Company InfoNHK Enterprises, Inc. (NEP) is the international distribution/production affiliate of NHK, Japan’s sole public broadcaster. It handles high-quality programs in various genres, including documentaries, children’s & education, animation, drama and non-scripted/scripted formats. As NHK has spearheaded the development of 4K and 8K technologies, NEP boasts a vast library of 4K and 8K contents. Read more
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Akiko NakanoSenior Manager, Americas, EMEA, Oceania & Asia (excl. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong & Korea) & Non-Scripted Formats
Shuji YamadaChief Manager, China, Taiwan & Hong Kong
Satomi NagaokaManager, Korea, Scripted Formats & Inflight
NHK Enterprises Gears Up for Drama Remake Success
NHK dramas are highly regarded as finished programs in countries across Asia, and NHK Enterprises is looking to shore up deals for these scripted successes to be remade in local markets. NHK Enterprises recently signed its first drama adaptation deal with a partner in South Korea for I’ll Still Love You Ten Years from Now. Aired on NHK in 2010, the romantic dramedy sees a woman’s future husband travel ten years back through time to stop her from marrying him in the present. The South Korean adaptation will be produced by Big Ocean ENM, which aims to start filming at the end of this year.
“Japanese dramas (and this is especially true of NHK dramas) tend to pay a lot of attention to depicting the emotions of the characters so that they touch viewers emotionally,” says Afumi Watanabe, senior manager at the content distribution department of NHK Enterprises. “NHK dramas have meticulously crafted screenplays and storylines that are a strong point not only in Japan but also in other parts of the world.”
Watanabe points to The Aromantics as an example. The main character, Sakuko, could never wrap her head around the idea of romance or sex. When she meets Satoru, who identifies as aromantic and asexual, something clicks, and they end up living together, which creates mayhem among their relatives and friends. The drama looks deeply at their emotions as they find out that romance is not always essential for happiness.
“We want to expand our sales widely in all parts of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America,” Watanabe says. “We’d like to focus on remakes in South Korea and Turkey, as they have strong global appeal and can be expected to have further reach.”
Many NHK dramas pay close attention to depicting the subtleties of the characters’ emotions. One strong theme is romance. Watanabe believes NHK’s romantic dramas are ripe for remakes in all markets. I’ll Still Love You Ten Years from Now, for one, is full of the bittersweet moments that come with being in love. “It’s a relatable story for anyone who wonders how things would turn out if they could live their life again,” Watanabe says.
A variety of other romantic dramas are being marketed as formats by NHK Enterprises, including Second Virgin, in which a woman gets into a forbidden affair with a man 17 years her junior, and First Love, which follows a sick woman who re-encounters her first love, who is now a physician.
NHK also has a range of dramas that highlight contemporary and historical themes, Watanabe points out. “Lately, NHK has made some truly bold dramas that are unlike anything seen before.” Examples of recent ambitious dramas include Zombies Made Me Reconsider My Life, a black comedy in which three women’s hidden desires are laid bare as they fight to survive an outbreak of zombies, and Teen Regime, in which a 17-year-old high-school student is chosen by artificial intelligence to be the prime minister of Japan.
Joining The Aromantics, Zombies Made Me Reconsider My Life, Teen Regime, First Love and Second Virgin on the list of scripted format highlights is Contrail. “These dramas reflect totally unique approaches and perspectives,” Watanabe says. “We believe they will be popular around the world as remakes.”
There are also two new doc highlights on offer from NHK Enterprises that promote a Japanese sense of beauty and culture: ISSEY MIYAKE: The Human Inside the Clothes and Not Yet There.
ISSEY MIYAKE: The Human Inside the Clothes spotlights the internationally renowned fashion designer Issey Miyake, who describes the creation of his clothes as the creation of skin. Born in Hiroshima, Miyake lived through the atomic bombing at the age of 7 and has mostly been quiet about that experience while instilling each new fabric “skin” with his hopes for postwar recovery and peace. “In our documentary, viewers will see how Miyake constantly evolved in his creation of clothes, hear him speak in interviews and hear from people who had a close-up view of his approach to life,” says Yukari Harada, senior producer in the global content development division of NHK. “We hope they enjoy discovering how Miyake felt about Hiroshima and how he created the designs that wowed the world.”
Not Yet There provides an inside look at the Mizai restaurant in Kyoto, which uses dishes made from seasonal ingredients, tableware that gives a sense of the season and surroundings decorated with plants and flowers for an artistic experience. “Mizai’s incomparable hospitality is a kind of Japanese culture that deserves to be preserved,” says Yuichiro Suda, director of Not Yet There. “It’s experienced in a place that embodies the Japanese spirit of concentrating entirely on the present moment (a spirit that’s honored in the Japanese tea ceremony and in the Zen Buddhism in which the tea ceremony originated). Meanwhile, however, time-honored Japanese aesthetic sensibilities and traditions are starting to be forgotten. We created this documentary out of a desire to bring them back to Japanese people’s attention and share them with people around the world.”
SHOWCASE: NHK & NEP Encourage the Rediscovery of Japan
Presenting dazzling landscapes and stories rich in history, NHK has a bevy of programs being sold to the global market by NHK Enterprises (NEP) that entice viewers to discover—or rediscover—Japan.
Iriomote: The Fabric of Life features footage of the Iriomote cat, a subspecies of the leopard that lives exclusively on the Japanese island of Iriomote and was discovered in the 20th century with just 100 in existence, and of the parenting behavior of the endangered crested serpent eagle. It also presents footage of the ruddy kingfisher, which catches hermit crabs and smashes their shells against rocks in order to eat them. Diverse filming techniques were used to capture footage of the dispersal of offspring from mangroves, the spawning of corals, the flowering and pollination of Barringtonia racemosa (the powder-puff tree) and Enhalus acoroides (a kind of seagrass), along with other phenomena among fauna and flora whose lives follow the natural rhythms created by the ocean.
The program incorporates the perspective of Akiko Ishigaki, an 84-year-old woman living her life according to nature’s rhythms. Ishigaki is an internationally acclaimed dyeing and weaving artisan who makes yarns from plants on the island, weaves them into fabrics and dyes the fabrics using mangroves. Her creations have been shown at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The subject of The Unknown Master of Restoration is the art restorer Mayuyama, who meticulously and flawlessly repairs broken pottery. To him, ensuring that treasures are passed on to future generations in a better state is more important than praise for his seemingly God-given skill. NHK Enterprises hopes that viewers will relish the magic created by the human eye and the human hand.
There are six new episodes of Ninja Truth ready for the market. The series focuses on the arts and tools employed by ninjas in an attempt to demystify these superheroes. Through entertaining experiments, it brings the audience closer to the “ninja truth.”
New episodes are also available for Cycle Around Japan, which rolls through the lush springtime greens of Mt. Fuji, flower-filled Hokkaido and the ancient city of Kyoto. The program invites viewers on a journey to see a side of Japan they won’t find in guidebooks.
The documentary From Foe to Fortune: Living with Nuisance Wildlife spotlights Dr. Masateru Inoue (nicknamed Masane), an expert in the control of so-called nuisance animals. Masane’s approach is not to exterminate them but to coexist with them. The way in which Masane lives openly as her true self and how people in relatively conservative rural villages accept her hint at what’s essential for any society to become truly inclusive. The documentary is sprinkled with moments of humor and shows how an unusual story played out in the kind of mountain village that is far from unusual in Japan.
“We hope people will discover the Japan of today through a diversity of programs that reveal not only the riches that Japan has in terms of its topography, plants, animals, culture and history but also the lives and perspectives of the people who live there,” says Mayuko Hori, senior producer in the Content Value Development Center at NHK.
Alongside this array of factual programming, NHK’s dramas are also a draw for the international market. Its dramas have played well in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and other parts of Asia in their original versions, and NHK has put effort into marketing the finished programs in light of strong international demand.
With regard to remakes for its dramas, inquiries have come from clients in the U.S., China, South Korea, Turkey and Israel. This gives NHK Enterprises confidence that NHK’s dramas have strong potential in the international market. The company is introducing a lineup of six new dramas at this year’s MIPCOM and plans to step up its marketing efforts for remakes.
“NHK has a rich variety of dramas,” says Afumi Watanabe, chief manager in the content distribution department of the Content Distribution Department of the Content Development Center at NHK Enterprises. “Notably, the multi-award-winning The Aromantics is a story with an unprecedented point of view in that it shows how an aromantic, asexual male-female twosome finds happiness after an unexpected turn of events leads them to start living together. We also have other dramas with fresh, unconventional themes, including Zombies Made Me Reconsider My Life, a black comedy in which the hidden desires of three female friends are revealed as they face the sudden outbreak of zombies.”
SHOWCASE: NHK’s Co-Produced Documentaries Are Ready to Travel
Documentary production has long been NHK’s forte. In particular, the Japanese public broadcaster’s programs in the science and nature genres and projects using NHK-developed ultra-high-definition 8K technologies are acclaimed internationally. NHK Enterprises sells this content, and more, around the world.
“NHK has long been blessed with opportunities to collaborate with outstanding producers around the world,” says Afumi Watanabe, chief manager in the content distribution department of the content development center at NHK Enterprises. “NHK’s international co-productions were delayed for a while by the coronavirus pandemic, but work on ambitious projects is now almost back to its previous level, thanks to the great cooperation and efforts of overseas producers.”
At MIPTV, NHK is releasing three newly completed international co-productions: SATOYAMA, Radioactive Forest 10 Years After and Hidden India: The Golden City of Jaisalmer. “SATOYAMA and Radioactive Forest 10 Years After are noteworthy as they reflect a sustained, long-term focus on issues of growing global interest, i.e., coexistence with nature and the impact of radiation on the natural world,” says Watanabe. “They reflect program-making strengths that are distinctive to NHK. They are sure to appeal to the international market.”
A co-production with ARTE France, SATOYAMA examines how satoyama regions—which are said to surpass natural wilderness in terms of biodiversity—came to be created in Japan. “The backdrop is a critical awareness of the relationship between people and nature,” says Tetsunori Kikuchi, executive producer of SATOYAMA. “In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake reminded many Japanese people of nature’s terrible power. Also, news of abnormal weather and natural disasters resulting from global warming is becoming more and more common as the years pass.”
“So, how should people interact with nature?” Kikuchi continues. “Clues can be found in the satoyama regions of the disaster-prone country that is Japan. The concept of our new series is to examine human wisdom for turning nature’s fury into nature’s bounty. We look into the wisdom that has enabled Japanese people to parry the awesome forces of nature, tame them and sometimes take advantage of them—all in ways that transform them into rich blessings.”
For the new series, NHK used the latest 8K cameras to capture landscapes where people live in beautiful harmony with nature, places where life flourishes and the harsher side of the natural environment.
Hélène Coldefy, head of factual specialist at ARTE France, says that it was the subject itself that drew them on board as a co-producer: “Satoyama as an experience and a concept that is unknown to Western people, the beautiful and delicate sceneries as well as the shooting of the biodiversity (fauna and flora) and of the cycle of life.”
Radioactive Forest 10 Years After, co-produced with CuriosityStream, takes the viewer into a forest that was polluted by a nuclear accident a decade ago. In 4K detail, it shows how wildlife has flourished and how the landscape has undergone dramatic change. It also reveals the latest scientific facts and the emotional pain of people who had to leave the place they called home after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
“Ten years on from the nuclear accident, towns that had been empty of people are beginning to bustle with human activity in new ways,” says Shotaro Fujimatsu, one of the directors of Radioactive Forest 10 Years After. “Some things have changed for good. Some things won’t change. But there are still some things that I don’t understand. I hope the documentary will lead people to think about the Fukushima of today and keep it in their hearts. I’d like the documentary to reach as many people as possible around the world.”
Steve Burns, executive producer for Curiosity’s reversion, adds, “NHK science reporting is always the best, especially at breaking down complex science into understandable computer graphics. Radioactive Forest 10 Years After does that very well. What I found especially fascinating was their deeply emotional sequences about the farmers and residents of this rural area, many of whom still cannot return to their villages and homes.”
Hidden India: The Golden City of Jaisalmer is a co-production between NHK and India’s Séance Entertainment. It spotlights the narrow, maze-like streets of the fort and its buildings that are covered with intricate carvings. Filmed in 8K, the program looks at the origins of these details along with their historical and religious meanings.
“At NHK, we have an unceasing commitment to providing the highest level of service to our viewers,” says Mayuko Hori, senior producer in the global content development division of NHK. “With this commitment in mind, we work proactively in international co-productions with a focus on documentaries. We cover subject areas as diverse as nature, science and history.
“With many of our documentary co-productions, we aim to overturn established notions and encourage viewers to take a fresh look at their values and lifestyles,” Hori adds. “With the goal of presenting viewers with universally relatable stories, program-makers with expertise in their subject areas remain conscious of contemporary circumstances and issues while using cutting-edge forms of visual expression (including video technologies developed by NHK) to share new knowledge. They also draw on a talent for close and unhurried engagement with the people they document.”
NHK works closely with international program-makers from the project proposal stage, Hori says. “We proactively incorporate perspectives, ideas and forms of visual expression that we could not bring to the table if we worked without partners. In all of these efforts, we attach the highest priority to satisfaction for viewers at home and abroad.”
SHOWCASE: NHK & NHK Enterprises Delight with Docs & 8K
Factual programming has long been one of the main pillars of Japan’s NHK, and the genre has proven to be a strong seller on the global market for its business arm, NHK Enterprises. “The Covid-19 pandemic has made it difficult for us to maintain the volume of new titles, but this tough time has also made us eager to tell stories that need to be told,” says Noriko Aratani, executive producer for global content development at NHK.
Among the latest releases is Heirs of the Red Gene: A Century of Chinese Communist Rule, an in-depth look into the workings of cell branches that reveals the unknown reality of the Chinese Communist Party. “The production crew consistently focused on China from the perspective of ordinary villagers and party members of each branch,” Aratani explains.
REGENERATION: From Bullets to Brotherhood focuses on an Australia-born investment banker turned “gang pastor” in one of Cape Town’s most dangerous townships. “You may know his story from news outlets around the world,” says Aratani. “This documentary features previously unreleased footage shot by the pastor himself, exclusively for NHK.”
Fukushima Monologue, a finalist for the 2021 Jackson Wild Media Awards, tells the story of the one man who chose to stay behind in the no-go zone near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. “We are overwhelmed by the beauty of Fukushima and, the next moment, devastated by the reality of the town,” Aratani says.
One of NHK’s most acclaimed factual offerings this year is Hideaki Anno: The Final Challenge of Evangelion, a documentary that follows filmmaker Hideaki Anno during the creative process for the final installment of the legendary Evangelion anime franchise. “Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli describes him as one who sheds blood for his films,” says Afumi Watanabe, chief manager for the content distribution department in the content development center at NHK Enterprises. The documentary was one of the most-watched programs on NHK’s video streaming service after its March broadcast debut.
Hideaki Anno: The Final Challenge of Evangelion has proven very successful on the international market for NHK Enterprises. It has been licensed non-exclusively to Amazon Prime Video and other services.
“NHK has long been known to have a strong selection of human stories that depict ordinary people with positive messages,” Watanabe says, pointing to REGENERATION: From Bullets to Brotherhood and Fukushima Monologue. This also includes The Professional: Garbage as a Calling, a documentary that follows a garbageman who is so devoted to his work, not even the coronavirus deters him. “When the city needed someone to collect garbage from a hospital that had a cluster of Covid-19 cases, he eagerly volunteered,” Watanabe explains. “An NHK crew spent 150 days with him to find out what it takes. His story is so inspiring, he was interviewed by overseas media after NHK’s broadcast.”
In terms of factual acquisitions, NHK has three dedicated slots for these global stories. Some of the titles that have performed well with its audiences include RBG, from Storyville Films, Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films; Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie, from Knickerbockerglory; On Thin Ice, from Altayfilm; and Britain in Colour, from Arrow Media and Smithsonian Networks.
“Women’s stories, global environmental issues and history from new angles work quite well,” adds Aratani. “Anniversary years are also strong points to highlight,” with The Mole and The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess drawing considerable attention.
“We are quite open about genre and style,” Aratani says. “Also, we try to be as flexible as possible so that our audience can sense global trends and the timeliness of stories.” The October broadcast schedule includes BBC Studios’ Vaccine: The Inside Story, alongside In Search of Monsters.
NHK has made considerable investments in 8K programming, becoming a pioneer in this cutting-edge area. “Creating new broadcast technologies and services is an important mission for a public media organization such as NHK,” says Hakuno Takahiko, 8K channel controller at NHK. “One of NHK’s major achievements is our 8K satellite channel (the first in the world), which we launched in 2018. Notably, we devoted great efforts to deliver the highest possible level of broadcast services for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games this year. Within the constraints imposed by the one-year postponement and the absence of spectators at venues, we broadcast 210 hours during the Olympics and 90 hours during the Paralympics, enabling a lot of people to enjoy live sports in ultra-high definition.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has imposed constraints on the lives of viewers, but it has also enabled people to rediscover the greatest advantage of 8K programs: a degree of realism that gives viewers the sense that the things they’re watching are actually right there in front of them,” Takahiko continues.
In the area of entertainment, NHK has done live broadcasts of concerts by the NHK Symphony Orchestra and prerecorded broadcasts of musicals. It also aired an arts documentary series called Fresh Encounters with Our Cultural Heritage. This program originated from NHK’s cross-sector collaboration with the Tokyo National Museum. It all started in March 2020, when a national treasure Buddha from the 7th century was transported to Tokyo to be exhibited for the first time in 23 years. NHK took this opportunity to test a newly developed imaging technology called photogrammetry. The statue was scanned using lasers to acquire highly precise data on its shape, color and texture. The system converted the data into UHD 3D CG images, enabling the statue to be shown in hyper-real definition with more detail than could ever be seen with the naked eye and from any angle. Due to the pandemic, the exhibition of the statue had to be canceled. Turning adversity into opportunity, NHK thought it could use its new 3D CG technology to create a new kind of exhibition.
“Galleries in Japan and overseas can hold exhibitions simultaneously by sharing the same digital replica,” Takahiko says. “Also, researchers around the world can investigate the same treasure together. The production team’s dream is to facilitate cultural communion all around the world using 8K technology.”
NHK is already busy producing 8K content for broadcast next year. The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held in February, and in the area of nature programming, it plans to air The Mating Game, a co-production with Silverback Films in the U.K. “This is an epic series that gives an amazingly detailed, colorful depiction of the ways in which animals face their greatest challenge: finding a mate,” Takahiko says.
NHK Enterprises, Inc. (NEP) is the international distribution/production affiliate of NHK, Japan’s sole public broadcaster. It handles high-quality programs in various genres, including documentaries, children’s & education, animation, drama and non-scripted/scripted formats. As NHK has spearheaded the development of 4K and 8K technologies, NEP boasts a vast library of 4K and 8K contents.
To see the full company contact list with phone and email please Click here