Copyrights? Hasn’t this horse been flogged, shot, cannonaded and shelled to bits already?

January 31, 2009 at 8:01 am 3 comments

It’s a strange world to be living in today. What with the economic crisis, animé going down the pits, and people claiming that downloading stuff actually helps boost sales.

It’s a most interesting topic, talking about copyrights, the Berne Convention, and it’s relevance to Japanese animation, since it brings up all sorts of emotions on both sides.

Still, there are a few things we can see from this.

1.   If you are interested in the thing, you’d still buy it.

For Pete’s sake, it doesn’t matter if you like Mythbusters, Friends, LOST, House, Heroes, CLANNAD, Lucky Star, Kannagi or Da Capo, if you liked what you saw, and have a strong enough interest in it, you’d still be trying to get your grubby hands on the original. Personally, I’m not too obligated to buy all that I see (at best 10% of what I see, and that’s a lot), but for those people with a strong interest in their hobbies, they’d be buying the originals hook, line and sinker. Don’t let people who say animé is just a long commercial meant to hawk goods (they are right, in a sense, but it hardly applies to most series save anything by SUNRISE BANDAI) and that buying the licensed merch is enough. If it was a matter of support, I’d be handing a good portion of my paycheck to an animé stidio every month.

Because it’s not a matter of support, it’s a matter of interest. And those who think only buying the related merch is good enough are not actual fans, but are participating in a horrible rat race to see who has more merch. The support thing is nothing but a lie to placate themselves.

The reverse also applies. Goodness knows how many people I’ve listened to complaining about how much their life sucks to the point they partake in semi-destructive activities like downloading stuff off the Internet to justify some sort of  twisted ideology (and no, I’m not being a bloody racist or spreading hate here, just to make it clear.).

2.   Japanese Animation has always been niché, and will remain niché.

There’s a very good reason it’s called Japanese animation, and not called animation in general. It’s aimed squarely at the Japanese (and to a much lesser extent, the Asian) otaku crowd. Call it a curse, but they are overtly specialized in their chosen field, to the point where it’s extremely hard for them to absorb the deeper meaning and finer points of other cultures. As much as I praise Clannad for being a beautiful piece of work, I am all too aware that it was made by Japanese people foor a Japanese audience. Which hampers wider acceptance. There are very few shows that make the jump to wider acceptance. Otaku don’t really like such shows.

3.   The customers hate the distributors, and vice versa.

Call me naive, but I think this relationship was rather good in the past. People respected the distributors, and encouraged the growth of the subculture through informal means. (Though in Singapore, you hear a much different story…) So what’s with the dysfunction?

I don’t think the Internet changed people in an instant. No one enters the Internet a nice man and comes out an asshole. Faster connections, more advanced software, and getting raws directly from Japan does not create a massive war where everyone loses. So what really happened?

Here’s my theory: People actually hated the distributors to begin with. Sure, the earlier generation would gladly get their hands on any animation released during that time, but my guess was that when they heard of some new show popping out in Japan that they could not watch, or when their favorite show got horribly butchered, they started to feel cheated. After all, it’s a perfectly normal reaction for many of us when we don’t get what we want. So when the technological advances came in, they decided to take out their hate against what one would term “the establishment” and abused the fat pipes and software, disregarding the other side when they did have something good to suggest.

And on the other hand, the distributors, realizing that their money farm had disappeared, and upon discovering what happened to their lost incomes, grew angry at the hateful, angry end-users who once bought their stuff in droves. We’ve seen it happen way too many times.  RIAA, MPAA, Odex, just to name a few. So the distributors flex thier muscles and use whatever means at their disposal to browbeat the customers back into buying their stuff. With disastrous results. And the vicious cycle continues.

4.   Selfish people are selfish.

Which comes to the crux of my article. We’re all selfish jerks who care more about ourselves than other people. We set overly high expectations for things that will ultimately not live up to those expectations, and then we blow hot and cold over even the tiniest things. (Which really gets my goat, regardless of intensity.)

The complaints, the grumblings, the “holier-than-thou” attitudes I witness and have acted out myself on a few occasions, thinking that you are better than those idiots who put out crap (again, think Odex), I’m no stranger to it. And no matter how many times everyone tells me that it’s perfectly normal, I know that this is the wrong attitude to take.


Entry filed under: Bitching.

DERP. Women on Japanese animation, or HINANO IS NOT GETTING IN ON THE ACTION

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nemykal  |  February 2, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Pretty much agree with everything you said.
    My own little anecdote: Living in australia means I’ve gone out of my way to order things from just so i can own limited editions boxsets of stuff i like. It’s impossible to be expected to buy everything here, since nobody sells it. And since a lot of stuff isn’t technically licensed down here, it hardly matters anyway.

    Security by obscurity though, nobody cares if aussies pirate :3

  • 2. Leefe  |  February 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    We haven’t seen studios do the distro themselves have we? If they could, they could have helped with lowering some middleman costs. Not everybody would be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for DVDs, especially if there’re plenty of shows around.

  • 3. Hectotane  |  February 5, 2009 at 3:04 am

    They keep telling us to think of the poor children. But the problem is that they didn’t learn how to think for themselves.


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