Anime Industry Editorial
My shelves are full of domestic releases. However, at one point, I didn’t buy a domestic release of an anime for over five years, until NIS started releasing anime in the USA, and I felt it was a company that truly understood the anime fan consumer.
I try before I buy. I do download Anime fansubs, something I have in common with most anime fans. I have no issue with it, and feel no guilt in doing so. Some people say I am part of the problem. I feel I am part of the solution, or a part of the “protest. I am protesting two things: Price and Respect for the original work.
Most fans of anime and manga are not wealthy. A good majority of them are college students, with an unlimited internet connection. There are also fans that are working adults, who’s priority are student loans and basic needs like food, water, shelter. That being said, I’d say that most people simply cannot afford the prices per DVD or for an elaborate box set some costing over $300. In October of 2012, I broke my boycott of the industry, and purchased the Natsume Yuujinchou seasons 1 & 2 box set from NIS America, and I have pre-ordered the Season 3 box set as well. I have come to appreciate NIS America, as the most expensive box set they have runs about $79.99.
My problem is when distributors fall into the “it’s a specialized market, so we can charge what we want” business model. For example, Aniplex USA is asking $369.98 (the SRP was $498.98 )for the Fate/Stay Zero Blu-Ray box set of the first season. That’s 13 episodes. The Season II box set is $329.98. For 11 episodes. Now I understand you get some extras, but this is REALLY ridiculous. Considering the tax bracket of most anime fans, this is simply absurd.
Back in 2003, a code of ethics for digital fansubing emerged. In one form or another, fansubs have introduced the USA to Anime, and if anything have helped distribution in the USA overall. It indicates to distributors what anime people are watching, and what anime will be the most likely to sell. Unfortunately the subject of fansubs and dub vs sub is just as volatile as ever, always will be, and everyone has an opinion, so I’m going to stop there, and hope this does not escalate into a flame war or dub vs sub debate.
I’ll go back to my original argument that US distribution companies need to show more respect for the original work. Perhaps if companies would show more respect for the original work there would not be such a “boycott” on commercially released titles. Many anime fan consumers feel that American companies that license/distribute Anime do not have respect for the original work, and are just out to make a quick buck. The message was pretty clear: better their translations, get better voice actors to more fit the part of the characters (for dubbed Anime), and stop taking so many “liberties” with translations, removing and replacing music and other material, replacing Japanese cultural references for US pop culture items, and stop marketing Anime as kids shows here in the USA. I believe that Anime is improperly or poorly marketed in the USA.
It simply feels as if American companies/distributors do not have respect for the original work or fans. I remember the whole Initial D fiasco. I also remember the days when distributors would release a show, disk by disk and you get disk one + a box and buy each disk individually. Then, a few months down the line, a company releases a “thin pack” or box set of all the disks at a way cheaper price than what you paid for each disk separately. Needless to say, this made anime fans frustrated at the industry in general.
Companies like NIS AMERICA release sub-only releases, which I feel is a breath of fresh air. While the argument still remains that translations are not perfect, and anime is re-branded with English translated titles, I won’t deny that some distributors have come to their senses, while other still remain stuck in the dark ages.
In the past several years, there have been a number of streaming sites, such as Crunchyroll, Funimation is streaming their licensed titles subtitled and dubbed. Here is little time between a show airing in Japan, and it being simulcast.
The increase in streaming offerings is, in my opinion the best way to combat illegal downloading.
The problem is, not every anime is picked up for streaming in every country. That forces fans to resort to downloading episodes of anime that domestic companies won’t license because they won’t be “profitable”, because they are not available. It’s an unfortunate reality.
There are a lot of anime that I have watched that will never see a domestic DVD release.
In conclusion, there is hope yet for the industry. What are your thoughts?