So the Anime thread was closed a while back for being really, really creepy. But I kind of want to talk about anime still. That said, I don't actively follow anime really anymore (the new season of K-On I'll probably follow, just so I can turn my brain off for a while), but I do follow the anime world, or fandom, and of course its commercial counterparts, the business of anime. So let's, you know, talk about that, and hope desperately I don't get infraction'd for doing so.
So Bang! Zoom! President Eric Sherman recently posted something up on his blog claiming that Anime in the west is going to wither and die due to piracy.
You must have noticed by now that many of the publishers that brought anime to the West have been shut down or substantially down-sized. There are only a few places left still able to bring titles to our shores. This is a critical year for anime. There’s no other way to say it. And I realized this morning that it was time for me to sound an urgent alarm.
If people don’t resist the urge to get their fix illegally, the entire industry is about to fizzle out. It won’t be a big dramatic change at this point. Last year we saw Bandai fire 90% of their staff on one Monday in January, and two years ago we saw Geneon (neé Pioneer) shut their doors and auction off their wares to the highest bidder. CPM died a slow, painful death. And ADV fell hard and fast, the way mighty giants will. But from here on, it won’t be so exciting. Japan is already suffering and struggling to bring out quality titles. They can’t rely on everything being picked up by US distributors anymore. And little by little, it just won’t be here anymore.
You can’t find much anime at Best Buy now. In fact, where can you find it for sale? Think about that. There are fewer new titles coming out, and less and less stuff will be in English, because it’s just not worth the cost of dubbing it. It’s true that entertainment distribution models are going to be changing dramatically. DVD may be on the way out forever, and online TV is becoming a reality very quickly. But so far, there are no successful ways to monetize online entertainment. Not so that creators can afford to produce and distribute quality content.
Anime is going to die.
Unless YOU change. Right now. Stop stealing. If you have committed theft, robbery, shop-lifting, or just “downloading some stuff through torrent reactor,” then just stop doing it — now. You probably wouldn’t go into a supermarket and put a package of swiss cheese under your shirt and walk out without paying. Nor would you walk into Best Buy and try to walk out with Guitar Hero, bypassing the cash register. Why? Is it because you might get caught? Or are there other issues, such as standards of morality, that dictate how you live your life.
Now on some level I think he does have a point, but it's the same point that anybody does in regards to piracy. Piracy definitely damages the industry, especially one as fragile and somewhat superfluous as the western dubbing industry/western anime distribution industry. But it's definitely not the only
reason for the screaming and the gnashing of teeth of a whole bunch of western anime distributors. Oversaturation. Overpricing. Selling any old crap that comes in fresh from Japan. The big one is probably convenience - almost no publishers (except for Kadokawa and Funimation, I believe) offer stuff like same-day translation for the western market, probably because it's simply not as profitable or profitable at all to cater to us.
Personally, I just think we're seeing a fallback. Anime in the west over-extended its reach, over-estimated its ability to bring new audiences to the table and to profit from existing ones. Now it's got to figure out a way to become profitable again without alienating half its userbase via the morality police. Unfortunately this fallback means people being fired and shows not being brought over from Japan, but them's the bricks. I do believe that in general, anime fans have an enormous sense of entitlement (this may stem from the anime industry in the west's roots being based almost solely on piracy) and that, to some extent, they are part of the problem. But hey, let's talk it out.
/edit You can watch anime LEGIT for free (i.e. ad-supported) at Hulu, Funimation, Cartoon Network, Crunchyroll, a rental service, iTunes, etc etc etc. Some of those may only apply within the US of A. Props to Incenjucar.