Is This The New Face Of Anime Otakudom Or Like With Setsuna Is It Just A Phase
Was reading this article by Danny Choo tonight and was actually kind of surprised to hear that the Japanese have made note of the idea of a declining anime industry, a view that I also happen to share. What is more startling is that the commenters over in Japan also seem to share a lot of the views on what’s wrong with the anime industry that are oft repeated here in the west. Here’s just a general idea of what they are upset about as taken from Danny Choo’s article:
-Lower the price!
-Our pockets don’t go on forever.
-DVD’s should have at least 4 episodes.
-Quality – not quantity.
-Instead of complaining, do something about it!
-Too much crap moe anime.
-7,000 yen for 2 episodes is out of the question
-Cant stand watching the continuous amount of crap series.
-Who wants to watch crap quality expensive DVD’s?
-The late night anime are full of moe anime – boring!
-Instead of ero anime, make proper titles.
-Too much cheap crap anime.
Hmmm…..all of this just seems like common sense to me, though the fact that’s it’s actually getting put out there in the mainstream news and that it’s a demographic that I usually look at as being hopelessly complacent that is airing these thoughts gives one at least a glimmer of hope for change in how companies are pursuing the creation and propogation of the whole anime concept. I really find it hard to deny that the market is currently saturated with cookie cutter moe titles and ero anime (the idea that mecha anime is an issue as stated by Danny is debatable though I think as there’s not nearly as many mecha titles now as there were in the 70’s-90’s, not to mention the amount airing by the season pales compared to the amount of moe based shows and eroge adaptations) and that anime companies are exhibiting a general lack of ambition when it comes to interesting ideas for anime, shows like Eden of The East, which is doing surprisingly well in the ratings (a sign that more shows like it are sought by Japanese anime fandom perhaps?) and Code Geass (a smash success in it’s own right and like it or not one of the stand out series of the decade) being the exception rather than the rule. In other words few companies want to take a chance and it’s not helping either party.
There are almost more new shows per season nowadays then there used to be per year in the 80’s, an era that is often cited debatably as a golden age for anime in terms of new ideas and pushing the artform to it’s limits in terms of the type of stories that were being told at the time. The one comment that really hits me though is the idea of quality of over quantity. Pursuit of the opposite is the same problem the Japanese gaming industry suffers from when it comes to making unique and polished games that people would happily want to buy with even the biggest and most revered companies like Square Enix and Capcom frequently opting to just go with what has worked in the past and allowing the market to stagnate compared to a competitive American market with the ever cuthroat and ambitious Microsoft leading it’s charge in redefining the way we think of games and how they should be played. I feel like I’m in a bit of a state of deja-vu here, but stagnation and too many choices amongst equivalent mediocrity in games is what caused the video game crash of 1983. The same thing can happen and in fact probably is happening to both the Japanese anime and gaming markets right now, even though it’s a less visible and slower crash compared to the total disaster that was Winter 1983. Something’s got to be done, and again I think these comments lay the right track towards getting the anime industry back on it’s feet again.
Of course I would be remiss to not talk about the ever present knock at Japanese DVD prices that are incredibly high relative to the amount of content on the media itself for the fact that this time it’s coming from the Japanese consumers themselves. I think these Japanese consumers and otaku may have finally caught on to the way the rest of the world works when it comes to DVD’s and want something done about it sooner rather than later…..or never. 4-5 episodes per disc and a healthy 20-30 dollar price tag (2,000-3,000 yen) is extremely hard to pass up once you know it’s out there, and honestly it’s probably about time the companies stopped trying to fight Region 1 imports and instead just adopted the more reasonable pricing system of other countries. After all, “otaku pockets don’t go on forever” as some commenters apparently cry, so why not focus on making the anime industry sustainable in the long run instead of just trying to bleed otaku’s wallets dry all at once. This a relationship that doesn’t have to sour since otaku are a demographic that will fulfill the demand for anime products if they can continue to do so with their current finances and feel appreciated and like their concerns are being listened to when it comes to quality. If this is the beginning of a consumer uprising then it’ll be better for everyone in the long run if the Japanese business world’s tendency to save face is just put aside here and really I hope all of this does find an ear or two and that there is some kind of response or action taken by the anime companies in order to address what appears to be an increasingly vocal disdain for the current state of anime.
To cap this one off, looking at the comment about doing something instead of just complaining about it, I’ll just say that I think the best way to make any of this count is for the otaku and consumers to keep up the pressure. Nothing’s going to change if the industry is lead to believe that this dissent is a flash in the pan. First rule of business, if a company can get away with making more while offering less in terms of quality then they will take that approach every time. After all, it’s only common sense.