Industy affairs

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Atlus being absorbed, though its name shall remain


Aug 30
// Josh Tolentino
Now, now. It's not as bad as it sounds. Atlus, everyone's favorite Catherine developer/publisher, isn't being dismantled or shut down, but rather being merged into its parent company, Index Holdings, which purchased Atlus bac...
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Hoity-toity auteur types are bound to make grand statements every so often, and Yutaka Yamamoto (a.k.a. Yamakan) is apparently no stranger to that sort of thing. The former KyoAni luminary who was behind season one of The Mel...

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Will FUNimation be sold? Find out in two quarters


Aug 05
// Josh Tolentino
It's been rumbling about the industry for a while now, but it seems that the cat may soon exit the bag. Navarre Corporation, parent company of FUNimation, is due to make "a strategic decision" regarding the publishe...

Japanator Discusses: Dai Sato rants on the state of anime

Jul 30 // Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino: Sato seems to be decrying, among other things, what he perceives as a dearth of creativity in the anime industry. He criticizes companies placing priority into characters rather than narratives. Though he doesn't openly say it or name names, the moe trend is almost certainly one of the sources of his frustration. Moe characters and moe anime, who generally exist to imbue an "atmosphere" (hence the term "kuuki-kei"), rarely have a strong plot. Is that happening? If it hasn't started yet, will moe eventually be a detriment to anime as a whole? Has the growth of moe endangered the future of plot-driven shows?Jeff Chuang: It's happening, for sure. But I think it is a generational shift. When I hear about anime old-timers talk about their VHS days or about their LD collection, I wonder if they understand how people 10 or 20 years younger than them are watching anime. Time has moved on, and so have the things that are popular today versus 10 years ago.I think it's important to note what Sato is truly saying--he isn't decrying kuuki-kei anime, because I believe he thinks anyone should be free to enjoy it. I think Sato himself may enjoy it. I read it more along the lines of what Tomino was saying last year, about how game makers should do something positive and constructive with their works. Sato is saying more or less the same thing about anime, and how it has lost that subversive, counter-cultural aspect. Instead of pumping out generic titles day in and day out, I think he wants writers to come up with more challenging, socially-relevant shows.Josh: True, looking at some seasons it's hard not to agree that more relevant shows are needed, but one wonders if that hasn't always been the case.Dire as it may sound, I can't personally think of a huge amount of properties expressly designed "to have a message" that sold especially well. There are of course a few great exceptions in every "generation", but to be perfectly cynical about it, the term "starving artist" has always had a basis in reality. "Subversive" and "counter-culture", (i.e. strongly auteuristic) works are almost naturally in the minority.There's also the issue of perspective. The properties he shows frustration over (namely Eureka Seven and Ergo Proxy) are ones he helped work on personally. That they didn't sell as well as he had has perhaps convinced him that the things he prioritizes are not the ones people are interested in, irrespective of the state of the industry as a whole. In a word: there could be an element of *ahem* "butthurt" in his rationale.That aside, another interesting point he raised was the issue of outsourcing. There was an almost conspiracy-theory vibe about it when he seemed to assert that Japanese studios were purposefully denying their outsourcing studios the creative skills necessary to to craft great stories, out of some kind of nationalist "protectionism".Jeff: Outsourcing is something that happens all across First-World industries today. But I think what Sato is saying has some merit. It's easy to buy that the Japanese animation industry itself neglect to treat its foreign workers right because they can't even pay Japan's domestic animators much better. Not that is what Sato was saying exactly... But when was the last time we spotted a Korean name in a manga or an anime, as a part of the core creative team (for example: direct, storyboard, write, compose, design)? Does Kunihiko Ryo count? Peter Chung? I guess there were a few, but only a few, considering how much inbetween work goes to Korea. I'm with you about Sato's fustration over the lack of popularity, Josh. I think it's easy to think the way Sato and some moe-bashers do when there were something like 5-10 times more anime being produced in the late '00s as there were in the late '90s. Invariably a lot of that was trashy adaptation cash-outs. I hope that fact doesn't stop Sato (or anyone) from keeping up the good work, though.Mike LeChevallier: I'm juggling my feelings on this. Part of me believes as if Sato is just talking out of his ass; trying to stir up controversy for the hell of it. When you look at the overall scope of what he is implying, there's not a whole lot of shimmering value to what he is ranting about. Sure, there are countless shows out there that are rehashes of things that have been done before, but there are also ones that are unarguably done better than their forefathers. Sato complains that people are going for simplistic, brainless essentially devoid-of-plot shows like K-On!.  This is true. What he fails to recognize is that the show has to be doing something right for so many folks to be into it. What Sato also doesn't note is that his work has influenced many forthcoming creators of anime. So, maybe the kids didn't eat up Ergo Proxy. So what? He's not retiring because of it. He's not butt-poor. Suck it up. Sato himself resides within the top tier of storywriters--the dude has been around the block. Without Cowboy Bebop, where would we be? Honestly. Answer me that.Sato's statement that anime is a "super establishment system where nothing can be changed" or ushered into a new era is just plain inconsistent with the times. Things do shift, and rather constantly. Look at the work of Gainax, for example. Sure, they bite off themselves in nearly everything they produce...but you can't argue against the continuing originality that is present within their projects. The anime artists can do what they want. Period. The Hand of the Man need not silence them, as anime and all its counterparts, whether Sato wishes to look closely enough to acknowledge it, are popular. They are fresh. They are now, and will be until the sun freezes over.Bob Muir: I'm slightly disappointed in the way Sato formed his argument, because only referencing his own work extremely undermines his case. And yet, as I was reading it, I can't help but strongly agree with his stance on what's happening to story in anime. I believe he is finding fault not with kuuki-kei anime, since it is a producer's right to make something that will sell, but with the fans for shifting their desires over to shows like that. K-ON isn't necessarily doing something right, it's it's just existing in a marketplace that has shifted expectations towards shows like that. This is incredibly disheartening, as I originally was drawn to anime as a child due to the fact that it was telling interesting stories in ways that American cartoons wouldn't even dream of attempting (beyond a few).As a society, we have been attracted to stories since the days of cavemen. The art of storytelling evolved, but our desire to "find out what happens" has kept us interested. Putting a focus on strong characterization can be part of that, and I would never turn that down. But crafting the product based entirely on characters, with no regard for proper storytelling? It boggles the mind where that could have came from. Even American cartoons never attempted something like that. And yet, we have a wave of kuuki-kei anime which people will actually defend by saying things like "it's really about the characters, the plot's not important." (Even I made this claim once in regards to .hack//SIGN.)What! The plot is always important! Since when did our standards drop so far that we are willing to accept the mere prescence of well-developed characters in a world as a sufficient substitute for a plot? The fact that the work of Sato (and others like him) isn't more popular is incredibly concerning to me.As for the issue of whether outsourcing is an issue, I'll admit that it's strange to not see more collaboration with Korean creative-types, especially since they've brought some interesting artistic ideas to the table with manhwa. At the same time, I don't think fans are helping the situation much. I can't think of the last time I heard of someone reading a manhwa, and I've subconsciously avoided it as well. Maybe we have been trained to believe that anything similar to manga that isn't right-to-left isn't "authentic" enough? Either way, the only major collaboration I can think of in recent years is Ragnarok: The Animation, and that was a loose adaptation of the online game's atmosphere, not the original manhwa's story. Brad Rice: I understand where Sato is coming from with his argument that anime itself is becoming less Japanese. A majority of the work is being done by overseas studios, with the above-the-line talent (director, writer, seiyuu) being the main focus here in Japan. A situation like this creates a slipshod and incomplete product, because everyone isn't necessarily on the same page, and there isn't a communal environment that nurtures new talent.We've seen complaints in the JANICA debates that there isn't any new blood coming into the animation industry, and this trend is really what's caused it. It's harder for people to get in on the ground level and join in this business. If companies started bringing back jobs to the Japanese animation industry, then I think we'd see a flourish of more creative and substantial works because of all the talent working together on these projects.If you notice, we've been seeing some really stellar stuff come out of college students as of recent, haven't we? That's the same sort of creative environment that needs to exist in these studios, which I really think isn't there anymore.Hey, haven't I heard this argument before? Something about "stop outsourcing jobs overseas..."Josh: I have to wonder, what exactly does Sato mean when he claims that anime "will die out in a few decades"? Surely he can't mean that people will stop making animated works altogether? And even if Japan were deliberately withholding assistance on the creative side of the production, foreign workers will (eventually) make use of their own homegrown talent, augmented by the skills they gain doing all that grunt stuff. Just look back a few decades to when Japan itself was the subject of scrutiny as an outsourcing haven for backend work that Americans and Europeans needed done.To echo some of what Jeff said at the beginning, it seems like a generational shift of sorts. And if that's true, and anime is becoming less "Japanese" as the true, "globalized" roots of its production become more apparent and China and Korea rise to prominence, what does that mean for the foreign consumer? Will Japanator eventually need to grow "Koreator" and "Chinator" spinoffs? Brad: To respond to your first point, Josh, I think Sato highlights the increasingly diminishing core that buys anime. It's at about 550,000 people, if I recall correctly, that will buy a title with force. So, if shows don't pander to that demographic, then they'll be a commercial flop. So, if that base continues to shrink (which it only naturally would), then anime as it is currently going could easily die out. Really, there just needs to be a shock to the system that produces works that draw in all these other people who don't watch the moe stuff, or who didn't normally watch anime at all. Honestly, I don't see why they couldn't increase their core base by 10x if they tried. [And that's just what we think! Tell us what you have to say in the comments! Is the doom-and-gloom warranted? -Josh]
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Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Japanator Discusses, a roundtable-style feature that we resort to when a topic - and the thoughts and commentary inspired by it - is too big for any one editor to monopolize.Toda...

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Jon Schiller Design caught tracing multiple anime, games


Jul 30
// Bob Muir
It's shades of Nick Simmons with a new comic/toy property called SINS!, a darker spin-off of Jon Schiller Design's Little 9 property. Artist Jon Schiller, or someone working under him, has released a series of promotional ima...
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Kannagi's Yamakan predicts end of anime home video sales


Jul 30
// Bob Muir
Apparently director Yutaka Yamamoto, a.k.a. Yamakan, is not too happy with the current state of the anime industry. Despite just releasing the highly anticipated OVA Black Rock Shooter through his own production company Studi...
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It seems that the ridiculous debate about the rights of fictional characters continues, disregarding common sense. Now, a Swedish manga translator (unnamed) has been fined by the district court of Uppsala Sweden for possessin...

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Ryu Murakami bypasses publisher dominance by going iPad


Jul 21
// Josh Tolentino
Despite really being several iPod Touches nailed together, it seems the iPad is here to stay.It's an intriguing device though, especially in its potential as a replacement for paper-bound books and manga. Nothing's going to t...
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West coast publisher TokyoPop, has paired with Zinio in order to offer manga available for download on Macs or PCs, as well as the iPad (I wonder if the iPod Touch is compatible as well). Singular download...

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MangaFox pulls their entire Viz library, 'talking' to Viz


Jun 21
// Brad Rice
I wonder how this is going to go: the folks over at MangaFox are currently trying to talk with the people at Viz in regards to all the scans they're hosting of Viz's licensed properties. In addition to all 230 titles Viz aske...
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Crunchyroll gets another $750k shot in the arm!


Jun 16
// Brad Rice
It looks like Crunchyroll really is attracting all the investors. Less than three months after TV Tokyo invested in the group, Japanese e-publisher Bitway announced that they're also dropping $750,000 into Crunchyroll's coffe...

Yotsuba & Scanlations

Jun 09 // Ben Huber
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Talking to the publishers about the anti-piracy coalition

Jun 09 // Brad Rice
"To protect the intellectual property rights of our creators and the overall health of our industry, we are left with no other alternative but to take aggressive action."More or less, this was a declaration of war against online hosting sites such as OneManga and MangaFox. Collecting scanlations from all across the Internet, these sites host the items with advertising displayed or some even charge premium memberships to people in order to get material, making a profit off these already gray-area goods.Smaller scanlation groups that can just disband and reform, or impossible to target areas like IRC aren't really the main focus of this group. They're trying to be a bit more realistic. The coalition itself will be made up of representatives from all the leading publishers on both sides of the Pacific. I got a chance to talk with Ed Chavez, the Marketing Director for Vertical, Inc., about the whole issue. Ed brought up that scanlation is no longer about translating the obscure titles or the ones that would take years to come out here in the US: Pirates go to such lengths as to scan our translations and covers because the source material (Japanese editions) are hard to find....Scanlation behavior, which used to be communal and self-regulating, has now becoming completely corrupt. From a legal perspective, this new trend is cannot be easily defended giving us an interesting position if we as a group pursue legal action.Vertical hasn't been the only company to have their English versions scanned and uploaded -- Yen Press was one of the victims as well. If you listened to Kurt Hassler's, head of Yen Press, appearance on the ANNCast, he talked about the issue and how it was affecting them greatly. His talk there fits with word that I heard Yen was originally planning on going at this alone, with the help of their Japanese partner Square Enix, before stumbling across other publishers who were planning the same. Soon after, a coalition was formed.We've seen rumblings from both sides of the Pacific on this issue, so it's hard to pinpoint where the whole plan started, but there seems to be a serious passion on the US side to getting this done, so I'm leaning a bit more that way. Presentations have been made to committees on the Japanese Diet, and according to Chavez, the group is in the final stages of obtaining legal representation for the group as a whole.So, more on Yen Press specifically. I got a chance to talk to Hassler about the whole issue, and got an interesting response from him in regards to what the group plans to do after the cease-and-desist letters are sent out. Quoth Hassler: Really, that’s going to be dictated by the sites themselves. In recent weeks, the industry has seen the consequences to the proprietor of a site not unlike the ones we are targeting.  Intellectual property theft is a crime, and there are significant civil and criminal penalties involved — particularly for sites operating on this scale. We hope the operators have the good sense to shut down on their own before there’s no going back. As to the coalition’s plans, I think the press release pretty much laid it out: injunctions, statutory damages, and reports to authorities at both local and federal levels. The potential fallout is dire.  My personal take on it?  You know that Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler? Take a lesson from the lyrics.  It’s time to run... One of the comments I've seen popping up again and again is that this sounds a bit like the RIAA. The difference here, though, is that they're not looking to target individual readers -- that would be suicide. Instead, they're looking to cut down some of the worst offenders and replace those online offerings with their own. Yen Plus is moving to an online format, Viz's SigIKKI offerings and I believe even Vertical is planning to get some online distribution here and there. For sites that exist outside the US? Both the US and Japanese publishers will be tapping into their networks of contacts, says Viz rep Jane Lui. That might not sound like much, but remember: we're not talking about just Viz or Vertical or Del Rey. This brings in Shogakukan, Square Enix, Random House, Hachette and many others -- companies with massive international reach that can easily work with their foreign distributors to seek legal aciton.Because, really, things need to change.Publishers won't take risks with new titles if they know they can't sell them. There is certainly a demand there when you look at the downloads for scanlations, but that isn't translating into dollars. This might not affect the core titles like Bleach, Naruto or Black Butler, but it will affect more experimental titles for publishers -- the Kingyo Used Books, Twin Spica and Sundomes of tomorrow might never make it over to our shores.  
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Yesterday, the announcement of the long-overdue anti-piracy coalition within the manga industry got a lot of people riled up, both here at Japanator and across the 'net. Of course, the press release wasn't the most specifi...

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If it wasn't on this whole time, you can be sure that it's on now, oh yes you can.What's on, you ask? The war against scanlation, that's what. Pretty much every major manga publisher on both sides of the Pacific have joined f...

Rumor: GAINAX and Evangelion remakes splitting up?

Jun 03 // Ben Huber
 The issue as a whole surface on February 9th, when Suzuki Shunji (animation director for Eva, Nadia, and Eva 2.0, chief animation director for Eva 1.0, and animator for a bunch of other Gainax shows) made several tweets about a potential problem that was brewing at GAINAX. He claims that this issue really got started when the decision to turn Gunbuster into a pachinko machine was made without consulting Hideki Anno. This upset him quite a bit, as his name was used on the machines and in the commercials for said machines. This, he writes, "may" be the last straw for Anno, who Suzuki said could be cutting off all ties with GAINAX. Suzuki also wrote that at GAINAX's current level of production and current staff, they would be unable to stay afloat and would fail within 2-3 years without new Evangelion movie licensing rights (this seems more than a tad exaggerated to me, but I don't know the inner financial workings of GAINAX). He also says that it's almost certain that Yasuhiro Kamimura, a behind-the-scenes guy at GAINAX since the Daicon days, and his wife have quit the company.   A Japanese blogger did some extensive digging, and found that Yasuhiro Kamimura's wife, Noriko Kamimura (who with her husband were point-of-contact people for licensing Evangelion within GAINAX) has stopped posting on GAINAX's mail order merchandising blog since February 5th. Not only that, the Evangelion Store contact page no longer lists Noriko's name and has been changed to Fukunaga Yuki.Additionally, the page for the Evangelion 2.0 Complete Records and Works, which is coming out this summer, is listed as being produced by Khara and sold by Ground Works. Said blogger writes that Yasuhiro Kamimura appeared to be managing the copyrights for Evangelion to GAINAX, and his wife was similarly involved in the Evangelion Store. He follows this up with another link to an article about a copyright situation between GAINAX and Khara. In it is an interview with Noriko Kamimura, which states that the rights for the new Evangelion movies belong to Khara. However, due to the confusion that might occur in merchandising both the movies and the original TV series, Noriko was acting as a go-between the two companies to simplify negotiations and keep records straight. Thus, with Noriko and her husband leaving GAINAX, the rights for the recent Evangelion movies might have gone with them. Now, remember that Ground Works company from earlier? On the Eva T store's legal information page, the "Sales Company" is listed as Ground Works and the person of contact is Noriko Kamimura. In addition, the Eva Racing page also credits Ground Works for consenting to the project. Where else is Ground Works popping up? Their name has also shown up beside Khara's on the Radio Eva information page.Given all this information, we're lead to believe that Ground Works is a new company set up to manage the recent Eva film's copyrights, primarily run my Yasuhiro and Noriko Kamimura. Lastly, in a recent guide for new pachinko machines, GAINAX's name is conspicuously absent from the Evangelion machines. Only Khara's is listed. --- Summary: two prominent members of GAINAX who manage the Evangelion movie copyrights have left and formed a new company called Ground Works to manage those rights. GAINAX's name has been left off of a huge portion of new Eva materials and merchandise, replaced by Ground Works. Thus, GAINAX and the recent Evangelion films may be splitting up. It's not like Hideki Anno's anger helped, either. --- So, while this is still all rumor, we've got a lot of evidence that's beginning to add up to some very depressing news. I'm sure we'll see some more news show up soon, and we'll be sure to keep you posted on any developments that occur. GAINAX could still stay involved with the Eva films if Ground Works will license to them, but the question is if they will or not.So, what do you guys think? Can GAINAX survive without the Eva remakes? Or is Suzuki Shunji's ridiculous statement that GAINAX will fail without the Eva movies in 2 to 3 years true? While the rights for the original TV series will still reside with GAINAX, how big a deal is their absence from the remakes if this is all true?
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The impact that GAINAX, Evangelion, and its creator, Hideki Anno have had on the anime industry is huge. From the popular anime series to the recent movie remakes (or sequels, depending on who you ask), there have been few pr...

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Rest in Peace, Peter Keefe: Voltron producer passes away


May 29
// Josh Tolentino
Remember Voltron? Classic giant robot, the one with lines, later with cars? I do. Growing up in the Philippines I was a little too young to get on the Voltes V bandwagon, but was right on time to catch Voltron and lion-combin...
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Shocker: Evangelion 2.22 DVD/BD sells like gangbusters


May 26
// Josh Tolentino
Was it really any surprise that yet another Evangelion-related would sell like gangbusters, not least the biggest Evangelion-related thing since, well, Evangelion? Of course not.But this is, of course, a thing that ...
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It might seem like the end of the world, now that yet another manga publisher is closing its doors. This time, DC Comics has announced that they're shuttering their manga branch CMX as of July 1st. The publisher, best known f...

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Top story of the day: PW got the word that Viz is laying off a massive 60 employees -- about 40% of its total workforce, including shuttering its New York office. From some of the talk that I've heard going around, this is hi...

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Angel Beats makes mad ratings, we deign to pick it up


May 11
// Josh Tolentino
I initially dismissed Angel Beats! on the appearance of its protagonist, and I'm reasonably sure that I wasn't alone at the time. Now, new ratings reports from broadcaster MBS have inspired me to give the show a chance.It see...
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Press release fight! FUNimation fires back at Crunchyroll


May 09
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, remember late April, when FUNimation announced in a press release that they served over 8 million streaming views in March? Yes you do, and great for FUNi!Hey, remember Monday, when Crunchyroll pulled a sick burn on FUNi...
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Gainax's new anime is about panties and stockings


May 05
// Josh Tolentino
If there's anything you can rely on Gainax for, it's that you can expect some weird-ass projects coming out of that studio. From brain-melters like Evangelion to romance series like KareKano to robo-maid comedies like Mahorom...
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Anime Die When They Are Killed


May 03
// Jeff Chuang
Here at Japanator, we're full of opinions. When it comes to controversies you can be sure that Brad does not monopolize the discourse. (Well, almost. And unless you mean by his deep, sexy, podcast-breaking voice). The thing i...

Bang Zoom says anime is going to die -- is it true?

Apr 29 // Brad Rice
When people talk about illegal downloading, as Sherman did here, I don't necessarily think he's talking about fansubs of unlicensed, unstreamed material. If you poke around online, there are an innumerable number of torrents and downloads available for properties that are already available here in the US. Everything from the first season of Higurashi with dual audio to the latest episode of Naruto Shippuden.The problem here is that these things are easily available, and people just go ahead and download them. This is terribly problematic because, unlike the music scene, we're a very small niche community, and the great majority of the fanbase is hip to how the whole fansub business works. Plus, there is only a single product here that's at stake. With music, you have a number of ways of generating revenue: radio play, CD sales, concerts, promotional goods, etc. With anime, especially anime here in the US, you have a single stream of income: DVD sales. Secondary goods, like figures, messenger bags, shirts, etc. are largely non-existent here, and manga and light novel sales go to different companies. So there's a very limited way to capitalize on the fanbase.Think streaming media or any sort of digital distribution will come to save anime? Fat chance -- it's not even a savior in Hollywood. Recently in Variety, one analyst was quoted as saying " digital isn't a big line item at this point for studios. If it doubled every year it still wouldn't be a big number in five years." The reason why all the companies have digital distribution is to try and reach out to those who refuse to buy discs, in order to placate you somehow. But it's not like that is actually going to go far to keep things going. This is why I, and every company here, stress the importance of buying DVDs. If you enjoy something, this is really the only way to show your support. When the product is first released, it may not be the perfect version, but using any of those arguments such as "I want it in HD," or "I won't buy it because it does/doesn't have a dub" are simply straw man arguments. If you don't buy it, then it won't ever come out in HD, or it won't come out as you want it because it didn't make enough money to justify it.With Nippon Ichi's upcoming release of Toradora!, that show had better sell through the roof, otherwise it'll just prove my point that things are broken. It has a huge following. Nippon Ichi is doing right by the fans with a worthwhile package. They're hedging their bets by forgoing a dub. There is no reason why you shouldn't buy this day one if you've already seen it. Because if you don't, that would simply end Nippon Ichi's venture into anime. Naturally, the sales of their first two titles are going to bankroll any future ventures into anime, and if Toradora! doesn't sell, since it's clearly the leader over Persona Trinity Soul, then we'll be out of luck for Nippon Ichi making its way in -- and probably most other US companies, because they saw what should have been a successful business model fail. "So what? Screw those money-grubbing American import companies. I'll still enjoy myself at cons." Take a look at most major cons. Otakon, Anime Expo, etc. If you look at their sponsors, you'll often see a handful of publishers, along with ANN, up in the top tier of sponsorship. They put out a lot of money to prop up these events. They spend even more to set up key booths at the dealer's room. If all that support got pulled out? We'd see a pretty big change in what the convention scene would look like.My point is this: unlike many other areas of entertainment, anime only has a single entry point. Anything that you do besides buying the DVDs of shows that you watched isn't supporting the product, the fandom, or the industry both here and abroad. As the animation industry itself shrinks, foreign revenue becomes increasingly important to the companies over in Japan. If the market collapses here, it's going to be a forerunner to what will happen in Japan. The canary in the coal mines, so to say.The US anime companies have offered up olive branches, simulcasting shows, putting shows in their entirety on YouTube and Hulu and offering digital downloads. They've done all that's feasible, going a step further than even what the TV industry is offering. They're already at their limit. Now it's up to you to do your part.Japan, meanwhile, needs a complete re-working of their system in order to make the anime industry healthy again. That is an issue for another post, though. ===== The cost corollaryMany of you have complained about the cost of anime here in the US as a reason why you don't buy anime. First off, let me quote Chris Beveridge, who frequently reminds us, "Anime is a privilege, not a right." Downloading anime because you cannot afford it means that you are unable to live within your means. Anime is not required for you to continue living a life day-to-day, so you are simply saying that you refuse to budget your money properly, work harder in order to get what you want, and instead resort to stealing in order to entertain yourself. There are no two ways about it.Realize that the costs of anime have come down dramatically over time. Just within the lifespan of DVDs, they used to be $30 for 3-4 episodes on a disc. Now you pay $40 MSRP in order to acquire three times as much on a half-season box. Anime distributors have cut packaging costs and their own margins in order to keep fans happy and try and keep their products on store shelves. Beyond that, if you actually look at pricing for DVDs at most retailers, they're further discounted. $23.99 for 13 episodes of Gintama, the week of release. 52 episodes of School Rumble, plus the OVA, for $45. Nana box sets for $35. FUNimation's entire SAVE line.These shows are easily affordable. They've fallen very closely in line with American television programs, which has often been the comparison for DVD pricing. Look back to my point about how anime has a single point of entry for cashflow here in the US. With American television, the shows are made profitable by the commercials aired during original broadcast, the syndication rights, and other deals. DVD sales, while a large part of the profit for a program, are solely icing on the cake. The few number of shows that do make it onto TV? FUNimation or Bandai usually pay Adult Swim or Sci-Fi channel in order to broadcast them. It's simply a promotional tool.The argument that discs are too expensive have been around since, well, the existence of DVDs. Prices have continually dropped, but the argument seems to persist, almost illogically. More episodes have been added to fewer discs. The prices have been brought within spitting distance of American TV shows. There is no reason to download these programs.
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[Update: I've added a corollary talking about DVD pricing here in the US. It's an important addition to this debate. --Brad] Many of you may have heard already, but just in case you haven't: Bang Zoom's CEO, Eric Sherman, is ...

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Scandal! It seems that just today 49-year-old Takeshi Matsubara was arrested for allegedly doing insider trading back in 2006-2007 on stocks of Gonzo. According to the report, Matsubara was arrested for, "having traded s...

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Rest in Peace, Carl Macek: Robotech producer passes away


Apr 20
// Josh Tolentino
Last weekend saw a solemn day for anime fans everywhere, as Carl Macek (pictured left), perhaps one of the greatest pioneers of anime in the English-speaking world, passed away on April 17th. He was 58 years old.Macek was inv...
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Media Blasters going with box sets for future releases


Apr 17
// Josh Tolentino
Business is tough in the anime industry. What with the lean economy and the whole thing with the anime bubble bursting, publishers everywhere that don't have their claws in some kind of sure-win property are scrambling to ada...

Aniplex to start publishing in the US with Gurren movies

Apr 16 // Brad Rice
Aniplex is offering a limited edition of each film, along with a regular edition DVD. The limited edition will contain a bonus disc with Parallel Works videos, the Japanese movie book and postcards that were in the Japanese DVD release, all for a price of $49.98, while the regular edition will cost $49.98 (list price), while the regular edition will cost $29.98.A bit high, no? Well, they're promoting these as speed-sub versions, like when Bandai Entertainment put out the sub-only editions of Gurren Lagann rather quickly. Plus, if you pre-order the titles, they'll knock $10 off the price of the limited edition, and about $7 off the regular.Their pricing scheme seems a bit high, in my mind, and somewhat endemic of a Japanese publisher. Especially when they're considering adding in dubs later, followed up by a Blu-ray release. I can hardly imagine a version featuring dubs, or a Blu-ray edition to be much cheaper than the price points they're offering.So, what is it that they should do? The speed subbed versions of Gurren Lagann were $30 for two discs, which was meant to appeal to those fans who really wanted it bad, and the dubbed versions went up in price about $10 or so.I think Aniplex is setting the bar a bit too high for themselves on the prices to start off with, especially considering the fact that they aren't handling any licensing fees, and are teaming up with Bandai for production and selling, so a lot of their initial overhead is taken care of.Maybe they have to report bigger numbers to Aniplex back in Japan in order to make this US venture successful? Who knows. I just wish I could be at C2E2 to get a few minutes with someone at Aniplex to discuss all this.
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Well, how's this for something to wake up to? Aniplex America, who we've seen working with Bandai Entertainment for a number of years, has finally decided to get into the distribution market. For their first trick, they're go...

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