I'm not one to talk crap about someone else on a different site, but the matter at hand is a big deal, and I feel it bears mentioning.
I was watching the first video episode of the AnimeTV podcast through Revision 3. The episode was okay, but I found one glaring omission from their review of Ghost in the Shell 2.0
, which I want to point out, because the issue hasn't come up much outside of Anime News Network and Bureau42 - the special features on the box for Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (both the Blu-Ray and the DVD release) and on the disk itself differ radically. To be specific, the package advertises that the disc has, basically, the special features from the Japanese release, including a commentary by Mamoru Oshii. That commentary is a big deal to me. I enjoyed Oshii's commentary on the Patlabor OVAs, and on Ghost in the Shell 2 - which made this feature a killer app, so to speak.
Then I heard on the ANN cast and had it confirmed elsewhere, that the DVDs and Blu-Rays only have as their special features an upscaled version of the original cut of the movie, and then the special features on the previous Ghost in the Shell DVD release from manga video. While that includes an fairly comprehensive documentary on the making of the anime, it's very dated. How dated is it? It's so dated that they use the word "Japanimation". That word hasn't been used seriously amongst anime fandom for 15 years. Okay, maybe 12 years, but the point still stands.
So, despite my calling for US Manga Corps' demise at Bureau42 and on the Otaku Generation podcast prior to their actual death, I don't wish ill to any anime companies. When US Manga Corps died, while I was hopeful that some of the important licences could be plucked from the debris and revived (like Record of Lodoss War
, and Grave of the Fireflies
- 1 out of 3 ain't bad). However, my initial intent was that someone at CPM would notice that fans wanted these series back in circulation, and they'd take steps to get them back in circulation. In that light, I've got this to say - and it's not just meant for Manga Entertainment, it's also meant for the US and Japanese anime industries as well (if they're listening):
First, Manga Entertainment erred horribly by claiming, on the packaging, that their Blu-Ray and DVD releases contained features that they didn't. The packaging of these disks are de facto advertising. I do recognize that various Japanese anime studios have been putting pressure on US anime publishers to make US anime Blu-Ray releases inferior to the Japanese anime releases to stop Japanese viewers from importing cheaper anime Blu-Ray releases from the US. However, the master for the US Blu-Ray release would have been finalized well before the packaging would have been printed - unless they were doing things bass-ackward. They should have had the time to make the necessary corrections to the feature packaging on the DVD & Blu-Ray covers to reflect the DVDs actual content. By having the packaging be wrong, they are opening themselves up to allegations of false advertising, which - while it's a civil violation instead of a criminal violation, could lead to having to pay punitive damages, particularly if they end up on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit. Now while the packaging may have required approval by the Japanese company they licensed the series from, the conditions of the license, or studio approval shouldn't require them to violate the law. This leads me to my second point.
I get that anime DVDs and Blu-Rays are less expensive in the US than they are in Japan. I understand that due to the region codes for Blu-Ray disks, even if the disks are region locked, Japan and the US are in the same region. This still gives Japanese rights-holders no excuse for kneecapping US Blu-Ray releases. Yes, I understand they need to make a profit. Yes, I understand that they hold the rights, and when they say "Jump", Rightstuf/Noizomi, Media Blasters, Viz, and Section 23 have to say "How High?" This doesn't mean they're in the right. They're dicking over US anime fans, when the Anime industry in Japan is starting to run into trouble, and could very well end up needing the influx of funds from US licences. My best guess, is that the people who are responsible for these decisions in these companies are still thinking like they're in the Bubble Economy, and that they can buy and sell us. These people are probably not creators, producers, animators, writers, or anyone involved in the creative end. They're especially not any of the people who come from Japan and go to the conventions, and get to meet fans like you and me. They're probably the Japanese equivalent of the out-of-touch person in Marketing, who doesn't necessarily understand the product, and particularly the US anime market. While he (and considering Japanese society - while women have made inroads in the workplace, the person is very likely to be a male) may be qualified in Marketing, or Sales, or whatever department he's in, he doesn't know that denying US companies like Manga Entertainment the features from the special features form the Japanese release of Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is stupid. Especially if there's the possibility that the Blu-Ray & DVD can make more sales in the US & Canada than it would in Japan with the same bonus features.
However, I'm not sure how to fix this. While I don't believe that boycotts are evil, they're hard to sustain unless the target of your boycott is one which is either extremely reprehensible, easy to remove from daily life, or both. For example, since the formation of Nation On Marriage, I've successfully sustained a boycott against Orson Scott Card and his works - including works he was peripherally involved with - such as Shadow Complex and the Marvel comics about Ender. The reason for my anger is Card's extremely reprehensible actions, and as I'm removing books by a single author, it's a situation that's easy to remove from my daily live. Even better, the damage is focused on author - and maybe his publishers.
With anime, on the other hand, voting with your dollars is more difficult, because it becomes difficult to make sure that the right person gets the message. If you just don't buy the Blu-Ray disks, you're hurting the publisher who put out the English language Blu-Rays, and that just leads to less anime Blu-Rays. Further, I suspect that writing letters to the rights holders in Japan doesn't necessarily help either - most anime are, after all, made primarily for a Japanese audience, and are later licensed if they're good or build up popularity with a US audience. So, complaints directly to them could very easily fall on deaf ears. Further, due to the secrecy within the US anime industry, particularly considering dealings with Japan, we'll likely never find out who is ultimately responsible for the decision, so we won't know who to express our complaints to.
How will we fix this? I don't know. Because of the secrecy imposed by Japanese rightsholders, increased transparency is out of the question. Because of that lack of transparency, we'll never have enough information to tell if a boycott would have calamitous collateral damage, and because we in the west are not the target audience for most anime, appealing to the creators of the show will not necessarily be of assistance to us.
So, if anyone has any ideas on how to fix this, by all means, let me know in the comments.