Friday, November 30, 2007

Furries stole their future.

Opinion piece. Views expressed are solely that of The Angry Otaku and do not speak for any group The Angry Otaku is affiliated with and all that. My past stuff was a bit more analytical... this time I am out to piss some people off.

The following writing is based off of a recent experience that I had with something specific, that probably doesn't represent a the entire group as a whole. But I am gonna let it taint my view anyway and go ahead and write this. So remember this going in; what you are about to read is based off of both years of following titles that would eventually end up over at Radio Comix or MU Press but still biased unfair and generalizes large groups, and is intended to provoke a reaction (read; I am being confrontational on purpose because I really wanna see if anyone is actually reading this) . On with the show!

Ok this isn't what I was mentioning above, but still just fucking made me so angry.

I am going to cross into an area of commentary that has started many a flame war and in the end only serves to widen the divide between what a “fandom” is as apposed to “escapism” amongst the masses. That, my friends is the ever increasing and irreconcilable gulf between the anime and furry followers that has grown exponentially since the year 2000. Although I use the year 2000 as a point to mark the moment where great divide passed the event horizon, the truth it that those furry dog-fuckers had been working on splitting off “anthro” from normalcy for some time up until that point.

There was once a time where both genres existed on the fringe, but neither had anything too terrible going for it. The early influx of “gekiga” never caused any “Crying Freeman” style shooting rampages in a mini-mall, and The American Journal of Anthropomorphics didn’t produce any skunk-fuckers. But there was always a danger that as both fandoms grew, the fringe would get out in the spotlight and not only have an influence on how mainstream medea viewed the entire group, but more importantly effect the direction of commercial production of material (without which, there IS no fandom). Anime worked hard and got lucky that the "all anime is violent girls/guns/nudity" label of the 1990's didn't stick. Furry seemed to have the opposite happen to it and had a commercially viable future shot down by the publicity of what some call a fringe group, or a segment not totally representative of everyone. That may be true but it happened anyway. Sure the intellectual furry fodder will argue about things like “Fritz the Cat” and “Omaha the Cat Dancer” were out there but those have about as much to do with the pile of ferret vomit that is modern furry fandom as “Kamen Rider” or Yukio Mishima have anything to do with “Inu Yasha” or “Naruto” (that’s a big fat nothing by the way).

The day that “Anthro” went from an artistic appreciation to a sick form of escapism similar to the Absinthe craze of over a century ago but without the Anthony Bourdain-esque coolness factor, and later degenerate further into something like the NAMBLA movement. It was the day it was hi-jacked by the very same destructive elements that seek to destroy anime fandom as well, although anime fandom was able to fight off most of these elements with the power of commercial success, Anthro didn’t stand a chance once the downward spiral started.

At first it only looked like a few bad apples spoiling ConFurence East, or some idiot artists taking things too seriously like in the “I saw her yawn” comic short at the end of one of the early Shanda issues from AP (or was it Katmandu …or Furlough… I don’t remember anymore). Although it seemed something was wrong, things appeared to still be mostly grounded, I mean Tank Vixens was fun, Salusians were an important part of NHS, the whole nekomimi ting was as popular as ever, and Fred Perry’s Gold Digger was proving it had staying power. But the undercurrents had entrenched themselves and before anyone knew it, “Anthro” was simply no more, and there was only “Furry” which was mostly hard core yiff porn (nothing wrong with pron. Porn=good. Gay or straight doesn't matter, BUT it's not a good opening act), and then the people dressed as Bugs Bunny with boobs or even worse the body paint and nothing but a dixie cup in a hotel lobby (don’t tell me I’m wrong, I was there back in the 1990’s, ok fresh?). This might have been simply a swing to one extreme of the fandom before progress returned to a middle ground, if not for the internet explosion that happened at the same time. That would change everything.

This new ability to massively archive and distribute this fringe “Furry” media meant that the very first thing many people saw of was this degenerate corrupted version of what was once a true art form. This first face that was shown to most of the world was simply a case of the wrong art attracting the wrong crowd, and the snowball effect was enormous! The last bastions of normalcy were pushed out for people who have sex with animals and call it a lifestyle, and people who think they are a really grey wolf with opposable thumbs, the ability to walk upright, and the power of speech. Shamanism would be a spiritual excuse if they tried to make themselves look like the exact physical thing they thought they were, but labeling yourself “Zig Zag” trapped in the body of a dude? …That’s just dumber than Kirk Cameron’s “God Banana” times a million. Fursuits aren’t animal suits, they’re CARTOON ANIMAL suits, and you misguided idiots out there are not, and never will be an animal, nor a cartoon, and certainly not both at once.

In 1996, I actually penned a small essay on the divergences of Anthro and anime… I forget why (and I think I cited Eric Schwartz), but as I noticed some major differences it was still not enough to send up red flags. I never would have imagined the kind of defilement that Anthro would suffer at the hands of assorted deviants and uneducated morons, and later that messed up product would actually come back to latch itself on to anime to try to legitimize it. To read that list linked to at the top of this post is to see apologist tripe at its e-worst. It is not holding up a mirror to another fandom, but rather a magnet. A magnet that sucks the kind of depravity and fancer (that’s fan+cancer) to any genre that shows the slightest sign of weakness regardless of what it is, had it been oil painting or origami at the time then that would have been it. If you think that’s something that doesn’t happen outside of pop-culture, then you haven’t seen Detroit lately have you?

“Furry” has indeed sunk very low from what it once could have been, and the extreme actions of /b/, Anonymous, and Legion are but necessary and natural defenses against this sad development. To have squandered the mainstream success that Anthro was enjoying in the 1980’s and 90’s with Heathcliff, Nimh, American Tail, Tail Spin, and so on, only to be stricken from commercial animation completely and categorized as some fetish-fed subculture which sabotages its own industry's growth, well all I can say is that for letting that crap happen “Furry” deserves another CSI episode. The lines have been drawn by the very side that is trying to free itself from what it sees as oppressiveness, but the more it gets out into the spotlight, the more the rest of us wish they would get the hell back off stage.

Some guidelines if you feel the need to comment (which I don’t think anyone will because no one is gonna read this anyway):

-If you are currently in High-School or younger, DON’T bother commenting. I’ve got manga and anthro comics that are older than you. If you weren’t there to experience what was lost, then don’t come up with some crap about how today is just as good. (Oh and your Deviant Art sucks).

-If you have a wikifur account; I already know what you’re gonna say, just as sure as Dr. Comet likes Krystal, and no Jeremy Bernal style hissy-fit is gonna do anything so save your energy for fapping to Mr Hands or Dog Whisperer or Aragon or whatever it is you do.

-If you think “otherkin” or “otakukin” are a legitimate religious anything, then I just hate you so don’t comment on basic principle. ..ok maybe not "hate" but I won't take you seriously.

EDIT: The above rules don't apply if you can be as smart as that first one. Then comment away.

Oh, and FYIAD. …no really.

Pool’s closed bitches. dance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Constantinople has fallen.

An unnecessarily long entry about the departure of Geneon and what the future now holds:

In the anime world, the fall of the Eastern Empire is now past the point of no return, and its departure will send shockwaves throughout the ever increasingly divided industry and fandom that partially supported it. “Divided” you may ask? Yes divided, however I shall reveal the reasons for this statement a bit later on. First we have to take a little look back at the days of the old republic.

From a nebulous dark age that now seems lost to antiquity and few current otaku can claim to have been alive within, anime fandom grew out of the very basic types of media delivery (print, video, other) and the functions they could provide. Like the hills of Rome, these basic types of media delivery cradled a young republic of anime fandom. One in which early participants had the opportunity to take on a more active role not just in the anime content that they they individually would have access to, but also had a further reaching effect on what large sections of the fandom would have such access to as well. This was also partially due to the fact that the ultimate source of anime was about to go through its own series of production booms, which had not had their effects felt yet, in addition to the very limited media delivery technology of the day.

This ongoing emergence of anime caused positive fandom growth, but also brought sustainability into question. Enter the formation of The Empire and the need to unify large areas creating a legitimate market via commercial entities (labels, retailers, and trading companies bringing in imports). This market, although niche, grew to level never before possible thanks to the vitality of the home video market. Published and video media delivery was made commercially viable because of the distribution dynamics of the industry as a whole (ie not unique just to anime/manga) and if any industry is going to stay healthy, several equally footed entities must continue to vie for market share.

News stories popped up in mainstream news media about this new emerging market and industry, while at the same time an ocean away, ever more of the product would be produced and would fuel further growth. Each player in this new empire continued to expand, and thanks to those news stories and the ingenuity of some of the newer players in the game, a major barrier was broken. A barrier that had not been broken in a generation and it was that of media delivery through broadcast and national cable channels and additionally, specifically presented as anime and not just a cartoon but as anime (anime on TV ook ook!). Unlike the previous decade-long eclipsing of that TV barrier (which began with Speed Racer, and ended with Voltron as the domestic toy forces forced children’s entertainment into formulaic self-contained nuggets of mind-numbing tripe with no room for story arks or creativity), this was another ingredient to the brewing “perfect storm.” That perfect storm being a home-media market to support anime, or be supported by anime. So growth continued, convention attendance increased, national distribution was easy, and the mountain of titles continued to rise ever higher.

The empire did indeed split, and it is only in hindsight that the Emperor under which this split happened could be recognized. Yes, Pikachu. Pokemon evolving into a property that could warrant a McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in (something not even DBZ couldn’t have come close to doing in the U.S.) began the upheaval of the industry status quo, splitting it into the original home media labels, and the new entities (or transformed ones such as VIZ) on the scene which where those with both a direct connection with the Japanese pool of properties as well as the ability to capitalize on ancillary rights such as textiles, merchandise, sub-licenses, and directly control broadcast and schedule their DVD releases accordingly.

The former players in the industry were split off from this new way of doing business, as they did not have such ancillary rights attached to their libraries, and could only hope that a title they had could get on adult swim through other means and they would simply reap the benefits in DVD sales. This diminished capacity to be a guiding force in the market after this split (some might even have seen it as being reduced to near impotence) seemed frustrating, but it would now seem also served as a protective insulation of the current home media implosion which is partial responsible for the fall of Geneon, and which I touched on in my previous post.

The stability of this model seems to only have been sustainable if the growth rate in home media remained constant. This of course was a factor completely out of the industry’s hands no matter how much any company spent on marketing. There were also other market forces happening specifically within the anime market, the most significant being the age and gender shift in the main demographic of the market makeup. This new younger consumer was much less likely to support the home media market with DVD purchases, and rather bump the ancillary market for a wide range of character goods. They were more likely to use free downloading to serve their media consumption and either ignored or were truly ignorant of how it would hurt the industry as a whole, or simply justified their doing so with the notion that they would buy what they like, but what they downloaded they weren’t going to buy anyway so it’s not causing direct damage. However it was this reasoning that served to artificially inflate the appearance of market support (agents take licensors to anime cons to show them all the throngs of cosplayers, of an anime that’s not even out on DVD yet, so it’s only going to get bigger from there right?). It was this artificial inflation of what the market could sustain which lead to the masking of the dangers to this new Eastern Empire which was spread too thin and dangerously overexposed. Hence the aforementioned “division” and reversal of interpersonal involvement between the fan/consumer base, and the mechanics of the industry.

Don’t fool yourself, there’s been a bubble that’s burst. But this “anime bubble” that’s gone pop is only one in a sea of bubbles throughout the home media market. Anime has left an indelible mark on media entertainment as a whole, and we are not headed for some sort of long age of darkness. It was within the same half century of Constantinople becoming Istanbul, that the New World was discovered, and the Renaissance began. I could go into all kinds of market indicators but I'm really tired at this point so just take this one at face value ok?

Look for the surviving labels to first slightly diversify genres, and consolidate their offerings in the short term. Following that, the next quantum leap is going to be the direct involvement of American and Japanese media content companies working together in anime co-productions. Productions of this nature will be intended for launch into both markets simultaneously, with all the bases of TV possibilities, ancillary rights, and so on already covered before production is even finished. Major companies will be producing major series (serieses?) with massive play-patterns and multilevel merch programs attached, and smaller producers will offer more niche programming with limited runs of more collectible style merchandise, as anime finally completes this last transitive step in going from a genre, to a medium, with it's own intermingled but none the less self sustaining sub-groups.

Almost reminds of the comic bubble doesn't it?

Welcome to the ground floor of a new era.

Also, in case anyone doesn't know about the real fall of Constantinople here's a nice little RPG style explanation of what happened.