An Otaku's Dream: An Anime Cable Channel

by Justin Sevakis, Feb 14th 1999
As an otaku owning over 300 videocassettes in my collection, I have to say that videotapes are one of the least efficient ways of enjoying one of the most basic of anime programming: The television show.

A recent announcement by cable network Encore! that they would start carrying anime programming wasn't unexpected. As anime gets more and more mainstream in America, more networks will start paying attention. In roughly ten years, it wouldn't be unthinkable to see Vision of Escaflowne on Must See TV.

Of course, this presents two problems. The first problem is the impending lack of subtitled versions that would result. (Despite what some may believe, American networks would never, ever air anything subtitled. Literacy in this country is simply too poor for it to be enjoyed by many people.) The second problem would be the horror known as "localization" that all severely hacked anime has to endure. Let's face it: when self-proclaimed "creative types" see something good, they can't keep their grubby hands off.

When you think about it, right now we actually have things pretty good. 90% of anime is released in a subtitled version (even if it's sometimes poorly done), and new series are being picked up so fast that fansubbers are having a hard time keeping track of what titles to yank from their shelves.

Still, two problems plague this industry: not enough episodes per tape and prices that are still too high.

Neither of these things are the fault of the companies. With Japan's recent economic turmoil, the Japanese licensors are starting to look at America as a nice cash cow, and so the costs of licensing a series have reached a point where it can easily go into the millions of dollars. Even AnimeVillage, who tried to keep a high number of episodes at a low cost soon found this to be economically impossible.

When otaku have to buy 80 tapes at $29.95 each to get to see an entire TV series, it's obvious that something isn't working here. So, what's the solution? It should be obvious. An all-anime cable/satelite channel is just what the doctor ordered.

But how would this pander to all markets of otaku? Easy. Simply divide the programming into three blocks: Subtitled anime would be shown during the morning and early afternoon, dubbed anime would be shown in late afternoon and prime-time, and overnight a deal can be worked with TV Tokyo, WOWOW, and other Japanese networks to rebroadcast anime programming in raw, untranslated form.

TV shows like Ranma ½ could be seen uncut on a daily basis, in both subtitled and dubbed form, and still leave plenty of time for Viz to finish the series. With a combined library approaching 1,000 tapes, American anime industries could come together to form a pay channel that could easily make anime available to anyone that wants it, and in whatever form they want it.

Just has HBO can cater to children and adults alike, an anime channel can do the same. While it would certainly need to be a premium (extra pay) channel as well as accept advertising just to break even, it's an exciting medium, and not something that can be ignored.

Has the anime movement grown big enough to support such a venture? It's obvious that this is something people want: look at the ANN Christmas list... most people put it down on their want list! Whether this happens or not is up to the commercial companies... or better yet, some really rich otaku.

Hey! Someone send Ted Turner a copy of Mononoke Hime!

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