Friday, April 24, 2009

Welcome to the layer cake: Anime as a weak market force

Where anime fits in the scheme of things.
In a few words, not high on the ladder… not high at all. Here in Tokyo, the makers of Crayon Shin-chan (or Shinchan as Adult Swim watchers simply know it) have been pouring on the promotion pretty heavily for the new shows that are coming out. This show is still one of Japan’s most popular anime series. Now I know some otaku out there are going … “what about Gurren Lagann and all the stuff I like?” Well, no, check the list. The kinds of titles that are “huge” in the fansubber world can not even come close to generating the kind of regularity of viewership that the popular-in-Japan animated series pull in every week, and Shin-chan is one of them. For a little more current info on what I’m talking about, check out the sidebar (top-bar actually) to the most current numbers.
This has been one of the major stumbling blocks in unifying the Japanese domestic market and the rest of the world. When the Japanese government announced that it was giving $4million to a Russian firm for a Doreamon project, I can imagine one third of AWO saying “do they really need that for something like Doreamon? Is that even still around?” um, from those of us in the real world: YES!!!!! It’s because of Japan’s own conceptions of what their strong IPs are that they decide to fund what they fund.
So Asahi TV has been hyping their broadcast of the new Shinchan like there’s no tomorrow. This promo has been playing for a few weeks now on the channel, and lots of web promotion and tieins. They even hauled that gaijin that does the enka who’s really popular now. This is where shinchan’s parents turn into animals and all this funny stuff happens.
So, what are viewers of Asahi TV treated to when Friday April 17th rolls around? Figure Skating. Yep, the 2nd most popular anime in Japan, got bumped for figure skating not once, but twice, because why? Well some programming genious thought that instead of Friday, they would air Crayon Shinchan there… where it got bumped for Figure Skating! Again!
Now, I was really planning on watching this show and then I decided to check the interwebs for information about what’s going on? Asahi TV’s Shinchan website has this big button on it, which indicates that if you click on it the TV schedule will be displayed. So in doing so, I was presented with a big screen that said (English equivalent) “CATCH SHINCHAN EVERY FRIDAY AT 7:30 ON ASAHI TV!” …So I am thinking, maybe there’s some extra things in the smaller notes of the section, where I found nothing but the same thing reiterated again.
So the only conclusion to draw, is that TV Asahi preempted Shinchan and never bothered to even put out a bit of info. In fact, that “TV Schedule section” of the website is now living somewhere else.

The sad fact, is that yes, us anime fans must not forget where the programs, industry, and the fan’s impact is according to mainstream media. Which is not awesome enough to not have it canceled for figure skating. Now are more people actually watching figure skating than Shinchan? No it’s probably around the same, BUT what’s not the same, is the rates that TV Asahi can charge for advertising during Figure Skating, along with the added pressure from the sponsors of the actual event (those signs on the side of the rink get a LOT of airtime, and don’t think JAL isn’t putting pressure on someone when that happens.
Today is another Friday, and my Japanese TV Guide is telling me that Shinchan is going to be on (and I plan to record the show on my cellphone, which you can do in Japan were everything is from the future). What will be even more interesting will be to find out if viewers will be shown the bumped episode, or the one in the original schedule? We shall see.


exedore said...

I recall a few years ago that a JET friend was often rather livid if I talked to him on summer mornings. The reason? Despite airing at something like 1AM, Monster kept getting bumped for minor league baseball broadcasts.

Though why anybody is surprised that primetime anime would get bumped for sports when anybody with weekend TV plans in the US has that occurring every week is beyond me.

Daryl Surat said...

I can imagine one third of AWO saying “do they really need that for something like Doreamon? Is that even still around?” um, from those of us in the real world: YES!!!!!I can't believe you have such lack of faith in either Gerald or Clarissa's reasoning skills. Honestly.