I have obtained the chest though I fear to open it. (I am not referring to the 360) What
otherwise useless junk Haruhi-sama blessed relics lie within I do not know. All I know is that I must earn more money…
So I being the ardent follower of Haruhi-sama that I am, I gave what I could for the tithe and received a collector’s edition of SHnY. While I have no complaints about this purchase it did get me thinking to how much money I have really contributed over to anime over the years. Without going into numbers I actually spend less on anime products overall than Nintendo DS games, Wii games, Xbox 360 games, miniatures, and college tuition. Though on the whole I have more manga volumes than video games across all platforms combined, but the ratio of anime DVDs vs. videogames is widening.
While there is the issue of P2P piracy, I feel that the point is moot since the current economic model is essentially killing the industry albeit slowly. Besides good luck with regulating the internet and getting that big brother database that no sane democracy would ever accept. Perhaps it is merely nostalgia that anime seems better for me in ages long since past, but on the other had perhaps anime has lagged behind other forms of entertainment. Hell the campy series of Tom Clancy video games are far superior to any harem script and dare I say it over 90% of Gainax scripts.
When I pay for an anime DVD I pay on the average roughly 22-25 USD for 3 episodes at least and 5 at best at a brick and mortar store. Compare this to say the Chinatown bootleg, roughly 25 USD for 12 (an interesting note is that if I buy more eps the cost actually goes down too), which is surprisingly of comparable quality, passable Engrish subtitles, and without the extraneously painful and useless dubbing. Singaporeans pay for VCDs, Europeans (as in the rest of the world) get next to nothing, and the Japanese gleefully pay through the roof for 1-2 eps. So, are we subsidizing the stupidity of the anime industry? Are the Japanese to blame for enticing studios to adopt highway robbery by their support of DVDs with 1-2 eps each, or is their love of packaging just that great?
Are we all flying into mousetraps just for inferior goods?
In all honesty the cost of production is in all likelihood the same as both are probably most if not completely manufactured in a third world country anyway. The cost difference is principally in this license fee, and paying for the middleman, and cost of shipping etc. Then there is the issue of piracy being tied to organized crime and terrorism. (Though I think that as copyright violations go its preferable to say forced prostitution. Also the guy selling the bootleg is at times a middle school kid looking to make a buck, not very mafioso or Hamas like to me.) Here I feel screwed every time I pay full price to support the industry. I am paying for inferior products with dubbing that no sane person can enjoy. It makes little logical sense to go on supporting if money is tight and something better catches my eye like a bargain bin of old Gamecube and GBA games.
While supporting KyoAni in making SHnY II is all good, I feel much less so supporting this worthless tyrannical dubbing empire. The more anime I buy the more I am supporting an archaic business model that has to die soon as far as I am concerned.
In any other industry the manufacturer of an inferior good would in due course die, but not so with anime where the consumer is party to supporting a system that produces an egregious waste of DVD memory capacity. Thankfully I have not heard much hoopla about HD-Anime, which is rather stupid in my opinion as in animation of 2-D characters; art style will be the critical factor rather than 480i vs. 1080p. Its not like we are getting 4-D anime by simply switching media. A far better use would be to consolidate whole series into one disc, but that is just me. At any rate while digital distribution is logistically easier and far less costly the adoption of it is slow compared to another wonder kid of the 1970s-1980s, video games.
The success of i-Tunes, XBLA, Steam, and Wii Virtual Console should be a sign of things to come, and for anime downloading is the logical way to go given the ease of obtaining cheap memory, broadband, and laptops. The fact that another domain of dorkiness has done so much better is because they are being innovative and using technology where ever possible. If Nintendo, the champion of withered technology, is promoting digital distribution with Wii points; I wonder what is stopping anime from doing the same? I think this rather idiot insistence on getting every ill-gotten penny is the heart of the problem.
We know this…do we?
The anime industry is decidedly small compared to other industries, and as a result they are being left behind technologically. When the Singaporeans had that issue with ODEX I could not help but feel that ODEX deserved to go under. While the market there is indeed small, launching an intimidation campaign is about a dumb as invading Russia in the summer. Moreover if they sell these crap VCDs they fully deserve to go bankrupt for making a useless product.
There is a limit to how much I am willing to buy the “supporting the studio” line. While the shows were great, I doubt many of us throw money away for useless licensed paraphernalia in any great amount; at least until moysim spills the beans on how to perpetually avoid being broke. I think that as buying DVDs go, it is a losing proposition as within a few decades computers will be practically everywhere (as in actually in most households including what is today the Third World) and given the increasing use of the internet in many occupations, hard media is not the future.
While I have yet to join the darkside to any great degree like Impz, buying figures is one way to solve this issue of revenue stream that is not a total rip off. I hope one day, once Japan loses its xenophobia, I can watch anime on the first air date anywhere in the world. Heck the Daily Show has gone international and freaking Nickelodeon has a global empire. This begs the question of why Japanese networks are in comparison so pitifully small, but that is another topic altogether.
Kommondant Impz: Nyoro hijacks!!!! You forced me, Crusader, with the use of nyoro~ power!
Underling Crusader: Actually this would make a great DS game cover. A Tsuruya-san beat’em up because there is nothing more demeaning to thugs that getting being beat by a girl, let a lone a nekomimi green haired demi-goddess of DOOM. No H-games though. Nintendo is family friendly, if you want porn get a PSP or PS3 and
PAY PLAY B3YOND.
Still the use of DVDs as a significant revenue stream is in all probability in its twilight. I will buy all the remaining SHnY DVDs for a full set, but not the nth special edition every year if that turns out to be their mad scheme. However I would much rather have another more useful licensed product say a Haruhi-sama blessed Tetris Attack (aka Planet Puzzle League) videogame with the accompanying ~nyoros to go with the garbage blocks. Having a series is nice but I am not so rabid that I watch it over and over again every day. For me DVDs just sort of sit there and take up space as stuffing them into a seabag is tough if I don’t want to break the disks. I would much prefer having everything in a more compact package, like a legitimate way of having it all on a 500 GB hard drive. That way it is easier to organize and takes up less space, and its easier to travel with.
As much as I like anime, if studios are hell bent on selling me hard media for decades to come then I am more than willing to let the art form die. If anime cannot adopt a better business model then it will become defunct. Its not the only source of entertainment out there, and hell manga will be there to fill the void. So this “support our work line” can only be taken so far.
Financial success is not just selling the least episodes for the greatest amount of money, its creating a fanboy/fangirl base that endures. Just look at Nintendo, Star Trek, and Star Wars. Okay, so the Star Trek games generally suck but Star Wars games generally get it right and are worth every penny , except Star Wars Galaxies.
So the question is whether or not the average otaku should buy licensed DVDs and support studios while feeding the licensing/dubbing empire from hell or be a pirate and buy other licensed goods? What licensed goods should be promoted as the new significant revenue stream? Would the average otaku abide by a cheaper digital distribution model that was DRMed, but industry standardized (like Valve’s Steam but bigger)? Would the average otaku be willing to watch a subbed episodes with commercials for free? How about a premium service like HBO with On Demand, getting to see the show you want to see right now with a click of a button?