One of these days, I’ll find a cash cow, and I’ll kill it for meat.
People say animé is dying, if the recent Geneon going ‘bust’ is to be an indicator of things to come. Or maybe it’s because of Japan having a bad time this year when it comes to Japanese animation. Or maybe a bunch of school kids have either murdered or almost murdered their peers/parents and that caused a bunch of shows to be pulled off the air for a bit.
I have only this to say: O RLY?
Let’s take Geneon going ‘bust’ as an example. Just because a company is scaling back it’s operations doesn’t mean they are dying, it means they are doing their best to prevent more losses. Geneon, I think, is a victim of a string of bad business decisions, ending with the failed merger with ADV. And from Answerman, I think they are really up to their necks in debt.
Sometimes when one makes a bad decision, he has to pay for it for the rest of his life. The same goes for companies, only this time with higher stakes. A good example of a Bad Business Decision would be Nintendo stubbornly sticking to the cartridge format for the N64. Compared with CDs and DVDs, carts were bulky, expensive to develop for, and thus, unprofitable. This caused Nintendo to lag behind in the console race, something which they paid for with decreased sales and lack of third-party support for the Gamecube, even though the Gamecube did rake in a tidy sum for Nintendo. Thank goodness they wised up and made all the right decisions for the Wii, though time will tell if they had made the right choice. (But right now, it seems like they did make the right choice, eschewing the hardcore for the casual and non-gamers.)
Another Bad Business Decision is ADV throwing money around to get licenses. Well, when you become greedy and grab every license you can get your hands on, you will have mediocre and crap title, along with the good and very good titles. That’s good money wasted for things you can do with the wasted money, like retraining the workers or hiring better voice actors/actresses. I’m not saying ADV products are bad, but let’s just say from what I’ve read, it could be a lot better. And if you don’t improve your products, you will eventually lose out. Thankfully, ADV have learnt the error of their ways, and are reorganizing their business to meet the needs of their customers (I hope).
But back to the point: Is animé really dying? To answer that, we can’t look at the American market. The American market as far as I know is a distribution market, not a creation-type market. We have to look at the Japanese market, where animé and the like come from.
On the surface all seems well. Finances are constantly in the black, there’s marketability in Akihabara, people are at least curious about the place. Unfortunately, all is not well in Akiba.
Otaku are slowly being driven out of Akihabara. If Patrick Macias is to be believed, animé as a whole is slowly dying. It’s not even a natural death, where people lose interest and move on. It’s the kind of death only the likes of Singapore can inflict on a community: a slow cancerous death, where all that is good is slowly being replaced with all that is not good. Think of it as cultural chemotherapy for a cancer that the Japanese culture has never faced before. It’s not a pretty sight.
Havens for otaku are being replaced by shiny new things. Corporations slowly grabbing whatever reason to expand into what people call ‘otaku paradise’. Laws are being enacted to prevent otaku from doing certain things. Heck, they’re slowly trying to wipe out all the porn in Akihabara. This resulted in the ill-intentioned “Akihabara Liberation Front” and the sad day they tried to kill some people in Comiket.
Again, I say this is more of a cultural problem, stemming from the problems of Shinto. But that’s for another article.
Indeed, the subculture we have come to know, love and hate is slowly being wiped out. I quote Patrick Macias (from his article, “Akihabara’s Awful Truths”):
But what you can’t find is what it was that made Akihabara buzz in the first place. It wasn’t just anime, manga, and video games that built it, or continue to sustain it even today. Instead, Akihabara was the side effect of collective fantasy and private desire desperate to find expression through technology, through commerce, molded plastic, pixel, and drawing paper. Now, those dreams are threatened by a dull and dreary reality.
That paragraph summarizes what is wrong with animé today. It’s not about the bloody fansubs or about P2P (I’ve had enough about all that cowcrap, you want to end this, destroy the Earth. I dare ya, corporations of the world. Blow up this Earth. It’s the only way to preserve your bloody profits.). If Akihabara falls, so does animé, and the entire subculture.
Funimation and VIZ may be in the green, and ADV is slowly looking to the future, but what good is the future if we can’t protect the present? Without Akihabara, animé may just as well be cartoons from Japan. Which is, in reality, true. And we all know what cartoons are in America and beyond.
I ask the good people who watch this form of entertainment, legally or otherwise: Would you watch cartoons from Japan if Akihabara never existed?