March 12, 2008

Anime Lovers: Here is Something to be Worried About

I have been reading around lately on the current condition of the anime market outside of Japan and things are not looking too good for both the industry and fans.

Illegal Downloading (Piracy) has shown a $200 million loss from 2006 to 2007 for the industry, forcing Geneon out of the business and leaving many titles unfinished (Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni). Companies simply cannot keep up with the costs to dub and distribute anime titles over in the USA. There may not be a waning in the amount of anime fans but there has been a wane in the purchase of DVDs.

DVD sales are the backbone of sales for distributors and the eventually the creators. Liscensed products such as figures and apparel are only helping to bandage the loss in DVD sales, and truly it is the art of purchasing a DVD that supports and helps the anime industry to flourish and produce more works. Let's face reality: you may have a great story to tell the world, however if you cannot market it and make money from the release then there is no point in sharing anime with the world.

In short, piracy is ruining the anime industry and is killing off not only potential titles but is reducing the library of available titles each year to a select few. Simply put, fewer and fewer titles are showing up on store shelves and it has me concerned that the industry will not bounce back if ADV films forfeits it's stake in the industry. In fact, if that were so then the industry can suffer a blow that it will probably not ever recover from, and the only way to get anime titles will be to pirate them.

People tell me because of this exact reason that piracy is the answer. It isn't, and it is only killing the industry more and more. If I ever watched a fansub and liked an anime title, I supported the author by going out and purchasing DVDs when they were released, despite some rising costs. I agree with the statement that a fansub is a good way to preview an anime, but going to the trouble of saving an entire series on your computer and not buying the DVDs is stealing from the industry and fellow anime fans. Anime fans get the end of the shaft because they are beginning to see titles disappear from shelves as sales decline.

I never buy pirated work (ever since I got jipped on a box set) and I always support the creators for their hard work. As painful as it is for fans, both the industry and the fans need to change in order for the industry to survive. Fans need to stop downloading illegally (downloading illegally is defined as downloading a title, keeping it and not supporting a writer), but at the same time I recognize that the industry needs to expand to many other places because there are a few thousand fans off on that remote island, too. Singapore, Indonesia, and many other countries have legions of anime fans that desire better quality out of their purchases.

But then I hear the arguement that "I don't have access to anime because I 1) cant afford it, 2) I don't have access to it that easily.

I don't want to sound like I am a hard knocker or anything, but I cannot afford anime titles either, especially with the economic recession and my unemployment at the moment. As much as it pains me in the wallet, I plan on supporting my anime creators and distributors when I have the chance. I decided back in 2005 that I wanted some stuff of my own earned with my own money, so I set out to get a job. In 2003 I started my own personal lawn care business and made $500 for the summer, (hehe tax free too!). I went above and beyond my normal laziness for the anime and manga that I loved.

A lot of other peeps also cite that since they don't have access to anime that easily (for those of you in Singapore, Indonesia, etc) that fansubs are the only alternative. I have no clear answer or arguement to that point since economic situations vary between countries and so does the situations with the anime industry. I firmly oppose Odex's decision to crack down on illegal downloaders for the sole reason that they had no right to crack down on illegal downloaders when they were putting out crap. I do however, agree that crackdowns on large downloading (torrents, etc) was in the right direction. But then this contradicts everything I just said about trying out an anime series, and herein lies the problem.

Ultimatly it is up to us, the consumers and them, the anime industry giants to make changes and cooperate. Ultimatly, the mesage I want (you) the reader to get out of this post is that you should think about your actions prior to any interest or activity in pirating, because in this niche market Piracy is killing the anime industry. It is also the job of the industry to take risks and further expand their markets while taking advantage of fandubs. Boosting quality is a good start, and heck if it is worth the money I do not mind, as an anime viewer to purchase DVDs for a couple more bucks. Paying $300-400 a box is not my idea of fun, though. The decision is largely up to us, the fans: please support the industry because once it's gone, new anime will be gone outside of Japan.

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