Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lost at Sea: When you build a house of cards on the ocean, it falls down.

For Producers.
That's not my department.

There's no business like show business.  But there's many businesses that, well business.   One of the repeating themes written about here, is that manga, anime, games, and the like, are indeed products of businesses, and as such, those businesses require certain business functions to occur and to be sustainable.  Another aspect that is equally important is Business Architecture, Supply Chain Management, and how it fits into Corporate Governance.

The large publishers and studios are part of much larger companies which are sometimes part of sizeable Keiretsu.  From the obviously diverse such as SONY or Fujisanke, to the 'you probably didn't realize one of their biggest divisions is food-products' Bandai, or the 'you think they're just publishers but guess where their assets are' Kadokawa and Shogakukan Inc.  Just because a large company doesn't  have any divisions or subsidiaries outside their core industry, doesn't mean that all their assets are in that industry too, that's what investment banks are for (even you Kosdansha).

So they have their chips spread out a bit, that's good for a big company right?  It certainly can be, but every once in a while something can come along and actually truly mess that right the hell up. The collapse of global shipping is one of those "somethings" I just mentioned.

What, Me worry?

If you aren't already, you really should be aware of the giant mess that's still going on because of the insolvency of Hanjin.  You know, those shipping containers on those trucks you have to drive past on your way to work at the mall.  See, that's a big company and the stuff you're selling at your job at the mall is in that truck right there heading to the mall right next to you.  Hanjin was one of the largest global shipping companies in the world.  Don't think for a moment that this won't mess up all of global trade and the entire economy on some level.  There are still ships stranded at sea right now because ports won't accept Hanjin ships without payment up front (oh yeah, you didn't know? Parking isn't free at these places), and deadlines are way out the window at this point.  Second to a $20/hr minimum wage, this is Walmart's worst nightmare.

Pictured: Not a viable option.

Another thing you shouldn't go thinking to yourself, is that this won't effect the Japanese economy as a whole -just exporters or whoever- and thus anime, manga, media entertainment will stay immune.  That's like thinking just because Hanjin was a Korean company it's only going to effect Korean interests and like, your Samsung Galaxy is gonna be 2 weeks late.  One of the biggest sectors hurt by this (shipping in general, not just Hanjin) is German banking.  Large companies lean on each other more than they themselves even realize and a supply chain fiasco for 7-11 Holdings could easily end up causing another company to spin off their animation or manga division to focus on their core (the core is never anime and manga).  SONY starts missing its rare earth element shipments for whatever and all of a sudden selling Aniplex seems like an easy choice to make.  I'm using SONY as an example because it's an easy simple one, but I am sure there are all kinds of interwoven relationships that connect just about every company to this.  So that's just a direct example.  Investment banks losing out means they can drag other unrelated companies down with them and all of a sudden there's no one around to finance a non-Miyazaki Gibli film (what, you thought they paid for those things 100% out of pocket?).

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a docking slip today.

This is the kind of thing that most areas outside the core industry (global shipping) don't feel the effects of until the better part of a year later.  Like a Brown Recluse Spider bite, the poison is in, but the damage has yet to manifest.  It's a domino effect that can either go on for a long time or stop short, depending on who does what, and none of the answers for what to do are easy ones.

So will this have an effect on the producers themselves?  Most certainly, but that effect could be everything from a minor hiccup in which a project or two gets delayed, to a full on mass-extinction event where only small studios and independent producers or entities with more of an international footprint come out of it mostly unscathed.   But what kind of consumer environment will they emerge into?

For Consumers.
But what about the rioting?

Howdy, Neighbor!

What I mentioned above is just one part of the situation.  The other part is the potential devastation on a socioeconomic and political level that another big collapse can have for Japan itself.  Japan has already got some serious problems despite the rosy picture those employment statistics are portraying, and an economic cluster-fuck that involves something like global shipping (that thing Japan really needs), could make those problems seriously worse.  People often think certain places are simply immune to civil unrest, but the actual reality is that those places just need a different recipe for it than what we commonly see.  Japan itself is no stranger to such things, from good old fashioned riots, to the inevitable police overreaction, political assassinations on live TV, and even a whole entire attempted coup in 1970 (spoiler alert, it did not work. But the fact that they still give tours of the building -still an active part of the JSDF Boesho Complex- and the room where Mishima bit it makes you wonder...).

Remember that diversity thing I mentioned in the last post?  Well that also has the potential to turn ugly if the economic and social climate deteriorate enough.  If you can imagine things getting just tense and bad enough, then one day in Tokyo these guys are gonna run into these guys on the street and it will go beyond dirty looks and simple posturing.  When things turn to recession as the norm, the first groups to receive negative attention are the ones that weren't there before.  Instead of being something that strengthens Japan, a certain climate exacerbated by this global crisis could make it a flashpoint for injury.  If that happens, this kind of thing is going to make it hard to keep up business as usual for manga because it's kind of impossible to do said business as usual when the book store is on fire.  That's an extreme.  What is more likely is that it will simply effect domestic tastes in entertainment media as well as purchasing power of consumers as a whole. Times of fluctuation like this are hard but usually met in the long term with a greater overall strength (just look at the UK or US in the 1960s).  It is during that time that there is also a genuine surge in the progression of popular and contempora-nanity (that's contemporary + inane) culture, where new things which were barely conceptually thought of become reality in record time.  So this is going to be one hell of a ride either way.

But I luvz mah Bubble... Luvz mah Bubble

Don't fart.

I know there are still some people out there who think that because they read their manga digitally and that anime isn't something that gets on a container ship and goes through the Straights of Malacca, that Hanjin going down like the Titanic won't change anything regarding the entertainment media they love (yeah you love it so much you devalue the license by reading and watching bootlegs you monsters).  There's nothing I can really show you here that's going to change your mind, because it's all over the horizon outside a direct field of vision.  But don't worry you'll know when it gets here.

What, You worry?

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