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Thread: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

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    anti-semantics Pub Quiz Champion tsurara may be famous one day tsurara may be famous one day tsurara's Avatar
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    Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    Anime's popularity and availability has reached a point of saturation in the US. We're past the point where ~everything~ of worth gets liscenced within a year and anime sold like hotcakes. Now only a few outstanding titles do extremely well while other companies risk bankruptcy.

    The anime industry's precarious state has been pretty obvious since the boom begn. There was just too much available, too fast and too expensive.

    What I don't think people realize, is how dependant the Japanese industry is on the US one and what the "Japan boom" has done to the flavor of Japanese fandom.

    During the boom, the number of series and publications available skyrocketed. New series each season more than doubled and certain kinds of animation, targetted primarily at foreign audiences began to appear (ie. "Cowboy Bebop"-esque 'serious' adult-centric action shows). Upstarts Production I.G. and GONZO (studios that specialize in "built-to-export" shows) edged out over DEEN, SUNRISE and Pierrot (the studios responsible for the most popular Japanese shows). Studios began to see an overseas liscence as a major, even primary source of income. Meanwhile, Japan fell into the grip of the "moe" boom... aiming most of it's domestic efforts on cute, candy-colored lolita shows, maids and adaptations of pornographic dating simulations. The image of the "otaku" has again begun to solidify as "the wierdo child molestors". Meanwhile, figures were made of series that have never been or are no longer terribly popular in Japan (SCRY-ed, Cowboy Bebop, Kenshin, Samurai 7...)

    Tours started to circulate Akihabara and sites started pointing out the resale shops popular for wide selections of cheap second-hand collector's goods, used doujinshi, etc. As a result, fans and foreign toy resellers have decimated the shops' selection, fans say it has turned the formerly great shops of Akihabara into "a wasteland". Greedy foreigners quickly buy goods cheaply then ship them home to sell for 200-400% mark-ups on ebay, in shops or at anime conventions.

    Foreigners also tend to scan, copy, and repost anything they get their hands on. Resulting in a great deal of the Japanese art community hating us and wanting us dead on sight. We are rude about taking photos of cosplayers and posting them without credit, we buy and scan artbooks/doujinshi/etc, we steal art from Japanese websites and post it all to image dumps without credit, we scanlate their books and distribute them without permission...

    We don't buy Japanese DVDs, even if they have English subtitles: we download them.

    Meanwhile: very few fans are actually contributing to the economy directly. They buy only used goods (benefitting none of the original creators), support companies who have changed their focus almost entirely to the Western market to begin with resulting in more shows and goods that aren't of much interest at all to the Japanese fandom, and rarely converse with Japanese fans... even if they have websites full of that fanartist's work.

    I'm guilty of quite a few of the above (I used to resell, I have scanlated doujinshi, I scan artbooks) and have to admit to LIKING quite a few of the "for export" anime series that never caught on in Japan. But at the same time: it's beginning to get a bit depressing that all that's left of the domestic animation industry boils down to a few dozen heavily-marketted shows for children and porno game offshoots. I can never find what I need in shops that used to have multiple treasures every time I walked through the door, meanwhile, prices in those shops have risen to deter resale. When I go to events or cons, Japanese fans regaurd my camera warily or hestitate to sell me doujinshi... websites now have "Japanese only" or "No non-Japanese" entry warnings.

    What do you think? Are we ruining the Japanese fandom? If so, what can we do to change what's quickly becoming a parasitic relationship?

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    Otaku Tetris Champion, Ms Pacman Champion, Trivial Blitz Champion Mechazawa is off to a good start Mechazawa's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    This is part of the growing pains of the industry. Just like the golden and silver age of comic books. Its just easier now a days to screw over the creators.

    The mark up of 200-400% is nothing new, that happens with anything that's popular or new. Wii's and PS3's selling for thousands of dollars, and it'll continue till the end of time or the end of money. That doesn't make it right, someone's going to end up getting screwed out of the deal: creator, domestic fans, shop owner, international fans.

    I've only re-sold two anime dvd's (first FMA disc got it free and the second of Chobits manga is better). I don't scan or take photos, and there is something about buying a used doujinshi that's just gross. Maybe that's just the doujinshi I would be interested in.

    In the end I don't think it will change not for a good while anyway. People go where the money is, gold rush, diamond mines, oil drilling, and so on. We would have to give up anime in the states for those companies to switch back to creating things geared toward their domestic audiences. Even then people in other countries would steal it off the net.
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    Like mecha said, (Its just easier now a days to screw over the creators.) but i dont think we are damaging anime, if anything the US market will over all help sustain the growth of anime. Sure we will see alot of crap animes, it happens in video games and movies, people trying to turn a quick buck. More people will moan and complain about those but also, more good anime will come out. Quality work, backed by the growing market. sure you hear all about people stealing it with down loads and what nots, but does anyone really report on the folks who buy it??
    I can honestly say that i Buy all my anime. my dvd wall is proof of that...heck i think i can buy a small car with what i currently own. ( i guess i like looking at them on my dvd wall...) i even went off and bought a few art books (Nausicaa and Laputa) like all news i think that people get hung up on all the negatives, that no one ever looks at the positive. look at the over all quality of anime today. cleaner cells, much better CG work, storys that well mostly make sense...overall better art. now more folks across the planet love anime, more fans is more money, even with the downloaders. so no i dont realy see a down side to it. Bring me more Mecha goodness and i will will buy it!
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    anti-semantics Pub Quiz Champion tsurara may be famous one day tsurara may be famous one day tsurara's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    The problem is, the market is no longer growing. It's reached saturation and is slowing down abroad. Prices are dropping, liscences are expiring and not being renewed, and companies are tanking. Less titles are liscenced than during the initial rush and the entire "Japan boom" is losing steam. As a result, the anime industry is shrinking even more rapidly in Japan.

    And while we still get the stuff WE like, a majority of our contribution to "getting more anime made" results in the creation of titles that hold no interest to actual Japanese people and are not marketted to them at all. In fact, a majority of series created for export have no network air-time. They're available through overpriced DVDs, satellite tv and pay satellite.

    Esentially, the US market wins while the Japanese creators "serve" the US market. The fandom situation is even worse seeing as international anime fans rarely participate in the Japanese fan community but still rape it daily for everything it has to offer in fanart, doujinshi, cosplay, goods, etc.

    Our approach toward fandom goes against everything the Japanese have learned about manners and respect. To them, the things we do are awful, childish and often hurtful. They think we're bastards. And we kind of are.

    It's DEFINATELY a parasitic relationship. And while a few Japanese companies are getting rich off the arrangement and international money has kept the anime industry profitable for about 5 years now: Japanese fans are getting screwed hard.

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    Grouchy Old Anime Otaku LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    Grumble Grumble Grumble

    Though of course the problem isn't solely to blame on US Anime fans. Part of the problem is due to Japanese demographics, and also partly due to the decisions that the Anime studios made...

    The majority of Anime series are not the 'Golden Time' (family hour prime time) series, (which I understand is looked down with disdain by the Japanese Otaku community), but are the late night/premium cable programs with DVD prices well above the main stream video prices. With the aging demographics of the Japanese populations, the released sale figures of DVDs in Japan have actually dropped the past few years, indicating a saturation of the local market.

    Coupled on top of this, back in the late 1990s large entertainment distributors (such as Sony/Aniplex, Dentsu and Shoupro) with the news of the wide acceptance of 'Cowboy Bebop' and the growing popularity of Anime in the US market, made the decision that the only entertainment growth (in the midsts of the decade long Japanese recession) was occurring in the Anime field, and decided to invest in Anime production. This did save the Anime industry from an impending collapse back in 1999, but did setup the condition for a bubble economy in the Anime industry. Several studios published projections that they expected 40% of their future income would come from sales in the US market, and started making unrealistic demands of US distributor's license fees. This in turn, resulted in the downturn of the US distributors, with smaller firms either leaving the distributor market, or going completely bellyup.

    The consolidation of the Region 1 market continues to this day. To bypass the problems in the US industry, Japanese companies in the past year have been either investing in the US distributors (ADV Films, GENEON USA, VIA/SHOUPRO), or have been setting up shop directly in the US Market (Kadokawa USA, Bandai Visual USA) But with the leveling off of DVD sales in the Region 1 market it remains to be seen if sales projections will be met. Bandai Visual USA has also been trying to introduce the Japanese pricing structure into the US market, and so far, appears to be a marketing disaster in the making.
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    anti-semantics Pub Quiz Champion tsurara may be famous one day tsurara may be famous one day tsurara's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by LenMiyata View Post
    Bandai Visual USA has also been trying to introduce the Japanese pricing structure into the US market, and so far, appears to be a marketing disaster in the making.
    Which is INSANE, and indicative of how little even Japanese hired to handle overseas business firms actually know about people from other cultures >_<;

    BANDAI already tried $32 VHS back in '98-'99... I can't, for the life of me, imagine it will do any better now (especially since we didn't have fansubs at our digital fingertips back then).

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    Otaku Tetris Champion, Ms Pacman Champion, Trivial Blitz Champion Mechazawa is off to a good start Mechazawa's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by tsurara View Post
    And while we still get the stuff WE like, a majority of our contribution to "getting more anime made" results in the creation of titles that hold no interest to actual Japanese people and are not marketed to them at all.
    That's just basic supply and demand, we keep demanding they keep supplying. Like I said before North American otaku would have to give up completely on anime for anything to change. That more than likely would do more harm than good. That's like denying a plant sun but allowing it water, hoping that it'll find some other way to survive.

    So lets say that international anime consumers all agreed and said lets take a step back for the Japanese fans for 5-8 years. If the bottom didn't completely fall out of the anime market resulting in its death, and companies started to make show geared more towards there home-grown fans. Then after that time period began distributing to other countries. The same thing would just repeat itself. Its chopping down a tree in hopes it'll grow back as something else other than another tree, the past will repeat itself.

    The only hopes for the domestic Japanese anime fan is that one: they can create enough demand that some of the companies take a chance and switch back to shows geared toward the domestic audiences. Or two: keep their love for the media alive, and hope the international market gets so bad either by prices sky rocketing or prices dropping so low that no company can make any coin. So that the screwing over gets passed onto the international fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by tsurara View Post
    In fact, a majority of series created for export have no network air-time. They're available through overpriced DVDs, satellite TV and pay satellite.
    Essentially, the US market wins while the Japanese creators "serve" the US market.
    That may be bad for the domestic Japanese Otaku, but I can see why those things are shown that way. You need to make money to keep your business alive, so if your buying up air time and you already have a good idea that what your showing isn't going to interest a large majority of your people then the company and show are going to be losing money likes its going out of style.

    In the end someone has to pay and just about every time its the fan/consumer no matter where they live.


    Quote Originally Posted by tsurara View Post
    The fandom situation is even worse seeing as international anime fans rarely participate in the Japanese fan community but still rape it daily for everything it has to offer in fanart, doujinshi, cosplay, goods, etc. Our approach toward fandom goes against everything the Japanese have learned about manners and respect. To them, the things we do are awful, childish and often hurtful. They think we're bastards. And we kind of are.

    It's DEFINITELY a parasitic relationship. And while a few Japanese companies are getting rich off the arrangement and international money has kept the anime industry profitable for about 5 years now: Japanese fans are getting screwed hard.
    I agree that the creators of artwork and cosplayers are getting the crappy end of the stick from the international community. But I'm not entirly sure how an international fan could/would participate in the Japanese fan community, it can't just be about giving credit can it? Like you said before most show geared toward the rest of the world aren't Japanese people's cup of tea. So I would find it hard to believe that our fanart, doujinshi, cosplay, goods, etc, would go over as well with other cultures or just Japanese culture as theirs do with people.

    I would like to know what it would take to be a good fan, other than not being a thief that is.
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    anti-semantics Pub Quiz Champion tsurara may be famous one day tsurara may be famous one day tsurara's Avatar
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    Re: Are We Destroying Anime in Japan?

    The trouble is, the R1 anime industry is collapsing. Last night, a friend and journalist who works in the industry told me that GENEON USA is done for. As an international branch of a Japanese company and one of the three biggest liscensors/direct producers of anime to the US: that implies some major hurting for the US industry.

    CPM is barely hanging on after the Musicland debacle (which impacted other companies as well). ADV has downsized staff twice in 3 years...

    The US market is saturated and it's starting to give way under it's own weight.

    It's entirely feasable that in 3 or 4 years, anime will again become a primarily domestic effort... but losing the international money will also affect the number and quality of animation for the Japanese market.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechazawa View Post
    I agree that the creators of artwork and cosplayers are getting the crappy end of the stick from the international community. But I'm not entirly sure how an international fan could/would participate in the Japanese fan community, it can't just be about giving credit can it? Like you said before most show geared toward the rest of the world aren't Japanese people's cup of tea. So I would find it hard to believe that our fanart, doujinshi, cosplay, goods, etc, would go over as well with other cultures or just Japanese culture as theirs do with people.

    I would like to know what it would take to be a good fan, other than not being a thief that is.
    What Japanese people don't want you to know is that English language education is compulsory from 7th-12th grade. English conversation classes are the most popular form of adult-education in the country and as much as 10% of the population attends them. They may be terrified of using it: but the average Japanese person knows more basic English than they're letting on.

    One great way to attempt to interact with the community would be not to assume that the language barrier is an excuse for taking what you want and running and instead send some nice emails, comment on a blog/bbs or two, make some Japanese penpals in the community, go to events and actually speak to Japanese fans...

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