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So I haven’t done a feature article/editorial in a while. Things have been steady and exciting lately, especially with October rolling in and the flood of Anime shows coming out that have been nothing but pleasing to my inner fanboy and Anime fan. Of course, now that I’ve settled into the new season, and gotten past my initial excitement, I’ve gotten back into contemplative mode.
The last article I wrote, asked the question, is Anime too Sexualised? And in short, the answer was a yes, and you can go ahead and head to the “Is Anime Too Sexualised?” Article to read about WHY. So yes Anime is sexualised heavily, and I’ve kinda speculated on why in quite a bit of detail. Now, being an avid and very open Anime watcher, I consider myself to be pretty hardcore into anime (No… not like that you perv! NOT HENTAI!!).
Recently, if you’ve noticed, as Moe has started to fade away, and the trend seems to be moving away from slice of life moe girl shows, a new trend is popping up. Anime is getting more and more bold with every new season. Ero (Japanese for Sex) is getting more and more of a staple of nearly every show. Show after the show, even the really good ones, are adding a ton of fanservice a long with the gore, interesting story and intriguing characters. Yes, it’s easy to just drop down and say that it’s just the way the Japanese are, that the Japanese are perverts and what not, that’s the hasty generalization though.
If you think about it, the Japanese may be perverted, but we’re seeing more and more perverted shows with each new season, and it’s not like there isn’t Hentai still chugging along. My point is, there’s no void that needs to be filled out with porn. Why then, is the line between a good show and Hentai being blurred more and more each season? Well, I think it’s the market itself, the fandom, and the demand for it.
The market wants a meaningful story, interesting believable characters, and they also want to see the skin, sex and the romantic moments from a more adult perspective. Is that wrong? Well no, if its just some shows, and if that’s just a part of the market. And that really brings us to the answer of the question that I’ve been leading up to for a while. Who is the market for Anime?
Is it us, who watch Anime online, fansubbed and then buy the DVDs if we like a show? No, not at all. How can we be the market for Anime at all? Let’s face it, a market and a customer base as volatile as the internet anime fandom community is HARDLY a market at all. As a consumer, we are not prepared to take any risk at all on anime. We won’t buy the DVDs or Blu ray discs unless we’re in LOVE with a show. And there are only 1 or two shows like that each season. True, we’re not made of money, and yes Anime is expensive, so we get to be choosy. It’s because we’re so picky, that we can’t be regarded as the core market at all though.
Most of us have other entertainment interests, we probably like music, games, TV Shows/Live Action Shows, Movies, comics, Manga and a host of other stuff. Now think about it, what do you give first preference to, if anything at all. You won’t go out on day one of a big Anime release and wait in line for said release. You won’t be pre-ordering the merchandise and figures.
No, what the fansub viewing Anime fan does, is watch Anime and then go on to support the show that’s given them such a good time that they feel compelled to return some of the love. Some of us? We don’t even get the DVDs or Blu rays until they’re cheaper or have a sale or something. Same with merchandise.
The fact is, we’re not the die hard supporters of the Anime industry, we’re not the people who are hooked on buying stuff to support the industry, and we’re not the target demographic. If you’re someone who has a reasonably good taste in Anime, and can’t stand the clutter of high school, romance, fanservice shows, then you’re probably not the person who is regarded as the “core market”. You’re just one of the hard to please “casual buyers” (maybe not a casual “watcher”) who’ll only buy the great, main stream stuff, and won’t look at the less awesome stuff.
And if you think about it, we’re kind of buying through Funimation or the other big dub company, and all they really release is the Anime series, and that too, by buying a license and then making a profit off what they sell. The original creators aren’t getting revenue from Non-Japanese customers, it’s just a nice bonus when their Anime gets picked up by a company like Funimation, and buys their property off them, giving them a nice fat pay check, which is actually potentially a lot less than their work may be worth. So unless you’re one of those are people that actually imports Anime goods from Japan, you’re not really supporting the industry at all, at least not directly. And because you’re not a direct customer of the Anime industry, it doesn’t view you as its market.
So if we anime fans, who are passionate enough to talk about anime, to discuss it, to trash it, defend it, review it and argue about it, if we’re not the market, then who is? Well, its quite frankly the people who don’t voice their opinions. It’s the people who quietly buy every spec of Anime, fanservice, moe merchandise. It’s the people who buy the anime hump pillows, the Hentai Figures, the Doujinshi, the Special DVD boxsets that cost around $500. It’s the people who AREN’T complaining, because they’re quite honestly happy and content with what they’re getting. They silently are purchasing what they want, consuming it, and repeating the process.
It’s the ero obsessed, the people that we may not be able to see eye to eye with perhaps? Who we may think are desperate and creepy, the Japanese males that we don’t understand or can’t relate to. They are the target audience, and it’s no surprise that anime is trying to cater to its audience. See, Anime Producers are doing exactly what most other entertainment industries are not, they are listening to their fans and their audience, and they’re doing it way more closely and cleverly than we can even tell.
The people who will and want to support the industry, who are willing to shave off that extra bit of money and perhaps eat less that month, are the people who the industry is going to cater to. Those people? They want more Ero, Moe or whatever, and they’ll get just that.
So to summarize:
1) We are not the Anime Market
2) The real current Anime Market is people who WANT the extra fanservice.
It’s really important to get that we, the people who complain and are bothered by the current state of the Anime industry are in fact, not important to Anime producers when they’re having their project planning meetings and pitching their next Anime series.
So… now that you’ve possibly wrapped your head around the fact that you don’t matter, and probably already told yourself that I’m totally off my rocker, and an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I invite you to just really think on this for a second. Take a long deep breath, get that anger out of your head, and think on how what I might be saying, MIGHT make sense, if only from the perspective from an Japanese Animation studio alone.
If you’re with me, and agree with me on this (and its totally okay if you don’t, this is just my speculation and line of thought at play here), then we need to get into why this answer is actually a REALLY HUGE problem.
Okay so if we… the people who kind of enjoy the big amazing stories like Full Metal Alchemist, Code Geass, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagan, GITS and all those classics, aren’t the core market anymore, then we all know that’s bad. It means that we, the so called people with “good taste” who aren’t “pervs looking to whack off to the next girl with huge eyes and knockers that look like beach balls” aren’t in control of what gets made. It means, that even if we take that $60 out of our hard earned cash and buy that Blu ray disc for that awesome series we love, we’re not really guaranteeing that we’re going to see more of what wowed us.
This is all blatantly obvious, we don’t have control. But what’s worse, is that we’re losing out to what could constituent as the very enemies of everything we stand for. If you’re the person that loves Anime that has deep, engrossing moving plots and you prefer that over say… a cute little sister that is kinda into her older brother, and you’re actually losing the person who thinks that the cute little sister show is really what Anime should be about, then man… is the world just totally messed up.
And that’s what the problem is, the obsessive, creepy Otaku, is beating the refined, mature and classy Anime fan by simply using money to out buy them. It’s quite obvious that the creepy otaku is richer, because he or she is just going to spend money on their pleasure more than we are right now. And guess what? Money talks. As far as Anime Studios are concerned, you can take your refined taste, and flush it down the toilet.
And the fact, that Anime Studios DO believe now, that refined taste is meaningless and are focusing on creating more saucy, raunchier Anime with each season is kinda proving the fact that this problem is real and exists. So are we just totally… screwed?
The lesson to learn from this, if I got through to you at all, is that well… even if we lost a few battles, in the last few years, we haven’t lost the war. The war between the obsessive, freaky fanboy and the mature, classy, tasteful fan will continue throughout time. So what can YOU do to perhaps, get the anime industry on the right track, and have a decent quality of Anime that cater to fans of Full Metal Alchemist and fans of something like Bakemonogatari (which are both awesome shows in their own way!)?
Well for starters, start supporting Crunchyroll because it actually gives money back to the Anime Studios. Wow, ZOMG!!!!! This whole article was actually a big Crunchyroll advertisement?!?!!? No, No, No… if you think that, then you totally missed my point.
My point is… that we need to find ways to support the Anime Industry in Japan, and become more active in buying stuff from that industry. Import that Anime figure you really like, even if it is a bit pricey. Get that original Japanese box set, even if it costs more than you’d probably buy from say amazon or your local best buy or FEYs or wherever it is you get your anime.
Go ahead and ask yourself, “How much do I love my great awesome anime?” Do we love it enough to spend crazy amounts of money on it? If we don’t, there are the creepy otaku pervs who do, and they’re the ones keeping the industry afloat. If we can’t fork over the money, then really… is it really our place to complain and bitch about how Anime is beginning to suck and focus more on moe and fanservice and what not? I think I’ll let you answer that one for yourself, cause really, the answer should come to you as it did to me.