Thursday, October 25, 2007

All of a sudden,

The home media bubble and its effect on anime as a home media force, and what the future will hold.

Since I am currently a freelance licensing agent, and event consultant, there are times when all of a sudden out of nowhere all this work lands on your head and you have no time for keeping up appearances on the interwebtubes. Now is such a time, however I do feel the need to continue to update this blog lest the content become amazingly stale.

I had a conversation today with a former colleague (read; "boss") of mine regarding a few historical things, our mutual insane friend, and where things are headed. From every perspective, it would seem to be official, the home media business is imploding. If this phenomenon wasn't so close to pure physics it would be just horrifying for us in this business to watch unfold.

As DVD expanded and became the dominant force, a few things happened to change the home media market.

1) Real Estate:
The shelves of any retailer who carried any home media, all of a sudden became capable of carrying an exponentially larger amount of releases since DVDs took up less space on the shelves in the store. That means for the same rent, the store can carry the same amount of titles without any financial risk what soever (that's because of "returns"... I left AWO a message about what "returns" are... maybe they'll play it maybe they won't).

2) Production Cost.... no Manufacturing Costs: DVDs take less time than a VHS to make, and since they can hold so much more video content, all of a sudden the massive libraries of TV productions become viable products. Supply ends up slightly outpacing demand, and a paradox is on it's way. Much like the real estate market is almost about to deal with now... nobody cared. They were making money and getting their sales commissions, the future would have to hold the bag so what did they care.

3) Market indigestion -or- Collective buyer's remorse:
OK so everything you've ever wanted (except Daria and Miami Vice ...thanks RIAA bastards) is now out on DVD for a price that seems too good to be true. Of course you're going to binge, you are only human right? So now what... the consumer home media market binged, passed out and is now very hung over in the "never gonna do that again" phase.

Number three is what's affecting the market now. The new genres that exploded during the infancy of DVD (anime being a major part of that) are now the ones being cut back on. The number of genres forcing this implosion range from softcore adult, to indie films, budget horror (thanks Blair Witch), documentary, martial arts, and anime.

So are there any survivors? ...Only one, and that's TV on DVD. Why? Well there's the obvious fact that these shows are on TV first and what better advertizing can you have? But that's only half of the equation, and half a tank of gas won't get you where you're going. You ask what the other half is? Cannibalism. TV on DVD has bitten out such a huge chunk of Hollywood movie DVDs that it can now survive whatever the market throws at it. mmmmm market share.

So what does this mean for anime? In a single explanation, it's growing pains. In 1999 Taeko Baba of all people (if you don't know who she is, you don't know much about the anime business ...but not in a good way) gave a very detailed presentation at The Japan Society expounding the differences between the American and Japanese "otaku" consumer markets. She also prophesied the eventual transition of the then US consumer market model into the Japanese consumer model, which was an immensely major transition. I invited her to the Anime Convention I chaired in Albany NY to give the same presentation... I am not sure how that worked out since I more or less blacked out that weekend.... but um...

Anime is in there... somewhere

The US market is in the midst of that transition. If you want to really have a true understanding of this, I suggest you read; A Clustered World, The Japanese Economy, Japan Inc (I know it's old but read it anyway), Shadow Shoguns, Hit and Run, Good to Great (full of market-speak), and just for fun try the translation of the novel Battle Royale. Just a bit of light reading. Such a transition will see losers and winners, and lots of both. No one may know what the future holds, so place your bets... place your bets.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hey baby, how bout you pull your top up and show me the fine print?

Copyright madness and the zeal with which it is enforced has become something of a commonality over the recent years. Everyone has heard one story or another about some absurd legal threat, court proceeding, or farktacular blunder involving some company or union or some other entity bearing down on something that previous generations would have held innocuous. Everyone has also asked themselves, where will it end? Well I am here to tell you that we haven’t seen the last of these stories the likes of which will continue to kick at the pillars of common sense like a screaming brat in the cereal isle.

As Halloween approaches, we will once again be treated to a parade of products which are the fruits of July’s annual licensing bonanza that happens right here in New York. Since Labor Day, the shelves of every corner of the vast the American consumer machine have been packed with factory-made, mass produced, wearable likenesses of the recycled ideas and concepts that make up kids entertainment fodder (hey, it’s all new to them). But what about those kids with the creative parents? They are the talented intelligent individuals who although they may bend to the wishes of their spawn and allow a mass marketed character to be the guise of this year’s foray into chocolate coated decadence, choose to make such a guise themselves. That’s right, the home-made costume is still alive and kicking. But will it last?

Yes friends I am sad to say that it may only be a matter of time before the copyright Gestapo descend upon Halloween parties in yet another episode of copyright protection gone wild. Oh sure you say that something like that will never happen, but the list of things that were to “never happen” were something to go by, then chain restaurants would be able to sing the regular happy birthday song without having to pay some walking sack of tanuki dung a bunch of extortion money. Don’t think it can’t happen. With this kind of mentality out there, the one that makes you a faceless market statistic, the restriction of certain costumes at specific events, not based on their subject but rather based on their copyright status, shall be the tip of what is sure to be a very irritating iceberg. And so you cosplayers, trick-or-treaters, and other assorted weirdoes out there I say to you simply; enjoy it while it lasts because you may soon face a crew of imperial tag-checkers asking for your costume's official documentation. Papers please! No, it’s not going to be Jesusland that kills Halloween, it’s going to be the lawyers and their track record in these matters is something that’s truly scary.

Don’t get too distraught though. It’s things like this that can only grow into big problems if the people tolerate the phenomenon first as a little problem. If this horrible premonition comes to pass, don’t just roll over if it’s first incarnation is a minor inconvenience (and it will be). Make a BFD out of it each and every time, take them to the mat and call their bluff… don’t back down. You deny them that first inch, and they’ll not bother to spend the energy to take that mile.

Ok you hardened criminals, hand over the contraband!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Anon apparently is not as smart as they used to be

So already, this crap is delving down into the level of sophistication you'd find on 4chan. The Anime World Order podcast, which has been going longer than the one I'm affiliated with, which is fun to listen to, which has (mostly) intelligent discourse about stuff I'm interested in.... has now been invaded by some /b/tard who is trying to start some dramah with retarded commenting (hey whoever you are, type "desu" a whole bunch of times, that'll show them how cool you are).

OK troll; you are part of the problem and not part of the solution but you know that. You probably love it when Daryl tears into someone on the show (I find it very entertaining as well) and are trying to instigate something. Cute, but you're doing it wrong. You see, adults communicate intelligently and with purpose. You may end up learning that later in life.

I don't know why I'm feeding this troll, but this pisses me off. I guess it's not to be unexpected on the internet. However, I hope they delete that crap over there.

It's this kind of crap that messes up the fandom in general, because it confirms an ongoing sentiment among others, that the anime fans lack social skills and act as if they're from that island in Lord of the Flies. Living up to that stereotype is not a good thing to do, but much as I wish someone could just say something that will make it stop, this stuff is just gonna keep happening.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It begins

I have been through a lot in the world of anime and otaku lifestyles in general. Working for so long in home media and licensing has left me a bit wiser, but also a bit different from others in the fan community. Click this for some minor back story.

I've done this for so long, it's changed the way I look at the world. I've been in meetings the artists, directors, the licensors, the licensees, the screamers, the scammers, the Japanese, the Americans, the Canadians and the Koreans. I've conventioned, I've bought it, I've sold it (in a store, for a living), I've licensed it in and licensed it out, I've pitched I've poked I've pilfered, I've even been involved in the making of an actual anime pilot... I've dubbed it, I've subbed it I've loved it I've snubbed it. As for Japan, I've lived there, I've worked there, I've slacked there, I've... snacked there (gotta make 'em rhyme, work with me) I've taught there, I've fought there, Graduated from college there, and I happen to be of the opinion that yes Osaka in fact is better.

So, this is where I'm coming from and now you know. I'm not doing this to try to out-otaku anyone (although after creating a college anime club and then running an actual convention in Albany NY a century ago, the first thing I learned about doing stuff like this is that out-otakuing the fan fodder out there is imperative, otherwise it just breaks down), but rather simply to set the stage for the later things I will be stating here and on the podcast.

I need to do this, since I've recently left the home media company I was had worked at, in order to go into independent license/consulting/what-was-I-thinking business. If i don't write down the ghosts of this sordid past and the conclusions and viewpoints that have formed as a result of it, then all shall be lost. Also, I need a platform from which to mess with Daryl-StringBean-Surat because he made fun of my hat.

And so, I'll leave this first post here. There's no real reason to make it any longer, as the subsequent writings you shall soon find here will amply validate this blog's existence, as well as inform and amuse the otaku public.