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Toho Acquires 50% Stake in Key Frederator Network Shows

The Japanese media company makes multi-million-dollar investment in the animated series ‘Bee and PuppyCat’ and Frederator’s ‘Bravest Warriors;’ companies to co-produce new series’ content and develop global consumer products campaign.

Japanese media giant Toho’s subsidiary Toho International has made a multi-million-dollar investment and acquired a 50% stake in several Genius Brands International’s WOW! Unlimited Media subsidiary Frederator Network’s original productions: the animated series Bee and PuppyCat, and Frederator’s Bravest Warriors, as well as the upcoming Catbug, based on a popular character from Bravest Warriors.

The deal provides a framework for Frederator Network and Toho International to co-produce new content for the properties and cooperatively develop a global consumer products campaign. Genius Brands will oversee worldwide distribution and consumer product development for the properties, excluding Asia, which Toho International will handle. Additionally, a dedicated online store for Bee and PuppyCat launched in September 2022 to coincide with the series’ release on Netflix. 

“Demand for quality animated content is greater than ever, and yet we recognize the importance of delivering productions that can stand out and provide enduring value,” commented Michael Hirsh, CEO of WOW! Unlimited Media. “As illustration, I’m proud to report that the LA Times recently voted Bee and PuppyCat as one of the ‘20 shows our TV experts are most excited to watch this fall.’ In fact, the sneak peek trailer of Bee and PuppyCat achieved over 2 million views within 24 hours and has successfully launched on Netflix. At Frederator, our mission is to foster the creativity of content creators and give them a platform to get their projects seen. We are thrilled that our productions, Bravest Warriors, Bee and PuppyCat, and Catbug, are now attracting a global audience. Our partnership with Toho will allow us to further expand the reach of these two series, both in terms of distribution and upcoming consumer products.”

Hiro Matsuoka, president of Toho Co., Ltd, added, “This new deal aligns with our long-term strategy as we build a more effective system for distribution and licensing of our own IP. We have seen the tremendous global popularity of Bravest Warriors and the growth of Bee and PuppyCat, as well as the growing popularity of Catbug along with the overall Western Anime genre. With our production resources and distribution capabilities across Asia, complementing Genius Brands and Frederators’ expansive network in key markets around the world, we anticipate these two properties will continue to develop a global fan base as we introduce new content and merchandise.”

“This transaction is a huge privilege for us at Genius Brands to now partner with the pre-eminent media company in Japan and their visionary management,” shared Genius Brands chief executive officer Andy Heyward. “We believe it is a further validation of our strategic acquisition of WOW! Unlimited Media and their impressive portfolio of original content, which we can then migrate to the streamers, our own Kartoon Channel! and media platforms around the world.”

The hugely popular Bee and PuppyCat animated series started as a two-part, 10-minute short on Frederator Networks. Its success on YouTube led to a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign to develop the series and the launch of its first full season on Netflix last September.

Created by Natasha Allegri (Adventure Time) and produced by Frederator Network (Adventure Time, Castlevania), the show follows a twenty-something temp worker named Bee and her mysterious companion PuppyCat. The two embark on fantastic adventures across space while taking on various intergalactic odd jobs to help make rent.

Bravest Warriors, created by Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time) and headed by showrunner Breehn Burns, tells the story of four teenage heroes-for-hire in the year 3085 as they warp through the universe to save adorable aliens and their worlds using the power of their emotions. The series launched on YouTube in November 2012, growing a dedicated online fan base. It was the 2013 Shorty Award winner for Best Web Show and the Online Film and Video (Animation) Honoree at The Webby Awards in 2015.

The Catbug character, created by Burns and featured in the Frederator Network’s digital series Bravest Warriors, has become popular across social media platforms, achieving over 200 million views. 

Source: Genius Brands International

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.