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The Business of Anime 523

buckminster writes "Planet Tokyo's Talking Anime Business Blues is a great roundup and analysis of recent articles detailing the behind the scenes aspects of the anime business. By all accounts 99% of Japanese anime never makes it to America. Some of the arguments why might surprise you. There are still many in the industry who believe that fan subs are killing the anime market in the US."
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The Business of Anime

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  • Re:Anime subculture (Score:2, Informative)

    by xWastedMindx ( 636296 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:17PM (#12953188) Homepage
    Japan doesnt export enough? Who needs to export when we have the internet. Who cares if you can't go to your local Blockbuster and rent/purchase it. Go to an online anime shop [animenation.com], and buy it there..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:21PM (#12953249)
    "how many anime DVD's have you bought after seeing fansubbed versions?"

    None, since the common legal perception among the translators is that it is illegal to redistribute the fan-subbed version if the DVD [or any other form of retail] is available in the language. Unlike the standard pirate, most translators adhere to the law. Finding english fansubs of popular work [the article's 1% released in the US] is near impossible.
  • Re:Anime subculture (Score:3, Informative)

    by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:27PM (#12953304)
    Yeah, it's C).

    My daughter is a big time anime fan and I enjoy anime as well, but a lot of the anime she likes is just plain grating to me. She absolutely loves it when the characters scream in anger or delight and go 'chibi' but I find it very annoying. IT'S LIKE SOMEONE WRITING WITH ALL CAPS AND USEING LOTS OF PUNCTUATION!!!!! It's just not something the majority of Americans want to see.

    Notice that it happens in a _lot_ of anime, but not very much in the anime that is legitimately popular in America. Even Pokemon didn't spend that much time on massive emotional displays compared to a lot of anime popular in Japan.

    I hope anime studios are paying attention: If you want to hit it big with your anime on American soil, look at what Americans actually want. If it's a story that's compelling to Americans, we'll buy a lot of it. Period.
  • by sanosuke001 ( 640243 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:31PM (#12953347)
    Well, first off, only dubbed anime uses weird sounding voices. Original Japanese vioces, at least to most people I know, don't sound at all bad; especially compared to dubbed anime. Second, not ALL anime is based on "tired cliches, underage girls" There are a lot of really good anime out there that have envolving plots and are probably better than the crap that is made in the US. I will again say that there is anime like what you brought up, but not ALL of it is. I really wish people would get off the stereotype train most americans seem to be on...
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:40PM (#12953442) Homepage Journal
    I suddenly realized how lame the American voices were - and inappropriate for their characters.

    Except for two of them, they were totally off in the English dub, and spot on in the Japanese voice choices.
  • by Webapprentice ( 608832 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:40PM (#12953444)
    With the exception of the Wired references, the other references seem to have come from a recent Business Week article.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_26 /b3939013.htm [businessweek.com]
  • by itistoday ( 602304 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:59PM (#12953639) Homepage
    It seems like you simply haven't been exposed to some of the great Anime out there and are using the poorly dubbed filth on Cartoon Network as the basis for your argument. Sorry, but if you think Anime is "Dragon Ball Z" or "Sailor Moon", clearly you need more exposure to it.

    However, this isn't entirely your fault. A lot of this ignorance has to do with American culture in general. One of the major reasons that 99% of the anime out there isn't shown on Cartoon Network is because it doesn't conform to what's "socially acceptable" in the United States. Great shows like Outlaw Star were first stripped of their original voice acting, and then butchered of entire episodes because they revolved around "adult" material that the fat cats at Cartoon Network did not consider to be appropriate for children.

    A lot of the anime out there would most likely shock 80% (figure pulled out of ass) of American mothers to tears. There would be so many lawsuits and complaining that Cartoon Network would run into a corner and try to disappear to protect itself from the hordes of broom-weilding angry mothers.

    Over the years American children have been steadily conditioned into stupidity and happy fairy tail lands where battles are not fought by people but by little creatures called "Pokemon", and I'll be damned if I ever see a single speck of blood on ol' Pikachu even though he was just smacked by 200 tons of solid rock.

    Americans would best understand the nature of Anime if they thought of it as "cartoons for mature people" (even though a lot of it is watched by children in Japan). My suggestion to you would be to search Netflix or something similar (or *cough*bittorrent*cough*) and grab yourself a few DVDs of shows and movies like "Princess Mononoke", "Full Metal Alchemist", "Hellsing", "Cowboy Bebop" and "Spirited Away".
  • by DarkZero ( 516460 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @05:20PM (#12953854)
    Despite the fact that anime is wildly overpriced in America, with some 26 episode series costing as much as $200 or $300 after you've collected all of the eight to ten DVDs in the series (what casual fan would pay for this?), the quality is still very low.

    Take the $200 Zeta Gundam box set, for instance. You can see in every single episode that the subs are off. In one scene, a character looks at a giant robot with surprise and clearly says, in a heavy Japanese accent, "Gundam... Mark II?!", but in the subs, he says, "It's a Gundam?" And sure enough, if you change the language from Japanese to English, the dubbed voice says, "It's a Gundam?", because that's what fits the character's mouth movements. This means that in a $200 box set, no one even bothered to spend the money on proper subtitles, and in longer conversations, you can see that the meaning is completely lost in the translation. In another scene, a character making a longer speech says the word "Newtype" three times, but the subs never even mention it. Kind of important when the entire series revolves around newtypes and many characters' personalities are defined by the fact that they're a newtype.

    The number of times that's happened in a fansub? Zero. In all of the fansubs I've watched, I've never seen as many blatant mistranslations as I have in a DVD box set from Bandai that I paid $200 for. And the same goes for other companies, as well. Obviously no one even spellchecked ADV's Bubblegum Crisis 2040 DVDs, because there are at least five or six typos in every DVD's subtitles. That's the sort of thing that would never get past 90% of fansub groups, because they'd be afraid of looking like idiots, but ADV and Bandai don't seem to be very afraid of making you feel like an idiot for buying their product.

    So between lower quality, a higher price, and a generally narrower selection of titles, it's not really worth watching US anime DVDs. Not just versus watching fansubs, but versus most other things you could do with your time.
  • Re:Anime subculture (Score:3, Informative)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @05:30PM (#12953944)
    "Trigun" is a great example. It's the American Western seen through the eyes of Japanese and then, of course, re-imported back to it's culture of origin for me to watch. It makes me wonder how "Samurai Jack" plays in the land of the rising sun.

    Then again, some of the best cowboy movies ever made, which Trigun draws from, were American & Italian adaptations of Akira Kurasawa's samurai movies, so it's all one big delicious pot of stew when you get right down to it.

    (For those who missed the reference: "The Magnificent Seven" was remake of "Seven Samurai", and "A Fist Full of Dollars" was a remake of "Yojimbo.")

    Oh, and Kurasawa himself often returned the favor. "Ran" was a samurai remake of "King Lear."
  • by RoundTop-VJAS ( 580788 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @05:48PM (#12954070)
    I have to call troll on this.

    As someone heavily involved in the fan community for years, and has had several discussions with the heads of said companies (bandai, Viz, ADV, etc), there is a tremendous amount of FUD around digisubs (they are not fansubs).

    The main thing is if you look at a digisub vs a full release a) the video and audio quality is way superior in a regular release, b) the digisubs are inconsistant (watch 10 eps and see if they spell names the same way), and c) no extras.

    Also, you are wrong about the 2 eps per disc. It used to be that way in the old VHS days, and when DVDs first came out, but it quickly went to 4-6!! episodes per disc.

    As for pricing of anime DVDs, you forget there are licencing fees, cost of dubbing, subtitlers, DVD authors, printing, distribution, etc. And you cannot compare Cowboy Bebop to Futurama. a) Futurama has a lower cost point, b) it has MAJOR TV exposure, which means you sell more copies, which makes for a lower price.

    Also, the cost of anime DVDs in North America has dropped in recent years. It used to be $35-45 per disc, now it is more like $25-$35.

    Also, if you want the entire series, wait until after the whole thing is released, a lot of them do perfect collections for a lot off the individual cost.

    As for the delay on some titles, some of it is licensing, some of it is simply how much they do. ADV had 1 dubbing studio and that was why they took so long on some series (they now have more). But even now they still have a backlog.

    So STFU and buy more, which will cause more to be brought over, and the price to drop.

    I have had it with bloody digisubbers. Real fansubbers got LDs from Japan, transferred onto VHS and manually subtitled. It took a while, but the translations were better, and it wasn't wholesale ripping off companies.

    Also, there was not a subculture of "look at me I subtitle anime!" and races between these groups to get subs out faster. When that happens the quality sucks.
  • Re:Anime subculture (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <kaboom108@NOsPam.bellsouth.net> on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:46PM (#12955052)
    The japanese are notoriously xenophobic, and often treat foreignors and "ethnic japanese" (the race of people native to the islands now known as Japan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainu_people [wikipedia.org]) with contempt and racism. The depiction of foreignors in anime (which I admittedly have watched too much of) is almost always negative. This is not to say that all Japanese people are racist and evil, but compared to America it is a VERY homogenous population and culture. I watch a lot of anime, especially fansubbed anime that will prob never see U.S. release, but Im sick of the anime nerd's japan is better in every way mentality, because its just not true. America is called "the world's melting pot" for a reason, we have welcomed people from every country in the world to America, and we have very liberal immigration policies. Maybe the fact that we are the result of mixing cultures from all over the world gives our exported tv and movies wide appeal and the fact that anime is the product of a more closed culture with lots of completely inexplicable cultural quirks. If it was just americans are closed minded then anime should be taking off in other countries like hollywood movies are, yet we see the same thing, anime forms a niche market.
  • Re:Anime subculture (Score:4, Informative)

    by TorKlingberg ( 599697 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @07:49PM (#12955798)
    C) Not that many people in the US are actually interested in watching movies where the women are portrayed as children with blue hair, guys are always "cool" (in a Japanese-thinking sort of way)

    May I present you with some examples of animes where women/girls are not portrayed as weak and mindless.
    • Female heroes
      • Noir - Main charachters are two female assassins
      • Last Exile - Battleship commander and plane mechanic
      • Sekai no Monshou/Senki
      • Cowboy Bebop
      • .hack//SIGN
      • Appleseed
      • Read or Die
      • Close to all Ghibli movies

    • Ordinary girls, who are important and not there just to be cute.
      • Kare Kano
      • Azumanga Daioh

    • Guys who are not that "cool"
      • Neon Genesis Evangelion
      • Video Girl Ai
      • Love Hina - Has the cutish girls too though
      • Chobits

    These are not some obscure animes, they constitute the majority of what I have seen so far.
  • by havana9 ( 101033 ) on Friday July 01, 2005 @05:58AM (#12958979)
    The think that worders me is why Japanese DVD normally haven't subtitles, even in Japanese itself.
    I think adding an English subtitles track doesn't cost very much, and permits english readers to BUY the original DVD instead of forcefully use fansubs.
    This maybe will impact the sublicensing on
    other countries, but the sublicensed version
    could have dubbed audio or different extras,
    and has to be of good quality.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.