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Anime Central 2003
Anime Central - Other Panels of Interest

State of the Industry

Company Representatives: Matt Greenfield (ADV Films), David Williams (ADV Films), Carl Horn (Viz), Scott Carlson (AnimEigo)

The representatives present at the State of the Industry panel summed up the industry's health as "pretty good".

One of the biggest agendas of the industry as a whole is the advancement of The Anime Network. ADV representative Matt Greenfield said that the network is still "nebulous", and that it needs more anime. However, The Anime Network provides an outlet for anime free of the "gaijin filter" of editing and other content changes.

All of the representatives agreed that The Anime Network can become a great asset to the entire industry, and highly recommended everyone interested in the network to contact their cable company via theanimenetwork.com.

As for plans of expansion, TAN was expected to reach 10 million subscribers by the end of 2003. Now it appears that their goal will be exceeded by the end of the year.

Direct TV may add TAN to their lineup, but in order to do so, there needs to be a large number of existing subscribers in the area on cable. As such, TAN may not become a part of Direct TV's line-up for the present.

TAN may become an outlet for old anime, particularly if the Video on Demand elements remain present. However, TAN will probably not host simultaneous US and Japanese releases. At the very least, even if translation and dubbing were taken care of beforehand, differences in the Japanese and American cable industries would almost inevitably lead to at least a minor delay between any potential "simultaneous" broadcast.

TAN is talking with the other companies to put their titles on the network. The first non-ADV title to show is TRSI's Boogiepop Phantom.

The panelists agreed that anime's success in America is based on its differences in storytelling technique. Some anime series take up to 13 episodes to get to the heart of the story, while most American productions jump right into the conflict. One recent American production similar in vein to anime storytelling was Babylon 5. But even then, you "needed a space battle to tune in next week". Given the perceived difficulty in keeping audience interest, it's easier for American companies to go with the stock formula.

Manga is now being produced as "Movie-like stories in a paper medium". As most manga artists experiment with camera angles similar to those featured in film. Manga is stylized like that because the writer is trying to "tell a movie on paper".

Newtype USA is making money. "[We are] very very pleased", Matt Greenfield said. He also mentioned Newtype recently passed 100,000 sales per month.

As for hard numbers, the panel was a bit more conservative and didn't want to share private sales numbers. However, everyone agreed that the industry as a whole was growing, estimating the market size between $500 and $700 million. Even without solid numbers, however, the panel said it was self-evident that fandom is growing:
Anime Boston's overwhelming first year, the diversity of fandom, and the growth of anime conventions in general were significant markers to determine fandom's size. As an example, the first true American anime convention, AnimeCon '91, "A once in a lifetime mecca event", only attracted 1000 attendees. Now, even "small" conventions attract that many, and the largest convention, Anime Expo, draws over 15 times that many attendees.

Recently, there has been a big growth in shoujo manga in US, as well as manga in general. Nonetheless, even old titles continue to pull in sales -- "Stuff that's been popular stays popular." one representative said.

Anime in Academia

The Anime in Academia panel was presented to a packed room by three members of the Anime and Manga Research Circle, a discussion group composed of fans interested in promoting and facilitating serious academic research and writing on anime, manga and fandom. Brent Allison is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia who is writing his dissertation on anime fandom in the United States. Brian Ruh, the editor of animeresearch.com, is currently working on a book on the films of Mamoru Oshii, due to be released by Palgrave sometime in 2004. Mikhail Koulikov, who has organized and run similar panels in the past, is the webmaster of the Anime/Manga Web Essay Archive.

Over the last several years, anime and manga have increasingly found themselves to be the subject of academic articles, presentations and books. The panel explored two major topics: are anime and manga worthy of such serious study to begin with, and how can it be conducted, in light of the fact that a majority of the academic world is still largely unaware of either the importance of anime and manga or the serious writing and research already out there. It also included an overview of the several books available in English that deal with anime and manga, and an extensive Q&A session.

The questions the audience fielded dealt with a number of topics, such as ways cultural studies techniques can be applied to the study of anime and manga, the possible uses of writings on American science fiction in writing about anime, and ways anime and manga can be integrated into a school or college curriculum.

Similar panels have been conducted at a number of conventions in the last year or so, and when looked at in total, they serve as a very effective reminder of the fact that anime and manga are starting to spread far beyond the realm of the fans, and really are seeping out into the American cultural landscape.

Editor's note/disclosure: Mikhail Koulikov is a member of ANN's staff.

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