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Interview: Kazuyoshi Fukuba, Executive Director of Pony Canyon


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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Posts: 3787
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:16 pm Reply with quote
Gotta love how neatly he tap-dances around the whole pricing issue. Japanese otaku may be perfectly willing to repeatedly bend themselves over a barrel, but the rest of the world isn't quite so delusional. AoA is bad enough, but at the very least they're putting out shows that people have, y'know, actually heard of. Good luck with this buddy.
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Kadmos1



Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 13056
Location: In Phoenix but has an 85308 ZIP
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:24 pm Reply with quote
penguintruth wrote:
More corporate greed from anime companies. The animators make nothing, the fans pay through the nose, and the executives get to spend another week at the onsen. But if you're spending more than forty dollars for four episodes of a TV series, you're part of the problem.


I think I should start developing a list of times that I agree with you.

Personally, I wish the somewhat stand release model (12-13 eps. for $40-60) could work for domestic Japanese releases.

[/quote]
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RaylenCypher



Joined: 03 Mar 2015
Posts: 138
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:53 pm Reply with quote
Isn't the entire show doing really well?

animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-01-20/japan-animation-blu-ray-disc-ranking-january-12-18/.83482
Volume 1 is ranked 13th after 10 weeks with 10,373 total copies sold.

animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-01-27/japan-animation-blu-ray-disc-ranking-january-19-25/.83742
Volume 2 is ranked 4th after 1st week with 7,664 total copies sold.

animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-03-03/japan-animation-blu-ray-disc-ranking-february-16-22/.85549
Volume 3 is ranked 6th after 1st week with 6,830 total copies sold.

With 24,867 total together sold so far, I'd say they're doing REALLY well in the long run.

Right Stuf! is selling the 1st volume at $71.98 right now. Minimum wage is (at least where I live) at $9.10 an hour so 8 hours which is pretty much a day you can buy it easily. If the entire series is on this same price set for the last 2 volumes that contain 4 episodes each, then it would take less than a week to buy the entire series. So $200+ isn't unreasonable or very hard to save or earn. What shocks me more is an entire boxed season of a show at 40-60 bucks, while Japan sells volumes with 2 episodes for 80-100 if I'm right. The average money they drop per episode is like 100k-300k for 12 episodes. So for the entire series its at low 1.2M and at high 3.6M but the budget can be different. To profit from something they make in high quality shown free first and then to wait months after to see the results paid off. I'm glad they didn't do two episodes per volume at that price. D:
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FlamingFirewire



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 428
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:29 pm Reply with quote
Tenchi wrote:
Student no.0 wrote:
I'm a bit skeptical as to why PCUSA is just putting 4 eps on a single BD discs when according to a well-known video-encoder like Justin Sevakis, you can put even up to 9 average length eps without any sort of noticeable quality issues.


Sentai Entertainment's Non Non Biyori Blu-Ray has all 12 episodes (excluding the OVA) on one disk and I didn't notice any quality issues other than one layer change in, I think, episode 8 that freezes the video and always makes me have to rewind (yeah, I know, outdated terminology) a few seconds, though, when I start playing again after the rewind, it plays normally.

Of course, the Non Non Biyori release doesn't have a dub or much in the way of extras, which probably has a lot to do with how they were able to cram that many episodes onto that disk.


Honestly, I don't know what kind of magic Sentai is using for those releases (the entire series on 1 disc!), but from the sounds of it, it seems like there is absolutely no noticeable drop in video/audio quality on those releases (with the exception being what you mentioned). I've always hoped that it would be possible to watch an entire 12-episode series without changing discs, so it'll be interesting to see if I notice any appreciable differences between those and other releases in the future (if I ever pick up a show from them released like that). Did you notice any other issues with that release of Non Non Biyori?
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Elves



Joined: 23 Mar 2005
Posts: 267
Location: USA
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:36 pm Reply with quote
It's a little disheartening to hear Pony Canyon only (apparently) talked with Aniplex of America before deciding to distribute stateside. Nippon Ichi Software America originates from Japan so I wonder why they weren't consulted? As far as I'm concerned NISA is the only one who got it pretty right when they decided to jump into the American anime market. Their prices are a little higher, but no where near the stab to the wallet that AoA's are. NISA also has the chipboard boxes, actual physical extras, and will at least put out a cheaper versions of a show if it sells really well. (Granted NISA did have their game release experience helping them out to better gauge the American market when they first got into the ring.)

Anyway, I can understand why the Japanese did not consult with their American competitors, but it's not like Funimation or Sentai haven't been in the business for years. I feel like Pony Canyon didn't get a full look at the picture and could have weighed their options a little better if they had talked to more than just Aniplex.

With more Japanese companies becoming direct distributors/licensors stateside I also worry if they'll make it harder for our stateside staple companies to get shows. *ponders*

Also feels like some of the anime fanbase is starting to just give up on buying physical releases what with the supposed "collectors" prices which never budge. It really makes me think that we're reverting to price points not seen since the days of VHS releases. *shivers*
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Tenchi



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 4324
Location: Ottawa... now I'm an ex-Anglo Montrealer.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:39 pm Reply with quote
FlamingFirewire wrote:
Did you notice any other issues with that release of Non Non Biyori?


No, just that one layer change, and it's not the only disk with a layer change issue.

I suspect it might be that I have an older Toshiba Blu-Ray player that I have never connected to the Internet and, as such, it never got a firmware update to better deal with the layer changes in higher capacity Blu-Ray disks.

If you're wondering about the video and audio quality of the Non Non Biyori Blu-Ray, it looks fine to me but I'm only watching it on a 26" Toshiba LCD screen, I have no idea whether there are glaring visual flaws that might be visible on a larger plasma or OLED screen.
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angelmcazares



Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 4788
Location: Iscandar
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:36 pm Reply with quote
Tenchi wrote:
FlamingFirewire wrote:
Did you notice any other issues with that release of Non Non Biyori?


No, just that one layer change, and it's not the only disk with a layer change issue.


I have 3 of those one BD releases (MAOYU, Non Non Biyori and Gingitsune). I skimmed through MAOYU and Non Non Biyori and, compared with other Sentai two BD discs releases, I did not notice any significant drop in video quality. My set up is a PS3 slim and a 36" Samsung 1080p LD.

I watched Gingitsune in its entirety, and I noticed something weird towards the end of episode 9 (if I am not mistaken). I do not know if it is a layer change, but it did not bother me much. Beyond that, the rest of the episodes had no video issues.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 13996
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:49 pm Reply with quote
PonyCan USA is doing to the US market what Japanese Prime Minister Abe is trying to do in Japan with his "Abenomics" - inflation, that is he wants prices to increase. Laughing


Top Gun wrote:

Gotta love how neatly he tap-dances around the whole pricing issue. Japanese otaku may be perfectly willing to repeatedly bend themselves over a barrel, but the rest of the world isn't quite so delusional.


Hey, they're already willing to pay at least ¥1,800 for a ticket to the movies, and that's even before the prices for the tiny tiny popcorn and drinks. I'm sure everybody in the world is looking forward to following that example (because, from the looks of it, soon it will be). Laughing
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Ingraman



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 1064
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:23 am Reply with quote
chito895 wrote:
I really loved Yuki Yuna.

That's about how I felt about the series, too.

Quote:
It was an amazing magical girl series,

It was pretty interesting, and a slightly different direction for a magical girl series.

Quote:
I won't pay 80 dolars or so for just 4 episodes.

... I'm willing, I guess. I've got the first PCUSA volume on pre-order (although as much as I might have appreciated the second set of YuYuYu transformation key art, I decided that I wasn't willing to spend another $72 on Denki-gai for it), and I already own the first two volumes of the Japanese release.

Quote:
It is too expensive, and more for the people who don't live in North America.

It's expensive, but it's not _too_ expensive. I'm quite willing to forgo no-frills Funi and ADV releases in order to buy AoA, Bandai Visual and PC titles. I was a fairly regular buyer of NISA premium sets until the packaging change, but their switch to a smaller format has meant that I haven't ordered a title of theirs since Toradora BD. Despite their new format, I might be willing to splurge on a Working! BD release.

penguintruth wrote:
More corporate greed from anime companies. [...] But if you're spending more than forty dollars for four episodes of a TV series, you're part of the problem.

My name is Ingraman, and I'm part of the problem. I guess.

Now if only Funi and ADV would do more in order to regularly inspire me to buy their titles... <sigh>
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angelmcazares



Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 4788
Location: Iscandar
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:38 am Reply with quote
Ingraman wrote:
ADV

Who? I forget that you are not yet used to the name Sentai Filmworks, even though the company has been operating for like 6 years. Get used to companies' new names Patlabor, I mean Ingraman.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
Posts: 3316
Location: Here!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:50 am Reply with quote
Elves wrote:

Also feels like some of the anime fanbase is starting to just give up on buying physical releases what with the supposed "collectors" prices which never budge. It really makes me think that we're reverting to price points not seen since the days of VHS releases. *shivers*


That's a nice way to cause another industry crash.

If you can't provide product at a decent price, no one will buy. No one buys, you go out of business. And in Pony's case, they don't have television to supplement them. It may be cruel to wish a company go out of business, but this cannot be allowed to be the new standard, or no one will be able to afford physical media outside of a few hardcore collectors, and at that point we are heading for crash city.
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BrandonL337



Joined: 09 Sep 2012
Posts: 88
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:10 am Reply with quote
SouthPacific wrote:
Seems like a lot of the naysayers around here are forgetting something and that's the speed that they're bringing out these quality sets at. Both Yuki Yuna and Denki will be less than 3 months behind the Japanese BD release schedule which is amazing...Speed is, at least to me, worth a lot. Not having to wait +1 year feels great Smile.
angelmcazares wrote:

The speed of releases is important for some, but the majority of fans seem perfectly fine with waiting 1.5-2 (or more) years for a cheap release. I doubt that the 700-1000 (my estimate) fans like you, who value speedy releases, will be able to alone sustain PONYCAN USA.


Faster releases would be nice, but honestly, since I'll usually rewatch a show when I get it on disc, it might be better to get it later. Otherwise I feel like i'd get bored watching the same show again so soon after seeing it the first time. I suppose a dub would help in that situation.

Now, obviously you could put it on your shelf and come back to it later, but where's the fun in that?
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BigOnAnime
Encyclopedia Editor


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 961
Location: Minnesota, USA
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:16 am Reply with quote
Gina Szanboti wrote:
Quote:
We would like to bring high-quality animation that was produced in Japan to North American fans while keeping the quality intact as much as possible. We are having the Japanese production producer supervise the production of the American releases. This is quality that can be achieved because we are Pony Canyon.

Is that his way of saying American-produced releases are crap? Smile And if PC is producing them, why the "as much as possible" weasel words? What would prevent the quality from being kept intact?
Cheapness. Notice how R1 releases have declined in presentation over the years? Where are the big fat artboxes full of 3-7+ discs? Where are the posters, t-shirts, magnets, booklets, etc.? Where are sets like these?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg_5YijUugE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2cYOOHZPt4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoBhm8OvDZU
http://youtu.be/Ue128z-b-Ek?t=10m11s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcrxMREsexg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfyyO40WL38
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwumURkxlEQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn5v7jxBs90
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKYSDzyvt9Q
http://youtu.be/8ABzJ50EscA?t=1m30s (There were also booklets and OST CD's with this release)

Now you just get discs in a case with many companies, many times no inside artwork (Only VIZ, FUNi, NISA, and AoA bother with it).
http://i.imgur.com/U7GqbQU.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/IZvjUfB.jpg

And then you've got things like FUNimation's disc art taking a huge nosedive in quality since around the time Fractale and Panty & Stocking came out.

The closest things that compare to the releases of old these days are FUNi LE's that actually come with stuff, NISA's releases, Sentai's CE's (When they do them), and AoA's releases.

R1 releases typically are vastly inferior to the original Japanese release these days, except in rare cases like this (Thanks to Sentai using stuff from the original Japanese release courtesy of, Pony Canyon). Though Sentai is missing one huge video extra from the Japanese release, a making of, similar to the making of extra on ADV's release of Kanon (2006).

Also to put things into perspective, here's the first volume of the original Japanese release for Yuki Yuna. If say Sentai got the show, it would be just 1-2 discs inside a single BD case with no inside artwork, because whiteness is all there is to a show's art apparently!

Ponycan USA is able to keep the overall quality of the presentation intact because they're not aiming at casual buyers that are happy with cheap barebones sets, they're aiming for the hardcore collectors that drool over this kind of stuff.


Last edited by BigOnAnime on Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:29 am; edited 2 times in total
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glowingdawn



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
Posts: 16
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:21 am Reply with quote
Hopefully these comments will reach Fukuba-san and PonyCan (which thank you for the interview)

I really really like Yuki Yuna Is A Hero. I was going to preorder and get the key animations. Then I see that if I buy it with Denki-gai, I get more! So I watched Denki-gai to see if I wanted to spend money on it as well and.... not really. But I really wanted Yuki Yuna, and I really wanted that extra bonus gift.

WHY? Why did you combo a magical girl action drama with a light-hearted ecchi joke comedy show? I spent so long trying to figure out if I wanted to spend money on Denki-gai just to get the extra key animations for Yuki Yuna that I ended up missing the Feb 28th date and now get no key animations which seals my decision to not buy Denki-gai and buy just Yuki Yuna instead, with no bonuses for either, hurrah.

I do not mean to rant or seem personally offended because its not like that at all (although my inner collector is saddened just a bit). I just REALLLLLLLY hope that PonyCan USA changes their release tactics.


TL;DR
Keep your high prices, keep your nice collectors sets, keep the same Japanese video quality, but don't offer any more bundles, or you should try to offer more appropriately matched ones.
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Ingraman



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 1064
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:33 am Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
Ingraman wrote:
ADV

Who? I forget that you are not yet used to the name Sentai Filmworks, even though the company has been operating for like 6 years.

You're surprisingly sensitive regarding those three letters, if they inspire such a rant...

It's easier just to lump all of the spin-offs under their original name. Does it really confuse that many people? I could type "not-ADV" or "the people/companies who used to be ADV", but that's a few extra key-presses. As far as I'm concerned, they're ADV in all but name.

Quote:
Get used to companies' new names Patlabor, I mean Ingraman.

Is that comma really the right punctuation for that sentence?

I've used one or two other names in the years that I've been online, but I've never used the name 'Patlabor'.
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