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Old 2008-09-01, 21:04   Link #1
Zeytoo0
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Anime popularity in America/Europe...

Recently ive been reading about online, when I noticed that ADV announced earlier in the year that they were ending the printing of several animes, including what I feel was a great movie - 5 Centimeters a second and what I thought wasnt a bad series - Innocent Venus. Ontop of that, ADV London is about to go into liquidation so now its pretty obvious that ADV is about to bite the dust.

With this and what we saw with Geneon in the USA over the last couple of years - it doesn't half look like anime has no hope in the west - other than a cult thing which people illegally download anyway.

I cant help but think that its all because noone paid for what they saw - we all download fansubs, watch the shows and when the DVDs get released we never buy them. If everybody did then im sure the markets would be viable but lets face it - its never going to happen.

I don't think its a problem of lack of general popularity, I attend the Anime Society at my university and we hold a good 80 or so members (albeit in a university of almost 50,000 students) in the UK, something which seems to be commonplace around the country from what I see, in addition things like amecon and london expo hold big anime events - definately enough to be called a niche market :P

Personally I buy all my games and anime DVDs when I can, to support the people that make them (The same not for my music and western films/series as much... poor student is me :S The line has to be drawn somewhere) but one person in a crowd of few wont help the situation I dont think :P

Whats everyone else thing about the current status of anime in the west? After all my pointless digging around ive become interested to see other peoples opinions instead of those of poor students :P (That and I need SOMETHING to discuss while I wait for spore to come out -_-)

Cheers, Zeytoo0
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Old 2008-09-01, 21:11   Link #2
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I personally think that one of the big issues here is that anime is still a niche hobby that's in its infancy. That is, most of the people who enjoy this medium are teenagers and college students, both of which are demographics that lack the money to be making DVD purchases (since other forms of entertainment are much cheaper like games, manga, and movies). When purchases are made by their parents for the kids, it's mostly of shows that have been marketed really well (Naruto, Pokemon, Bleach, essentially your "usual suspects") rather than the more obscure stuff like ARIA, Koi Kaze, or PlanetES.

Part of it has to do with exposure and the other part also has to do with the idea that cartoons are still kids' stuff. Until those notions get dispelled, I don't see things looking up for the industry.

As a further discussion note, it'd be interesting to see what demographic and spending habits other members here fall under.
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Old 2008-09-01, 21:36   Link #3
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We've been over this topic many times really. Basically, only a small percentage of the anime watching population buys most anime they see that's available, a large portion, me included, will buy only the anime they have seen via fansubs and really liked it, and another percentage who watches anime on YouTube/Veoh without the intention of buying anything at all. In the past, this is a pretty fine balance - good enough to keep the licensing companies afloat. As the economy takes a dive, it's not really that there are more people without the intention of buying anything, but the ones who want to buy anime may be in financial trouble so they push aside their anime needs.

I'm saddened to say that 5 Centimeters per Second is a slow anime that has more impressive art than plot, which is somewhat up for different interpretations anyways. This is not the kind of anime that will sell in the US, so I can't say I'm surprised.
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Old 2008-09-01, 23:48   Link #4
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Fair enough, the culture difference does hurt some types of anime I guess - but then again I never thought about the slowing economy, maybe that could be contributing to it aswell o.0 I know a lot of local businesses have shut down for the same reason :P Ah well, who knows.
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Old 2008-09-01, 23:48   Link #5
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Comparing the state of the Anime and Manga from the UK to say, Spain, France and Italy, it is really disappointing how there's very low support for this type of entertainment here.

Well DVDs can be found on HMV and whatnot, but the amount of these isn't really anything impressive. Anime, at least is not treated as something for childrens, that's the only good thing I can see from them, but still it is smaller niche product than world films, or documentaires.

Manga shops are rather scarce, and not really any variety of items to be found on them (well there is only 1 in Liverpool), and way too expensive compared to the Internet (not even talking about Ebay, but online shops).

An TV wise, contrary to retail shops, anime is mostly for kids airing on Fox Kids, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network. I don't really follow any anime on TV, so I'm missing any other channels that might have anime targeted to adults.
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Old 2008-09-01, 23:52   Link #6
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An TV wise, contrary to retail shops, anime is mostly for kids airing on Fox Kids, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network. I don't really follow any anime on TV, so I'm missing any other channels that might have anime targeted to adults.
There was one, and they had a good variety before, but now all they do is show Cowboy Bebop and GITS: SAC over and over again, nonstop. I like the shows, but I don't need to watch them nonstop every day.
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Old 2008-09-02, 00:29   Link #7
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Originally Posted by Zeytoo0 View Post
I cant help but think that its all because noone paid for what they saw - we all download fansubs, watch the shows and when the DVDs get released we never buy them. If everybody did then im sure the markets would be viable but lets face it - its never going to happen.
I can't speak for everyone, but I do buy anime series I like. The problem there is series I like. The vast majority of series that get licensed are simply crap or series that don't appeal to me. Even if they all appealed to me, there are simply too many releases for me to buy everything. That's the real problem, overstauration of the market. Companies like ADV especially had a business model of licensing anything they could pick up cheaply and hope that putting out enough titles would ensure sales. Obviously it didn't work.

They would have been better served picking up titles carefully selected to cater to the US market, rather than license anything they could get their hands on and flood the market.
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Old 2008-09-02, 03:34   Link #8
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Overlooking the fansub debacle, anime was and always will be nothing more than a niche hobby in the states. It is successful in a certaiin sense, the industry (although small) is sustainable thanks to fandom spreading thanks to word of mouth and the web.

That being said until Animation is seen less as children's fodder and more as general entertainment for all ages (yea yea Simpsons and South Park, but really thats teenagers/college kids) and until America opens up in a big way to media not churned out by hollywood, don't expect anything more than you see now in the states.

Can't say much about Europe cept that the Spanish, French and Italians were lucky in getting a lot cooler stuff on tv in the 70s onwards than we did.
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Old 2008-09-02, 06:21   Link #9
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Originally Posted by zzeroparticle View Post
When purchases are made by their parents for the kids... rather than the more obscure stuff like ARIA, Koi Kaze, or PlanetES.


I'd be seriously worried about a parent buying Koi Kaze for a kid. May send out the wrong message...


EDIT: the UK is actually probably the most backward country in the Western world for anime/manga. In fact, I'm surprised we even had an ADV division in London - I didn't think the anime culture was widespread enough in the UK for that. I mean, you mention HMV, but that's only recent - a few years ago (when I started watching anime online), you could actually only pick up old films and well-known series that predated 2001 (Fruits Basket used to be the newest series I could find), none of which really appealed to me (though I may buy Fruits Basket one day). Now, they've expanded the market a little as they have more interest from their customers, and the Ghibli rereleases are always in the weekly bestseller listings too. So the market has changed for the better in the UK, but we're still far behind other European countries.

I think this is largely due to lack of a comic culture. The French specifically were brought up on comics (they adore them) such as Asterix and Tintin, but extending beyond that, they've always had a history of having more adult-based comics/visual novels. In America, you have your Spiderman comics and Frank Miller's Sin City to name a few, which deal with some pretty interesting and dark subjects. In the UK however, the closest equivalent we have is the Beano :|

I mean, even now, the biggest manga seller is probably Waterstones, and before about four or five years ago, they didn't stock anything like that. Nor visual novels for that matter. I think, as an anime market, the UK is still significantly behind America (and because of the current situation of the industry, I don't think it will ever catch up because the UK just isn't seen as being marketable enough - there are so many titles that are licensed in America that just won't reach our shores).

Last edited by False Dawn; 2008-09-02 at 06:32.
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Old 2008-09-02, 07:28   Link #10
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I must say, in the old days when I was a kid, there was a much more variety of anime on TV,
Back then I used to watch what was then called “Samurai X”, Tekkaman Blade, Gundam wing and so on.
Where I lived they even had a special cable that you had to pay for to watch even more channels, and it was airing Neon Genesis Evangelion with subs.

The last anime I ever saw on TV over here in Europe would be Dragon Ball Z, which was extremely boring with all the re-runs and in the end, didn’t even go past the Cell saga.
It could be the mentality of the people living here, as most of them see anime and manga as entertainment for kids and children, rubbing it off as “Comic books and Cartoons.”

The “Anime” or “fake anime” as I call it that is running on TV right now is just an eyesore and has completely degenerated in what people were thinking about it all along, “a kid’s after-school-show”.

I can get manga at my local bookstore, but it has a very limited selection, only the more popular titles are available.
As in pure Anime/Maga related shops, I have to get on a train for an hour to get to at least 1 shop, that isn’t even that big.
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Old 2008-09-02, 13:31   Link #11
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You also have to keep the recent events in tune with the general economy. The economy of the overall US (where most R1 distributors are) is in really bad shape. That means that the average person's entertainment budget is the first to take a hit.

Couple that with really poor decision-making at some companies (ADV) and at least one (Geneon) that simply wasn't making as much money as its parent company wanted.

To some extent, no matter how great anime is --- it is a niche entertainment. Just like no matter how great PBS is -- it is always stunning to see how *few* people watch the programs on it. PBS survives because enough patrons pony up money to support it. Anime companies in the R1 world need to understand they just need enough patrons to pony up money to keep them in business. My own opinion is that as long as someone is trying their best to support the medium by buying what they can - that's a good thing. I reserve my dim views for those for those who feel entitled to everything for nothing rather than supporting what they like.

At least for me, I depend on fansubs to get the sort of preview that Japanese fans get before they plonk money down for DVD sets, figures, CDs, swag. And there's a fair amount of anime that I like that never gets licensed (though that number has been shrinking the last couple of years).

As long as they license stuff I like, I'll buy it. If they offer an effective way for me to preview it I'll do that (no, streaming is not effective since most people live under caps).
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Old 2008-09-02, 14:08   Link #12
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Hrm.... here is my personal feel of things.

I have been watching anime since 2002. Maybe it is just my illusion, this year's crop of anime is not that great.

Is it just me? Or they ran out of decent manga to adapt? Or fansub is hurting them? I dunno? Did the perception of quality drop between 1st and 2nd gunslinger girl just an isolated case or just my illusion? I dunno.

Did I get older and that's the reason?

Naruto and Bleach sorta went down the toilet but D Gray Man is still holding strong since they still have original material.

We have Gundam 00 and Macross, and they are at least decent. Oh well, I dunno.

I sorta miss the Full Metal Panic, Kiddy Grade, Black cat, and even 1st Gundam Seed.
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Old 2008-09-02, 16:08   Link #13
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Is it just me? Or they ran out of decent manga to adapt? Or fansub is hurting them? I dunno? Did the perception of quality drop between 1st and 2nd gunslinger girl just an isolated case or just my illusion? I dunno.


Not at all. The second season of Gunslinger Girl completely ruined the franchise. The first season was ten times its superior. But it's not so much this year, but the last few years, because the anime market was on a bubble where they were able to get most titles licensed - so they created more ultimately crap shows that appealed to certain audiences, like fanservice audiences. At the moment, it looks like this is starting to go the other way and I'd imagine there will be some decent titles in the next couple of years.

Having said that, I've watched quite a few enjoyable titles this year, including Kaiba which I think deserves classic status - it's a masterpiece in how to make an experimental anime series. I'd say it's better than most of the series I've seen since I started watching fansubs in 2004/2005.
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Old 2008-09-02, 18:55   Link #14
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Did I get older and that's the reason?
I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe you just need to look for shows that target older audiences or have more complex and mature plots.

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...the last few years, because the anime market was on a bubble where they were able to get most titles licensed - so they created more ultimately crap shows that appealed to certain audiences, like fanservice audiences.
Everything I've read indicates that the Japanese studios pay almost no attention to the overseas audiences when deciding what to produce. The most notable exception to this rule was Seirei no Moribito, which was intended to be sold into foreign markets. We'll see how well that strategy worked sometime next year after its [adult swim] run ends and the DVDs are (hopefully) released. The fact that Geneon USA, a prime partner in this venture, closed up shop doesn't bode well for this strategy.

I think the proliferation of otaku-oriented titles has more to do with the economics of the Japanese marketplace. Not surprisingly, when economies contract, entertainment producers are less willing to spend money on riskier ventures and invest instead in what they know will sell. For anime, that means titles that appeal to the otaku audience. Remember that most titles are designed to generate revenues from a wide variety of sources -- not only DVD sales, but paraphernalia and audio CDs as well. Some shows are designed to promote the singing careers of idol seiyuu or popular groups. Revenues from foreign licensing fall far down the list in comparison to domestic sources of revenue like these.

I approach each season with the expectation that I might find three or four series to watch. Usually there'll be a couple of series I've anticipated, like Nodame Cantabile Paris-Hen this fall, and I'll usually find a hidden gem or two like Shion no Ou or Kure-nai that I didn't anticipate. Like any popular entertainment, 90% of all anime is junk, but the other 10% is worth my time.
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Old 2008-09-03, 08:36   Link #15
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^I can't see Seirei no Moribito being successful outside Japan. It always seemed that the target audience was for adults.

Lots of talking and "their world culture", which I doubt would interest most people.
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Old 2008-09-03, 12:34   Link #16
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Even if they all appealed to me, there are simply too many releases for me to buy everything. That's the real problem, overstauration of the market.
Oversaturation shouldn't be a problem for the consumer, but it is a problem for the industry. Some people buy every R1 release that comes out, but those are few and far between. Japan can produce lots of titles and put them on TV for the whole fanbase to behold because it's big enough, and a small percentage of it will buy enough products to support a given title. I believe it's the same with the U.S. market, but it has a much smaller fanbase, so distributors can't afford to put out every show in existence. Japan can, the U.S. can't. It's a scale issue, IMO.

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but the last few years, because the anime market was on a bubble where they were able to get most titles licensed - so they created more ultimately crap shows that appealed to certain audiences, like fanservice audiences. At the moment, it looks like this is starting to go the other way and I'd imagine there will be some decent titles in the next couple of years.
It's interesting to talk about the U.S. anime bubble. People presume it burst in 2005, but the upcoming Fall season has more TV anime productions announced than the previous year, so the bubble's collapse and its negative effects on Japan have been exaggerated a bit; it mostly affected the U.S. anime market and studios that tried catering to it (good studios like Manglobe, Studio Bones, GONZO). Fan service shows just got replaced with different types of fan service shows (see: increase of BL-esque anime productions).
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Old 2008-09-03, 14:02   Link #17
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^I can't see Seirei no Moribito being successful outside Japan. It always seemed that the target audience was for adults.

Lots of talking and "their world culture", which I doubt would interest most people.
Actually... adults constitute "most people" and they're the ones with the biggest wallets. So it would behoove anime distributors to at least try to engage (or *retain*) that demographic. After all, some teens eventually become adults and if they're already anime fans it would be good to keep them.
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Old 2008-09-03, 14:15   Link #18
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To some extent, no matter how great anime is --- it is a niche entertainment. Just like no matter how great PBS is -- it is always stunning to see how *few* people watch the programs on it. PBS survives because enough patrons pony up money to support it. Anime companies in the R1 world need to understand they just need enough patrons to pony up money to keep them in business. My own opinion is that as long as someone is trying their best to support the medium by buying what they can - that's a good thing. I reserve my dim views for those for those who feel entitled to everything for nothing rather than supporting what they like.
Ha! Now that's an idea. Donations made to PBS are tax deductible as a charitable contribution, so perhaps if anime licensing companies took the non-profit route and started becoming a charity/non-profit organization, they might actually survive! Just thinking of this possibility is amusing to say the least.

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Actually... adults constitute "most people" and they're the ones with the biggest wallets. So it would behoove anime distributors to at least try to engage (or *retain*) that demographic. After all, some teens eventually become adults and if they're already anime fans it would be good to keep them.
And to add on to this with an anecdote that I've mentioned before, in one of my classes, the lecturer worked at an investment bank and one of his first jobs was to go out into comic book shops to observe customers and note what sort of demographic they fell under. Lo and behold, it wasn't teenagers that made up the majority of customers, but men between the ages of 30-40 years old. For superhero comics. Sounds like a good market to engage to me.
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Old 2008-09-03, 15:57   Link #19
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Aye, thats what kept Marvel and co. alive is that their base audience grew older and now has MUCH MORE MONEY to spend on product. The trick for them will be to snare the younger audiences so the conveyor belt stays full. To some extent, that's what is created the Marvel movie industry now - multi-media presence.

Anime/manga in Japan and the US needs to execute the same sort of maneuver with its audiences. Hook 'em when they're young and broke and then keep their attention when they're older and have disposable income.
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Old 2008-10-01, 16:29   Link #20
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So I love spiderman. Always have and always will. (still pissed off about Tobey McGuire). Now in the 90's we had the CLASSIC FOX SPIDERMAN cartoon. My brother had the Spiderman and Friends of the 70's. Now my kids have Spectactular Spiderman.

I wasn't really feeling this at first. I didn't like the wannabe anime look the show, but it wasn't till I watched this show that I REALLY APPRECIATED IT. I saw the "Spectacular Spider-Man: Attack of the Lizard" It has a slight anime feel but only in the action sequences. The story line is very american and very Marvel. Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMGDNQagdW0
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