Predictions for 2010 (and 2009 Recap)

So last year I wrote a little “Predictions” section in my year-in-review post, and I just had a blast writing about it. So this time around, I’m giving this feature its own post with even crazier predictions for the anime and manga market in the year to come.

But first, let’s take a look at all the things I predicted for 2009 and what actually happened.

2009 in Review

Prediction: If [Bandai] can finally work out the licensing issues with their Japanese overlords and bring new content to the internet ASAP, then they could potentially change everything. However, if they continue to shy away from the ‘net, then I predict that BEI will be gone within a few months into 2009.

Result: 2009 was not a good year for Bandai. On January 21st, the company laid off a good part of their 19-member staff. It has been downhill from there, as they were forced to cancel dubbing on shows like Hayate the Combat Butler and delayed the release of almost all of their titles in the 2nd half of the year.

But Bandai did show some creativity this year and FINALLY started embracing the internet. They pulled off the first simultaneous dubbing of a show when Kurokami aired on Japanese, Korean, and American TV with in hours of each other and in that country’s native language. Eighteen weeks in, the simulcast began streaming on YouTube and Crunchyroll. And then they did that crazy Kannagi thing Otakon weekend.

Prediction: ADV will make big promises, but unless they find some magical new way to turn a profit on their current titles, don’t expect for them to meet any of those expectations at all.

Result: ADV did some crazy ass things this year when they sold off their assets to fake companies and changed their name to Section23. But despite this sleazy move, I have to give them credit for following through on their promises in 2009.

ADV/Sentai/Section23/Whatever the hell they’re called found a new niche doing what Media Blasters have been doing for years – licensing low-rate titles that have enough T&A to plaster on the cover, do minimum production work on it, and then sell to that very small niche looking for anime with a lot of T&A on the cover. And that has been working, so good on ‘em.

Prediction: The stars of 2009 will be the Japanese themselves following Gonzo’s lead and releasing new series globally online. […] I can easily see a dozen new Japanese series being available globally like this for the summer season of 2009.

Result: 2009 was when the simulcast exploded. We reached over a dozen during the spring season, and over 50% of every new show that aired in Japan during the fall season was simulcast on Crunchyroll. Remind you, there were only two or three simulcasts going by this point last year, so I totally nailed this one. ;-)

Prediction: I don’t see any current series making a big splash in America if or when they see an American release. All the top titles will be coming fresh out of Japan next year, and hopefully they will all be available legally.

Result: I guess Ponyo was the only big American release among the otaku community, but that might be a special exception since it’s Miyazaki and all. However, the biggest titles of the year were, without a doubt, K-on and the second season of Haruhi. K-on was not simulcast, but Kodakawa actually did put a number of those Haruhi episodes on Youtube.

Prediction: Tokyopop’s money struggles will finally start to disappear and they’ll gradually return back to normal, albeit a little more cautious about their spending. They will be returning to the convention scene with the NYCC this February, and I expect them to remain in the public spotlight all the way until the New York Anime Fest next fall.

Result: I wasn’t too far off with this. Tokyopop has been recovering in 2009, but they’ve been doing it much slower than I was expecting. They went back to holding panels at the major anime conventions and they have even began to hold online seminars with the fans.

They are not shying away anymore, but they still do not have the spotlight they used to have in the industry, and they did not run any convention booths this year. But then again, that probably falls under the “a little more cautious about their spending” part of the prediction.

Prediction: Don’t expect [Kodansha USA] to release any new title under their label until 2010.

Result: I’m gonna cheat with this one and say that it came true due to semantics. “Kodansha Comics” debuted in November by re-releasing two titles that were previously released in America by Dark Horse Comics. They made practically no changes to what had already been release, and thus, they released no “new” titles in 2009.

Prediction: Unfortunately, the only manga casualty I see for the next year was my #1 new release this year, Yen Plus magazine.

Result: I am happy to report that I got this prediction wrong. Yen Plus magazine is still around and still going strong! (^_^)

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Predictions for 2010

1) The Death of DVD

2010 will be the year that the industry drastically cuts back on DVD and moves on to digital distribution as their main method of releasing anime. And by the industry, I mean the only anime company actually left in it, FUNimation.

In 2009, FUNimation released all of their series on DVD with a dub track included. This will stop happening in 2010 as FUNi begins to only release their top-selling titles on DVD and Blu-ray with dubs. All niche and low-quality series will only be available online with subtitles only. I would be really surprised if My Bride is a Mermaid (Seto no Hanayome) makes it on to DVD.

2) Bandai Entertainment Disbands, Assets Go to FUNimation

I’m amazed that Bandai-Namco in Japan still keeps around their American anime division after the past year has been so brutal to them. Their situation is never going to get better, and BEI holds too many huge titles to go without an American release. So Bandai-Namco will disband BEI and give FUNimation the best parts of their catalog. Among these acquisitions will be Haruhi Suzumiya, and FUNi will release the complete set with new “second season” episodes included.

3) Shodojo.com Overtakes Crunchyroll

FUNi’s been taking their sweet time developing their own social network, and that hard work will pay off in the next year. They have been stabilizing their video streaming service for the past year, and they worked out all the security and bandwidth issues that emerged from it.

So when Shodojo is finally released, it will utilize that tested video service while bringing on board the massive fan following and brand loyalty the company has gained through out the years. Combine this with the trust that the Japanese studios have given FUNimation from years of DVD distribution, and you will see the Japanese give much more exclusivity to the R1 company over the small start-up that began as a piracy hub. That is how Shodojo will overtake Crunchyroll in this digital space.

4) Over 90% of the Fall Season will be Simulcast Online

Now, I can never say that every series will be available legally online by the end of the year because there will be one or two series that will go completely ignored. However, mostly every new anime series, especially the popular ones, will be. We will not see something with the hype level of K-on go without one, the Japanese studios will consider it a requirement for every new series by the fall season.

5) Manga Industry Embraces E-Reading Devices

We saw a number of manga companies release OEL and original comics on the Amazon Kindle in 2009. However, with the release of the Nook from Barnes & Noble and the rumored Apple Tablet expected to be announced in January, there is going to be a legitimate e-reader market in 2010, and manga companies will get all up on that.

Expect Viz Media to lead the charge by putting their Ikki magazine and Rin-ne digital release on these wireless e-readers. Also look for a Japanese manga publisher to cut out the American partner and sell their titles directly to the American market this way.

6) Vertical Becomes a Big Player in the Manga Industry

Just like how Yen Press came out of nowhere in 2008, Vertical will emerge as one of the most talked about publishers in 2010. Their new marketing director, Ed Chavez, is making some major changes with in that company, and that is going to pay off with a lot of buzz.

His first manga acquisitions, including the highly anticipated Chi’s Sweet Home and Peepo Choo, will hit store shelves during the summer, and that momentum will continue to grow from that point on. Keep an eye of these guys because they are about to get pretty popular.

7) Twilight and Scott Pilgrim Will Draw New Fans to Manga

Love it, hate it, or love to hate it, when Yen Press decided to adapt the Twilight franchise into a manga series drawn by a Korean artist, they practically found a way to print money. A huge amount of teenage girls will be picking up this comic, and this will be their gateway into discovering more shojo manga series with pretty boys and vampires.

Likewise, when the wacky Scott Pilgrim movie adaptation comes out next year, a lot of young geeky Americans will make their way to the manga sections of the local Borders for the first time to pick up the original graphic novel. They will discover other awesome manga series while there.

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