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INTEREST: Tadashi Sudo: Does Japanese Animation Suffer From the Galápagos Syndrome?


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Rentwo



Joined: 05 Oct 2019
Posts: 78
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:27 pm Reply with quote
Haterater wrote:
All I ask is more diversity with good representation and making sure to be knowledgeable about the subjects they cover that they are not too aware of.

More skin tones, countries of origin representation, sexuality, etc. Having 256 hair colors and only one skin tone is just not cutting it, especially in fantasy settings. Just helps with uniqueness! Another point, having a "cool" looking symbol or using a "cool" song, not realizing they belong to religious things that could upset a group or be misinterpreted. Look into the source or have editors to check with this stuff.


It never really sat right with me when I saw people say Japan should stop focusing on Japanese people or culture. It comes across like people just saying they want to see less Japanese people in media.
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zrnzle500
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:38 pm Reply with quote
Psycho 101 wrote:
meiam wrote:


Well if they start paying their staff more they'll need to produce less anime or sell the right to distributed/price of physical media for more. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what would help anime.

You really think producing less and trimming off some of the fat and pointless shows would not help anime? There are more shows every season now then anyone can watch and still have a life outside of anime. Or a day job. There are some quality shows each season but the majority are forgettable within a year. A good portion don't even get decent viewership. If anything, trimming down the sheer volume of shows produced each season and putting more effort and time into the ones that do get produced would help the anime market. I think it would help bring a bit more higher standard of quality, which would in turn help the anime market continue to shine and standout against competitors. The hopeful side effect of this would also mean better pay and working conditions for anime staff as they would not be stretched so thin and worked til they collapsed.


I think the answer depends on how you define quality. If you mean more consistent animation, I could see that, though I wouldn’t rule out mistakes or poor planning even in that situation. But if you mean more good shows, broadly speaking, that depends on how aligned your tastes are with those shows that get the most viewership. I’m sure we can think of plenty of examples of shows that we might personally see as pointless or forgettable that nonetheless are very popular, as well as shows that we see as quality that nonetheless don’t get decent viewership. Quality does not necessarily equate to popularity and vice versa. There is also the issue that shows one might see as pointless are someone else’s favorite, as well as the other way around. Sure there is more anime than one person can reasonably consume, but it’s not intended to appeal to just one person or demographic, even if it doesn’t necessarily serve everyone as much as they want every season. And practically speaking, studios aren’t going to be cutting things based on their perceived quality, per se, but rather by how likely they are to have enough viewership, and when the reaper comes to take the low viewership shows, you may find it has come for some of the sorts of shows that you like, and not just the ones you find pointless. I also think some overestimate the portion of shows that are both poor quality and have low viewership. While it may not be the best example given the unique circumstances leading to it, looking at the current season, I can’t help but feel at least a little skeptical of the notion that less anime will necessarily lead to higher quality anime, broadly speaking.

For the industry, while in the long term the time may need to come for it, I don’t know that in the short term it would make things better. I think the situation for both studios and animators and other staff is analogous to working a second (or perhaps even third) job, in that working only one job could improve the quality of their work and would improve their quality of life, not having to work until you’re exhausted and having more free time, but there was a reason you were working multiple jobs, and absent a sufficient increase in pay, only working one job would mean not paying your bills, and for studios that would eventually mean going out of business. I do support improving pay for animators and other staff, as well as getting studios a better part of the revenue from the committees, but while a shortage of animators would eventually necessitate better wages, in the short term, less anime will mean less work - and therefore less pay - and studios and committees might use that to explain why they can’t afford to pay them more.
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Ryo Hazuki



Joined: 01 Jan 2008
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Location: Finland
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:54 pm Reply with quote
Haterater wrote:

More skin tones, countries of origin representation, sexuality, etc.


How many American cartoons are set in somewhere else than the United States, other than fantasy cartoons with completely fictional nations?

There have been anime series set in at least Canada, USA, China, Finland, France, Italy, The U.K., Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Austria, whereas I can't think of any American animated series set in a real country that isn't the United States without googling. There are at least a couple of Zorro series, which technically count.

Typically works are set in the same country they're made in unless the author is really interested in depicting other cultures, which is the case with A Bride's Story for instance.
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El Hermano



Joined: 24 Feb 2019
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Location: Texas
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:58 pm Reply with quote
Ryujin99 wrote:
And this comes to the point of my original post. In that post, I presume the goal of expanding the Japanese anime industry beyond its current size to help maintain a leading position in the global market. This is what I think Mr. Sudo was talking about in the interview. As things stand, the market is more saturated and generally more competitive than it was 10 years ago. It stands to reason, from a business perspective, that the rise of anime-style productions outside of Japan will eventually start chip away at its market share.

So comes the question: if you can't grow by just continuing to do well, then how can you keep growing? One common solution is to find and exploit untapped market segments. But in order to enter such markets, you need to have something you can actually sell to them. It seems to me that Mr. Sudo's main argument is that the Japanese industry lacks the necessary diversity of ideas and opinions to consistently produce works that can be marketed to as-yet untapped market segments. This lack will hamstring efforts to expand the industry into such markets.

If Japan wants to maintain a leading role in the anime-style industry, then it needs to maintain its market dominance by continuing to expand. In order to do that, they need to be able to produce shows they can market to new market segments. This doesn't mean that they should abandon their market strongholds. But it might help to make sure they don't have any more bungles like that scene from a Jojo OAV. And maybe, if they're successful enough, they could try something completely new.


My main issue with this whole thing is I'm not really seeing the saturated market this person is saying. The article does not list any examples of what they mean, and I can't really think of any myself. Just what anime-style products are Japan competing with right now? And which ones are Japan actually 'losing' to? Anime and manga are arguably at a peak in popularity right now in the west given the huge hype of shows like Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online, and Attack on Titan. I suppose he could mean in the future things might change, but I'd disagree with that right now. I don't see it changing anytime soon. It's certainly an interesting idea to think about, but I think it's only worth pondering in a time where the Japanese market is actually the underdog and not a key pop-culture icon. 15 years ago it might have had cause for worry, but not anymore. After shows like Young Justice and The Legend of Korra were just huge rating flops and were outcast to death slots and online airings, it seems like action and serious animation disappeared entirely from the market because it was no longer profitable. That was back in 2012. I think most networks have subscribed to the idea that competing with Japan when it comes to action cartoons is pointless, which is why American animation has pretty much been nothing but comedies and light-hearted stuff outside of a few outliers from streaming sites like Castlevania, but those are niche by comparison.
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Gonbawa



Joined: 28 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:57 pm Reply with quote
I think Tadashi Sudo is the one suffering from the Galapagos syndrome : his article reads like something that is 20 years old. If I understand well, he writes that japanime must become a bland, innofensive and multicultural product to become more appealing to the rest of the world. And his best model is Hollywood blockbusters.
No thanks.
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AkumaChef



Joined: 10 Jan 2019
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:36 pm Reply with quote
El Hermano wrote:

My main issue with this whole thing is I'm not really seeing the saturated market this person is saying. The article does not list any examples of what they mean, and I can't really think of any myself. Just what anime-style products are Japan competing with right now? And which ones are Japan actually 'losing' to? Anime and manga are arguably at a peak in popularity right now in the west given the huge hype of shows like Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online, and Attack on Titan. I suppose he could mean in the future things might change, but I'd disagree with that right now.


I think he is talking about the future. When I got into anime in the 90's the scene was pretty much just anime, manga, and a bit of Jpop overlap. Manhua (and similar works from other countries) were unheard of, so was K-pop. There were many popular video games coming out of Japan but again little from there rest of Asia. Now things like Manhua are very well known in the west. K-pop is bigger than J-pop in the USA by a large margin. More and more animation work is being subcontracted out to studios in Korea, China, etc. And there are lots of big name franchises coming out of China as well, like Azur Lane. Azur Lane is a great example, being a foreign product that obviously copies, and takes market share from, KanColle.

Yes, I know that pop music is not animation, and that Chinese mobile games aren't the same thing as anime either, but there is a lot of overlap in those industries and their respective fandoms. More and more places other than Japan are adopting anime-style aesthetics.


Quote:
I don't see it changing anytime soon. It's certainly an interesting idea to think about, but I think it's only worth pondering in a time where the Japanese market is actually the underdog and not a key pop-culture icon.

I have no clue when things might change, but any successful business person is concerned about nipping problems in the bud before they become serious. Worrying about how to turn things around when you have already lost market share and become the underdog is too late.
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AmpersandsUnited



Joined: 22 Mar 2012
Posts: 265
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:56 pm Reply with quote
AkumaChef wrote:
I think he is talking about the future. When I got into anime in the 90's the scene was pretty much just anime, manga, and a bit of Jpop overlap. Manhua (and similar works from other countries) were unheard of, so was K-pop. There were many popular video games coming out of Japan but again little from there rest of Asia. Now things like Manhua are very well known in the west. K-pop is bigger than J-pop in the USA by a large margin. More and more animation work is being subcontracted out to studios in Korea, China, etc. And there are lots of big name franchises coming out of China as well, like Azur Lane. Azur Lane is a great example, being a foreign product that obviously copies, and takes market share from, KanColle.

Yes, I know that pop music is not animation, and that Chinese mobile games aren't the same thing as anime either, but there is a lot of overlap in those industries and their respective fandoms. More and more places other than Japan are adopting anime-style aesthetics.


I feel like this is a big thing people are overlooking. When Sudo talks about foreign appeal, people are assuming Western appeal, specifically American appeal. If anything, China and Korea would be the markets that would be catered to over anything else since they are much larger markets than America. And in that regard, not much would probably change since they're all relatively similar in terms of taste. Rather than catering to western sensibilities, you'll likely end up seeing more cases like the Boku no Hero Academia controversy where Chinese fans got upset over an evil doctor's name, or that one fantasy anime that was going to come out before Chinese people accused it of being anti-Chinese and the whole production was shut down so they'll be more careful not to offend the Chinese market.

Azur Lane is popular in Japan because it's about sexualized anthromorphic ships, just like Kan Colle. It's not something that would appeal to the mainstream American audiences, especially those not already into anime. The anime adaption was also headed by a Japanese studio and it makes sense why Japan would invest in it. That's more likely what we're going to see when it comes to global marketing. The currently airing The God of High School is another example. It doesn't shy away from fan-service at all, and Crunchyroll and Webtoon were proud to slap their name as an in-universe advertisement in it. That's why I'm not particularly worried about any of this. Even if it were to come into fruition, China and Korea would be the markets they'd target, not America.
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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:58 am Reply with quote
AkumaChef wrote:

I think he is talking about the future.
...
K-pop is bigger than J-pop in the USA by a large margin.

Snipping the rest to highlight two sentences...


The future is exactly what I'm talking about, and it's what I think Mr. Sudo was trying to get at as well. A lot of the issues I am/was talking about aren't major issues now, but it's entirely possible they will be in the future.

J-pop vs. K-pop is a great example of the problems industry complacency can cause. J-pop easily could, and I would argue should, have nailed the same market demographic as K-pop, but the industry squandered its chances by choosing uphold outdated business practices; much the same can be said of J-drama vs. K-drama. The anime industry is clearly in a better position in this respect right now, but that will likely change if they rest on their laurels too much.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 4628
Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:55 am Reply with quote
Anime is produced through the production committee process. Which shares the risk and profit. But also ensures that anime is produced as less expensive as possible.

If you want to pump more money into anime production, then you are going to need bigger companies to produce anime, much like what is done in the United States.

Personally, I think the production committee process it what allows for the vast diversity of anime that we are getting now.

With fewer productions, you might get higher production values, but you are going to get a less diverse (reference to story) slew of anime. The more money a company puts into an anime show, is also going to make them a lot more risk adverse, meaning a lot of the experimentation we see might go away and the anime that comes out would be more generic so that it appeals to everyone.

I am not saying this process couldn't produce good, quality shows, I just don't believe it could it in the numbers that the current process can. And I do believe something will be lost.
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