So, a while back I did a blog post
in response to Bang Zoom's complaints
that anime was going to die. Well, Japanator
has done their own take on the issue, one that sides with Bang Zoom. I'm not going to respond to the whole thing, because they really don't bring up any new points in my opinion. Except for the last section - in which they bring up the cost of anime on DVD. To summarize their claims, if you cannot afford anime on your budget, you are unable to live within your means and need to work harder, and learn to budget.
No. That's not how it works.
The examples they cite for series fit their lower price range are series that have been out for awhile and have essentially earned their money back. They aren't new series. Newer series cost considerably more than $25-$30 for a season. They can cost up to $50-70 or even more for a season, depending on how much the studio had to pay for the license. If you're not watching these shows fansubbed, and you're coming in completely cold. That's a lot of money to plonk down on a series, without knowing whether it's good or if it's absolute crap. Under these circumstances, I cannot in good fiscal conscience spend $500 on a series I didn't see, to own it. That said, I'm certainly willing to rent it first, but I'm not going to buy it outright only to discover that I bought a show that's absolute crap. Even if the prices for a complete season are getting closer to the prices of, say, a complete season of a western live action TV series, like House or Law & Order, that still is not comparable to an release of a season of an anime series on DVD. We can watch on TV as it's airing, for free and legally. You don't need to pay for high-speed internet to download the episode. Hell, you don't even need to pay for Cable or Satellite. For anime on the other hand, unless somebody gets a license to stream the show online before the DVD comes out, there's no way to find out if you'll really
like the show (as opposed to thinking the trailer looks good), before you buy it.
Additionally, their argument is essentially an ad-hominem attack against those people who are anime fans who aren't part of the upper-middle class background that I've noticed most anime sites tend to assume their audience is. This is practically an variant of the dog-whistle "lazy poor" phrase used by some on the Right to indicate they're making racist remarks against lower income minorities - notably African-Americans and Hispanics. I am willing to allow that the writer of the article was unaware that the phrase was a dog-whistle, but this still doesn't make the argument any less of an ad hominem against lower-income people.
The article also brings up Nippon Ichi's release of ToraDora & Persona Trinity Soul as being potential bell-weathers for how the anime industry will fare, and if they fail then we're all a bunch of leeches with entitlement problems. I have several complaints with that - aside from the ad hominem. Nippon Ichi is only selling the series through their web store, Rosenqueen
, and their DVD releases are, essentially, all what I would call the "with kitch" releases on Bureau42 - coming with a nice art-box and with an art-book, maybe a soundtrack CD, that sort of thing. I have nothing against those releases - nothing at all. However, and other people with lower incomes, need an alternative. They need a stripped-down release, with just the disks in a case with some nice art, and possibly at a price point that was $10-15 bucks lower, if stripping all the extra packaging off could lower the price point by that much.
Also, as I've mentioned, you can only get these releases directly from Nippon Ichi. You can't go to Best Buy, or any other store that sells DVDs. You can't even go to Amazon to get it, which means people like me on sites on Bureau42 won't be putting it on their Weekly Digital Disk picks - and they can't put affiliate links up. This lowers the visibility of the release to the niche of the niche - Anime fans who are online, who already know about the shows. Libraries can't get it, because their distributors won't be stocking it. Netflix won't get it, for the same reason. Retailers who sell at conventions won't sell it, because their wholesalers won't be stocking it, because Nippon Ichi's only selling it through their web site. Unless Nippon Ichi busts out a spectacular advertising blitz through Project Wonderful and Google Ads, this release would be in imminent danger of slipping under the radar. The only reason it isn't slipping under the radar now, is that the bubble burst, an any announcement of a new company announcing a license is a big deal.
Thus, Nippon Ichi's releases of ToraDora and Persona: Trinity Soul are in positions where they likely won't do well, even before we even consider accounting for any damage downloading could cause. It would be immensely foolish to judge the health of the anime industry by the success or failure of these releases.
Now, I'm not defending torrenting anime series that have already been licensed. That's taking money out of someone's pocket, and that's not cool.
In conclusion, Japanator's take on Bang Zoom's complaints is inaccurate. They should not be treated with any credibility.