Monday, July 06, 2009

Anime Expo - Where Did the Anime Industry Go?

Well, the big con in California is over and all we have to show for it were all these lousy new license announcements...

...or do we?

Reports coming out of Expo this year seem to reflect a tepid atmosphere but still a fun show for fans that lacked almost any industry presence. Funi and Viz were only two Anime industry companies that attempted to have any real presence at the show, and many (formerly) big names in the R1 Anime Industry were notably and totally absent this year.

As a result, we only got a tiny handful of new announcements, and while this is being explained away in some circles that the old model of 'giving up your best goods at the big show' is dead, one has to wonder. I mean, Expo is the largest and most covered convention in the US with the largest single concentration of Anime fans in one place outside of Japan - if you can't leverage the exposure for your best stuff there, then when? Where is your commitment to Anime fans. Where is the commitment to Anime retailers out here on the front lines sweating out the recession without much new material to offer our customers? Where's the beef man?!

I'm glad people had a great time at the show, but I'm pretty disappointed by the lack of industry involvement. It makes a lot of the hype we are hearing from some of the US Anime publishers ring hollow, and makes me feel like the disconnect between Fans and the Industry is wider than ever.

But maybe I'm just a little cranky because it's Monday. 'shrugs'


wolve said...

Maybe you should start your own anime company and bring over titles for the R1 market.

Robert said...

Perhaps, but...

We focus on being a retailer, and a good one. We're doing our job, but we can't be successful if the studios don't give us anything to sell - or do things that deliberately try to undermine our efforts. The one's that try to run two or three different business models end up not doing any one of them well.

Chuck's Anime Shrine said...

you said it, Robert

The Sounder said...

I think it's hard trying to break INTO the industry itself. With the way things are shaped, it's hard to licenses products unless you have a ton of cash and even then you may not get a hit. Also trying to find investors for a niche product with the economy is very difficult.

Back to the article, I think it's a combination of things that are happening. Of course the economy is a major factor and releasing news through out con season is a factor, but also the proximity of major con events are all very small gaps this year. With little time to gain new info on any IPs, people may have thought to cut down on blowing out all of their news in one place and instead of going big at one convention, go medium to small in all of the conventions that are possible.

Robert said...

With little time to gain new info on any IPs, people may have thought to cut down on blowing out all of their news in one place and instead of going big at one convention, go medium to small in all of the conventions that are possible.

I think it's a mistake because it has left the fan base sitting around wondering if they should start looking into a new hobby. They need stuff to look forward to, and as soon as possible. There will be very little presence at small cons - heck, I don't think there was a single industry panel at A-Kon this year, and that's right near Funi's HQ. Fans need some good news about the future of R1 Anime releases, and they need it right now. If the studios wait too long, there may not be anyone listening.

Starcade said...

(Should've added this to the first one...)

No one is listening anyway, Robert. Notice that the head of the leeches, Kun Gao of Crunchyroll, got the headline spot of the keynote for the top day of the convention?

The thieves now ARE the industry.

wolve said...

The days of huge / mass announcements at AX are pretty much done. Funimation has already moved towards using the web, in particular social networking sites (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc).

I have to admit I used to go to AX mainly for the news, but I doubt that's the reason most people go. Anime cons are not necessarily the best place to announce things. Sure they are great for interacting with your customer base, but there are better ways to disseminate news these days.

In the end, the anime companies don't owe the fans and retailers anything (and the opposite is true as well). Of course it's in their best interest to please the customer, but that's a huge challenge in the current market situation. The increase in subtitled only dvd releases is a good example. Fans wants dubs which are extremely expensive to produce. Fans also want new, shiny titles which are horribly expensive to license.

So in the end, the symbiotic relationship between fans and anime companies is strained these days. However if the anime companies have to cut back and slow down in order to survive, I think that's perfectly fine. Yeah it sucks, but better than no anime at all.

Bemused bohemian said...

Anime seems to be following the gravel road (no longer a bi-directional 6-lane Interstate) of model railroading as far as including the retailer in the chain of product sales is concerned. At the trade and bourse shows I've assisted fewer dealers are attending. Operating costs have gone up for everyone in this industry while profit margins have shrunk. Wholesalers have gotten selective on who gets the discount treats (40+10 vs 40 or 30) and product instead of the continuous litany of unfilled orders and unhappy customers. The remaining buyers out there are hardcore and loyal, but they want more bang for their shrinking dollar and would be willing to forgo 1 more middleman to get what they want. Retailing may be the next lost art.

I have decided to focus on R0 dvds instead of R1. There seems to be more choice and availability in the hard edge topics I like plus I haven't forgotten how to read subtitles. And if it's "SOLD OUT" here it may not be overseas.