Industy affairs

Are you kidding me? photo
Are you kidding me?

Editorial: The new state of industry


A $549.98 Joke
Apr 01
// Jeff Chuang
Japanese prices? It's a better alternative, than nothing at all?
Tokyo Anime Awards photo
Tokyo Anime Awards

Wolf Children wins big at the Tokyo Anime Awards


Also Sword Art Online
Mar 24
// Josh Tolentino
Chalk one up for disgustingly adorable children - the Tokyo Anime Awards have just been handed out, and it seems that Summer Wars fellow Mamoru Hosoda has done it again. Wolf Children - Ame and Yuki took a...

Japanator's 2012 US Industry Review

Dec 31 // Brad Rice
Before starting this article, my gut feeling was that the industry is expanding, albeit very slowly. There was a big contraction a few years back, and because of a truly unstable economy in the US, companies were playing it safe with what they licensed and not pushing the boundaries with experimental titles. Apart from the publishing side of things, conventions are another indicator of the health of the industry. Sales can suffer for any number of reasons, but if convention growth falters -- or even reverses trends -- that's the biggest flag that the industry is dying. After all, if warm bodies don't show up to celebrate at a convention, then they won't be spending money. Safe to say, the industry is doing okay. Let's get into the numbers, and then explain what they mean. First off is the number of anime licenses this year: 121. In 2011, it was 83, and in 2010 it was 102. So that means the industry is on the up-and-up over the last few years in terms of new titles brought to market. But. There is a key reason for this: Sentai Filmworks. Remember that back in 2009 was when the company started its transition from ADV to Sentai, which included a sale of titles and a relative downturn for the company. Since then, they have clearly seen success, as in 2012 they licensed more titles than FUNimation (this does include streaming titles, which I presume they will release). Sentai has been very aggressive in pursuing new titles to build up their library, nabbing stuff like K-On!! that fits directly into their wheelhouse. One of the things to consider, though, is that Sentai is still in legal dispuit with FUNimation over the proceedings of ADV's shuttering and rebranding. The last mention of it was in October of 2012, and things are still unresolved as of this point. I can't speak to the details of the lawsuit, but it is almost certain that it will have a major impact when it's all said and done. On the manga side, there has been one major game-changer to talk about: Kickstarter. I wrote last month about how it can change the industry, and I still stand by that belief. Publishers have seen success with the platform, and it can induce some major growth within the publishing industry. DMP is the biggest user of Kickstarter, and I don't see someone like Viz or Kodansha utilizing it, and I believe that their continued use of it will allow them to successfully release more indie and retro titles that ought to be out in the US market. As things stand right now, we still see manga publishing dominated by the same titans, but smaller publishers Vertical and Seven Seas are more regularly breaking into the New York Times' top ten lists, and a few new publishers are entering the market. The manga trend looks healthy. Another good sign that manga is looking up is the opening of JManga. While yes, it is primarily an effort by the Japanese publishers to cut down on piracy, it's also opening the doors for much more "Japanese" titles to be translated and published than you would normally see. And finally, conventions. Again, good news here: the major cons saw growth in 2012. Otakon, Anime Expo, ACEN, and A-Kon all saw growth around the 5% mark. Anime Boston saw about 15% growth, perhaps due to the city hosting Penny Arcade Expo East the same weekend. At the same time, New York Comic Con completely ditched the anime side of things, servicing publishers' announcement panels, but that was about it. The convention is more about serving the general (and much more lucrative) "geek" crowd, at the expense of the anime side. It raises the question as to whether we'll see New York host a new anime con -- likely in the Spring, so as to avoid being too close to NYCC. All in all, we've got a lot good news from 2012. The fandom is alive and kicking, and if things go well, could be on the rise in 2013. My bold prediction of 2013 is we will see an expansion in the light novel market, to satisfy some fans' calling for the source material to their favorite anime. Due to high cost, though, it will be a short-lived trend. How do you readers feel about the 2012 year, and what are your predictions for 2013?
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Looking back on 2012 is so in-vogue today. So, before you stab your eyes out from looking at all the lists and recap posts, here's one more for you to read: our look back on health of the US anime and manga industry. We are a...


How Kickstarter can change the anime and manga industry

Nov 21 // Brad Rice
Kickstarter is a service that allows a person or company to seek funding for a specific project from the general public. The company sets a goal, a timeframe in which they can raise the money, and offer different levels at which people can contribute, frequently in exchange for the product and Kickstarter-exclusive goods as thanks. The appeal, as stated earlier, is that the company guarantees the basic project is funded before they even start on the work, and they aren't owing a debt to a financier -- they have essentially pre-sold the project to completion. What this means is that a smaller company can now take a risk on a project. People like DMP, Vertical, and Fantagraphics can offer to publish an obscure but worthwhile title, provided people are actually asking for it. It allows for them to pursue a passion project without hurting their bottom line. For the truly small outfits -- who operate on one title at a time -- they can ensure their continued survival by generating all the funding they need to do their work. This means that all of the books that they sell post-Kickstarter are big profit-makers, presuming they covered all the licensing and translation costs in the initial fundraising process. Translation, after all, is what eats up most of the budget on a new published work. That's why Yen Press can print money with its OEL titles. At the same time, this means the company must be extremely active online, and have a good rapport with their fans in order to mobilize them to buy these not-yet-funded titles. As much as it pains me to write this, they must have a sound "social media strategy." They need to convince people that this product is worth shelling out $10, $20, or even $50 for. Somehow, this is a great bargain and absolutely worth your money. It's not too different from the role of fundraiser in a political campaign: you have to convince people that your product (the candidate) is worth their money and vote. This may be a new position that rises up at some companies if they put the majority of their work in the fans' hands. The last big upside of Kickstarter is that new companies can form that serve specific niches inside of an already niche industry. For the fans of light novels, or avant-garde manga, companies could conceivably crop up and serve those niches existing solely through Kickstarter funding. It could lead to a boom of manga that has been unseen since the late 90s and early 2000s, when the Japan subculture industry really gained steam in America. The biggest concern in all this, though, is exhausting demand for these products. You, as a consumer, have limited funds available to give to the anime and manga industry. You may give to a Kickstarter here and there, but largely you order titles from Right Stuf and Amazon, or pick them up at Barnes and Noble, for instant gratification. That will be hard to do if, in order to see the titles you really want, all your money is tied up in future promises for the first volume of six different series all to be released at indeterminite times in the future. It'd be a hard life to live. In the current state of things, we see a Kickstarter appear every three or four months, and successfully generate funding to release a single-volume or short-run title. There's a big, concerted push behind it. Once it's funded, everyone gets a pat on the back, and we all move on. If the demand were constant for funds, I believe that fans would burn out, because the same people are being tapped constantly for project after project. The current state of the industry is not large enough to introduce substantial amounts of fresh blood in each project. In order for that to happen, the manga industry would have to approach the size of the comics industry in the US, which we all know is impossible at this point in time. From my standpoint, the most realistic thing I forsee happening is this: Kickstarter allows for a handful of new companies to bankroll a few projects to keep themselves in business for two or three years. Maybe a title takes off and is a big hit, allowing them to expand and start operating like a traditional company. They'll continue to lean on Kickstarter, but will start seeking more stable means of licensing and producing. It can't be a permanent crutch for a company, but can provide the new ones with a large booster shot. And to all the established companies, I say this: take a shot with something. Test the waters with your customers. Get some ideas for what they want to read, maybe even be so bold as to offer some suggestions. If the response rate suggests that you can fund the title -- maybe even only 80% of the way -- take a shot on it. You'll add something new and unexpected to the pool of available works, and you'll make some people really happy. For you, the fan: if you really want to see the industry survive and grow, take a long, hard look at a title when it's offered up for a Kickstarter project. People are putting their necks out on this one, so if you think you'll enjoy the title, put your money down. I can guarantee you that $10 or $20 you're considering spending won't hurt you in the long run, and consider it a gamble. Not just on your enjoyment, but on the industry as a whole.
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Over the last year, there's been a rash of Kickstarter projects to fund manga licenses in the US and produce an original anime in Japan. It's a great thing -- companies get the financial assurance that their project, and fans...

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While at Japan Expo, one of the interesting events that happened was during the Awards Ceremony. Kaze, now a division of Viz, was accepting an award for the best shojo manga published that year: Dengeki Daisy. During his acce...

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News: Kodansha and Dai Nippon buy 93% of Vertical, Inc.


Feb 24
// Josh Tolentino
Vertical, Inc. is one of the most interesting manga publishers out there right now. They've put out a lot of manga of the kind that makes you think that the manga industry is much less dependent on the Narutos and Bleaches an...
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Oregon adult content law killed thanks in part to Berserk


Sep 23
// Bob Muir
Those pesky lawmakers were at it again, trying to save the chilluns from the nasty ol' obscenities. Anime News Network reported on Oregon Revised Statue 167.054 and Oregon Revised Statue 167.057, which were set to criminalize...
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Navarre has 6 buyers interested in FUNimation


Sep 17
// Crystal White
Most of you are probably aware that FUNimation is being sold by its parent company, Navarre. While it's still a bit of an uncertain situation, there might be some good news on the horizon. Currently, Navarre has six buye...
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Anime Corner Store's 'sustain the industry' challenge


Sep 14
// Brad Rice
I was checking out Rob's Anime Corner Blog, and noticed that they posted an interesting deal: a $25 gift certificate to fans who post a video highlighting what they've purchased from the store in the comments thread of a vide...

Yotusba & Industry

Sep 08 // Ben Huber
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FUNimation channel going HD, includes Baccano!, others


Sep 08
// Josh Tolentino
Hate low-quality web streams? Internet too slow for torrents? Too cheap or impatient for Blu-rays? Or do you just prefer regular-ole' television to your monitor? FUNimation has some good news for you!The FUNimation channel ha...
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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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