Archive for Editorials

Thoughts on the Merging of the New York Conventions

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Yesterday, Reed Exhibitions announced that for 2010, both the New York Anime Festival and the New York Comic Con will combine for one massive convention. While some people seemed to be aware of this news for some time, it was the first I ever heard of it. And I must say, I had some very mixed feelings about it.

I’ll make no bones about it, of all the conventions I have attended in the past few years, my favorite has always been the NYAF followed closely by the NYCC. I fill up my Twitter feed with news of each con leading up to it, and I write nothing but gushing reports about them afterwards. It’s not just for hometown pride, it’s because of the wonderful folks in charge of them.

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Piracy – Anime’s New Warning Label

Friday, September 4th, 2009

When Crunchyroll began streaming this season’s Charger Girl Ju-den Chan, it created quite a stir. The original show pushed the boundaries of all decency and featured nudity, violence against women, massive crotch shots, and probably the worst taboo of them all… urination! But on top of that, Crunchyroll sparked even more fury from the fans by showing a censored version of the series on their streaming service.

But I think a lot of folks sort of missed the one part of Ju-den Chan that I found the most interesting and shocking of the whole series-

The anti-piracy warning at the start of each episode.

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Bandai and the Marketing Blitz of Kannagi

Friday, July 31st, 2009

When the Japanese company Aniplex held an industry panel at Anime Boston last May, their emphasis on the unlicensed series Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens baffled the audience and bloggers.

“Why are they spending so much time talking about Kannagi?”

“The show’s still unlicensed, right? What’s the point?”

“Do they want the fans to pressure American distributors to license it?”

“Do they really expect us to get hyped over this series at this point?”

I was reminded of another industry panel last year held by the Japanese company Kadokawa. That representative was there to introduce the American fans to new Japanese series and get them to demand it to be licensed in America. The problem with this plan is that since broadband internet had become so widely available in recent years, the fans were already well aware of these new titles and had probably already watched them.

So was Aniplex being just as ignorant as Kadokawa was with this Kannagi business?

“Well, we already had the Kannagi license back at Anime Boston,” says Bandai’s Marketing Director Robert Napton in an interview with me two weeks ago at Otakon. “That was the first time we were coordinating with Aniplex in what to say and what not to say. This has been in the planning stages for a few months.”

It wasn’t an act of ignorance on behalf of the Japanese company this time. It was the initial step in one the largest marketing ploys that the US anime industry has seen in years. And from the point of view of this blogger, I thought it was a tremendous success.

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Manga’s Role in the Digital Revolution

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Through out the past several years of my fandom, I have seen a shift in the anime market from fans getting their video on TV and DVD to the underground world of online piracy and downloading. After years of ignoring this audience shift and suffering the loss of DVD revenue because of it, the anime industry has finally embraced new technologies and began experimenting with new digital distribution systems over the internet. That is why I claim that Spring 2009 will always go down as the “Season of the Simulcast” for anime.

But anime is not the only medium experimenting this season. Within the past few weeks, the American manga industry has started claiming its own stake into the digital revolution. A new series is being released in both Japan and America at the same time,  and a new manga anthology is set to be available exclusively online.

And all of these new developments have come much to the surprise of this blogger and industry analyst, because unlike anime, I have not seen the manga industry suffer at the hands of the internet.

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Spring 2009 – The Season of the Simulcast

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

A year ago, Japanese studio Gonzo was on the verge of financial collapse and tried to dig themselves out by experimenting with a new idea for the US market. They introduced the simulcast, a free, legal, fully-subtitled copy of their Spring 2008 series Drauga and Blassreiter. They would make each episode available on video streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Youtube within hours of it being broadcast on Japanese TV.

This was done in an effort to combat the piracy of new shows being released in Japan. Anime fans – especially those in America – had become too accustomed to the quick and easy fansubbing distribution system that came thanks to the availability of broadband internet access. By the audience using a method that was uncharted and not monetized, the industry on both sides of the Pacific began seeing a huge drop in sales as fans were less inclined to purchase DVDs.

The ad-supported simulcast strategy that Gonzo was experimenting with provided a monetized alternative to illegal fansubbing. By having a team work on subtitling an anime episode prior to its Japanese TV broadcast, the company was able to have their own version available to the audience before any pirated version could be released onto the web.

True, it didn’t fully stop piracy dead in its tracks, nothing will ever stop piracy. But the amount of lost revenue that Gonzo had now regained thanks to the simulcast encouraged them to continue with the experiment. They released the Summer 2008 series Strike Witches as a simulcast, and continue to do so with every one of their series up until this season’s Shangri-La and Saki.

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