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Anime The Almighty Buck

Profitmon Catches The Dollars 262

An anonymous reader writes "The mainstream press has finally discovered the cash in anime. Fortune's Daniel Roth profiles ADV, the largest anime distributor in the U.S.. He uses it as a way to talk about how the anime and manga business has, in what's become a rarity in showbiz, managed to find a way to do 'more than not alienate its customers: It has found ways to keep them buying and buying.' The article also details the madness of the anime superfans--the Otaku--and the likely Neon Genesis Evangelion live-action flick that Weta's Richard Taylor is pushing for." Good Content + Bittorrent = Profit?
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Profitmon Catches The Dollars

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  • by bad jerkface ( 930612 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#14139904) Homepage
    Profitmon, I choose you!
  • Methinks you mean WETA.
  • The money? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Namronorman ( 901664 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:03PM (#14139953)
    I think the money is from the fact that they can import on demand pretty much, they don't have to overproduce in case there's a large demand for it. The Anime sub-culture of the US is interesting in that it seems to often times follow certain trends and when something is popular you can just import it and sell it for a lot more than you usually would a normal DVD.

    There's also the fact that a lot of anime sales are online which can be on demand as well, it's just a safer business I think than producing large numbers of an item and hoping they all sell.
    • Re:The money? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      The money is from the fact that a lot of morons will pay $24.95 for a DVD with three or four episodes on it. Thanks, but I'll take a fansub instead. It's available earlier, the translation is usually better (although rife with typos and other silliness) and I don't have to rip it to avoid the stupid non-skippable intro animations on anime DVDs, especially those from ADV films.

      Mind you, I have been one of those morons on occasion, for example I bought all the cowboy bebop discs for that price. But then, th

      • They recently had all Studio Ghibli on some kind of special sale for $14 each at Bestbuy [: It's over now, but I got a few good movies for cheap!
      • Re:The money? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:18PM (#14140081)
        I like to call you the anti-fan.

        The money is from the fact that a lot of morons will pay $24.95 for a DVD with three or four episodes on it.
        Yeah, because that's near full MSRP. I buy online at dvdpacific.com where I can get them for $16 to $19 per disc. That's the price to pay if you want to support what you enjoy. And it's probably the best price the world over, considering the Japanese pay 5x that for TWO episodes.

        Thanks, but I'll take a fansub instead.
        You may think you're only spitting on the US licensor, but you're also spitting on the creator as well.

        It's available earlier
        You can do that when you ignore both the law and paying the creator for their time and effort.

        the translation is rarely better (although rife with typos and other silliness)
        Fixed that for you.

        and I don't have to rip it to avoid the stupid non-skippable intro animations on anime DVDs, especially those from ADV films.
        What non-skippable intros? I hit the menu button during the FBI logo on all of my DVDs and it jumps right to the menu. Every anime company does that (even ADV.)

        I have been one of those morons on occasion
        There we go. Only morons support that which they like. Everyone else screws them over.
        • You can call me whatever you like, but don't expect me to answer to it. Spitting on the creator? I'll be happy to send them some money. As for the "available earlier" thing not being possible without ignoring the law and paying the creator, let me first say fuck the law. Copyright law was created not to protect original creations, but to secure tax revenue. Regardless of that point, the reason it takes so long for a licensed release to come out is not because of law or paying the creator. It's about paying
          • Spitting on the creator? I'll be happy to send them some money.

            What do you mean "you'll be happy to"? Either you're sending them money or you're not!

            • They don't exactly make it easy to give the people who deserve the money a donation, now do they? The whole system is set up to put as many layers of undeserving shitheels in between the artists and the money as they can so that as many lazy, talentless fucks can get rich on their [minimal] effort as possible.
          • From what? It doesn't cost anything to copyright something, unless you mean from selling something, in which case no copyright law is needed, just sales tax. Your ranting in incoherent and at best smacks of entitlism.
            • If you want to find enlightenment on the subject of copyright, there are a few neat things you can read, like this wiki page [wikisource.org] or maybe this [winterspeak.com] little blurb... You could always read the original statute of anne [copyrighthistory.com] upon which US [and most all modern] copyright law is based, or maybe even glance over this [checs.net]. Copyright is bad for society, at least in its current form. Remember that it is essentially a right provided by the people, and the people have the power and the right to take it back.

              • you have a pretty limited view of what a right provided by the people is. all rights are provided by the people. The fact that copyright law exists means the right has been provided and you, as a single person, do you have the right to take it away. That is called democracy.

                anyways, reading the statute of anne, its interesting to note that nothing about tax revenue was written there. It was a 21 year right in order to encourage creation of writing to keep authors from going hungry. I'm not sure what at
        • I have watched a lot of fansub anime. Many of the groups put out subs FAR superior to what you get when you buy the dvd. Not to mention some anime distributors edit the anime and don't tell you. Most of the dvd's I have, even ones from large importers like ADV, have subs that are full of errors and can often be hard to read. And although I don't watch the dubs normally myself, I want a well done dub so I can watch them with friends/family that dont like subs, and almsot all series have disgustingly bad d
          • The impressive part is just how good fansubbing has gotten. I worked on several fansubs back around ~95-2000 and I remember futzing with various software and hardware to get subtitles added. Now add the computer and video feeds and the difference in quality is shocking.

            In particular the Champloo subs have been phenominal.

            I will say this, a lot of this just comes down to loving what you are working on. The old Kodocha subs for Kodomo no Omacha are still the best I have seen...

      •   and I don't have to rip it to avoid the stupid non-skippable intro animations on anime DVDs, especially those from ADV films.

        Hmmm... I have no freaking clue what you are talking about. I have Cromartie High and I can pretty much skip through any of the intro animation that I want to. By intro animation you do mean the annoying ads at the beginning right?? Yeah I can skip through those.
        • Oddly enough, the only really bad offender I can think of is Animeigo, and they bloody well should know better, as Robert Woodhead is a tech geek. The YUA DVDs have half a dozen intro bits which can only be skipped by fast-forwarding, and these are just a bunch of logos, not even ads. And in some of the Urusei Yatsura DVDs, for some mind-baffling reason, the STOP button is disabled in the main menus!

          All ADV does is start up with ads, which while annoying (especially the English voiceovers for the ads) ar

      • Re:The money? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:21PM (#14140104) Homepage
        This is very true. Take Samurari X, the director's cut. The subtitles and the English audio don't agree. The subtitles make more sense. A lot of the spoken English doesn't make sense.

        I think the next step is instead of a fan sub, a fan DUB. Get a group of fairly good voice people and dub in what they are speaking.....

        • Fan Dubs suck, they suck very badly, and when I say very badly, I mean so spectacularly badly that one prays for an official dub.

          Sure, the official dubs usually suck (with the exception of RahXephon) but at least your mind doesnt stop while listening or cringe in shock and horror.

          Just go look for the Naruto fan dub out there, terrible, terrible, terrible.
          • Every fan dub I've ever seen is a parody. Most hardcore fans prefer subtitles anyway, so going to the massive extra effort to dub something seems kinda weird. It's not impossible for someone to create a serious fan dub, but I can't imagine trying to find good voice actors that will work for free with a bunch of nerds. At least with fansubs it doesn't matter if you have a nasally voice.

            Parodies on the other hand have a lot more latitude in what they can do and the dub route is certainly an option.
          • Sure, the official dubs usually suck (with the exception of RahXephon) but at least your mind doesnt stop while listening or cringe in shock and horror.

            Have you heard the dub to Those Who Hunt Elves? I walked in on the middle of that one, and I was sure it was a fandub until I saw the closing credits, at which point my jaw dropped in horror.

            Really good dubs are few and far in between (even if the main characters are good, there'll always be incidental characters with bad voice acting), but I really liked

        • I really don't want dubs. Fan, or pro. The only thing they accomplish is making it take longer to get the licensed release out, in my opinion. I've never heard a pro-dub that I would rather use than the subtitles. Most people around the world watch movies this way, except the lazy ones. Like the USians :D
          • The only thing they accomplish is making it take longer to get the licensed release out, in my opinion. I've never heard a pro-dub that I would rather use than the subtitles. Most people around the world watch movies this way, except the lazy ones. Like the USians.

            Nah, dubs are very common around the world. Anything remotely popular will probably end up dubbed for a lot of the local markets. Even in countries with high literacy rates, for example - My Sassy Girl is being dubbed in Tagalog for the Philippi
          • Oh, I don't know. Ranma 1/2 had a pretty good dub, as did Cowboy Bebop and Trigun was bareable.
            • Ranma 1/2's dub was awful. Cowboy Bebop is the first anime I've ever watched with Subs that didn't piss me off (Akira wasn't bad either I guess, in the second/special edition.) Trigun's were okay until you got to the female voices and then they were horrible. Is it just me, or is it a truism that while there are a few decent male dub voice actors, there are no good females? If I have to watch Ghost in the Shell in english one more time, I'm going to fucking kill someone.
        • I think the next step is instead of a fan sub, a fan DUB. Get a group of fairly good voice people and dub in what they are speaking.....

          No, thanks. VOST is nice because Voice Actor is a true profession in Japan and good voice actors/actress stand toe to toe with regular actors/actress in both popularity and earnings. Until the occidental world makes voice acting as valuable as regular acting I'll stick to subs.

        • you do know Japanese nad english are worlds apart right? so why would you expect the timing to sync up if htey did an exact translation every time. Sometimes, you have to let go of the original just so it doesn't start looking like one of those terribly translated old chinese movies.

          its hard to do. I can speak japanese(not exceptionally well but more than good enough to understand most anime if I have a dictionary) and lots of lines wouldn't work in english, at least given teh time constraints.
      • do you know Japanese? fluently? then you probably shouldn't comment on the quality of the subtitles. unless you are fluent in japanese, All you know is that you prefer the way fans translate things.
        • I don't, but I know those who do. Besides, you don't have to know a whole fuck of a lot to know that when they say brother or sister (I can catch the occasional word now after years of watching anime but absolutely no studying Japanese) but a character's name or a whole different title crops up in the subs, that something is wrong.
          • actually, yes you do. and if you studied japanese culture and lived there, you would quickly realize that most common words have a trove of definitions and most of the time, you never translate them the same unless the situation is the same. Its because a lot of japanese in inferred from the situation and your previous relationships with the person.

            just them saying the japanese word ani/oniisan doesn't mean it always means brother. the tone, implication, and situation all change the meaning. It can range
            • Shit, in order to really capture nuance, you can't make a straight translation between pretty much any two languages, just because there is so much difference of meaning conveyed in tone and context. Regardless, I feel that most translators take too many liberties.
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:12PM (#14140035)
    It fails to mention ADV's recent financial troubles, highlighted by the fact that in the past year they've had to give up funding the creation of several new shows and didn't announce any licenses during this year's con season (which is very unusual.)

    It also fails to account for the fact that despite how small all of the anime companies are compared to say the music and movie giants in the states, the size of the warez base is MUCH LARGER relatively. There's a prevalent attitude among anime "fans" that paying for it is somehow supporting "the man" despite the fact that international licensors provide the japanese with a non-trivial amount of funding.
    • I worked for ADV for several years until spring of 2005. It seemed like it was time to get out as they were cutting back on almost everything they could think of. 2002-2004 was great for their employees but when they bought the anime network (not sure of the exact details) everything started going downhill financially. Never look back!
    • ADV is not in good shape right now, and I'm surprised to see an article trying to put a positive spin on them this late in the game.

      ADV simply fell into the trap of exploiting a fad at it's peak by spending money like crazy. (Most notably, their "Anime Network".) Once the anime fad here in the US began to drop off, ADV began to suffer. During that time, they've had several company-wide layoffs and now their product quality is at an all-time low. The fact that they gave Cartoon Network the keys to their flag
    • People forget a couple of things:

      ADV was almost critically wounded after the bidding war the surrounded Neon Genesis as well. NGE pretty much bankrupted them. They recovered quite nicely when NGE actually started to sell. On the other hand, they then started a massive mother of all buying binges which terminated with the illfated Anime TV network.

      Also, GAINEX itself nearly didn't survive Evangelion. This is nothing too surprising. GAINEX has been notoriously ill-managed over the years oscillating between di
  • by webslacker ( 15723 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:14PM (#14140050)
    Weta, not Meta. What kind of nerd are you?

  • Bring me Bleach in English, and Gantz. And Yakitate. Yeah, bring me Bleach, Gantz, and Yakitate. Oh, and Initial D. Bring me Bleach, Gantz, Yakitate, and Initial D. Oh, and......nevermind. Bring me them all.
  • Price Analysis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VGMSupreme ( 228396 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:22PM (#14140116) Homepage
    To be perfectly honest, the reason ADV is raking in the dough, is that as one of the biggest anime distributers in America, they can charge an arm, a leg, and three kidneys for their product, and it will sell. You'll notice there are not a lot of anime distributers out there, so there are only a few mediums where you can get it from. While it is still cheaper to obtain it from online sources (AnimeNation and the like), it is still costly. I could buy all of Buffy, Angel, or even Hercules right now, and it would be cheaper than getting a box set of a particular anime series.

    They won't come down in price, cause pretty much there is no reason for them too. While I download the occassional anime series, I still buy some of my stuff from Brick N' Mortar, or other various online sources. Hell, I am going to buy Grenadier, even though I have the fansubs to it on my computer.

    Seriously, if they want to really rank in the dough, start dropping the prices to under the $20 level. At least then, it might make is justifiable to only the DVD for its extras. Keeping it at $29.99 might net you big profits in the short term, but as the years progress, there is only so much people are willing to take before they forever go the way of fansubs.
    • Re:Price Analysis (Score:3, Informative)

      by Microlith ( 54737 )
      I see this and it tells me you only shop at places like Suncoast, which always charge full MSRP for stuff.

      Look around online at legit shops like deepdiscountdvd.com or dvdplanet.com (or my fave, dvdplanet.com) and you can find shows for just over half MSRP.

      That and ADV is releasing a lot of shows that only came out this year as thinpak complete collections. While they lack extras (which are of variable quality), you can get an entire show for $30-$60 in a nice, small box. And you support the industry as a w
    • 10 years ago, the cost of anime was far far greater then it currently is. I remember shelving all of Neon Genesis for around $29.99 per _two episodes_. $360 looks a lot more painful then the box sets you can grab for $60-90 recently. In general, I think the Anime industy has done well maintaining the price, but adding more episodes as the market for anime gets larger and larger.
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @03:26PM (#14140161)
    I pegged anime for a fad in the late 90's. There was some incredible stuff coming out, but there was a TON material dating back to the 1970's that still had not been shown to outside [of Japan] audiences. Most people outside of Japan didn't watch Akira or Vampire Hunter D until they were 5 - 10 years old. I figured the well of good old material would dry up and there wouldn't be enough new material to keep interest going. Looks like I was wrong.
    • Wow, Vampire Hunter D. There's a name one doesn't hear too often. I have the tape (yes, tape) of that movie and it is outstanding.

      One series I don't hear much about (if ever) is StarBlazers. I have the entire first series and half of the second series on tape. There is a third series but I have never seen it since it was only broadcast in a few markets in the U.S.

      Best scene is when they make it Gamolon and go inside and start blasting away at everything that moves. Turn the lights off and turn the volu
    • by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <kaboom108&bellsouth,net> on Tuesday November 29, 2005 @05:37PM (#14141513)
      Imagine if you took all of American television, and took out all the crap you don't like. You'd probably be left with 3-4 series you really enjoy and a bunch of crap you will watch cause theres nothing better on. When you open up a whole new genre to yourself, you are bound to find some new gems in all the crap. It's the same thing with anime, a massive variety is made and almost everyone is bound to find some they really enjoy. Theres cop shows, and romance shows, and sci-fi shows, and comedy shows, etc. And while the OVA market has pretty much dried up, TV anime and movies are still going strong in Japan, with tons more being made every year. Fansubs are so prevelant and easily available now you could literally watch nothing but newly released anime all day. Also, instead of self-contained 30 minute episodes like most American series, Anime tend more towards long story arc, with each episode connecting directly to the next. So it can be easy to get drawn in and want to watch "what happens next" every week. So even if you've watched all the "classics" theres tons of new material out there and access to it is easier then ever. Everyone in my group of friends watches 3-4 shows every week like they would a tv series, and we talk about it "over the watercooler" so to speak like we would a normal television show. In short, anime is not going anywhere, and I really think a cable network that showed NEW anime shows, subtitled and uneditied within a week of them airing in Japan (some fansub groups put out a decent quality sub within 24 hrs of the show airing, and they do it for no profit) could be really successful. However most forays into anime on tv have been A. Dubbed, the dubs are generally either very innacurate or just low quality B. Editied for time and content (Japanese TV seems to have less time dedicated to commercials and the show is only interrupted once for a longer commercial break), and C. given no respect for the original work or it's creators and their artistic vision.
  • You forgot the missing ingredient
  • profitmon! (Score:2, Funny)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 )
    Profitmon! i choose you!
  • one possible reason for the success of anime specialists like ADV is that they don't have very much competition for product. Big Media (TM) has, so far, ignored much of anime, choosing only to acquire kid friendly titles. when Big media companies have tried to bring in more adult fare, they've edited the life out of it short circuiting its success.

    this leaves the market for anime to a few companies willing to experiment with alternative distribution and not afraid of competition from fans (such as fansubs,
  • I'm an Otaku - An Anime Fan Elite and Anime Fan Fiction Writer.

    Japanese Anime has seen an explosion of popularity in the US over the past few years. What attributed to this was the broadcast of Anime on TV. Cartoon Network's Toonami accelerated this and the popularity of Pokemon also helped. Not all Anime is for kids, though, but the mentality of most American's is to catalogue all animated TV shows as kids shows. This is dangerous thinking, and its caused several good series to be ruined when released
  • My family and I just finished watching all of "Last Exile", which we enjoyed despite much confusion with it. Any recommendations for other anime along those lines?
    • Last Exile was definitely a top-notch anime. I'd recommend Scrapped Princess. If you want to get fansubs, a good family series is Patapata Hikousen no Bouken (Secret of Cerulean Sand). Good steam era sci-fi with lovable characters and a great plot. I don't believe it's licensed here yet, so you might be able to find it out on the bittorrent networks.
  • I think ADV's success has a lot to do with their relationship with their fanbase. They've been pretty receptive to suggestions, and the founders are actually fans themselves. The companies that were founded by fans are typically more attentive to details. They make a lot of trips to anime conventions [wikipedia.org] and mingle with their fans. Heck, the co-founder [animenewsnetwork.com] is married to a voice actress [eva-r.com]. One of their main producers [livejournal.com] maintains a blog. All three were at a New York anime convention [animenext.org] a few years ago [animenext.org] and were quite o
  • Some suggestions:

    Frist Post!
    You Have Been Trolled
    SlashDot: Anime for nerds, mechas that matter (notice the BiCapitalization. When an anime has an Englisch or German name it's often strange in some way)
    Roland de Piquepaille and the Karma Whores
    Repost Warrior CmdrTaco

    And let's not forget the OVAs:
    Slashdot: Beowulf Cluster
    Slashdot: Hot Grits Panic!
    Slashdot is dead - Confirmation: Netcraft (gotta love Engrish)
    In Soviet Russia, Slashdot watch YOU!
    Internet Crisis: Slashdot Effect

If you can't learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly.