You Say You Want A Revolution? (Otaku Uprising?)

Revolution

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.

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13 Responses to “You Say You Want A Revolution? (Otaku Uprising?)”


  1. 1 omisyth May 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    REBELLION!

    Interesting to note how 4 ideas in the list are essentially “Moe anime is bad”. I think that moe anime are going to continue to be both a good source of entertainment for the consumer and profit for the company. Sure, there are some crap shows out there nowadays, but the market’s not as dominated by moe or eroge titles as it may seem.

    Otherwise, I do agree. VIVA LA REVOLUCION.

  2. 2 deathkillz May 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Oh I have been to there and I know…DVD prices are scary and it almost gave me a heart attack looking at mountains upon mountains of them but not being able to buy any…since it is just way out of my league.
    And while “moe” may not being a dominating factor…it sure is dominating the amount of attention they get from fans *rolleyes*

  3. 3 Myssa Rei May 9, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I’m pretty much oblivious to moe (or unaffected, given my gender, haha), but I do agree that the companies bankrolling anime productions should wake up from the illusion they’ve deluded themselves into believing.

  4. 4 Kaioshin Sama May 9, 2009 at 2:51 am

    @omisyth: Moe anime is not bad, but I think the nigh saturation of it isn’t helping the industry grow.

    @deathasaurus: Yes indeed on your last sentence.

    @Myssa Rei: Which illusion is that?

  5. 5 CCCP May 9, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Yes!!! I’ve been long thinking that the current anime (with some exceptions like Gundam 00, Sora Kake Girl *ducks tomatoes hurled by sunrise haters*, Lucky Star and Code Geass R1) has pretty much been all shitfail since stuff like Azumanga Daioh and Haruhi. I’m just glad that it seems enough people are agreeing in that general sentiment that the industry may actually notice instead of the same “build-an-anime-around-moe-and-fanservice” drivel that’s been plaguing current series. Seriously, I was with you, Kaioshin, since your post on Winter ’09 animes about the lineup being completely dominated by gals and lolis, with mostly uninspiring story concepts.

  6. 6 Duo Maxwell May 9, 2009 at 3:57 am

    “@Myssa Rei: Which illusion is that?”

    Moe anime = popular.
    Although I’m a sucker when it comes to moe, it still needs to be done right to attract me.

    There is one comment that I don’t quite understand:
    “-Instead of complaining, do something about it!”
    I didn’t follow all the news in Japanese, so I may be ignorant about it.

  7. 7 Anonymous May 9, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Remember when Anime used to be cool?

    Well no, but damn at least I can watch most of the stuff back then without feeling self conscious that I am essentially watching:
    – softcore porn (ecchi shows)
    – “comedy” (Lucky Star)
    – something that ends up so insufferably pretentious due to poor directing (Evangelion)
    – characters acting all hot blooded (TTGL, GGG, Basara)
    – something dangerously close to paedophilia (the whole underaged DFC trend)

    This can be seen in Macross Frontier – the show that should have been an absolute tour de force. While the first episode was bloody impressive, the show’s shift towards “comedy”, fanservice, bizzare use of lolicon, and Shoji Kawamori’s complete inability to tell a coherent story turned it into the biggest disappointment of the year. And the sad fact was that Macross Frontier was, in my opinion, still one of the better shows that year.

    I’m not sure how they’ll manage to pull themselves out of this mess, but I’m guessing that they probably won’t be able to considering I can pretty much count amount of people (I’m talking about people, not studios) on one hand that can produce a decent show the majority of people can enjoy wholly. Anime has become too niche for its own good.

  8. 8 Kaioshin Sama May 9, 2009 at 5:40 am

    @CCCP: I don’t know about “shitfail”, but I do think there’s something missing. Recently I rewatched Zipang and was left to wonder at why there are so few social commentary anime these days that aren’t Ghibli films. Other examples that come to mind are PlanetES and recently Eden of The East seems like it’s going to try to hit on some social commentary. I seriously am pulling for Eden to do well so that we might hopefully see more shows take after it’s example.

    @Duo Maxwell: Sometimes it seems that way though, especially when you look at the kind of shows that always seem to see the most discussion on 2ch.

    @anonymous: Well hey, like Duo Maxwell I have no problem with any of what you listed as long as it’s done well. Take Imagawa for example. All of his shows are essentially hot blooded superpowered robots and heroes fighting it out, but the guy somehow always manages to turn what could otherwise be a mundane shouting match into an epic. Not “epic” as it’s used today, but epic as in the storytelling device.

    Comedy, I’ll be blunt, I don’t really share Japan’s taste for humour other than the odd random reference based show that requires half a brain to get the jokes.

    Yes though, anime has issues as of late with being too niche for it’s own good. There are some studios that I think beat this trend though and among them is of course Sunrise/Bones, which is one of the few anime companies that has had a reasonable lasting success in non-Japanese semi-mainstream markets. Not so much with shows like Sora Kake Girl and The Skull Man, but moreso with shows like Code Geass, Gundam, Eureka Seven and Fullmetal Alchemist.

    Ghibli is probably the next best example of a collective that has managed to breach anime’s niche level appeal by getting worldwide recognition and praise from expert critics and even managing to strike a deal with Disney that sees there films released in the west with A-List dub casts. Not to shabby.

    As for proper names in the industry that I can think of as frequently delivering critically successful anime, only three come to mind off the top of my head. Satoshi Kon, Hayao Miyazaki and of course the previously mentioned Yasuhiro Imagawa. Maybe some other people want to share their big names though.

  9. 9 sadakups May 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Now I understand why there is a sudden flood of titles that has high school girls in it for the last few months or so.

    Truth be told, I found my oasis in Eden of the East (get it, get it? :P).

  10. 10 Duo Maxwell May 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I don’t think high school girls are the problem, but “moe” high school girls are instead.

    However, are there really that many high school girls anime in the last few months?

  11. 11 Kaioshin Sama May 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    @Duo Maxwell: The last few month have seen a lot of different so no not really. Now that I think of it though, there does seem to be a relationship between whether a show features moe high school girls or not and how tolerable I find it. For example Sora Kake Girl started off being centred around high school (space high school) a bit and I wasn’t as big a fan of it, but once they got away from that it got more interesting to me. Same with Clannad, same with Code Geass.

    It’s funny because I actually did enjoy high school unlike most people, but I don’t like watching shows about it because usually it’s nothing like the high school I remember, even when it’s a western show. Japan it’s obviously a different culture, but the depiction is still just as obviously divorced from the reality of real Japanese high school when you see it in anime.

  12. 12 Myssa Rei May 10, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Actually Kaioh, I meant the illusion that “If they make it (anime), they (Otaku) will come”. The thing is, with the world as it currently is today, spending something in the range of 7000 yen for a single DVD with only two episodes in it could be considered highway robbery. And Otaku no longer seem to possess bottomless pockets full of money.

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