios Sunrise, Toei Animation, TMS Entertainment, and production company NAS.
Animax is the first and largest 24/7 network dedicated to airing anime in the world, with a viewer reach of over 89 million households, 62 countries, and more than 17 languages. It also has English language networks in Southeast Asia & South Asia, and a streaming service in the United Kingdom. It previously had a two-hour block on Australia's Sci-Fi Channel, (which was co-owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan at the time) and a branded collection on Sony's streaming service, Crackle. In North America, there were similar channels dedicated to airing anime, such as Anime Network, Funimation Channel and TOKU.note
The channel has its origins in May 1998, with Japan being its only feed during almost five and a half years. In 2004, it started expanding its horizons through Asia, starting with Phillipines and Taiwan, eventually finding a place in the entirety of the Asia-Pacific region. Its next destination was Latin America in August 2005, and finally Europe and Africa in 2007. There were plans for an American channel as well, but they never materialized (the name was instead briefly used as the umbrella name for anime offerings on the Sony-owned streaming video service Crackle).
At the same time, however, some of its networks and blocks have been removed or replaced other channels. Animax South Africa was relaunched as Sony Max due to low viewers and network decay, as western programming began taking over most of the schedule; Animax Portugal became AXN Black, also due to low viewers; and, most infamously, Animax Latin America became Sony Spin due to western programming taking over most of its airtime (more on that below).
In Hungary (and, for that matter, most of Eastern Europe), the channel premiered after replacing Anima+, a defunct animation channel that aired both anime and western animation (both dubbed and subtitles in local languages). However, Animax Eastern Europe started to decay due to the inclusion of western programming and shifting to become more of a youth-oriented channel. The Hungarian broadcast of Animax was terminated in April 2014, replaced by a channel called C8, which offers no anime programming. AXN's staff confirmed via their Facebook page that they aren't interested giving Animax another go, or continue to air anime.
In the case of Latin America, Animax had premiered in August 2005 after replacing Locomotion, a channel that welcomed all kinds of animation (mainstream and obscure), with anime as one of its priorities (shown both dubbed and subbed in local languages). Several anime series were premiered since then, though its lineup was somewhat different from the Asian feeds, as several of its otherwise signature series were at the time aired by Cartoon Network instead (which had oriented the block Toonami to adults).note Strangely, Animax almost never aired anime movies (while CN did), and in May 2008 it slowly started including Live Action movies and series into the mix (causing controversy among its viewers). The trend continued during three years until, as mentioned before, it rebranded as Sony Spin. The replacing channel still aired anime at late nights and early mornings, until March 2012 when the remaining animated series was removed entirely. Sony Spin itself faced a shutdown in July 2014, when it was replaced by Lifetime.
Animax is still currently operating well in its native Japan, as well as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, although they differ greatly from the Japanese version.
The Animax networks provide examples of:
- Creator's Oddball: South Korean animation, when it's not Live Action. Justified in South Korea itself, due to TV content regulations.
- Network Death: Animax became one of the most glaring examples of this situation outside of Asia. One by one, several of the Animax feeds were shut down following the worldwide rebranding of 2010 due to live-action series taking over their programming.
- No Export for You: Almost none of their dubs have made it outside Asia. This is mainly because unlike other companies' dubs, which are owned by the Japanese copyright holders, Animax's dubs are owned by parent company Sony, who are not usually easy to negotiate with; it also has something to do with the general low-quality of the dubs (for example, their dub of K-On! made the characters sound way too old). As as result, most companies, assuming they don't go the No Dub for You route, instead choose to make their own dubs. Some exceptions include Nodame Cantabile and the "Samurai X" dub of Rurouni Kenshin being available on Sony's streaming service Crackle, and the home video releases of Cardcaptor Sakura and Gundam Build Fighters including their Animax dubs as an audio option.note