AT&T's Ellation opens original content division with 2 new studios

"High Guardian Spice" is the first original announced out of Ellation's new studio. (Ellation/Crunchyroll)

Ellation, which is part of AT&T’s Otter Media and houses online video brands Crunchyroll and VRV, is getting into original content and will launch production facilities in Tokyo and Burbank, California.

Both facilities are new and have about 75 people working across the two locations. An Ellation spokesperson said the teams are working on various projects and that the company should be announcing its wider slate before the end of the year.

Margaret Dean, former general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and current president of Women in Animation, has been named head of studio for the new division, which will focus on originals for Crunchyroll and VRV.

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As part of the announcement, Ellation revealed that “High Guardian Spice,” the first-ever Crunchyroll original series, will roll out in 2019.

“Crunchyroll Originals aims to elevate animation as a medium for storytelling, as most animated series in western culture is geared towards kids or comedy. Our fans grew up watching anime, and today anime inspires creators from around the world and influences so much of broader pop culture. We look to tell distinct, impactful stories best executed in the medium of animation from a global creative community who is inspired by anime.” said Kun Gao, founder and general manager of Crunchyroll, in a statement.

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“With Crunchyroll Originals, we’re looking to showcase animation as an art form, delivering meaningful original content that draws from our strengths as a truly international service dedicated to super-serving anime fans,” said Dean. “The art style of ‘High Guardian Spice’ combines anime influence with an untold story and unique perspective. Raye’s team has been inspiring to work with, and we’re can’t wait for fans to see what we have in store for them.”

The expansion of Ellation’s original content production efforts arrives shortly after AT&T acquired full control of Otter Media from joint venture partner Chernin Group.

"We are thrilled to incorporate the Otter Media brands and talent into WarnerMedia,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey in a statement. “Working with [CEO] Tony [Goncalves], we look to harness Otter’s expertise in feeding the passion of online audiences to augment our portfolio of digital assets and help us further engage, connect and entertain consumers around the globe."