Anime Restructuring, Schmanime Schmestructuring: The Problem
Nearly every anime blog or news source I go to nowadays I seem to find that the anime industry is "restructuring" that it has faced some kind of slowdown that it hasn't seen yet since the "genre" took off after the millennium. This blog from RIUVA is what pushed me to finally do this little soapbox.
I call BS!
After an initial swarm of folks looking to begin collections to impress friends in the West in the start of the anime boom (and by the way, it's not like the boom has ended the following is still exceptional, just not bonkers exceptional like the media producers want), I know that there will need to be a balance in these upcoming years, but I blame the source for fueling the fire.
More series began to be turned out at that point to a growing popularity of anime, well before the torrents, YouTubes, and Ani-Pocks of the world began uploading this stuff to their websites. If I could point to a specific place in time where the anime industry initiated this downward spiral, I would say its Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, AKA: His and Her Circumstances. That was the last sincere anime to be produced before both East and West got barraged by vampires, ninjas, and moe, themes that would translate no matter what across borders.
Probably surprised by the fact that collecting and fighting with imaginary animals would be so popular with foreign audiences (Pokemon of course) the industry took a gamble and began exporting like crazy.
Since then I can think of only a few really smart and well done anime that have been produced and shipped with the intention not of becoming the next big craze and merchandising to the extreme. Death Note is one such series, and, unfortunately, it fell victim to overmarketing and productization, and, for now at least, it is still riding that bubble in both markets. I continually praise Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, because it took a boring genre and completely turned it on its head. Though I've never cared to watch Azumanga Daioh, I could equate it to what that series has done to the high school comedy honorably, which, however, lead to more knockoffs and worse spoofs. Hopefully SZS will call in an era of smarter and less obviously funny comedies and the like, however much of a knockoff they are.
Getting back to my point, early on, these kinds of duplicate series flooded the market, most obviously what Digimon and Yugioh was to Pokemon, and were obviously intended to garner the interest of Westerners.
Here's where the restructuring will have to take place, if even, there is one necessary. While I'm fine with series like Gundam and Macross making spinoffs of their name, they managed to make "smart" new anime with unforgettable characters. Those names will be recognized outside of Japan, while new kids like Haruhi and Konata will stick up like fresh flowers in the grass, even if the grass is really nice and has an even cut. But fear series made to be like Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu and L*S. These will be the duplicates that will only find an interest in the diehards that liked these series so much they want to envelop themselves in these kinds of stories. Heck, I'm a SHnY fan and not a L*S (which is a duplicate series almost in it's own rite) fan even!
But that's not not say that there is no place for duplicates. Which leads to my next point... the solution.
Watch for part two of my editorial on the analysis of the imminent "Anime Restructuring" for my solution to this problem in the industry. While people point to beloved institutions like Geneon and NEWTYPE disappearing, find out why, once again, I say BS!.
Update: That top picture is supposed to be representative of fansubs, but I suppose I haven't mentioned them yet since I decided to make this a two-part post... XD
In the meantime, we have big news in the next post! Stay tuned to the J-Blog for a big Ani-Pock milestone!