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GUEST BLOG: Erica Friedman Eulogizes Central Park Media

A new feature: guest blogs! Today's editorial comes from Erica Friedman, of Yuri Monogatari's ALC Publishing and of course, YuriCon.

I've been in talks with a few people to try and get some guest bloggers to write occasional features on the site-- I'm pretty sure you guys get sick of me every so often. So when Erica Friedman, of ALC Publishing and YuriCon fame, and I were talking about the demise of Central Park Media, I asked Erica if she'd write something for the site. She delivered the goods in spades, and you guys benefit! So without further ado, Erica's eulogy on Central Park Media.

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.


Erica Friedman

Yuricon & ALC Publishing

http://www.yuricon.org

Erica Friedman is the President of Yuricon & ALC Publishing. She blogs regularly at Okazu and irregularly at Mania.com.

Further Reading on difficulties facing the Anime and Manga Industry:

The Truth About Publishing, Selling and Buying Manga

The Difficulties of Advertising and Promoting Manga

Sage Marketing Advice for 2009"

Fandom, Fan Delusion and What Fans *Really* Want

And More...

If any of you are interested in submitting a guest blog to the site, go ahead and drop me a PM or an email. :)

paplooon May 1, 2009 at 3:19 p.m.
God Bless you, Erica Friedman. I too am tired of the cynism and idiocy of fandom, and hope fans can grow up.  I'll miss CPM, and am sad that everything worked against them, as they released a lot of great stuff, and even in their later years managed a lot of fantastic, fan-oriented works such as the Animation Runner Kuromi OVA's, Munto 1 and 2  [where Kyoto Animation go their start], and their fantastic re-release of VOTOMS. They'll be missed.
lanaswifton May 1, 2009 at 3:34 p.m.
Seconding @paploo. When did it become so cool to hate the people who try to bring you the materials you want?
ashion May 1, 2009 at 3:51 p.m.
Thanks, Erica.  CPM put out good stuff, and they were a pleasure to deal with.  I'll miss them too, and I'll continue to support what I love.
CalAggieon May 1, 2009 at 4:07 p.m.
Good job in making more personal (didn't want to say "humanizing", it sounded too cold) the circumstances surrounding CPM and the work of anime/manga companies in general. After reading this, I sat and thought for a few minutes about how dedicated the people involved in bringing over anime and manga are to their occupations and in exposing the works they deal with to as many people as they can. It is unfortunate that they kept hitting bumps in the road and couldn't recover after the latest one.

I didn't watch or read many of the things CPM put out but I really enjoyed the ones that I did: DNA^2 on DVD, Now and Then on cable, and Cat Soup with some friends after one of them bought a copy and told the rest of us we HAD to watch it (she was right, it was the sort of deep I could appreciate). I doubt that much of what they produced would come out today because of a greater reluctance to take on unknown and/or potentially low-selling series. Although there are newer series coming across the Pacific, I find myself also wanting to experience series from before I got into anime and manga (basically pre-2000). CPM was one of the companies that provided such an opportunity to me and I hope that other independents like AnimEigo and Media Blasters can continue the similar work that they did in localizing overlooked works that deserve to be appreciated by a wider audience.
EdSizemoreon May 1, 2009 at 4:26 p.m.
Great piece.  Looking at their catalog makes me sad, lots of good anime is going out of print. I met some of the CPM reps at cons and they were geniunely nice people, who loved their company. We forget many of the early anime/manga companies were started by fans who loved this stuff so much they wanted to help bring more of it over.
ScottGreenon May 1, 2009 at 5 p.m.
Great piece.  If the $30, 4 episode DVD wasn't the way forward for anime, CPM was doing what they needed to do to keep in the market.  With their re-packaged re-releasing, they were putting out classic anime at a good price.  From how it looks from an external perspective, it does seem like CPM was  were smartly doing what they needed to do stay in the business.

Most business is thankless and it must be rough when your primary market are young people with a glut of media options.
Pachy_Boyon May 2, 2009 at 11:17 a.m.
Great, well-deserved eulogy.

I confess I'm not surprised this happened, but CPM will definitely be missed. They came out with some great titles, and I'd like to think I have a good portion of them in my library, such as the Utena series (I consider myself very fortunate for having gotten it for a sweet $100 deal once upon a time). I'll now be taking well care of the discs I have like they're treasures, because they basically are now, and hoping that Utena and other great titles don't slip away into permament oblivion, otherwise it'll be entirely left to us to remember them and tell Anime newbies about them.
NovidAnonon May 3, 2009 at 7:52 a.m.
I been saying about this. I'm respectful and mindful of your words Miss Friedman. You pretty much hit the nail on the head, but these are societal changes that CPM and others are dealing with right now. I dont want to say it - but when the fanbase says their smart and says its bigger and better than it ever was before - and then when given a problem (say like an exponent when it comes finance) that it cannot understand - even though its very, very simple to use. 

Thats not a fanbase with individuals who like the genre - they are a social construct that Politics and Media can use to mold and change human thought and human interaction. Crunchroll and Hulu exist because human thought with very few exceptions has been ripped from western society and now code words (such as Moar, Sauce, frak) has replaced the lexicon we were taught from school children on how to talk to each other (and that wasn't even good enough it turns out). We are losing our connection to our ancestors both by blood and by education and you see that from the issue that lead into the Tax Protests to the closing of CPM and the rising of Crunchyroll and Hulu. 

The human mind is frazzled, more so than even yesteryear and how can one stay on top of that when men and women are too stockholm syndromed to even find themselves. This is why Disney can live for years and years and CPM, a company with some good works can die quick. You have to realize that in order to change this situation, you have to change the aspects of this part of sociality - not just to be fans of anime, but all of animation and not just go the cons and what not - to have respect for oneself in all fields of life. The reason I sense why this particular fanbase feels so superior is the fact that they thought they won. They thought that this is the place (Crunchy etc) I can be a person. But in so doing they take away everybody else's chance to have a life. 

It is envy Miss Friedman that is killing companies such as CPM. They dont like anime the way they say they do - they want the actual sociality of the memes and the moe and the loli because they have never been given a chance to express themselves in the real world, and when they do it turns out that the mainstream has already marked them as invalid, unwanted - and the only way in Bush's time for them to become valid was to die in the sands of Tripoli and in Obama's time was to "Acorn" themselves in a box and "Service" corps - to do the work (without PAY mind you) that used to be done because the person wanted to do it and not the government.

So they will continue to Go to Crunchyroll. To Hulu. To these places because there is no future for them. The only future is behind a jail cell because they didn't buy a Wolverine Comic book, they didn't buy Hanna Montana season 2 DVD set and didn't Watch Ugly Betty. They went to the moe, the loli the dark game - and I dont know what else can be done but change the way these dubbers do business and if it means moving away from people who dont want to change in the right direction (online isnt going to do it) than Cest La Fucking Ve.

Dig Deeper into Central Park Media

At one point one of North America's biggest anime and manga publishers, although it has been very quiet of late due to several hard blows to its business.

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