Yeah, yeah, everyone else and their grandmother, dog and father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate did their smart and insightful post on the industry when Geneon died. But, hey, I feel like writing one now since Anime World Order was just all over these kind of issues a few weeks ago. Talking of AWO, a lot of what I say here may sound similar to what they were on about some weeks ago. A lot of what I say will also sound similar to what you’ve already read on Dave Merrill’s LJ and Subatomic Brainfreeze. Know why? That’s because I have no fucking idea what I’m talking about, so I’m using those guys’ words and others as a basis for my argument. So, basically, chances are you read all this shit before. But whatever, I’m still doing this.
It’s no secret that the US anime industry is a situation similar to that of a snowball hanging out in hell. Geneon recently sank like the Yamato at the end of the Final Yamato, and ADV is currently bleeding from every bodily orifice. So, what can be done? Well, it certainly won’t be an easy thing to recover from, but I’ve come up with a handy three-step-solution that is sure to to work 100%!!! (no.)
Step One: FIGHT THE POWER
What both Japan and the US have got to learn is that, unfortunately, we no longer live in the 1980s. No, not unfortunate because City Hunter is no longer on TV, unfortunate because anime today just lacks the wide-spread appeal that it had back then. You’re no longer selling Yamato, Macross or Go Lion anymore. This isn’t an age when you can sell a show for a high price and expect it to be bought at a high price. Those times are over. See, according to this interview with Shinji Aramaki that I read in OTAKU USA issue I forget, shows used to get produced just because the mecha designs would make for good toys. Even if your show was a massive failure, people would still probably buy the action figure. By virtue of that fact, these shows had to have wide-spread appeal to facilitate them being seen by a wide variety of people so the toys could be bought. Yes, shows now-a-days are still made with the yens in mind, but they appeal to a core group that, for the most part, only exists in Japan. That stuff doesn’t sell here. Japan’s gotta learn that, and America has to stop taking their shit.
I’d hate to think of what kind of ungodly sum ADV paid for that crap-fest that was Magikano. Probably more than they could make back, especially when considering they’re selling that dreck for 30 bucks a pop. No, this has got to end. Japan has to learn the worth of what they’re putting out these days. Most anime that comes out of Japan today has about zero market potential here in the US. US companies need beat that into the Japan’s head as hard as possible. Basically, they have to keep knocking their heads against each other until the one with the thickest skull prevails. Licenses just needs to be sold for cheaper. Once that’s all sorted out, we can move on to the next step…
Step Two: Sell Out
Put more anime on TV. No one’s going to buy a DVD of some show they’ve never seen, especially when the entire show is spread across 6 DVDs at 30 bucks a disc. Putting anime on TV no easy task, though. As I made quite clear in Step One, a lot of what Japan pumps out these days is made for perverts like me, and that shit wont fly with average Joe America… but a lot of other shows may! There’s an entire legion of shows that are perfect for US TV, but for some reason they usually go totally unnoticed. Yes, I’m mostly talking about seinen and jousei anime– Honey and Clover, REC, Hatarake Man and so on. This stuff needs to be acquired and given the royal treatment. What do I mean by that? I mean good dubs– really good dubs. I mean not using the same goddamn actors that they always use. I mean getting people with professional US TV standard acting ability to dub over these shows for TV. A bad dub is insulting to one’s intelligence, and we’ve got to appeal to these people, not insult them.
It is at this point were I’d say something about people being reluctant towards watching cartoons, but it seems lots of people watch things like Family Guy and stuff, so if a cartoon comes along that offers an audience more than just laughs, perhaps they’ll come back for more? Also, having stuff like Death Note on TV is a great start, but you have to put it on a time when people will actually be awake to watch it. (PS put Monster on TV)
After this stuff gets on TV, it needs to be put on DVD. Since companies would’ve presumably done a brilliant job at marketing their shows and dubbing them, everyone will love them, buy the season collections at reasonable prices, and billions will be made! Along with DVDs, they’ll also sell CD soundtracks, singles, t-shirts, wristbands, condoms, etc. With those billions secured, it is possible to move on to step three…
Step Three: Be A Cheap Bastard
Let’s say Steps One and Two were a success. Trillions are made off Honey and Clover. The US loves it. It’s a nationwide phenomenon. Now that US companies can bathe in money, it’s time for them to be true to their inner fan and license the otaku shows. Now, the question is how to sell them. For starters, don’t spend any time or money on a dub and writing over the openings and endings. The people who care about these shows don’t care for any of that stuff. Significantly less time can be spent putting together decent inserts filled with translation notes and reference guides. After all, it’s easier to Google stuff/look at Japanese wiki/mine 2ch/copy fansubs and copypaste that stuff into a DVD insert than it is to hire actors in order to make them try and fail to act moe. Also, sell this stuff at 15 dollars a disc.
I know the guys who watch these kinds of shows. A lot of them will just download them, and not buy them when they come out. These same people own a lot of manga, which is conveniently low-priced. If you can sell to these guys exactly what they want, and at a price that costs a little more than the books they buy often, I think you could probably at least break even on most of these things.
There you have it! Brilliant, is it not? No? Well, yeah, I know. This shit could never happen, but it’s good to have ideas!