Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is Anime Doomed?

Another doom-and-gloom article on the anime industry in the Japan Times today - although with the Dow below 7,000 and the world economy imploding, even if fansubs didn't exist I doubt DVD sales would be exactly booming. The article's mostly the same things we've heard before - animators in Japan make next to nothing, 90% of inbetweening is offshored now, eliminating the traditional entry-level position for aspiring animators in Japan, US DVD sales are falling off a cliff and everyone blames fansubbing, etc.

The article did mention that Crunchyroll has signed up 10,000 people for paid subscriptions - I'm one of them, but still, it's more people than I expected. Multiply by $6.95 a month and that's only $70,000 though, which I can't see saving the industry. They quote a TV Tokyo exec saying they hope that to rise to 50,000 by end of year, but that seems pretty optimistic to me. Personally, I'm not a big fan of streaming-only - I'd much rather be able to download a DRM-free subbed episode for $2-3 like Gonzo and Crunchyroll are doing with Druaga. I'm hoping that like the record industry finally realized that selling MP3s was better than selling nothing, the anime industry will realize that selling their own fansubs beats the hell out of selling nothing at all. I've loved watching anime since I was a little kid, and I have to believe as long as there are people who love it and are willing to pay something for it, although it may end up a smaller industry than it is today, it will continue to survive.


Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to write up my thoughts on the health of the anime industry using the point of view of a fan of print SF, which people have been predicting the demise of for over 30 years.

But I don't think fansubs are to blame. I think fansubs are merely a clue to what one part of the solution for the long-term stability of the anime industry should be.

And maybe I'm getting old but I have a hard time feeling that streaming videos on a computer are worth any sort of money. I'd rather have a physical DRM-free file which I feel like I actually own.

Fang-tan said...

I agree with steelbound, I don't think I'd ever pay to watch streaming anime. I'd much sooner go out to buy the dvds before that.

Of course without fansubs I won't watch anything at all. How many people actually just pick a anime off the shelves because it sounds good. But that's a very poor point, isn't it? But I don't think anime is doomed. not over something like this.

suguru said...

I think fansubs are definitely showing the industry the way forward, if they'd wake up to see it - sell individual DRM-free subbed episodes you can download. It's too bad only Gonzo has embraced that model so far, though...I'm not really a big streaming fan either, although for me $20 for 3 months is worth it just for seeing Gintama the same date/time it airs. I'd definitely much rather own a copy of the episode though, if they gave me the choice.