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-   -   Pitching Anime in America ~How to Phrase a Premise~ (http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=115106)

Midonin 2012-09-29 22:44

Pitching Anime in America ~How to Phrase a Premise~
 
With more and more series getting licensed before they even hit the air, there's one element I've been looking into. Even if the people who choose to get their anime through subtitled streaming, and I hope a lot of people do, even if they were never into anime, there's a lot they have to look at. The art design and color palette a series uses is immediately visible, but Funi/Sentai/etc. don't have control over that, they're not the ones who make it.

What they do have control over is how they write the premise. Most of the time, the premise is accurate to the events in the series, but compared to the Japanese writeup, I wonder if they come across as trying too hard to fit the series into an American marketing perspective.

I know that Sentai's writeup for Mashiro-iro Symphony gave off the wrong tone entirely.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mashiro-iro Symphony
Watch it boys: if you're trying to get in, these girls will make sure you stay out! Poor Shingo. As soon as life starts becoming normal, his coed school, Kagamidai, begins the process of merging with Yuihime, an all girls private academy. Not only that, but Shingo's also been picked to be part of a group of test males who will be transferred into a Yuihime classroom. Suddenly, he is surrounded by the enemy, no ammo in sight, and with literally no man power to back him up. How will Shingo survive this death trap of feisty females? Will he learn to coexist, or will he just get his eyes scratched out? Find out in Mashiroiro Symphony ~ The Color of Lovers!

But even if they're accurate to what happens in the show, there's a tendency to go overboard on the puns. Now, I like puns. Wordplay is one of my favorite things in the world. And even for series that make use of extensive wordplay metaphors in the actual program, it's entirely possible to go overboard. Like this one for Upotte!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Upotte!
Kiss kiss, bang bang! The arms race takes on a startling new development when the arms come with heads, legs and very feminine bodies attached! It’s going to be difficult for newly recruited human instructor Genkoku to adjust to working with a living arsenal of high caliber cuties with tricky names like FNC (Funko,) M 16A4 (Sixteen,) L85A1 (El,) and SG 550 (Sig,) especially since many have hair triggers and there’s no bulletproof vest that can stop a really determined coed! Get ready for explosive situations, armor piercing rounds, cheap shots galore and one VERY shell shocked homeroom instructor in UPOTTE!

But I'm not solely picking on Sentai here. I appreciate the work they do in releasing many more obscure series. But Funi can sometimes fall into the exact same trap as I mentioned above. Like this writeup for B Gata H Kei.

Quote:

Originally Posted by B Gata H Kei
OMG! There’s this girl at school, Yamada, who wants to make like a hundred sex friends. She totally thinks she can devirginize one hundred different boys! Can you believe that? That’s like every boy in the school. Who does she think she is? I heard from my friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s lab partner that Yamada’s never even been kissed. Oh. My. God. I would totally die. That’s like burn all your makeup and shave off your eyebrows embarrassing. I can’t even think about it. Today at lunch I saw Yamada flirting, like for reals flirting, with that geek Kosuda. You know the guy. Photography club, no muscles, boring face, kind of reminds you of a black-and-white movie. Super lame. If Yamada can’t even make the sex with him, she’ll never score a hundred cherry boys. She needs to take like Sex Ed or something because I heard she can’t give it away!

The idea's clever, but reading it is tougher.

Here's another series they released recently, Steins;Gate. It reads like a stream of consciousness from "Kyouma", similar in style to the writeup above, but is much easier to parse through.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steins;Gate
The microwave is a time machine. Okarin proved it. The self-anointed mad scientist nuked bananas into some gelatinous version of the future. Or maybe it was the past. Doesn’t matter. No one thought he could do it, but he did it anyway. He sent text messages through time to people he knew. To his friends. Some of them female. Pretty. He should have been more careful. He should have stopped. Tampering with the time-space continuum attracts unwelcome attention. Clandestine organizations of nefarious origins take notice. SERN. Always watching. Okarin knows; he can feel their eyes. That’s why he started the top secret Future Gadget Lab. To stop them. You should join. We get to wear lab coats, and it’s dangerous. Danger is exciting because it’s deadly. The microwave is a time machine.

I'm not making any judgments on the above series themselves - that's up to each individual person to decide. I'm simply wondering how much of an effect these writeups have. There are other sources for fans to find out what a series' content is like - namely, other fans - but are the people who write these marketing copies trying too hard, or are they on the right track towards catching the eyes of casual fans?

brocko 2012-09-29 22:56

Steins;Gate one was well written and reflects the show pretty well whilst drawing interest I'd say. Other ones I havn't seen yet so I can't really comment. But the B Gata one sounds like H advertisement haha :heh:

EDIT: I don't think they're particularly trying too hard per say. Anime ain't exactly the easiest medium to sell so you have to spruce it somehow to attract new attention.

Random32 2012-09-29 23:05

I generally just read the the Wikipedia page and if its interesting read/watch/play it, otherwise conversations with forums/friends. I think a lot of the more casual anime fans around me rely on friends most for recommendations.

Also, I'm pretty sure most of these writeups for movies/tv series/etc other entertainment are not this ridiculous. For example, for a few things out of my Netflix suggestions:
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This documentary profiles sushi chef Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old master whose 10-seat, $300-a-plate restaurant is legendary among Tokyo foodies.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sherlock
In this updated take on Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved mystery tales, the eccentric sleuth prowls the streets of modern-day London in search of clues. At his side -- though hobbling -- is flatmate Dr. John Watson, fresh from the Afghan War.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RIN Daughters of Mnemosyne
Follow the extraordinary exploits of Rin Asogi, an immortal private detective with incredible fighting skills, a brilliant mind and a shadowy past, as she repeatedly perishes and comes back to life while taking odd jobs and fighting fearsome foes. This intriguing anime series also charts the mysterious movements of Apos, an almighty being who desperately desires to take Rin's immortality away from her.

So I would say they are trying way too hard. You don't need puns, just something to tell the potential watcher what it is about.

brocko 2012-09-29 23:13

The key is not just informing people what the premise or the show is about, but actively trying to catch their interest to give your a show a shot in the first place. If it's just "boy goes to school and meets high school girls". No one's gonna even give the show a shot in the first place because it's a boring sales pitch. When you're actively trying to advertise something, you generally want to talk it up every chance you can.

Akito Kinomoto 2012-09-29 23:24

The summaries on the back cover of these products are usually fine. A lot of the initial reaction for the teasers can depend on the show itself. That said, and we'll disregard sites like Crunchyroll for a minute, is the pay-off of advertising an anime like Mashiro-iro Symphony to a casual audience worth it when, and stop me if I'm jumping the gun here, the people more likely to buy it in the first place are the "non-casual" fans? Us?

Midonin 2012-09-29 23:27

Anime is a niche market, and that's true. That's what I like about it. I was mostly curious who these writeups were trying to target, and if they were successful in doing so.

brocko 2012-09-29 23:27

^ Anyone who happens to read it. I.E Everyone.

In reply to Akito: The hardcore fanbase will buy it regardless anyway, so really whats the harm in trying to appeal to a wider demographic? =/

Random32 2012-09-29 23:28

Okay. Telling the viewer what it is about isn't enough, it needs to say something to catch the potential viewer's attention. This still does not justify puns/wordplay/weird writing/etc.

It should be in the tone of someone talking about the series, not from the pov of a character, not in the style of the series, etc, but someone telling you what it is about and what might interest you about it. I think that if a person were to respond to a question of "Why should I watch X?" by reading the writeup out loud, if they sound like a total idiot, its a bad writeup.

Akito Kinomoto 2012-09-29 23:38

Quote:

Originally Posted by brocko (Post 4374713)
In reply to Akito: The hardcore fanbase will buy it regardless anyway, so really whats the harm in trying to appeal to a wider demographic? =/

Derp. Didn't think of that.:heh:
Quote:

Originally Posted by Random32 (Post 4374715)
I think that if a person were to respond to a question of "Why should I watch X?" by reading the writeup out loud, if they sound like a total idiot, its a bad writeup.

Good writing doesn't necessarily translate to good speaking though. Besides, a guy helping his hawt sister with her otaku hobby is going to be an awkward premise to sell to casual fans regardless methinks.

brocko 2012-09-29 23:38

@ Random:
Puns, wordplay, 1st person, 3rd person, etc. are all legitimate writing techniques. To what standard are they not justified? You see them all the time in story-telling in order to create a more engaging piece of text. That's exactly the reason why they're being used here too, to draw and hook in interest.

It really sounds like you'd rather an objective 3rd person review in place of these blurbs. But the point of a review isn't to sell a product most of the time but rather to evaluate it instead. Different texts for different purpose.

Triple_R 2012-09-30 05:42

To be fair, a lot of these shows are really, really hard to promote in a way that would make them seem appealing to your average American who's not a diehard anime fan, and maybe just dabbles in anime from time-to-time.

Honestly, I'm impressed how Sentei managed to make Mashiro-iro Symphony sound kind of cool. I really liked Mashiro-iro Symphony, but "cool" is not what I think of when I think of Mashiro-iro Symphony, and the way it was pitched here actually made it seem kind of cool. And honestly, I think it fits well enough, especially for the 1st volume (where it really is a lot about these guys having to win over a school of girls that are largely biased, if not sexist, against them).


The promo for Steins;Gate takes an interesting approach. I think that the "The microwave is a time machine" is meant to tap into "The cake is a lie" meme that's pretty popular with gamers right now (particularly those who played Portal, of course ;) ). The overall approach taken for Steins;Gate here is pretty standard for "trippy sci-fi", and Steins;Gate is in fact "trippy sci-fi".

Now, is this the best way to promote Steins;Gate? Maybe not, but I thought it was Ok at least.


I haven't seen the other two shows, so I'm not exactly sure how good a job these promos do. But let's be frank here, B Gata H Kei does set itself up as being about a girl who wants to sleep with 100 guys (that's kind of hard to promote without it sounding like a horribly cheesy B-Grade porn movie, imo :heh:) and I think it's pretty clear what Upotte! is going for. :heh: Given the premise of these shows, I think the promos are just being brutally honest about them.

Random32 2012-09-30 09:58

Quote:

Originally Posted by brocko (Post 4374726)
@ Random:
Puns, wordplay, 1st person, 3rd person, etc. are all legitimate writing techniques. To what standard are they not justified? You see them all the time in story-telling in order to create a more engaging piece of text. That's exactly the reason why they're being used here too, to draw and hook in interest.

It really sounds like you'd rather an objective 3rd person review in place of these blurbs. But the point of a review isn't to sell a product most of the time but rather to evaluate it instead. Different texts for different purpose.

I'm going by the standard of Netflix blurbs. They serve the same purpose as these writeups, to basically say what the show is and why its interesting.

Netflix is in the position to have a lot of experience and knowledge about these blurbs, so I trust that their blurbs are a decent standard to compare other blurbs by.

Also, more examples, of anime specifically. Though not stellar, most of these are decent blurbs.
http://img1.ak.crunchyroll.com/i/spi...14163_full.jpg

Tempester 2012-09-30 13:21

Those synopses were all horrible and painful to read (aside from the Steins;Gate one, which still was a bit weird). They just stink of corn and "trying too hard". And I really don't need to be given emphasis on how pretty the female characters are when I can see them on the cover.

I do agree with Random32 that his sample Netflix summaries are much better at pitching their premises.

But maybe these summaries are what works for anime fans, and I may be too much of a jaded deepfag to get reeled in by "wacky hijinks ensue" summaries.

Also, I really hope Sentai Filmworks makes a respectable and serious summary when it markets From the New World.

DonQuigleone 2012-09-30 13:40

I think synopses should really go the dull approach. When it comes to selling Anime the real work is actually in the visual, not textual marketting. The text should just inform the viewer about the outline of the plot. It's the visuals which really sells the show. If you can show some interesting visuals, then your going somewhere.

The sentai synopses posted above strike me more as something a highschooler(or more accurately a bad imitation of one) would write, to be honest.

The only good one was the synopsis for Steins; Gate, and mostly because it was more subtle.

The synopses Random 32 posted are what I'd consider good synopses.

creb 2012-09-30 14:28

Obviously I can only speak for myself, but here's my opinion on the effect of a writeup (for anime at least):

It's grossly overshadowed by visuals. Whether that's fantastic box art, promotional images, etc, if you ace that, you could have gibberish written in Klingon for your writeup and it wouldn't matter.

Shallow and cynical? Yes. But, life often is. :heh:

I'm not saying a writeup has no effect on individual A, B, or C, but that I suspect those individuals it actually effects are outliers. Writing a smashing writeup can't hurt, but the chances it's going to be primarily responsible for audiences flocking to your anime are, imo, virtually nil.

Smashing anime successes like Bleach and Naruto, I'm fairly certain, don't rely on the written word to captivate their legions of western fans. ;D

bhl88 2012-09-30 15:07

Wonder how to pitch for: fighting and staking pride for half priced portable lunch boxes

DonQuigleone 2012-09-30 21:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by creb (Post 4375684)
Obviously I can only speak for myself, but here's my opinion on the effect of a writeup (for anime at least):

It's grossly overshadowed by visuals. Whether that's fantastic box art, promotional images, etc, if you ace that, you could have gibberish written in Klingon for your writeup and it wouldn't matter.

Shallow and cynical? Yes. But, life often is. :heh:

I don't know, a picture is worth a thousand words after all...

Also you can tell a lot about a show by it's art style. For instance, there's no way this could ever be a good show.

Midonin 2012-09-30 21:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by DonQuigleone (Post 4376081)
Also you can tell a lot about a show by it's art style. For instance, there's no way this could ever be a good show.

Whereas for me, that's the kind of art style and show that's more likely to draw me in. But in the interest of keeping this thread on topic, a few more writeups.

Quote:

Originally Posted by TARI TARI
The last year of high school is always a time of both looking forward while reflecting on the past. Can something as simple as a choir club really heal past wounds and soothe the pangs that come with growing up? Can music really bring people together? Three students, the former music student Wakana Sakai, equestrian Sawa Okita, and choirgirl-turned-street performer Konatsu Miyamoto, discover the answers while learning how to grow up through the medium of song in TARI TARI!

Mostly accurate, but the "turned street performer" part is the one that sticks out.

And an example that shows a basic description is possible, it's just not always the route chosen.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toaru Majutsu no Index
Kamijo is a student in Academy City, where people use science to develop supernatural abilities. The guy’s got a lot of heart – luckily for a young nun named Index. She’s on the run from a sorcery society that covets the astonishing 103,000 volumes of magical knowledge stored in her memory. When Index stumbles into Kamijo’s life, she find a faithful friend and protector, and while Kamijo’s easily the weakest kid in Academy City, he’s got something else going for him: the Imagine Breaker, an unexplainable power stored in his right hand that negates the powers of others. With scientists and sorcerers attacking from all sides, the Imagine Breaker will definitely come in handy – but it’s Kamijo’s loyalty to Index that will be his greatest weapon in the fight to keep her safe.


Akito Kinomoto 2012-09-30 21:25

I'm going to share the sentiment that advertising for a show should have an emotional tinge to it. The dry tone is what reviews are for.

SeijiSensei 2012-09-30 21:33

I find it hard to believe that most anime are sold because a random consumer pulls a box off the shelf at Best Buy and decides whether to buy it based on some absurd description like the ones above. Most of the descriptions cited here, and others I've seen, appear to conceptualize the in-store retail marketplace as composed of horny fifteen-year-old boys who watch anime to see boobies and have a couple of twenties burning a hole in their pockets. In reality the market for anime in stores like Best Buy has shrunk dramatically in the past few years in favor of online retailers like Amazon, streaming from Crunchyroll, Netflix, and the like, and piracy.

I don't buy any show I haven't already watched. I see the occasional person at places like ANN talk about blind purchases, but they seem to be a distinct minority. I would think that, outside of mainstream shows like Naruto or Pokemon or Miyazaki films, few people buy anime they haven't already heard of from friends or from sites like AS and ANN.

I will admit that my days of being a horny fifteen-year-old boy are pretty far behind me, though, so maybe there are more casual purchasers than I might think?


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