Thursday, May 08, 2008

Anime Restructuring, Schmanime Schmestructuring: The Solution

You'll have to forgive me for how late coming this is. I just didn't want to be the 1000th post!

In the last segment, we presented the problem of a busting anime industry. Next I have presented my solutions in solving this “crisis”.

The industry knows how we are getting our series. We download more often than we buy.
For example, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu torrents of the promo episodes of the R1 release of the series were made available on the ASOS website when the anime was first being readied for release. They know fans downloaded it using those methods before the anime’s release and even placed a poll on the website to see if downloaders themselves would still BUY the series.

The problem with the download model, especially in SHnY terms, is that the series got great buzz, so much, that people watched it right away. No one could wait for the release. Anime licensors will have to take note of this trend as well. If we are unwilling to wait for a series to become licensed, we download it as soon as subs come out, or if we know the language well enough, the raw. The production companies should adopt a model of releasing four episodes, give or take, to test the waters with foreign markets, and tie in some sort of globally recognized product advertisement (ie Coca~Cola, Toshiba) between segments of the anime, so that the production companies will still make money on freely distributing episodes. Think of what Gonzo is doing (<-- read that!) for Tower of Druaga (for whatever reason), but if they decided to have a sponsor as well. Then, licensors will have to decide whether to pick up the series depending on initial interest in these first four episodes. But how will they do that?
Continuing the trend of direct-to-sub downloads, licensors will have to immediately produce subs as they come out, and host them with downloading agents like iTunes. That means no waiting for poor dubs and DVD production!

Again, that's not to say we should do away with DVDs. There is a rising market in BluRay now. The discs have excellent storage capacities! In some cases, an entire series could come out on a BluRay disc then. This will be for people who do not care about seeing a series immediately, or liked it so much, they want to buy a tangible copy.
Could you imagine!?! No boxes? No Sera fuku T-shirts with my L*S limited edition volume one box!?!
Wow, just look at that...

But even as I say that anime licensors and companies do know how we get our series, I am surprised that I don't see more anime on iTunes. There are really only a handful of shows on it, and even then, they are hard to search, because they are not tagged as "anime"!

As for myself, downloaded copies are not my preference as I like to have a physical collection. But that's not to say that if I could save much of my money on what I would have paid for DVD production and voicing labor (ie: The standard $8 for four downloaded episodes on iTunes instead of $20+ for four on a disc from my media store), I may rather invest in figurines and merchandise instead and take downloadable PDF guides in place of cover art and DVD inserts.

I find it's all lies anyway. There isn't going to be a massive restructuring if any. My local media stores won't stop buying mass quantities of series, or expensive Pocky, Ramune, and wall scrolls. If anything, there will be less anime produced as people demand less quantity and more quality, not less sold.

I do see a future in direct to iRecord boxes (why can't I ever size a decent looking picture on here) or DVR downloads, where people can still watch things on their televisions. I would be extra happy if there could be a menu screen that looks like a DVD shelf where you can select your downloaded series off the shelf and play it, and still yet impress your friends with your digital collection as opposed to your physical.
One other such method would be to have a kiosk station, wired to the internet, which lets you buy and burn your media to a disc and you can walk out of the store with the episodes of a series of your choosing. If you wanted the first ten episodes of a series, maybe the kiosk will print a professional paper casing or guidebook with your burned disc. These will certainly be a potential source for anime purchases, and not just for anime or videos either. DVD production would be instant, to your preference (Love Noein but hate episode 5? Don't buy it!), and merchandise would not have to sit on shelves if unsold, nor would it be out of inventory, ever!

It is certainly not as if anime is going away. People of course will say it is because in pointing to companies like NEWTYPE USA and Geneon and possibly ADV, infamous anime “institutions" that closed in this past year, that we can see anime coming to an end. Companies fail from time to time. Geneon was doing well, it was loved by much of the Otaku base, but we can’t say anime was surely its downfall, though you are welcome to show me otherwise. As for NEWTYPE, magazine news has gone out a long time ago. I never cared for how much content came in these magazines compared to the price even. It was information overload and even tended to be reviews of series I read about in other mags or online. And that’s the thing, the internet is the fastest and most suitable way to look at the content YOU want instead of wating for a magazine to print and hoping most content isn't something you already read. NTUSA delivered far too much content in an age if 'instant satisfaction' for it to last, especially after the rise of comparable magazine, Otaku USA, which was cheaper and still came with a preview disc like NTUSA. Competition is all that matters.
In the meantime, ADV, which looked like it was on the verge of collapse, after several titles were removed from its website from sale, has recently bounced back to full strength, or from what we can tell...

That is my take on the burst anime bubble, if you have a counter opinion or support of my argument, please leave a comment!

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