Thursday, June 8, 2017

Waifu Tourism: Using Japanese IP to market "Content Tourism"

Japan see the potential in Content Tourism; Government immediately starts doing it wrong.

So what is Content Tourism and why are they putting it in a blender with Cool Japan and then just pouring it randomly all over the place?  Well apparently, it is in the hopes of increasing international tourism in Japan.  Content Tourism is simply capitalizing on people's desire to visit specific locations because said locations were featured in a particular work (novel, TV show, movie, youtube video, whatever), this is slightly different from historical tourism (civil war battlefields, Jack the Ripper crime scene walking tour), only in that the source material for the impetus behind undertaking content tourism is fictional.  Both try to attract visitors by providing an intangible value to their tourist activities, in this case access to places connected to things they find interesting.  Or tangible value depending what's available in the gift-shop.

I'd like one meth please.  Every fandom has meth.
Every. Fandom.

Japan, being a popular setting for many modern fictional works of popular culture, has no shortage of such locations, but has been sorely lacking in the ability to genuinely connect them to the "Content" of Content Tourism.  Yes, you may have loved Initial D but are you gonna go rent a Golf GTI or whatever and drive around Gunnma?  You might think Crayon ShinChan is hilarious but are you going to go wander around Saitama trying to just drink it all in? (Side-note, It's best just to never ever go wandering around Saitama, seriously, there be some strange things that happen there, arg).  So the conundrum is obvious perhaps, connect places with popular anime and you'll get your tourists looking when where that thing happened that time in their favorite anime.  How do we connect things?  Well technology, it's Japan how else are they going to approach this, you expect them to hire some kigurumi people to just walk around and wave at everyone?

It costs extra if you want to know which ones in this picture pee standing up.

Rather than go with that potential creepy-factor, the geniuses at JETRO have decided to Pokemon-GO the hell out of this idea.  Now you can use a mobile device to look around a specific site or building and see that hot little waifu of yours peaking out from behind a corner.  Maybe they'll even narrate self-guided tours or tell which nearby kissaten is going to tolerate your weaboo-speak that you think is Japanese.  This is an interesting add on and another way the government is going to spend money on a good idea, look back at in 4 years, and say... "well that didn't work either, so what's next?"  Well that "conundrum" I mentioned earlier is probably not the impediment in this scenario which is going to be the most immovable.  What is happening is something like the Yamato effect.  No not that Yamato.  More about this later.

So who is coming to dinner?
Well, according to the JNTO, the countries that send the most tourists by far are the countries in close proximity, so it's not surprising to see Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong  be the top sources of international visitors.  But guess who's #5 on the list... that's right it's 'Murica, which so far is beating out Thailand.  This is also based on tourist visa numbers so US Armed Forces in Japan don't get included in these numbers.  You would expect Australia to have high numbers as well but they don't. And if you combine the USA with Canadian visitors, it outnumbered all visitors from the entire EU.  Outside of East Asia, North America is the next most important contributor to tourism numbers from Japan (combined figures 2012-2016 from the JNTO). 

So, are the increased foreign tourists going to be likely coming from countries that are already among the top contributors, or will they come from new sources that previously hadn't been significant sources?  Well that's the big question isn't it, but with geopolitical instability being what it is, Japan and Russia not becoming besties any time soon, and the growing competition out there, it looks like the man source is going to be an increase from the cash cows.  But that means there's going to be another problem.

The Yen is too damn high.

Exchange rates are something I have talked about before.  Or here too.  But it should be brought up again because the JPY and its stubborn immobility when it comes to rates against the USD and other currencies , it creates the perfect storm of antidote to any pull efforts that this program is going to have with many foreign  tourists who would find value in this type of Content Tourism.  They are all young, and underemployed, paid stagnant wages, have student debt that is astronomical, and have basically been all kinds of screwed.  If you're not a baby boomer, then you are statistically nowhere near the type of person that has the money or time to go an international vacation to one of the most expensive countries in the world.  Coincidentally if you're not a baby boomer, you're exactly the type of international tourist that this program is supposed to appeal to. 

That means that this program is probably so much more effective on domestic tourism markets rather than foreign tourism (with the exception of the ROK, but ROK to Japan is like USA to Canada, it almost doesn't count as an international excursion).  Domestic Japanese will feel a great appeal for this more than foreign fans but more importantly will have the means to capitalize on this opportunity for a valuable experience.  They ill not be tethered by tourist schedules and the need to see things in order of importance.  Seriously, if you're from outside Japan and it's your first time in Kyoto, you will be going to Kiyomizu regardless of what this program has to offer.  If you live in Japan you might have seen it before or can come back to it.  If you live in Japan you won't be worried about international data charges on a wireless device or having to have a whole other one just for this to work.  If you live in Japan you would know that acting like an anime character in public is just as socially frowned upon as if you were in the USA and lived as if you were one of the characters in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  If you live in Japan, you are the market that this would bring the most value to.  But where are they taking it?  Where it doesn't belong.  If the Japanese government were serious about getting more foreign tourists to visit, they would focus on ways to make it affordable for a young American couple in their 20s who were born the same year as Otakon started, to be able to get there at all.  But that would mean falling out of love with Tokyo, and it's not really in keeping with Abenomics (whatever it happens to be this election).

So now, connecting that to the Yamato effect at this point should be easy. The Yamato was truly a magnificent piece of engineering.  It could shoot at you from so far away that the curvature of the earth itself prevented you from seeing it.  It had an elite crew, lots of power, and was the perfect flag ship for any navy... if it had been in the Battle of Jutland.  They had the best, most bad-ass Arceus they could have, and threw it at 10,001 Charmeleon who were all in a really bad mood.  Results were as to be expected.  So the Yamato effect is when you have something that's amazing at what it does, and do incongruous things with it.  Yes you could cut 9 feet of plywood with a premium Dremel router bit, but a table saw is going to do that better.  The same is happening here.  Japan has the best knife to win a knife fight with, and they're fighting someone with a gun they bought from a pawn shop.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Recap

Kyoto State of Mind.
In case you missed it, Crunchyroll is streaming The Eccentric Family (Uchōten Kazoku) season 2.  They actually started doing this in April, but it's still a slow release so you haven't missed much.  There's something about this series that anyone who has lived in/near Kyoto is going to get all squee-squee nostalgic about.  Ditching class to just hang out around the shrines and parks around Kyoto creates a special feeling that just stays with you.  The Eccentric Family does quite a nice job capturing the Kyoto city-scape and overall vibe.

Some artistic license does in fact, take place.

If you haven't seen it at all, The Eccentric Family is a well made series that incorporates elements of Japanese mythology with the inter-personal politics and foibles of everyday life.  The characters have interesting faults and while not being completely free of trope-tastic deus ex machina plot navigation at times, it folds it in nicely and doesn't make investing your time in the series a painful experience.  So if you haven't yet, go on over to Crunchyroll and give it a look-see.

Anime-Style Novel Contest in Japan Bans Alternate Reality Stories and Teen Protagonists
I am ok with this.  You know why?  Because if they didn't then 90% of the entries would be that same shit.  Yes, Alck-Metal-Fullamist was great (the first time around), but we don't need to hear a million stories about how in a world where they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people, a 16 year old born without a left ass-cheek saves an entire planet of vaguely middle eastern weirdos with purple hair from magic-hitler.  Come up with something a bit more appealing to a broader audience.

Remember when I wrote that thing about AMVs and it got everyone in a tizzy?  Of course you don't, fresh', it was 2011 and you were taking the SATs.  But what I did mention was how agonizing it was when certain trends become too prolific, and there was an unhealthy saturation of AMVs using the same Linkin Park song(s) to either Evangelion or that new Vampire Hunter D that came out at the time.  So, so, so many of those were standing between the audience and the actual good AMVs that it was just painful.  Such is the case here and now with writing.  It is the same shit over and over and over just with different hair colors and number of "senpai notice me!" moments.  If outside force is required to avoid that, then it should be applied.

Stories that can appeal to high-school aged consumers don't have to have any high school characters in them in order to have said appeal.  Furthermore, by not pigeon-holing the type of narrative, there are now other segments of the audience that can be potential consumers as well.  We can come back to Dragon Maid for this one because back in January I mentioned exactly that.  Dragon Maid is popular with the high school crowd, but it's about a fully functioning adult protagonist (and a dragon).  Someone well out of school, with a job, living on their own.  This means that people in that situation can relate to the story and characters as well, not just students who have that part of their lives to look forward to.  It's why it spans so many different segments out there.

Also... Boobies.

Being a writer means being part of an industry.  It's a business.  And as a business, you can't do it by writing what you want, you have to write what they want. In this case "they" being any potential customers willing to pay money to purchase said writings in whatever format.  When that matches up, then hey, good for you.  When it doesn't, suck it up and deal with it if you want to keep doing this.

AMAZON Japan to Buck Long Standing Tradition and Deal Directly with Publishers.
Amazon Japan has recently loosened its Wal-Mart like iron fist contract terms with distributors in terms of demanding the lowest price, thanks to some prodding/investigation by Japan's FTC.  Dropping the most favored nation clause, as it's called, means that Amazon can no longer make it a rule that every vendor must offer Amazon a lower price than any other e-commerce site they also sell to.  It is perhaps to offset this new dent in earnings forecasts that Amazon Japan is now pursuing a direct distribution strategy with Japanese publishing companies, rather than use 3rd party partners/vendors such as Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Inc.  With plans to order what are sure to be bestsellers straight from publishers, this will allow them to earn more while adhering to the SRP/Cover Price, or discounting it, or whatever it is they do; I don't know - I don't work there.

Look upon your doom, bitches.

Japanese industry and business culture has always loved a middle man.  So much so that there are giant companies in Japan providing middle-man services that have no market what so ever in countries like the United States or EU.  Take Creek & River Co. Ltd. for example, a placement agency for freelance creative people and studios, which places the freelancers at temp jobs with very large companies. It's basically a big Rolodex of freelancers with subscription fee.  In Japan, this is great because socially it's just unheard of to try and "cold contact" someone for something without a formal introduction by a mutually known party.  In the USA, all Procter and Gamble has to do is post something on a website and BANG, everyone with a BA in graphic design is firing their folios at them that they'll be able to pick someone in 24 hours.  C&Rs first foray into the U.S. market was mostly a disaster.

So Amazon is bring that "what do we need you for?" mentality to its Japanese operation, and it will probably be successful. Despite many aspects of Japanese society being in the technological dark ages (ATMs have "closed hours" and major entities still use fax machines a lot), people buying stuff online is widely accepted because another thing that's super popular in Japan is getting stuff delivered.

We know where you live!

Due to its serialized nature, manga will most likely be affected as much as other mediums such as novels and academic texts.  Rather the terms at which Amazon can offer e-reader versions of manga will have a far greater impact on how the market develops, and now that they will be dealing with large publishing companies, the pendulum may be able to swing in their favor.  We might see some very rapid manga releases as publishers hand off the legwork, and more importantly, the overhead cost of translation and distribution in non-Japanese markets to Amazon. 

Japan and ASEAN Release Joint Action Plan at the Intellectual Property Offices Symposium 2017, in Kanazawa.
The Seventh ASEAN-Japan Heads of Intellectual Property Offices Meeting took place this month in Kanazawa, resulting in the joint ASEAN-Japan 2017-2018 Intellectual Property Action Plan.  Before you get all excited and wonder why Anime News Network didn't plug this in the feed, keep in mind this was made by ASEAN industry heads and the JPO (that's "Japan Patent Office" in case you were wondering).  Sorry to pour ice water on your boners, but no, fansub bootlegs and those pirated copies of Pokemon Sun & Moon that got you perma-banned from Ninendo Store and bricked your DS were not on the agenda.  This was almost all exclusively to do with patent law, proprietary manufacturing processes, and chemical formulas.  Also the entire detailed plan isn't available (or it is and I'm just bad at searching for it) but the joint statement, which consists of lip service and farts of well wishes, is online should you care to waste 93 seconds of your life reading it (.pdf file).   However there is also the analytical data from the manufacturing sector - it's pretty detailed.  Good luck, ya weebos.

This is totally what every patent attorney in Japan looks like, I am an expert.
But don't go back to checking on that torrent just yet, some things are going to come out of this.  Such as;
  • Although not an ASEAN member, China is slowly being dragged in to these kind of agreements as such activity increases and pressure mounts to stay in the game. Bringing China along for the ride by 2025 is a major step in quelling the "wild west" type of environment when it comes to IP over there and that will include entertainment IP as well as technological. 
  • New and streamlined avenues for prosecution of infringements may be able to (in the future) allow protection of entertainment IP as well, meaning ASEAN countries will be seen as stronger more viable markets for licensing rather than just write-offs to be ignored.   Except Vietnam; they'd probably still censor the crap out of everything.  
  • This is further strengthened by the listed objective of enhancement of collaboration between IP enforcement agencies, which will undoubtedly also enforce IP regulations on things like consumer products, well known brands, and entertainment.
Interestingly enough, there is a separate conference to deal with IP in terms of industrial databases computer codes, and AI software.  It's called  Intellectual Property System Study Group for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  With a title like that you know it's Japanese.

Wonder Woman: Gender-Segregated Screenings at Alamo Draft House.  ...oh here we go.
It's a thing that's happening.  As fun and or empowering as this seems to be, it also seems to be living on the border of "grey area" and "illegal" as well as in no way keeping with the actual spirit of gender equality (it's really the literal opposite).  Here in New York this may run afoul of some significant legal barriers, including Seidenberg v. McSorleys' Old Ale House (1970, United States District Court, Southern District, New York), which means having a liquor license comes with some very clear rules in terms of what you can and can't do regarding public accommodation.  Also what are they going to do about staff?  Is it going to be women only wait-staff?  Because if that is the case, the Department of Labor might take issue with Alamo also.

Yes, this stupid shit again.

I think my support for Wonder Woman as an IP (and an important one at that) has already been explicitly shown both here and here.  However, it is now tainted by the unfortunate social justice reaction which seems to be the same transparent and ridiculous strategy that was employed with the 2016 Ghostbusters.  Every single source of criticism of a business refusing to sell to members of the public because they are such-and-such a gender being instantly labeled as sexist, misogynist, white-nationalist (yes I actually saw that allegation out there regarding this mess) and then is just followed with screeching as loud as possible with no salient argument regarding favoring the exclusion of a specific gender from a licensed business.  I have seen some counterpoints which support doing these screenings, but I haven't seen a single one that seems to acknowledge what is actually happening.
1) Bars and clubs have "Ladies Nights"  or "Boy Nights" and that's legal.
Yes, because that's incentivization, not exclusion.  Specific groups, by gender in this case, are given incentives to patronize a business (which I still think is straight up sexist, but it's also so nebulous from a legal standpoint that it's not getting resolved any time soon that's for sure), but at no time can these businesses actually exclude admission to anyone based on gender during these or any other events.  That's kind of a game changer. Alamo isn't offering discounts or free food or anything else to women in general, they are simply saying "if you are gender such-and-such you will not be admitted/served" ...that's a very clear difference.
2) It's a non-profit fundraising event so they can do that
There's nothing that says something isn't subject to discrimination laws just because it's a non profit event or organization.  Hell, Otakon is an NPO, but do you think they'd be able to get away with having scheduled events for gender this one to the exclusion of gender that one?  The answer is no, they'd be breaking the law regarding public accommodation, and they really just shouldn't do it in principle.
3) But Alamo has classified these as private events, so they can exclude whoever they want. 
Can anyone come up to the box-office and buy a ticket if they are the gender that Alamo has decided to allow?  Yes?  Well then that's going to have a hard time meeting the definition of private event, we're back to public accommodation territory.
4) But what about Curves?  They are gender-exclusive and not getting in trouble so it must be ok!
Sorry slick, but you might be interested to know it is indeed the case that a number of states allow for exemptions to gender discrimination laws.  However it is limited to a specific type of business or entity, and almost always done on religious grounds (yes the original reason gyms and workout centers can gender segregate is because of religious demands).   It is also not the same in every state. Guess what kind of business is not on that list... yeah, there's that liquor license. So does not apply is pretty much how that one ends.  Probably.

See, I like Alamo Drafthouse, and if they get sued or fined, that's bad.  If they lose their license, that's bad also.  I don't want that.  So making sure that this won't bite them in the ass if a state agency gets involved or someone straight up sues is important for them if they don't want to be at risk for something that might shut the place down.

The problem now is that the go-to strategy of 3rd wave is now firmly in place, meaning anyone pointing out that A) this is an example of an entire segment of the population being excluded from public accommodation by a licensed business based exclusively on gender and that B) such a practice is potentially illegal, is now automatically labeled a sexist and misogynist in as loud a shouty-shout voice as can be made.  Woke ≠ Smart.  The bad part about this is that unlike Ghostbusters 2016, the ridiculous infusion of identity politics is going to tarnish what looks like a genuinely good movie this time, which is unfortunate.   I am fully thinking that Wonder Woman is going to be kick-ass.

Now I could be wrong about literally all of this, but until someone comes to me with a cogent, salient argument about the matter, rather than some white-knighting bullshit insult screaming and name calling, that's where I see things landing on this one.

Too sexist for the UN; But not sexist enough for the Box Office.
Makes all the sense you'd expect from people who do stuff like this.

Oh, by simply pointing this out I am now apparently, in addition to being a misogynist, sexist, and racist (somehow), I am also mansplaining... to literally anyone who reads this I guess? Can a man mansplain to another man?  Who fucking knows...

Bobby Moynihan Leaves Saturday Night Live.
Piece of Toast seen laughing maniacally - Garmanarnar inconsolable. In other news, Rick and Morty season 3 is set to air just in time for the 2020 US Presidential election. 

Your Plumbus is on back order, now shut the fuck up!

Yeah ok, they say it's going to air starting in July 2017, but any bunch of fucktards who pull "April Fools" jokes with their own TV series after the year 2004 are both, not to be believed and should be the subject of physical violence whenever possible. Seriously... I hope someone gets kicked in the nuts over this bullshit.

Jim Henson Exhibit to Open at Museum of the Moving Image July
The Museum of the Moving Image has announced that they will open a permanent version of a similar traveling exhibit form years earlier.  According to DNAinfo:

The Jim Henson Exhibition — a gallery of more than 300 objects from the famous puppeteer's career, including dozens of his best-loved puppets — will debut to visitors on July 22, the museum announced Wednesday.

The Museum of the Moving Image is located in Astoria Queens and is easily reached by Subway.

Holy Shit This Actually Happened.

I've never liked the type of worship of the military-class that started gaining momentum in the USA after it was obvious the wars Congress voted for were going to continue in perpetuity. "You give me special parking spots - my spouse is active duty!" "You don't get to criticize the military because they're fighting for YOUR freedom" (just not the 1st Amendment apparently) "blaaaarrrrggg!!!"  I really fucking hate that.  Did you join the military just so that others would have to kiss your ass?  No? Then stop acting like you're entitled to others kissing your ass.  If you look at the books that Terry Frei has written, you'll see he's really into the whole war and politics stuff as well as sports.

So apparently it seems like that kind of thinking was behind the comment of (former) Denver Post sports reporter Terry Frei, stating he was "uncomfortable" with Japanese Professional Driver Takuma Sato having won the Indi 500 on Memorial Day weekend.  Well, unless this schmuck said the same thing about the race in 2012, 2011, and 2010, when England won (you know, that country that had a giant Empire which tried to stop the USA from literally existing... twice), then it just shows that he's basing his comments on racism, not nationalism...  yeah, I'm gonna go with racism is kinda the worse one of those two.  I'd bet he wouldn't even have said the same thing if a German or Italian driver won this year.  I mean by this fucker's logic, you'd have to think the same "uncomfortable" thing if the race was won by a driver from; Japan, England, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, Algeria, Turkey, Iraq, Vietnam, The Philippines, Austria, Romania, I guess North Korea too (and almost France that one time).  Something tells me this ass-face probably wouldn't do that.  Therefore his is indeed an ass-face.  ...fucking ass-face.

As an American who likes things Japanese, it's quite deflating to see things like this happen, and even more disheartening to know why they still happen.  Yeah, firing this shithead is a necessary move for the brand of the Denver Post, but the unfortunate part is, it's not going to change the way this fucker thinks in the slightest.  I don't even know if anything really can.

This kind of shit was already cartoonishly worn out in the 1980's.

People are on different sides of the issue; was it a correct decision by The Denver Post to fire this twerp?  Well yes I think it is, but I don't know if I myself would have done it if I were in charge, I'd really have to think about it.  The thing is, Terry Frei is an author and sports reporter for The Denver Post, and is making a public comment about sports.  Personal twitter account or not, keeping him on-board now damages The Denver Post's brand value significantly.  So from a public relations, marketing, and finance perspective, separating the brand from the entity that is Terry Frei is the correct decision.  This is the same kind of thing that happened with JonTron and PlayTonic.

Qualitative analysis can be an important part of corporate strategy as much as quantitative is.