Guest Blog: Erica Friedman Eulogizes Central Park Media
It is with deep regret and sadness that I am here today to eulogize the death of another anime/manga company. Central Park Media died after a long illness, complicated by significant market forces.
Some people who knew of CPM have responded with a "good, if they could not adapt, then let them die" reply, while many of the newest fans have never had a chance to meet CPM, since they have been unwell and out of the public eye for some years now.
To those people who have responded to the news of CPM's demise with this righteous derision based on ancient, vague complaints of "iffy" business decisions or a more general "who cares" shrug, I want to say this.
There were two key components that affected CPM's recent history - a major national distributor and chain of retail stores went belly up, leaving them high and dry, owed a great deal of money. Just today someone commented that they "should have been prepared" for disaster. Maybe you are prepared for disaster - maybe you keep a flashlight and bottled water and a battery operated radio, in case the power goes down - but what do you do when then a comet comes slamming through the wall and destroys your house. Are you prepared for that?
CPM pulled themselves up, rethought their business, formed Be Beautiful and headed out into a new venture. They were doing well too, when a Japanese publisher went bankrupt, and their IPs were sold off. The new owners declared CPM’s releases invalid for IPs they had quite legally licensed through the previous owner.
And still, CPM was ready willing and able to rethink the business, look for new properties to license and move forward into the current age of anime and manga. But the economy has a tight grip on a lot of companies, and their creditor needed the money back...now.
This death is not some kind of Darwinian fail, some objective lack of adaptavity CPM didn't display, so oh well, they went bankrupt. Circumstances were very cruel to the owners of CPM. I know that they have been struggling as hard as they can to come back from the above losses, but obviously were unable to after several attempts, after rethinking and restructuring their business more than once.
I am a manga publisher, so please allow me to speak for the industry when I say that your, "oh well, they didn't adapt" attitude hurts. It also hurts when some of you who claim to be fans rejoice in the failure of a company you perceive to suck for some reason. So often your reasons for "hating" a company are superficial in the extreme - a series in which we look at girls' underwear was censored, or badly dubbed (in your opinion) dialogue. Is this reason enough, really, to crow with triumph that a company is dead? If so, I feel sorry for you, Your life must be full of Pyrrhic victories. And in the meantime, real people are losing their jobs and their livelihoods.
Everyone working in the anime and manga industry is a person. Whether you like them or not, every company is run by an actual human, spending money to bring things *we think you might want to buy* to you. Many times because you, the fans, claim to want it. All that any company can be expected to provide is entertainment and all we need back is financial support in the form of you buying it if you want it. No company is perfect, but we all try hard.
Right now, anime distributors and manga publishers here in the US are struggling against *tremendous* odds. Fansubs and scanlations, openly sold pirated DVDs the illegality of which is shrugged off even by intelligent, supportive people, because they are cheap. There are, perhaps, 20 titles that sell well (by which I means each issue consistently sells over 2000 books.) The other hundreds of manga titles are thrilled to sell 2000 books - and many sell much less.
Talking about anime and manga is not at all the same thing as supporting it. Downloading it is exactly the opposite of supporting it. Free is nice for you, the consumer, but it is brutal for everyone else, the original Japanese company, or American company that paid to license and distribute it.
It's all well and good to say that a company didn't adapt, but when all the companies are gone - who is going to send screeners to cons, review copies to reviewers? No one, some of you say, and you don't care, because fansubbers and scanlators will take care of *your* needs. And when the Japanese companies continue to pull back, because they aren't making licensing revenue, or advertising revenue, or sales revenue, when there is less and less anime being put out and less and less manga to scanlate, will you care then?
This is bigger than just CPM, folks. Your support is really crucial right now. There are less manga and anime companies every year - not just here, but in Japan, as well. And those of us who are here, are working very, very hard to do the VERY best we can with severely diminished resources and a rapidly shrinking market.
How many of you reading this have bought anime or manga recently? If so, thank you. If not - well then whatever your justification (and I'm not saying you aren't justified) you haven't helped support the thing you say you love.
For my part, my deep and abiding
sympathy goes out to everyone at CPM. I hope that the world turns and
several years from now, we see it reborn once again.
Yuricon & ALC Publishinghttp://www.yuricon.org
Erica Friedman is the President of Yuricon & ALC Publishing. She blogs regularly at Okazu and irregularly at Mania.com.