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NEWS: Business Week on Anime


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Tempest
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:55 am Reply with quote
The 1 in 10 number really surprises me, but I wonder if perhaps the journalists just weren't talking to the right people ?

It's rather common (and irresponsible) that journalists will base this kind of article off of discussions with only one expert. They talked to Yumeta, but did they talk to any one at Production IG, Madhouse, Bandai, Square-Enix or Toei ?

They certainly didn't quote them if they did.

As for the lack of "mega-corporations," it's actually kind of bollocks. Much like the North American industry, anime titles are co-productions of numerous companies.

You have the individual studio that's producing it (say Production IG) and then 1 or several large companies involved in financing (Sony, Bandai, Toshiba, etc...) and the distributors (Toei, Toho, Bandai, etc...).

Last time I checked, Sony, Toshiba, Bandai, Toei and Toho were large companies.

The difference is that that the smaller companies like Production I.G, play a much larger role in the public eye than do most North American production studios. Sure, we've all heard of WETA, but how many people know the name of the studio that produced Titanic or Batman Begins?

Not knowing the names of the companies involved in the daily production of North American films is what leads American moviegoers into believing (without even thinking it) that these movies were produced entirely by mega-corporations like Warner Bros.

Whereas anime fans know about I.G, Madhouse, et all....

-t
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ChaosAxess



Joined: 28 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:25 pm Reply with quote
Um... Who cares? So what if the industry isn't up to its potential? All the fans should care about is watching the anime =\. Screw cars, anime is better.
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Pat Payne



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:32 pm Reply with quote
I have to admit the 1-in10 number doesn't surprise me as much. Movies, IINM, have a similar if not worse ratio of success to failure. Entertainment is a competitive world.

But other than that, the people at Business Week are comparing apples and oranges when talking about Disney, or a megacorp like Toyota. Disney is a mega-entertainment company, with not just its (now severly atrophied) animation arm, but with at least four live-action studios (once Miramax leaves, it'll leave the Disney house label, Touchstone and the perhaps-defunct Hollywood) under its wing, the Buena Vista film distribution service, themeparks from here to Tokyo, the ABC/Capital Cities Television group, the Mighty Ducks hockey team (and formerly the Anaheim Angels baseball team) plus merchandising for all of the above out the wazoo. Even Sunrise and Tatsunoko can't boast all that, because they're not geared in the same direction as the Mouse Juggernaut.

And you're right, that subsidiary companies often make the movies, and the big studios just distribute 'em. The Twentieth-Century Fox/LucasFilm relationship in Star Wars is a prime example.

And as for Nissan, or Toyota or Honda...people need cars for transportation, and are willing to pay $20,000 and up for them. There are at least as may cars in the United States as there are full-grown adults. By comparison, people don't need anime, and there are quite a few who balk at the prices for some titles (I myself would like to buy FLCL, but like hell I'm gonna pay $30 for a two-episode disc!).
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Katana



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:52 pm Reply with quote
Exactly. People don't need anime, but then again, they don't need Kill Bill or The Matrix.

I read the actual article in BusinessWeek, and I couldn't help but gawk at some things they said and they're lack of common sense. First off, yeah, three or four companies are involved in one anime, not just one. Another thing that got to me was how they belittled the release of movies like "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Steamboy" here in the US. Well, I apologize for not wanting to go fifty miles west to Chicago to catch a flippin' movie. It's not that people don't go to see the film, it's the freakin' prospect of how many theaters are showing the movie?.

I dunno...I think we need to call in TIME to do a proper anime article.
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noisy_mouse



Joined: 21 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:13 pm Reply with quote
I don't really argue with any of the facts presented in this article. But what gets me... is that...

The assumption is made that because the western entertainment industry is making a crapload more money than the japanese one, that the japanese are missing out, and should try to learn some lessons.

I especially shudder at the idea that japanese anime companies should try to make shows that appeal more to an international audience.

I know that I'm only lone person in a sea of possible consumers, and what I think doesn't necessarily reflect what everyone thinks... but I like japanese anime just the way it is. I like it BECAUSE it's not like American entertainment. This article is always going on about Hollywood does this, Hollywood does that.... Hollywood makes a pile of expensive formulaic movies that stupid people turn out in droves to watch. The "New Release" section in my local blockbuster is like a tribute to stupid movies that have been well-marketed. Not all north american movies are bad. But just because they're well marketed, doesn't mean they were worth the film they're shot on.

It's as if this article is actually COMPLAINING that the owners of japanese animation comanies care more about their product than their profit. Is that really such a bad thing? I don't know. I like my anime just the way it is. I desperately wish that more North American companies would take animation and animated movies as seriously as the japanese do. If my japanese shows started to change to emulate Hollywood fare more closely, I would lose intrest.

It would be nice someday if good japanese anime got the respect it deserved WITHOUT having to pander to every single ADHD-addled western attention span. Sorry if that sounds a little bitter!!
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Mohawk52



Joined: 16 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:49 pm Reply with quote
Shame I can't read it. unless I subscribe. I typed "anime" into the search window and it listed a number of articles they have written and a few they haven't published as yet because the date was for the 27th. and this posting being on the 21st. June. But the 1 in 10 report is probably correct as in all actuallity that 1 might be the only 1 that is for general viewing whilst the other 9 are for the niche markets like moe, Loli, panty fetish, yoei, yuri, etc, etc.Wink
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CorneredAngel



Joined: 17 Jun 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:03 pm Reply with quote
noisy_mouse wrote:


It's as if this article is actually COMPLAINING that the owners of japanese animation comanies care more about their product than their profit.


um...it *is*. Which is why the article is in Business Week, and not Newtype or Anime Insider or Rabid Otaku Monthly or whatever. From the point of view of the investor or shareholder, the *product* is completely irrelevant, as long as it sells.
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Mohawk52



Joined: 16 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:21 pm Reply with quote
CorneredAngel wrote:
noisy_mouse wrote:


It's as if this article is actually COMPLAINING that the owners of japanese animation comanies care more about their product than their profit.


um...it *is*. Which is why the article is in Business Week, and not Newtype or Anime Insider or Rabid Otaku Monthly or whatever. From the point of view of the investor or shareholder, the *product* is completely irrelevant, as long as it sells.
And it seems that they are trying to say that if those studios concentrated on more general vewing titles they might become more profitable and then maybe list on the Nikkei and become like Toyota, Nissan, Sony, etc. It's just speculation on business potential, but what did you expect from a business weekly? Wink BTW I remember asking AIC if they had ever thought about floating on the Nikkei and the response was that "so-far only one studio that produced anime was bold enough to go PLC" though I can't for the life of me remember which one was mentioned.
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Otaprince



Joined: 20 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:33 pm Reply with quote
I disagree with many of the comments above: I found the Business Week article to be very well thought-out and well-written. It emphasises two very good points about the anime studios:

1) It's a cottage industry. These studios are mostly operations of thirty guys scribbling away for a pittance, run by animators and not businessmen.

2) The anime studios are bad at creating globally appealing products. Look at recent seasons of Japanese anime: the lion's share of it is created for hardcore Japanese otaku: weird obsession with little girls, ecchi, gore...

The global anime shows began in video games or manga, NOT anime studios themselves: Pokemon, Appleseed Akira Ghost in the Shell etc, Shonen Jump stuff, etc. Even Miyazaki keeps stubbornly making Japan-centric works. Compare that to the Disney films of yesteryear: Bambi, Snow White, Dumbo are pretty universal stories and concepts.
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Craeyst Raygal



Joined: 30 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:27 pm Reply with quote
However, it can be argued that anime isn't gaining in popularity as rapidly as other like film genres.

For instance, consider the explosion in Asian cinema that's occured in the states. Ever since the freak phenomeneon of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there's been a steady climb in the popularity and profitability of subtitled, untouched Asian movies.

After CT,HD you had the comparable success of the - in my eyes - impassably better Hero. But Hero was fairly similar, and had a big star face attached in the form of Jet Li.

But when this year I went to se Kung Fu Hustle, a mainstream release in widespread theaters, that was very well attended (I went to an 8:00pm showing mid 3rd week of release, and there were at least 50 people in the theater) and adored by people even though it was subtitled, rated R, and completely unlike Crouching Tiger OR Hero.

These films are proving that Americans - mainstream Americans at that, because you don't get much more white bread mainstream than Parma, Ohio - have no real issue with reading subtitles, listening to another language, or fundamentally different filming and direction techniques.

So why is anime lagging so far behind? I place the blame at poor choices for spearheading the movement into Ma & Pa America's living room (Steamboy, Appleseed, and Howl's Moving Castle may be products of a trifecta of maestros, but the genres of retro-futurism, anal retentive sci-fi, and surrealistic fantasy don't reach the way a Jerry Bruckheimer July blockbuster does) and at overly-conservative marketing.

I was glad to see Howl's advertised on Adult Swim, but it's a bit redundant. ABC is in Disney's pocket, why not run a few Howl's ads during prime time to really get it in people's minds?

I honestly believe that what anime needs to breakthrough isn't another Miyazaki fantasy film, and it isn't another Mamoru Oshii mind-bender. We need something with MASS appeal and superlative quality.

Is it too late to get Kenichi Sonoda on the phone? I think that this'd be his area of expertise.
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wao



Joined: 04 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:28 pm Reply with quote
When they mean 1 in 10 are likely to reap profits I believe they're obviously talking about somewhat substantial profits (not just above the margin). There actually are very few anime that do that... the few that get aired during good timeslots, and then those that do well (for an anime) too (for example I doubt Zoids Genesis is doing too well even though it's in a good slot). eg FMA and so on.

It's still pretty much a relative cottage industry, and I hope it stays as one, because I'm afraid it might lose more and more of the animators' and creators' actual creative input...

Anime isn't globally oriented yet, that's why it's easy for many to dislike anime because it's 'weird' but also easy for many to get hooked because it's 'different'. Perhaps they might start making more 'universal' titles now that America *might* become a critical market for anime in the future.
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Tenchi



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:42 am Reply with quote
Craeyst Raygal wrote:

So why is anime lagging so far behind? I place the blame at poor choices for spearheading the movement into Ma & Pa America's living room (Steamboy, Appleseed, and Howl's Moving Castle may be products of a trifecta of maestros, but the genres of retro-futurism, anal retentive sci-fi, and surrealistic fantasy don't reach the way a Jerry Bruckheimer July blockbuster does) and at overly-conservative marketing.


Also, the fact they're not live-action also tends to turn off the bulk of the mainstream adult audience, most of whom, of those who don't avoid animation completely, will only watch something animated if it's a very narrow range of comedies.
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Queball



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 2:14 am Reply with quote
To say that anime needs to be brought more into mainstream and have huge success is just for profiteering which is exactly what the article was talking about. People look at the growing influence and popularity of entertainment coming out of Japan and feel that anime should be more profitable. To say that anime should "change" its style and subject matter to appeal to the general audience would make it a cop out. Anime is unique for its concepts and storylines. If you look at the average American, they don't want to read while watching tv or a movie. If they can't relate to the subject matter they refuse to watch it. That more or less goes for most people in general for anything.

Most people in the US DONT RELATE TO THE SUBJECT MATTER IN ANIME. The culture references used and so forth aren't taken in by the average american. If you look at something people relate to in anime is the violence. The gore, killing, disembowled limbs...etc... People in the US like their violence, plain and simple. Look at how huge DB (DBZ, GT) became. All those huge fanboys...no offense. Think of other popular animes...how many are more just about the plot and story without graphic violence? Vampire Hunter D BLoodlust? Ninja Scroll? Don't get me wrong, I love these animes and think they're great. I remember showing a person the Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Trust and Betrayal (Tsuioku Hen). They loved the first 2 eps but when it came to the love story, they got bored and refused to finish it.

Another huge issue is the sterotype of animation in the American EYE: ITS KIDS STUFF (or "its that weird anime porn" as someone I knew refered all anime by). Animation by the general audience is viewed as something for families or children. Every successful animation movie released by an american company (and not so successfull Disney of late) has been oriented towards children/families.

Finally, its hard to get into anime. Its an investment. The price of buying a full tv series is extremely costly. Spending the money on 1Vol and finding out that you hate the anime. Its expensive to try and poke around for good series. Most general fans stick to movies and OVA's. Cheaper investment than having to buy a 6-20+ VOls.
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Pat Payne



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 11:18 am Reply with quote
Craeyst Raygal wrote:


I was glad to see Howl's advertised on Adult Swim, but it's a bit redundant. ABC is in Disney's pocket, why not run a few Howl's ads during prime time to really get it in people's minds?


To be fair, ABC was pretty heavily flogging (for anime, at least) Nausicaa on its prime-time shows. I counted at least three spots for the DVD on "Boston Legal" a week before the release.

It would be nice though to see them advertise anime more. The problem is it's still seen as a niche market, and one that isn't seen as getting the right target audience (18-49-year-old males with piles of disposable cash).

But as to making it less Japanese to grab everyone...that just seems to be dictating content. Although it's less prevalent now than before, the Japanese studios think of the Japanese audience first and foremost, with foreign licensing being an afterthought, IMHO. The shows are tailored to the Japanese mindset and to Japanese culture primarily because that's where their main audience is. There have been a few experiments otherwise, such as Lupin VIII (a DIC/TMS co-production which died in legal troubles) and Robotech 2: The Sentinels (the less said about, the better)

Queball has the right point though, when he says :

Quote:
Another huge issue is the sterotype of animation in the American EYE: ITS KIDS STUFF (or "its that weird anime porn" as someone I knew refered all anime by). Animation by the general audience is viewed as something for families or children. Every successful animation movie released by an american company (and not so successfull Disney of late) has been oriented towards children/families.


Outside of the Simpsons and Family Guy, there have been few truly successful cartoons for adults on TV since, really, The Flinstones in 1960. Fortunately, the "wierd anime porn" aspect is falling by the wayside, to be replaced by the more benign (but just as annoying) stereotype of it being all Pokemon and Sailor Moon.
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.Sy



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:19 pm Reply with quote
tempest wrote:


Not knowing the names of the companies involved in the daily production of North American films is what leads American moviegoers into believing (without even thinking it) that these movies were produced entirely by mega-corporations like Warner Bros.

Whereas anime fans know about I.G, Madhouse, et all....

-t
Lotsa good points made by people already, I can't quote 'em all. But what Tempest said is something I noticed when I first got into anime. Maybe because anime has a much more personal fanbase, but anime fans pay attanetion to studios, voice actors, domestic companies, etc. On AmcTheaters.com, if you search for Howl's Moving Castle, it says Beuna Vista under studio. But...there wasn't any place to report incorrect stuff.
TIME did do an article a while back...here, lemme go an dig it out. It's from Feb. 15, 2004, Vol. 163, No. 7. The article is titled "Drawing in the Gals" and it's a positive article on Shoujo manga. So the news has done at least one article with the facts straight. One. Well, they have the facts straight for the most part. They forgot the carrot thingy on top of the "o" in shoujo...
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