Malaysian Animation Is Now a Global Phenomenon. Here’s Why
Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Paris are the leading animation hubs. However, as the $259 billion industry becomes more diverse, other cities have joined the fray and become animation powerhouses in their own right. Our very own Cyberjaya, Malaysia, is one such city.
Located in the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Region, Cyberjaya is home to Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), where dozens of animation studios operate from. Giggle Garage Animations, WAU Animation, Animonsta Studios, Les’ Copaque Productions and Digital Durian are some of the notable studios based here.
These companies contribute significantly to Malaysia’s animation industry, worth RM568 million. Together, they have churned out stories that have resounded far beyond the shores of Malaysia such as Boboboi, Upin and Ipin, Ejen Ali, and many more.
What Drives Malaysia's Animation Industry Growth?
Here are some of the reasons why Malaysia’s animation industry has become a global phenomenon:
Another driver behind the country’s animation industry success is the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The government agency has supported the establishment of over 100 home-grown animation studios that have produced more than 20 IPs. These studios’ work is streamed in more than 120 countries, translating into over RM142 million in export revenues.
Thanks to MDEC’s support, Malaysian animation IP is now at a global level in terms of content originality and overall production content. The production of original IPs and quality content attests to the maturity of Malaysia’s animation industry and its ability to compete with traditional powerhouses such as Japan and the US.
Traditionally, European and North American animation studios consider Asia a service work hub. The continent’s animation industry is worth $55 billion annually, with most European and American toons getting produced there. MDEC saw this as an opportunity to invest in Malaysian animators and help grow the industry even further.
The agency funds creators through the Digital Content Grant, a program that offers grants to creators at different stages of the production process. These grants range from between $72,150 to $1,200,000. Thanks to the growing government support, more Malaysian animators can access better facilities that enable them to produce higher quality content at lower costs.
The Commercialisation of the Animation Industry
In the past, creators primarily focused on projects specific to Malaysian culture. This prevented them from reaching a wider audience. In recent years, however, the country’s animation industry has become more commercialised. When every project gets conceived, the end goal is to create IP commercialisation opportunities and create jobs for Malaysians.
Through the National Film Development Corporation, the MDEC has been working to attract foreign animators into Malaysia to improve the animation industry’s appeal outside the country. For instance, cash rewards of up to 30% get offered to animation productions outsourced to Malaysia. The exposure that local animators get from such programs enables them to produce original content, boosting the country’s image as a global animation hub.
Thinking Beyond Malaysia
Malaysian creators realised early that their characters were well known in the country and region. The domestic market was saturated, forcing them to seek partnerships with international studios and creators. The partnerships exposed their work to global audiences, which appreciated the creativity of Malaysian animators.
For most local animators, penetrating the global market was easier than the Southeast Asian market. In the Southeast Asian market, they faced challenges such as diverse languages, beliefs, and cultures. Partnering with global creators made it easier for them to surmount these challenges and position Malaysia as a leading animation hub.
Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Despite the Malaysian animation industry being relatively new compared to the Northern American, Japanese, and European markets, it weathered the Covid-19 pandemic admirably to emerge stronger. Few studios went out of business due to the pandemic and ensuing restrictions.
Thanks to Malaysia’s relatively good broadband infrastructure, it was easy for creators to work remotely and keep the industry going during the lockdown period. As such, a semblance of normalcy was maintained, and it’s no surprise that animation studios in Malaysia kept churning out original IPs. With things finally returning to normalcy, the situation will get even better.
What Does the Future Hold?
Less than two decades ago, Malaysia’s animation industry was renowned for its service work for foreign studios. Things have since changed because Malaysia currently boasts the biggest animation industry in Southeast Asia. Judging from recent developments and the industry’s impressive growth, its hit shows and films will continue to attract global attention.
Malaysia’s enterprising animation studios will continue to drive original IP creation witnessed in the recent past. With government agencies such as the MDEC continuing to champion the industry’s growth through financial support, training programs, and market access, Malaysia is poised to become a key global player in the animation industry for years to come.
The Role of Internet Providers
Internet providers are a silent force behind the growth of Malaysia’s animation industry. With various studios, particularly in Cyberjaya, needing to collaborate, a reliable internet service provider like Allo Malaysia is necessary. At Allo, we can keep your studio connected to its collaborators and audience throughout the film production process. We’re dedicated to helping Cyberjaya become a global animation hub. Contact us to connect your studio to Malaysia’s fastest internet service.