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Old 2009-03-03, 23:26   Link #1
sa547
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Surface Tension: The Threat of a Animation Bubble Burst

Future of 'anime' industry in doubt
Quote:
"When we look at viewer ratings of animated television programs, we notice that the top slot is always dominated by 'Sazae-san,' the only program that is still produced using the traditional hand-drawn method," he said, adding that this trend could also be seen in last year's ¥15 billion-grossing hit "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea," a hand-drawn movie produced by Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli.

"In this age of mass production, when most animation is digitized, we need to consider the implications of such data," Yamaguchi said.

"I think we need to think, philosophically, about what our users really want."
In this age of impending recession, I think it's high time most studios will have to think out of the box, reconsider their business model and think globally because their traditional methods, business model and copyright enforcement doesn't work in Web 2.0.

The industry will also have to evolve in response to the true needs of their viewers like us.
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Old 2009-03-03, 23:39   Link #2
Ichihara Asako
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That's stupid. Sazae-san is incomparable to any other series, it's an institution among millions. All Ghibli titles are also powerhouses that rock everything else when they're released.

Both have absolutely nothing to do with the animation method. What are they even thinking bringing it up?
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Old 2009-03-03, 23:44   Link #3
Proto
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Quote:
The industry will also have to evolve in response to the true needs of their viewers like us.
I think you forgot to quote this other part where they comment

Quote:
"Thanks to megahits such as 'Evangelion' and 'Pokemon,' Japanese animation has faired well in the past. But it has already maxed out as an export industry," Iwata explained, adding that besides the lack of big-name titles and a decrease in overseas airplay in recent years, the greatest obstacle lies in the illegal Internet sites that provide free content.

"These sites upload programs almost immediately after they are broadcast in Japan," accompanied with "fan subs" — English subtitles translated by fans," Iwata said. "This is causing a very big dent in sales."
(..)
"Animation isn't free. It's the product of hard work and a lot of money, and we cannot continue producing quality content without the financial help from fans," Kawasaki said, explaining that if the strategy succeeds, they could expand by selling DVDs and comic books on the site, "like Amazon.com," and establish a valid business model.
Which questions what WE fans are doing to the industry that feeds our entertainment.

In any case, while I agree that thinking outside the box will be essential for many animation companies in the near future, that comparison of Sazae san, Miyaki, hand drawn movies and success is the biggest example of a correlation implies causation fallacy that I've seen in a while
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Old 2009-03-04, 00:03   Link #4
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Yeah because hand-drawn animation is clearly the wave of the future, modern shows like Death Note are clearly garbage and should be scorned.
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Old 2009-03-04, 00:10   Link #5
sa547
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I think they said that out of fear (or envy) of Miyazaki's hand-drawn triumph. Seriously, IMHO Yamaguchi forgot to realize that storytelling and artistry -- whether hand-drawn or digitally-vectorized -- is what marks the difference between triumph and failure of a title. Furthermore I think there's also a kind of a "generation gap" among viewers, which may account for the lopsided rating figures.

As I was posting this thread I was to add Iwata's side, but I'm not the kind who post very long articles, hence only the concluding quote. The rest (the "too long" version) is on my blog.

I'm one of those people willing to buy for the sake of having the genuine article or even watching a dubbed show on local TV (both acts to support the industry a very long way), but some younger cheapskates think otherwise.
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Old 2009-03-04, 01:24   Link #6
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If the series is really good, I would buy the corresponding manga. For Iriya no Sora, I bought the 4 novels instead of the OVA.

I think of anime as part of the franchise. It's up to the franchise to expand ways of getting us to pay.
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Old 2009-03-04, 06:49   Link #7
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I agreed with coming bubble burst of anime...I mean....now we have like 40- 60 new series churning out every year which is quite high. I do wonder when it going down soon or how they gonna make $$$$ with current economic crisis, globally.
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Old 2009-03-04, 07:42   Link #8
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I remember someone mentioning that TV would be the death of the movies about 50 years ago.
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Old 2009-03-04, 08:34   Link #9
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormy001_M1A2 View Post
now we have like 40- 60 new series churning out every year which is quite high.
You're off by a factor of four or so. AniDB lists 209 non-hentai series that were released sometime in 2008 ("synonyms" excluded). In 2007, the comparable number was 232. These are both considerably ahead of 2003 though, when the count totalled 177.

As for the rest of the article, it catalogues a variety of problems facing the studios and R1 licensors that most of us here have known about for some time now. Remember that major networks like TV Tokyo are primarily interested in megahits like Pokemon or Naruto that can be turned into long-running cash cows. I have no doubt that fansubs cut into profits for shows like Naruto; whether they matter for something like Hataraki Man is another story altogether. I'd also guess that Iwata is more concerned about the drying-up of demand for anime from networks like Turner than whether he can cut a licensing deal with Funi to sell a few thousand DVDs. If Funi thinks it can make a profit by licensing a series like Oh! Edo Rocket, even in this supposedly adverse climate, you know there's more to the story than "fansubs are evil; the end is nigh."

I found the hand-drawn vs. computer-generated argument silly; content is king, particularly for the most-popular properties. Presentation styles matter only to the aficionados.
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Old 2009-03-04, 11:14   Link #10
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Quote:
"These sites upload programs almost immediately after they are broadcast in Japan," accompanied with "fan subs" — English subtitles translated by fans," Iwata said. "This is causing a very big dent in sales."
I seriously doubt that they are relying on the western market to that extent. Proof enough is Sazaesan that was previously mentioned as a paragon was never exported anywhere. This sounds like a poor excuse to me.

Then i second those who says that the success of studio ghibli and sazaesan has really nothing to do with the handmade animations.

On a side note, the most viewed anime is not necessarily the best one, but i guess they don't really care about that.
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Old 2009-03-04, 12:26   Link #11
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Déjà vu , déjà vu, ...

Feb. 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by kj1980 View Post
The anime industry in Japan is in its late "bubble" stages.
Be forewarned - it'll pop soon, much like the economy did in 1990.
Nov. 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayoab View Post
The fanbase bubble has finally burst.
Feb. 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by sa547 View Post
The Threat of a Animation Bubble Burst.
That said quoted ...

Sazae-san, Miyazaki, and otaku-oriented anime are three totally different worlds under the very wide and thus basically meaningless umbrella "animation". It's like Boing considering to build cars because some poll found out that more people buy cars instead of a 707.

And for the protocol, I'm not interested in Sazae-san and Ponyo was only a shadow of former Miyazaki glory. BTW, American digital animation makes a lot more money than hand-drawn Ponyo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sa547 View Post
"The industry will also have to evolve in response to the true needs of their viewers like us."
A sentence so wonderfully general that it applies to any industry at any time. Although "have to think outside of the box" still beats it as a platitude.

Point is, a thousand viewers have a thousand different ideas what their true needs (a bit strong perhaps?) are. I for once hope the anime industry is not going after some ¥15 billion trillion fata morgana and does not forget that anime is a niche medium. If you want to become more popular you have to become more mainstream. But if I wanted mainstream I wouldn't bother with anime and download some Dexter instead.
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Old 2009-03-04, 12:30   Link #12
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i been buying my anime but i can't aford most of my favorites i think the need to find a way for us to be able to aford it. and seeing all these releases here in the united states there is way to much releases they are putting out i shop at rightstuf and when i see how many releases are coming out in a month thats like over 300 bucks there >-<

i spend bout 150 bucks a month on my anime goods i could aford at lesat 3 dvds maybe fit a manga or 2
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Old 2009-03-04, 14:43   Link #13
Jan-Poo
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wow "Slice of Life" those quotes are really enlightning XD

"it'll pop soon like the economy in 1990" sounds like a joke compared to the crisis the world is facing in this 2009.

well, i do believe that the current animation fandom is going to scale down over time, but i don't really expect a burst and wipe out.
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Old 2009-03-04, 15:55   Link #14
Vexx
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Ya know, they can keep mouthing the propaganda lines but the fact remains that I and many other Western fans would be spending what we spent *before* we discovered fansubs without fansubs or some equivalent: $Zero dollars$ Zero. I don't buy what I can't see.

I spend thousands of dollars a year on anime, manga, and industry merchandise because of fansubs. So do many other people. If the industry won't provide an equivalent mechanism for me to view broadcasts - they lose me and others like me as a customer. That's a real loss of dollars. Counting non-paying eyeballs as a loss is a false metric and it always has been. Understand your niche in the economy and excel in it and you'll pay the bills and make a profit, Mr. Anime Spokesblobs.
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Old 2009-03-04, 19:13   Link #15
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I believe the international fandom is slowly growing and still has a lot of room for growth. However, the hardcore consumer base--meaning people who are willing to pay for anime and merchandise--will remain a constant of small proportions. Japan has hundreds of thousands of viewers watching/recording individual anime shows for free via TV broadcast, yet only a couple of thousand buy the DVDs. There are only so many crazies out there that are willing to purchase heftily priced R2 DVDs; the same goes for North America, but yeah, mind the scale.
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Old 2009-03-04, 19:17   Link #16
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Instead of crapola like Naruto, we need more dark, creative shows like Denno Coil, Ergo Proxy, Death Note, Black Lagoon. Basically we ADULTs want product too!
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Old 2009-03-04, 19:59   Link #17
sa547
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
Point is, a thousand viewers have a thousand different ideas what their true needs (a bit strong perhaps?) are. I for once hope the anime industry is not going after some ¥15 billion trillion fata morgana and does not forget that anime is a niche medium. If you want to become more popular you have to become more mainstream. But if I wanted mainstream I wouldn't bother with anime and download some Dexter instead.
Good points in there, in due respect that you've seen more than I am. So I'm rethinking about the stuff I said and asked, and now comes these questions: for the sake of "survival", who is to evolve, the audience or the industry? What should be the focus, a tidy profit or attempting to show the divine spark and the "human touch" in the work?

Then I realized that for the industry to "evolve" could be a mistake on my part, as those studios have their own ideas and agendas, and some of them are very stubborn, despite being so flawed.

Right now some animation industry analysts make reads on everything, from TV ratings to DVD sales to 2ch episode commentaries, but I'll never know if those studios are really getting their ideas from their supposed audience to keep them afloat, ideas that could range anything from the smartest to the dumb time/money-waster.

To quote one of my favorite pundits:
Quote:
Manga and anime are, above all things, business. Anyone who thinks that their engagement means that they are owed anything by the people who draw, write, animate, produce, direct, edit, etc, is suffering from a Delusion. The only thing going on here, really, is that XYZ company makes entertainment and you may or may not buy it. That's it.

What fans *really* want is their favorite author to read their forum posts and reply, "Gee, that is a good idea! I'll bring so-and-so back from the dead, pair him up with the guy he never spoke to in the series and have them start a cucumber farm for maximum service." But you know - there's no way that's going to happen.

Fans *really* want the newly remastered series, magically translated into perfect English to be released at the same time as the Japanese version, with all the extras, uncensored, for 1/10th of the Japanese price. This will never happen, either.

Fans *really* want all 43 volumes of an ongoing manga series to be on the shelves in their local bookstores in their small suburban town where manga doesn't really sell, because they might want to buy Volume 15 and 13...if it's on sale, like it is at a con.
Which is why I don't want to have everything unreasonable on a silver plate whenever there is something amiss in the stuff I read or watch, while some of my freeloading countrymen (mostly younger, weaned on freebies and unwilling to listen, pardon me) literally plaster every forum of local television stations and subbing groups with silly requests that would be ignored.

Going back to topic, as Slice of Life has pointed out, the industry worries of a "burst" turned out to be a very "old" problem.

When I first got myself involved in watching a few years back (and naturally wet behind the ears), there was so much coming out from those studios that not all of it I could watch (compared to a few titles I could see on local TV), and I wondered if all of those shows could entertain and also turn in a profit (as if the ol' "Walkman" formula of "build something and they would come" could work for them as well). Well, not all of it, as a percentage of those titles were made to pander to a very specific audience; to serve as milking cows; and others are produced to serve the whims of its creators.

Now, I don't think a total collapse would happen. Some studios would find themselves in the red and eventually close down (partly because of the mistaken assumption that they'll have guaranteed profit by churning mediocre stuff for the geeks or the Western audience to consume), but others will find a way through in this unfavorable economic climate.

*sigh* Looks like I'll have to take a wait-and-see approach.
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Old 2009-03-04, 22:31   Link #18
Nosauz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArrowSmith View Post
Instead of crapola like Naruto, we need more dark, creative shows like Denno Coil, Ergo Proxy, Death Note, Black Lagoon. Basically we ADULTs want product too!
your really just not looking hard enough? Kara no kyoukai, darker than black, evangelion, beserk, there are a lot of adult titles, you just have to look for them. And its not like their hidden.

On the note, pundits just assume one point and run with it without really analyzing the other aspect, this is what makes them stand out, this is the one problem with talking heads, they rarely are grounded in reality, their in their own little verse where everything is black and white. This leads to good pundits allowing a base to gather moment under them but they really take everything to the extreme. I think the truth is non japanese anime fans just want what japanese anime fans get in support from the industry, nothing more nothing less. If thats a sense of entitlement, then I find the word entitlement has been greatly distorted. As a consumer of a product, I don't want to pay twice as much as the guy across the ocean and also get an inferior product. It doesn't make sense. It's like selling me fois gras, but serving me chicken liver, then to add insult to injury the guy next to me who order fois is getting fois and he gets a complementary bottle of beur blanc. Hell its gonna take a long time till what I want as a fan comes but right I just want something comparable, and something that relies on blind faith, or internet testimonials of whether or not a product is good just isn't going to cut it. I think its very safe to say that the Anime industry is very similar to the infomercial industry, they give you a 10 minute (mind you the anime pitch is proabably 30 seconds of your typical narration voice) pitch and expect you to relieve your cash like a 40 yr old virgin whos with a 5 dollar hooker. My whole schtick is why am I as a willing consumer being treated like a second class citizen. If the americans are not part of your demographic then don't market to us, and don't bitch that we don't buy your shitty hand me downs, I mean its basicaly segmenting the fanbase based on the geographical boundries, whilst we live in a digital age that pretty much unites the world.

Last edited by Nosauz; 2009-03-04 at 22:51.
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Old 2009-03-04, 23:02   Link #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Counting non-paying eyeballs as a loss is a false metric and it always has been. Understand your niche in the economy and excel in it and you'll pay the bills and make a profit, Mr. Anime Spokesblobs.
While I understand the sentiment, it can't be denied that anime revenue is falling in Japan, if the article is to be believed: The industry apparently went down ¥20 billion (US$210 million) between 2006 and 2007, and the article also claims that the industry earned ¥200 billion (US$2 billion) at its peak.

Something is causing that decline, and it's hard to deny that the proliferation of downloads (ie, free content) is at least partly responsible. We can, of course, debate the real extent of the damage.

It does basically mean that business models have to be tweaked somehow. While online distribution does seem like an obvious solution, I'm not sure if it would bring in the same levels of revenue for anime studios as compared to DVDs, merchandising (which can also be bootlegged) or licensing (which never really earn much for producers; licensing fees are usually good enough to cover only costs, apparently).

I don't think Japanese studios are blind to the potential of export markets. While it's indeed silly to sob over the "loss" of revenue from places where anime titles aren't even available, I think it'll also be instructive to learn why the studios aren't selling overseas more aggressively. I suspect the factors involved are fairly complex, but I don't know for sure.
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Old 2009-03-04, 23:31   Link #20
Vexx
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Everything I've read implies they basically don't "get" why an entertainment product designed and targeted for a domestic audience (Japan Otaku) is getting such mileage across the ocean. They don't get it, don't understand it, and they don't want to mess with it (hence the licensing). The only reason they seem to rail against fansubs at all is that they mistakenly think it will result in "backwash" into their domestic market. Now I differentiate between broadcast files and DVD-rip files. DVD-rips? I'm right with them, that's a 1:1 theft within their domestic market and they should pursue those vigorously (for now).

I could argue effectively that they're saturating their own market with mediocre material. If you have 5 quality shows a year out of 50, then 10% sell well ... 5 shows out of 200, then 2% sell well.

Couple that with a fairly fixed pile of money (discretionary income) or more likely, a *declining* pile of money in the hands of consumers ... then naturally its going to decline after a spike.

I'm not going to call them stupid.... but I also have a lifetime of experience of watching my relatives and coworkers from Japan often letting "stubborn" win out over good business sense.
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