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Posts Tagged ‘business model’

Recently, I became acquainted with the taste of my own words. Humble pie. Crow. Mmm, good.

I thought that Taisho Baseball Girls would NEVER EVER be distributed. But as it turns out, a company called Sentai Filmworks has indeed distributed it for the North American market. Sure, that means they’re using subs instead of dubs, but I can officially buy it if I want to. Looking at their site, I find that they’ve jumped on the latest releases (things like High School of the Dead), and are releasing them within a year or so of their Japanese finale.

Wow. That’s a revolution in the anime` business model, one that if not sane, is getting darn close to it. Now we don’t have to wait years to see if there will be a NA release, and we don’t have to pay big bucks for it, either. I guess the big question now is — how good is their translation? The Amazon review doesn’t really go there, and I’d hate to spend $$$ only to find out that Saizen and twrev-Doremi did it better, you know?

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What is Bandai Entertainment’s problem? It’s been nine months since True Tears and Shigofumi were postponed. Nine months and they’re still missing in action. I understand that it takes a while for series to be translated, voiced, the DVD booklets and covers to be designed, and the finished product to be distributed, but you’d think in nine months they could have said, “Yes, it’s still on.” or “No, fugghedaboutit.” Funimation had no such problem releasing Claymore at warp speed, so why can’t Bandai get it together? To top it off, the plans were to release True Tears with just subtitles!

I’m frustrated by this because it’s circular logic. Apparently Bandai thinks, “We can’t make money releasing this for North America because this because the series is so unusual that no-one will buy it.” Never mind that they’ve already paid the voice actresses, the writers, the animators, and everyone involved in producing the Japanese version. So you’d think they’d do whatever they could to recoup those expenditures, right? No! I don’t know whether it’s saving face or fear of failure, or what.

Meanwhile, the series have developed rabid fan bases who have watched them through the valiant efforts of fansubbers (all hail Moetaku and FTP-A). So the fans that drool over the fansubbed versions and who would willingly shell out $$$ will never be able to own the real thing, because the license-holder thinks that they can’t make any money.

Whatever.

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Everyone has probably heard of the stages of grief (the Kubler-Ross model): denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. As the theory goes, everyone passes through at least two of these stages, but not necessarily in the order given.

One of my favorite anime`s of all time is Gunslinger Girl, but it trails the manga by a substantial margin. So, I was wondering, is there more? Today I found out the awful truth. There is, and it sucks. (And yes, I went to watch the Spanish subs that they mentioned and it’s like they ripped the very soul out of the show.) At first I was depressed, but now I’m just angry.

How people can create something fantastic and then content themselves with creating something marginal and mediocre? It burns me through and through. How hard is it, really, to use the same animation house as you did the first time? How difficult is it to round up the same voice actresses? How hard is it to look at what was done before and at least get it in the same ballpark?

Did nobody care? I understand anime` takes money to make and you need a return on your investment, but still, you need an acceptable level of quality or there won’t be any sales. So isn’t turning out cheap trash detrimental to your bottom line? The fansub groups didn’t even bother doing the whole series it sucked so much!

The whole economic model used by anime` is completely insane anyways. Typically 12 episodes are created, then the DVDs show up at outrageous prices 1-2 years later only in Japanese. Then series gets licensed for translation in 1-2 more years, and finally, about five years after release, the value pack DVDs show up, putting the series in the economic reach of most fans. So what does this mean? It means that unless a show is popular immediately, then any series will be years apart, will look and sound nothing like each other, and won’t even have the same level of quality. It absolutely ruins the experience for the fans and dooms the product to the bargain bin.

This is one area where American TV has it right. We create a show, and if the ratings are good by the end of the season, we call everyone back together and do it again. Then we release the DVDs right away. When the show is cancelled or after a few seasons, the value pack DVDs show up. This gets the show into the hands of the fans right away and usually keeps the series consistent from year to year.

Honestly, if I was Yu Aida (the writer/artist), I would be sending the Yakuza after the people responsible for V2 of Gunslinger Girl. But I’m not him, and there’s nothing I can really do about it, except to lament the mistreatment of such a great story and characters. That places me at — you guessed it, the final stage — acceptance.

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