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State of the Anime Industry




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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:06 pm Reply with quote
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Inoue said that the industry needs the “next big series.” Past hits like Pokémon and Bleach rejuvenated the market, but now it's ready for something else.


Here's a tip for getting there. How about a series which people can enjoy, and not just one which people are expected to enjoy, hmmm?

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A few ways they're trying to accomplish this is by finding new pricing models, new ways of promoting anime, and ways to meet the consumer demand of taking up less shelf space. An example he gave was their upcoming release of Aquarion, which will be released on only two discs, at 13 episodes a disc.


Not that I hear it's a good show, but I hope the presentation doesn't suffer as a result of that decision...

Quote:
For Kadokawa, though, which has a US office, they're able to get more overseas feedback. Kanuma's personal opinion was that, “they should cater more to what fans here care about.”


I disagree. There should be a greater mix of both tastes, because if they just give us what we want, then the Japanese won't buy it, and they'll just end up continuing the vicious circle. Plus if they give us what we want, it'll probably be no better than Loonatics.

Quote:
Interestingly, Oarr said that there didn't seem to be any obvious benefit to shortening the release delay to work with the three-month broadcast window. He used ADV's own Le Chevalier D'Eon as an example, saying that it was brought out in the US even while the show was still being broadcast, even despite all the work and last minute things, results were inconclusive about the benefits.


But was there actually a demand for Le Chevalier D'Eon here?
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stardf29



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:25 pm Reply with quote
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Retail sales were projected to fall from a high of $50 million in 2003 to just $350 million in 2007.


Unless there's something about price inflation I don't know about, I think there's a typo here somewhere...

Interesting read, nonetheless.
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ANN_Bamboo
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:22 am Reply with quote
stardf29 wrote:
Quote:
Retail sales were projected to fall from a high of $50 million in 2003 to just $350 million in 2007.


Unless there's something about price inflation I don't know about, I think there's a typo here somewhere...

Interesting read, nonetheless.


Fixed; thanks!
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:00 am Reply with quote
While there wasn't that much new or surprising in terms of information that came out of this for me I will say it was nice to hear some of the Japanese's perspective on the issues. Too often we only hear one side, the western, and not theirs as well. So it was nice to see their opinions on issues straight from their mouths so to speak. Especially in a nice big group such as this. I would make one useless comment and that's that Musicland wouldn't know their asses from a hole in the ground. After working for them for 3 years I came to the conclusions the people in charge must have been right from the special olympics. At least on the Sam Goody/Suncoast portions of the company anyway.

It's also a very nice job typing up that long long article so props to Bamboo for that. I can only guess how long it took.
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KyuuA4



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:06 am Reply with quote
Excerpt wrote:
The next question was about sales figures, especially declining boxed media sales, which were down 30% last year. Retail sales were projected to fall from a high of US$500 million in 2003 to just US$350 million in 2007. The panelists discussed what this meant for their companies.


Ouch. A 30% drop for the year. While the US market is the biggest share, I'm interested in the overall figure.
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pparker



Joined: 13 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:59 pm Reply with quote
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(Japan) still largely produce the kinds of series that they want to, and don't care what American fans want... Kanuma's personal opinion was that, “they should cater more to what fans here care about.”


Every time I hear this it makes me nervous as hell. I certainly hope they don't buy this as a solution. The reason I became enthralled with anime was because it was different, both culturally and visually. And because it had appeal to an older demo, of which I am a member. Making anime "for the US" is just a euphemism for dumbing down and sterilizing content (even more) to meet standards of US conservatives. Anime got popular precisely because it wasn't American, so why would anyone think making it more American is the answer. If anything, they may have already listened to us too much, and that's part of the current problem.

The solution appears to be a revolutionary changing of the business and creative leadership, similar to the US movie industry in the 70's (Coppola and gang). And American TV in the 90's (Lynch factor). Formulas are okay and necessary to pay the bills, but won't reverse a significant slump. Rarely in significant downturns does the established leadership survive. Those who gained power in previous good times usually want a return to past comfort levels and either go into confusion and stasis or keep trying only what worked before.
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:50 pm Reply with quote
pparker wrote:
The reason I became enthralled with anime was because it was different, both culturally and visually. ... Anime got popular precisely because it wasn't American, so why would anyone think making it more American is the answer. If anything, they may have already listened to us too much, and that's part of the current problem.


Having thought about this topic very much these past couple of years, and in particular this past month, I would have to say I disagree.

Anime's "foreigness" is only a small part of it's popularity. True, some xenophiles like anime just because it's from Japan.

It's undeniable that most of anime's popularity is due to its differences with North American entertainment, and it's also true that Japanese society and culture is responsible for those differences. However adapting anime to the desires of American audiences, making it less "Japanese" doesn't mean changing these features.

One of the biggest differences in anime, perhaps the single biggest difference, that made it popular among North American teens and young adults, is the fact that demographically speaking, a lot of anime is made for them.

Traditionally, American teens and young adults had to make do watching "adult" entertainment. We watched Magnum PI, Friends, Star Trek, Saturday Night Live, etc.... Along comes anime, and much of it is made explicitly for teenagers and/or young adults. Face it, there was nothing available in North America that targeted the 12-17 demographic like anime does, likewise the 18-24 demo.

Seriously, IMHO, and many other people who have studied the issue agree with me, demographic targeting is the biggest cause of anime's success in North America.

Unfortunately, this is part of the problem now. American companies have caught on. Now we have shows like Heroes and others, which are targeting the exact same demographics as anime (this was a topic I wanted to bring up at the state of the industry panel, but didn't have time), so North American teens and YA aren't as desperate to be catered to as they used to be. In otherwords, they don't need anime.

The second related problem is that most of the anime being made in Japan, and 99%+ of what is being brought over to America, targets people under 25 years old. So as North American anime fans grow older, more and more of them move on to more mature forms of entertainment.

-t
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:53 pm Reply with quote
SakechanBD wrote:
stardf29 wrote:
Quote:
Retail sales were projected to fall from a high of $50 million in 2003 to just $350 million in 2007.


Unless there's something about price inflation I don't know about, I think there's a typo here somewhere...

Interesting read, nonetheless.


Fixed; thanks!


Minor error in there, I said "under $350 in 2007"... or at least I should have. I've corrected the article.
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pparker



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:00 am Reply with quote
tempest wrote:
pparker wrote:
The reason I became enthralled with anime was because it was different, both culturally and visually. ... Anime got popular precisely because it wasn't American, so why would anyone think making it more American is the answer. If anything, they may have already listened to us too much, and that's part of the current problem.


Having thought about this topic very much these past couple of years, and in particular this past month, I would have to say I disagree.
[snip]

Seriously, IMHO, and many other people who have studied the issue agree with me, demographic targeting is the biggest cause of anime's success in North America.

[snip]
-t


Interesting, and it does make sense. I'm not in that demographic, so lack of choice wasn't a factor for me. I was a major movie buff until after several thousand of them when nothing seemed new anymore. Then I found anime and got to start all over on a huge library of different and engaging entertainment.

If what you say is true though, the problem is worse. It's one thing to stumble in marketing and demographics. It's entirely another to lose the market for your products. All the more reason for radical change in the industry.

I still think one should tread very, very carefully with taking the Japan out of anime. Baby and bathwater, etc. Anyway, of all the variables, I wouldn't consider it a primary one. Licensing costs (i.e., product price/value) and delivery delay are far more significant issues.
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GATSU



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:59 pm Reply with quote
Konno's blaming the American companies for artificially inflating the value of certain shows.
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HeeroTX



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:55 pm Reply with quote
This is an interesting point that I don't remember seeing before, why has the following not really been noted (in depth) regarding the industry situation?

The first was retail consolidation and collapse. According to O'Donnell, 35% of the anime retail account was lost last year when Musicland and Tower Records went bankrupt, which rippled through the industry. Target no longer stocks anime, preferring to sell non-anime television series on DVD. Best Buy has decreased the amount of anime they stock as well. As O'Donnell mentioned, there are currently “less players, and less doors.”

....

The next question was about sales figures, especially declining boxed media sales, which were down 30% last year.

So, excluding the Target and Besy Buy declines which (theoretically) don't factor into the 35% figure noted as attributable to Musicland/Tower (if I'm misreading, please let me know), it seems like a direct MATHEMATICAL "cause & effect" can be drawn for the obvious decline. (I understand that one can easily argue that downloads led to sales decreases which led TO the closures, but...) I realize that it ISN'T that simple or clear cut, and I know last year was NOT the first year of declines, but it seems like a 30% drop in sales compared to a loss of "35% of retail account" is a pretty close figure. (unless retail only accounts for something like 40% or less of anime sales, if retail is at least 50% of sales, that's at LEAST a 17-18% chop off sales right there. At that point, a drop commensurate with the entertainment industry average may be accurate. Now, arguably THAT drop is directly related to downloads, but that'd be more of a "media" problem than a "fansub"/anime problem)
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HeeroTX



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:00 pm Reply with quote
GATSU wrote:
Konno's blaming the American companies for artificially inflating the value of certain shows.

heh, I'm surprised you singled out that comment though, I find this one much more... bizarre?

The important and interesting matter on this show was that it was managed by professional organization and had a couple of events intended for people in the industry. I respect the fact that the anime industry in the US has grown by the effort of the non-professional people for many years. However this is a good time to have the industry managed by professionals, since the industry is getting large and needs to grow larger.

I really wonder what he means by "this is a good time to have the industry managed by professionals", is he talking about conventions? Or companies? Or something else entirely? If he's talking about companies, then that really says something about how the Japanese industry feels about the American anime companies. If he means conventions, then I think he's just flat wrong (see SciFi cons). And if he's talking about something else, then... what?
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:53 pm Reply with quote
GATSU wrote:
Konno's blaming the American companies for artificially inflating the value of certain shows.


He is absolutely correct, at least in relation to certain titles. For a while there had been a fair amount of bidding over some titles, with the prices getting pushed up to way more than they were worth.

Some Japanese companies, in an attempt to preserve the North American market, actually started a "1-bid" policy, where licensees were only allowed to make one bid, and it would then go to the best bid.

Konno BTW is an extremely intelligent individual, I strongly suggest you listen to what he says. I may not always agree with him, but nothing he says should be dismissed. Anytime I disagree with him, it's cause for me to think about the issue some more, even though in the end I may still disagree with him, I'll have a better appreciation of the issue due to his different point of view.

-t
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GATSU



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:43 pm Reply with quote
tempest: I'm willing to believe both sides are at fault.
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