Hey, Answerman: DOOMSDAY EDITION!

by Zac Bertschy, Sep 28th 2007


This week I got a bunch of panicky letters from people freaking out over a variety of topics, so I figured the sky must be falling, the bombs are dropping and the oceans are turning to salt.

Welcome to Hey, Answerman! DOOMSDAY EDITION.


Answerman you probably expected this question this week but WHAT HAPPENED TO GENEON?! Does this mean the anime industry is going to collapse?! why did the adv deal fall through? should I buy all the Geneon stuff I want right now, will it all go out of print?

While what happened to Geneon is significant and quite sad, I'm a little shocked at how people seem to really be overreacting to it.

Geneon as we know it is going away. It is reasonable to assume that, according to their vague press releases, they're going to survive only as a Kadokawa-esque licensing house, subcontracting all production, sales, marketing, and what-have-you. They could also just fold completely and disappear. Based on what they've said, I think the former is more likely, but that's just my estimation.

To be frank, yes, you should probably buy the Geneon titles you want now. They will effectively go out of print once Geneon stops production. If there's a particular title you can't live without but just haven't bought yet, find a place that has it in stock and snatch it up. If it's something you really, really want (and for some reason haven't bought it yet), don't wait for a fire sale, just get it now. I realize the instinct of anyone in this situation is to sit back and say "eh well Right Stuf will clear it all out eventually", but you're taking a chance, especially since the titles will be OOP and once they're sold out, your only other option is eBay.

Geneon's exit from the American anime market is not a good thing, but it wasn't exactly the biggest shock ever. The company has been struggling for years. I've been hearing rumors from very reliable sources of Geneon's demise as early as last year, when it was becoming clear that they had a serious lack of A+, top shelf titles that were guaranteed sellers, and yet continued to license extremely niche, otaku-oriented shows that historically have proven to sell poorly, all the while failing to get the few shows they had with mainstream appeal into the public eye via Cartoon Network (Samurai Champloo aside). Many in the industry speculated that Geneon would collapse long before the writing was clearly on the wall, and it did, but trying to pin down one particular reason for it is impossible and foolish. It takes a lot more than some poor-selling titles to bring down a company. There were obviously many factors at play. The rampant, endless armchair business analysis that we see in anime forums all over seems desperate to find a single-sentence answer to something that would likely take pages to fully explain, which is a waste of time. I don't know the whole story - nobody does outside of Dentsu and Geneon executives, and they're not talking - so I would argue that continuing to go on and on and pick apart exactly what happened is silly.

People also seem to be taking this event as a sign that the R1 anime industry is in its final days, and that Geneon's implosion will cause some kind of domino effect and topple even juggernauts like ADV Films and Funimation. Based on what I've heard, while these companies do have plenty of underperforming titles - and the looming spectre of rampant piracy and never-ending fansubs continues to be a problem that requires more attention than they're apparently willing to give - they are nevertheless healthy. Funimation in particular commands a remarkable share of the market and continues to release proven sellers like Dragon Ball Z and other high-energy action titles that are proven to bring in American audiences. ADV is experimenting with shows like Air, but they still have a robust catalog and continue to do strong business with their thinpaks. Devil May Cry in particular is one ADV license to watch out for - shows like that have a massive mainstream appeal and can bring in new fans. It's just the kind of license that performs very well here in the States, and just the kind of thing we need to see more of here to maintain the industry's strength. The Geneon deal falling through deprives ADV of additional market share, to be certain, but all it means is that ADV will continue business as usual rather than taking on a mountain of new titles (not to mention a mountain of Geneon's doubtlessly massive retailer debt; the company's sudden and hurried insistance that retailers have an extremely limited amount of time to return unsold inventory is a clear indication that ADV would have been inheriting not only a tremendous catalog of titles but also a tremendous number of returns).

Of course, you can't have this conversation without talking about Viz. Viz is incredibly successful and has had a massive amount of success bringing over titles like Naruto, Bleach and Death Note. It would take an incredible shift in the market to bring down a company like Viz. They're not going away any time soon, and the failure of an already-struggling company like Geneon has little to no effect on that fact.

In short, yes, Geneon's exit is a bad thing, a sign that not every company can survive in this market; yes, the R1 industry is facing new challenges, and there are problems they're not addressing competently, but the world is not ending, the major players will continue to be major players, and fans will continue to buy anime.

So calm down.



Hey answerman, I keep reading on ANN about the japanese crackin down on copyrights and suing downloaders and uploaders. then we have the situation in singapore where odex sued people for downloading fansubs. do you think the japanese crackdown will end fansubs in america? i think fansubs are what keep anime alive, if there are no fansubs then there are no fans!!!
 
Unless the renewed Japanese crackdown on copyright law somehow manages to seriously deter the Japanese from uploading raws to the massive peer-to-peer networks out there, I don't really see it having a major effect on the American fansub scene. It's just too widespread and rampant. If we start seeing Japanese uploaders dragged into court and being handed massive fines and potential jail time, it might make obtaining raws more difficult, but somehow that seems like a temporary stopgap that pirates will work around rather quickly. Basically, no, I don't think the crackdown will seriously effect your fansubs.

I'm compelled to argue with your "without fansubs, there are no fans!" thing. I've been hearing this more and more and frankly, it's a huge load of horseshit.

Over the years, artists routinely thank their fans; "I wouldn't be here without you," etcetera. They acknowledge and occasionally obey their fans. Why is that? Because the fans support the artist by purchasing their work, buying their movies and merchandise, attending concerts, introduce new fans to the work, all of that. That's why the moniker "fan" is supposed to demand a certain level of respect from the artist, because it's a mutually beneficial relationship.
That's why fans are often catered to, that's why artists routinely show their appreciation for their fans.

Believe it or not, you are not valuable to the artist if you do not contribute to his success. Simply liking cartoons is not a noble pursuit; you don't deserve to be catered to by the artist simply for enjoying his work. Your well wishes and love for the property mean jack squat if you're not contributing to the cycle that allows the artist's work to be created in the first place.

If you get an artist's work for free and then show it to a friend while also showing him how to get it for free (not to mention introducing him to a massive community of people dedicated to getting that artist's work for free, sharing files and offering his new work the second it's available at no charge without his blessing), you are not creating a fan or helping the artist, you're adding another leech into the system. Only when you or your friend actually contribute to the artist's work are you "fans" in the real sense of the word. Only then are you part of that artist's community, and only then do you deserve his or her respect as a fan, someone who supports their work.

The perversion of the word "fan" from "someone who loves and supports an artist" to "anyone who even kinda enjoys something, with or without ever becoming part of the system that helped create it" is irritating.

Plenty of anime fans buy DVDs - that isn't really my point - but the attitude that unless everyone can get all the anime they want for free, there won't be any more anime fans is ridiculous. If it were true, then there simply wouldn't be any anime to enjoy in the first place because nobody would be paying for it. Fansubs have served to popularize anime in the past, but to suggest that the only reason there are anime fans is because nobody has to pay to watch it is broken.


Answerman, of all the problems the R1 anime industry is dealing with right now, what do you think is the biggest and scariest?

I'm gonna say piracy, both online and off, and no, I don't think they're doing enough about it.

I'd really like to see ADV and Funimation and Viz gather a giant team of scary lawyers and just tear the living snot out of all the bootleggers out there, especially websites that charge for fansubs. But they don't seem willing to do that; there are a whole lot of sites out there like that, where you pay a monthly (or per-episode) fee to watch fansubs (or worse, DVD rips) of licensed series. Those people should be taken down with swift and painful efficiency, but it's just not happening. I can't believe so many of those sites exist.

Not to mention the endless foreign bootleg box sets that are widely available in malls and anime stores across the country. Is there nothing that can be done about this? Why aren't they taking aggressive action? I know lawyers are expensive, but for crap's sake, protect your product.
Once they tackle that, then they can move on to things like cost, availability, speedy releases, television exposure, etcetera. But anime piracy is so ubiquitous, I believe that's the biggest challenge they're facing right now.





Here it is: our first flake from the Hey, Answerfans! section.

uh am i the only one who is happy Geneon died because now i can get their shows for free online, seems like the real fans are the ones who win in this situation, not the suckers buyin dvds. rip Geneon, long live anime!!!!

Oh, go to hell. This is precisely the crappy attitude I was talking about earlier.





I love this photo.






Our question last week was "Do you think it's OK for fans to sell fanart for profit? "

From reader Mike Burns:

Do you think it's okay for fans to sell fanart for a profit?

In a word: no.

The majority of the fanart I've seen ranks up there with doodles bored kids put on their notebooks during class and as such has zero value. The better examples I've seen raise the question "why aren't you taking art classes instead of trying to build a career doing minor imitations of another artist's work?"  They could be using whatever talent they possess to create something new, possibly even better.

At the end of the day all they are producing is a copy. Hackwork. An enlarged color Xerox would give me as much satisfaction and cost less.

When the fan community reaches the point where a cheap imitation is held in the same regard as an original piece of art, the value of the original, both aesthetically and financially, drops.

Legally? As far as I can tell, the modern fan community has little to no regard whatsoever for laws of any kind as applied to their chosen hobby, so appealing to a purely theoretical at best higher moral sense would be pointless.

As for the argument that all information should be free that gets bandied about so cavalierly these days? Should everyone learn how to read and write? Of course. Learn to drive? Sure. How to use a telephone? A computer? Absolutely. Be taught whatever it takes to do their chosen jobs well? You'd get no fight from me.  Should everyone have free access to and ownership of anything and everything that crosses their path or beguiles the eye? It's not even part of the same argument. But I digress.

At best, fanart is student work. What you use for practice to build your skills. Take those skills and apply them to something that is uniquely your own. That I'd pay for.

Another, from "ImperialPanda":


Absolutely ok, and the reasons are quite simple:

1) Selling fanart would in no way impede on any sales of the original creator. This is said with the assumption that the character design comes from an established anime or manga. Without fame from a anime or manga, the character itself won't generate enough interest to be a huge impact on the success of the fanart. The only possible exception would be exceptionally popular personal mascots, i.e. Plenair. However as a general rule I don't think many self-respecting artists would sell copies of the mascot of another artist.
.
2) The success of fanart imo won't depend on the basic character design or the character itself, but rather on artistic skill. A grizzly bear drawn by Nancy Glazier sells well mostly because it's drawn well, not because it's a picture of a grizzly. Likewise, if somebody does buy a piece of fanart, I think it is largely because it's just a good piece of art.

3) And finally, a successful fanartist would probably only be doing fanart as a sidejob, because by definition a successful fanartist would be a good artist and would hence have his/her own original work.

From Aila Yeats:

Ah, selling fanart.  I don't understand why it's such a sensitive subject to some.  Most artist I come across personally have no problem with selling it, and neither would I if I sold it.  Why is that?  Well, selling fanart is in most cases a form of a commission.
Artist, in general don't get a steady income, especially back in the days of old.  To this day an artist still has to answer the age old question: Do I buy food, or do I buy paint.  This is because art is a fickle business to make money off of.   First to an artist, art is a passion they can't help.  They do it because they usually have urges Freud would call sexual, and they create what they want, or what they see in their usually odd, messed up head.  They just can't help themselves.  The problem comes when they need to buy the paint, the food, or pay the bills.  They usually try to sell their creations, but an artist is usually very very lucky to find someone who sees their original work and wishes to buy it.  Example: Vincent Van Gogh only sold one or two paintings in his lifetime.  As you can imagine he was quite often hungry, and mooched off his brother so he could continue to paint.  To avoid this, an artist usually has to take on commissions and that is if they can get commissions at all.
So let's get to commissions.  A commission is basically where a talentless person goes to an artist and they request the artist create a vision of their own for money.  It can be anything from a portrait of themselves to a scene out of a book.  Anything.  If the artist accepts the commission they'll try creating whatever the customer wants because money makes the world go round.
Now this has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, with many cases in which artists even plagiarize each other and still manage to keep a respectable name.  It only started to become a problem in the art world when copyrights and laws came into effect on visual objects.
Laws and copyrights can't stop an artist from drawing whatever they want (at least here America), or in a commission case, what the customer wants, but those laws can limit what a person can do to sell it.  You can draw your friend a picture of a nude Minnie Mouse if they ask, and sell it to them for whatever price you want, but you can't mass market the fanart or Disney will go “No no”, and sue your butt for slandering their character and name as well as making a profit on one of their copyrights.  Also, if an artist is constantly creating images with copyrighted characters and making a nice big profit off of it, they're liable to get sued at some point, so they need to keep it small.
Basically to me it's fine to sell fanart just as long as your profits aren't too big, and as always MORALE, and by that I mean you don't copy and trace a work.  There's no respectable skill in that, and art is also about improving your skills as well as expression.  So have pity on an artist asking for money for the work they do.  It takes time, money, and skill to produce work, and they can't just give out their artwork.  I'll happily help out my artist friends by requesting a commission , be it fanart or original, when they're begging for commissions to help pay the rent.  An artist needs to get by, and culture would suck without them.


Finally, from Anna Park:

As both a fan and a fan artist, I don't think that fanart should be sold for profit. This doesn't mean I think any less of fanart than I do of original work, but I do think that it's wrong to make money off of characters that you didn't create. If someone is truly serious about selling their art, they should put the effort into desigining their own drawings instead of just dressing up existing characters. After all, if you're a talented fan artist, it shouldn't be too much of a step to take the time to draw your own people. Especially since so much fanart today involves putting characters from various anime in costumes/maid dresses/bunny outfits/etc, to the point where they may as well be original characters.
 
Of course, the argument could be made that the profit from selling fanart (at a convention stand, for example) would barely cover the expense of the materials used to make the fanart in the first place. However, it's not about how much pocket change you have left over; by selling fanart, even if one is just making up the price of their art supplies, they are still profiting from something they did not entirely create. Designing characters takes time and effort, and it seems wrong that someone should make any amount of money, no matter how miniscule, from something that's not entirely their own creation, without permission from the original artist.
 
This doesn't mean I think fanart in general is wrong; I draw it as a hobby because I enjoy playing with or making fun of my favorite anime characters, or because it's easier to experiment with different art styles when your subject is a familiar character. Nor do I think that fanart should be respected any less than original work, because there are many, many talented fanartists out there who deserve respect. But when something that is intended as a way to appreciate a certain series turns into a way to make money, it becomes disrespectful to the original creator of that series. Also, drawing fanart just so you can sell it sort of takes the fun out of the whole thing.


Here's our topic for this week:





Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.


Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I hve so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.
* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

So check this space next week for your answers to my questions!




I sat down to write the column last month and decided I was pretty sick and tired of staring at Howl. So I cracked open Photoshop to craft a new banner for Hey, Answerman!, but the inspiration just didn't come!

What's the obvious solution? Ask my readers to do it for me!

Here's the deal. You take this banner:



And, using those same dimensions, make something crazy or creative or funny and submit it. Each week I'll pick a new one and post it. You don't have to use any specific anime character (in fact, you don't HAVE to use an anime character at all); go wild! Animated banners are A-OK, too.

A few rules:

1. Don't use real people in the banner, no matter how famous they may be.
2. No profanity.
3. The banner must have the Hey, Answerman! logo in it featured prominently, although you may change the font to whatever you like.
4. Submissions must use the same dimensions as the current banner, in terms of pixel width and height.
A little bigger or smaller is OK, but don't go overboard.

Every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory. What's the prize for winning, you may ask? Well, every week a new banner will be chosen and posted at the top of the column, along with a credit so the creator can bask in his or her amazing fame and glory!

Email your submissions to answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com. Good luck! Have fun!

See you all next week!


discuss this in the forum (215 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

Hey, Answerman! archives

Around The Web