Answerman Why Would A Japanese Publisher Restrict Exports?
by Justin Sevakis, Feb 15th 2017
Miguel (and a few other people) asks:
It seems Avex Pictures recently (publishers of "Yuri!!! On Ice", "Osomatsu-san", etc) have restricted exports of BD and DVD releases for their shows. Why would they do this? Isn't exporting from Japan more beneficial to them than if a Western fan bought the release in their country by another publisher? Could these Western publishers be making pressure for these type of changes to happen, and do they even have enough power in the market to negotiate something like this?
This is one of those things that, at first glance, makes no sense. Why would a publisher -- the original publisher, no less -- voluntarily restrict potential sales?
The answer, of course, is in the labyrinthine decision-making process of the production committee. We don't know exactly why Avex made the decision to enforce a ban on exports (which is something a publisher can do in Japan, but not in America). I don't know anything, but given the current state of things, I might wager a guess that it was one of the following: KEEP IN MIND, THESE ARE ONLY GUESSES.
- Avex only has distribution rights for Japan for the titles they're involved with, and other members on the production committee get to oversee international distribution. With other countries becoming more and more important to the revenues of the anime business, it became important to someone on a committee that Avex wasn't overstepping their sales jurisdiction. Perhaps as an overreach, Avex made sure to secure their entire distribution channel against unauthorized export.
- With Japanese companies making a stink about cheap Western discs, and Japan incredulous that US law doesn't allow publishers to block exports, one of them might have made the excuse that Japanese media companies DO have that ability, and yet none of them do anything to control overseas sales. This might have been a reaction to such a conversation.
- Avex is preparing a move into overseas markets, similar to how Aniplex and Pony Canyon have opened up US distribution channels. In preparing for this, they are making sure they're not going to be competing against sales of their own product.
- Or, what most likely happened... some salaryman in charge noticed that people weren't following the "rules" of media consumption and decided to make blind and pointless enforcement of long-established and somewhat outdated rules a priority. (This sort of thing happens more often in Japan than you'd think.)
- Questions can be submitted by email only. (Tweets with industry questions get ignored.)
- I absolutely cannot answer questions about whether a show will get another season. New productions are closely guarded secrets until they're publicly announced, so there's nothing I can tell you that Google can't.
- I cannot help you get in touch with any producers, artists, creators, actors or licensors. If you're trying to pitch an idea, you should read this.
- I will not do your homework/research/report for you.
- Keep it short! If you find yourself breaking up your question into multiple paragraphs, it's too long.
- Proper grammar and punctuation are your friends!
- Be specific, and give examples when possible. I get a lot of questions asking me about some perceived pattern someone sees in a bunch of unrelated shows, and often I just don't get what's being asked.
- Check the archives! I may have already answered your question!
International exports make up a pretty small share of anime sales. Japanese discs are very expensive to fans in the West, and they usually don't have any English on them. Yuri On Ice might sell an extra few hundred copies to fans overseas, but the vast majority will wait for localized versions with lower price tags. For the handful of fans that this scenario will not satisfy, I'm sure it's only a matter of days until alternate means of purchasing these imports materialize, if they haven't already. This is the internet age, after all.
Avex is mostly a music label, and one with a long history of taking the international market very seriously (albeit mostly in Asia). I expect they know that some fans overseas will be inconvenienced, and I would be pretty surprised if they didn't at least take into account ways to serve the market. How well they actually know international otaku and how they like to be fed remain to be seen, however.
Do YOU have a question for the Answerman?
We want your questions! Send in as many or as often as you like. We can only pick three questions a week (and unfortunately I don't have ALL the answers) so if you haven't been chosen, don't be discouraged, and keep on sending.
However, there are a few tips you can follow that will make it far more likely that your question gets answered:
Got all that? Great! The e-mail address is answerman (at!) animenewsnetwork.com. And thanks!!
Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for nearly 20 years. He's the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.
discuss this in the forum (47 posts) |