Kannagi's Yamakan predicts end of anime home video sales


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 Studio Ordet, Yamakan is very dissatisfied with where things are going. In a recent interview with Business Media Makoto, the former director of Kannagi and Lucky Star expressed his opinions on the financial issues Japan's anime industry is facing and the problem with its fanbase.

Yamakan sees Black Rock Shooter as a return to the toy-funded business models of the past, where anime is given away for free and toy makers serve as your primary source of income. He believes that the anime industry will soon be unable to profit from home video sales, saying that creators will inevitably find their anime on online video services like YouTube. Instead, collaborating with other companies will become the way to make money, such as K-ON making money for online shopping mall Rakuten and Studio Ghibli opening a branch in Toyota's headquarters.

It seems as though the anime bubble is bursting right now in Yamakan's eyes. He knows that there are issues with poor pay, but budgets can't really get bigger when TV station employees are barely making anything. As they produce less shows, this also creates less work for animators, who now have to call studios to find work instead of the other way around. He says the semi-pro "web animators" are a huge pool of talent performing bits of work here and there, but they must rely on other sources of income like doujin works. Yamakan has been hearing that the industry is about to fall apart for 30 years, but wonders if maybe this crunch is a sign that it's actually happening.

At the same time, Yamakan sees animation quality at an all-time high thanks to new digital techniques and the intense pressure from sakuga otaku (fans obsessed with outstanding animation) on message boards, but is quick to point out that good animation won't necessarily equal sales because most people don't notice animation quality. He thinks smart refocusing combined with sensible expectations would ease both workloads and budgets. In addition, the industry can't continue focusing entirely on the "swing vote" of the core otaku base and needs to attempt to build wider-reaching brands, such as what ZUN has accomplished with Touhou Project.

Yamakan has been somewhat controversial in the Japanese industry thanks to his open criticism of former employer Kyoto Animation, but in this case I think he's on to something. The last several seasons of anime have become increasingly insular, creating shows targeted directly to the hardcore otaku with little attempt to reach a broader audience. It seems that in this economic downturn studios are relying entirely on this base to watch, purchase, and support their series, often at exhorbitant prices. If Yamakan is right, they may soon have to choose between making more accessible shows or becoming a merchandise-based business, because it's hard to compete against "free" with expensive DVDs targeted to a select few.

[Thanks, Ko!]

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Bob Muir
Bob MuirContributor   gamer profile

Bob has been hanging around ModernMethod for years and and somehow writes almost everywhere, including Destructoid and Flixist. He was once lit on fire, but it's not as cool as you'd think. more + disclosures


Filed under... #anime #DVD #Industy affairs #serious business #YouTube



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