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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

These times they are a’ changin.’ The Fall of Cartoon Network; More Network than Cartoon

The Fall of Cartoon Network; More Network than Cartoon.

A large entry in the “we saw this coming” category for 2009, Cartoon Network has finally let their mission statement die a horrible death after languishing away for a year or two on Terri Schiavo life support. Cartoon Network has decided that animation is not really where it’s at, and has announced plans to decimate both their regular programming and Adult Swim lineup. Now, while Adult Swim had long since been killed by the likes of Squidbillies, Giant Baby, Assey McGee, Tom goes to see the poop, Saul of the Mole Men, Super Jail, and all that crap (I never thought a show on Adult Swim would be so bad that I’d long for the return of Stroker and Hoop), this represents a real sift in the overall direction of the channel, much more so than a bit of live action here and there. The only channel out there right now that could provide animated content for audiences over 5 years old (save for Nick’s Avatar, but that’s over and done with) is now on it’s way to being “not so much.”
Along with Sci Fi jumping on the dumbing-down "marketing genius" bandwagon, CN is going to get the same type of ratings they had before (since it has more to do with who’s free at what time of day rather than the actual content that will effect viewership) but may end up spending less money here and there. What is truly detrimental about this development, is now there will be a much more limited venue for commercial animation as a viable entertainment product. So unless the actual animation pulls in some noticeably higher numbers than the live action crap that is on every other channel, we might see a format change coming up for the now-in-limbo “Cartoon” Network.
The departure of CN chief Jim Samples, due to the fact that people in Boston managed to show the world how retarded they are back in January of 2007, has left the door at CN wide open to business school zombies who can’t think for themselves, and we are now going to suffer the results. CN will now be run according to some dimwit business formula taught in college business courses by fast talking advertising execs that needed extra income so they connived some university board into letting them teach courses. It may be for the best, if animation continues tosuffer due to the economic situation, live action might help keep the actual channel alive - but it will never be the same. Although it is possible that CN will rebound and go back to what worked, I am not optimistic.
Tokyo Omake:
More helicopter flyovers caught on camera from my apartment balcony.
Can anyone identify what kind of craft these are?

Other Updates,
Anime News Network has reported that there will be a life-size 1/1 scale Gundam constructed and put on display in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, in Shiokaze park in an article here. The article however doesn't mention specifics, so here are some of the details.

According to Green Tokyo, the Gundam will be unveiled on July 11th and stay up through August 31, and according to progress reports the skeleton legs are up as of now.

The Gundam sculpture will displayed in Odaiba's Shiokaze Park (潮風公園) just north of the Tokyo Maritime Science Museum. It is accessable via the Yurikamome monorail line (NOT to be confused with the Tokyo Monorail) at either the Daiba station on the north end or Fune-no-kagukukan station at the south end of the park.

This amazing exhibition is something that I and hopefully some of the rest of team あ!PoN will be covering for those of you who can't make it over to Tokyo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Paying for my sins.

This post is filler content.

Oh yes dear readers, after a quite literally sobering moment in which one realizes that they may indeed be running out of chances to turn their life around from the mess they’ve worked so hard to make it, I had a visit from an old nemesis of mine, one; Sal Monella. Now me and Sal don’t go way back, I’ve only encountered this scourge once before, less than a year ago when I unfortunately ended up passing him on to two other people. Sal has this ninja like ability to hide in the most unexpected places (Damn you import store!).

Long story short, I am now coming off of being incapacitated. It was a quick battle which had me claiming epic victory much faster than the last time (which had taken almost a week). The reason you may ask? One Mr. Jack Daniels you may be thinking? Contrary to popular belief, he can’t really help you in this situation, he’ll just make it worse. No, this ongoing situation was brought to a quicker (though no less painful) end, by one Yakult-san. So Samurai Yakult, I salute you.

In the mean time, there wasn’t much to do but gaze out the window while in-between rounds of microbial combat. And that’s when I noticed that Jack friggin Bauer was here in Tokyo at their missile command. Now living across the street from a missile launch and control site in heavily populated Shinjuku Tokyo was not something I was going to expect to happen. So I thought it was even cooler when 9 helicopters started making the rounds above the building the other day, accompanied by black unmarked cars with the gumball emergency lights swarming through the area. This was pretty cool.

Stay tuned.