With the Winter 2016 season underway, Anime seems like it is hitting a strong note. We have fantastic new anime adaptations and original content popping up that make me excited to rush home after every work day. However, we may have already been doomed from to on-set. It is no secret that Japan’s population is getting older faster than it is getting younger. This is mainly due in part to a declining birth rate and an escalating death rate. This has sent Japan into a bit of a tizzy while leaving the rest of the world wondering what will happen. Anime is one such industry that is taking a hit currently. The pool of workers and artists are not getting any younger and with less perspective artists, the industry is struggling. We may not ever hear about it over in the western world as much but, it is there and it is a threat. However, take one look at Crunchyroll and you’ll think to your self, “The industry can’t be doing this bad! Just look at how popular they are!” You wouldn’t be far off. Crunchyroll has been one of the leading names in popularizing anime in the western hemisphere but they are not the only ones, Funimation has been trying for quite a while to help get anime on the radar. Even functions like, Toonami have been successful in some regards.
It is hard to imagine an industry like this in any trouble at all. It is frankly so far in the back of our minds that we feel as if anime is immune to the effects of age or even social unrest. Sad fact is that it isn’t. Due to costs raising and again, the lack of readily available new blood, the anime economy is tedious at best. Often, studio’s are the ones who front the cash for advertising and when they flop, they flop. If they happen to do great on one anime but then crash on the second one, it is often times an arrow to the Achilles tendon. I mean, I did talk a bit about how paying for a streaming service does help put money back into the industry. However, when you think about how much probably ends back up in the hands of the hard working artists at the very bottom, you sort of feel a bit sick wondering if they are even being paid the proper amount(s). It is always hard to say you should support paid streaming because it helps the industry, when the industry is already sliding a bit. Now, I am by no means a leading industry expert, analyst or big time executive. I am just Kausus of OGZ, sitting at my Kotatsu, trying to write an article from a consumers point of view. The reason why you see so many Japanese news sites commenting on anime’s decline within a decade or two are because of the lack of a talent pool and with notable talent retiring, there remains a bit of a bleak hope. Even some of the sales practices of the anime industry are very much behind on the times. Counting physical media sales is just not something a company does in the current age any more. I mean look at companies like Sony. Ever since the days of the PSP Go, Sony knew Digital sales would be a new medium to go towards. Digital medium never runs out nor does it get lost. Yes the code may get deleted or damaged in some way but, it is easily distributed. Yes it has piracy to worry over and physical media really doesn’t have that factor to worry over, it still is a bit of an antiquated way of thought in today’s time-frame. This again dials back to the simple philosophy of, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.
I want to also express my own view of the situation. My own personal view is simply this… While the industry is indeed falling in Japan, it has a strong, strong future with the help from passionate fans and companies in North America and abroad. There is a massive, emergent market in the western countries and with services like Crunchyroll, Omakase, Loot Anime, Funimation & Etc… all pitching in, to help promote anime, leaves me hopeful. While it may only be hopefully optimistic, it still is never-the-less a mind set that I hope prevails. The simple fact that a lot of anime consumption happens in the Western Hemisphere has been enough of a sign for most anime studio’s and companies to include subtitles and to invest in these. The easier they can loan these anime out to streaming companies, the quicker a return they can get. Even more so, the rise in popularity with figures, JRPGs and the like, have spurred on a feverish passion for all things Japanese. Although these products are often made through third parties and they may only see little return on expensive products like figures. They do however, have to pay for the rights to use the likeness of a registered anime so, it could be a win-win. Look at programs like Viewster’s very own Omakase Service and you can see why this new surge of cash is helping the industry. I am fairly certain that these partnerships for exclusive merchandise are not cheap to come buy nor are they much less easier to negotiate over.
While this may be an easy fix, not too many companies in the west have taken up to learning to draw and animate in the Japanese style. Some attempts such as, RWBY, are wonderful examples of anime in a western fashion that has caught on across the pond in Japan. Its odd to think that RWBY is natively english and then it got dubbed in Japanese. That is a very encouraging sign if anything else. If we can start helping struggling studios in Japan with making anime then more power to them right? Well, maybe, maybe not. A big fear that might develop is the fear that the artistic flair might be lost or the view on the world through the eyes of another culture may change the way we feel about anime all together. I mean, anime is something that is uniquely and genuinely, Japanese. There are subtle references to Japanese culture both current and past. If you strip the home brewed foundation away, what do you have left? While I have yet to see many comment on this, it is something that I felt would be a influence to worry over. You wouldn’t like it if your favorite burger or pizza suddenly changed ingredients on you, would you? I am skeptical that this would fix the situation and would avert an anime collapse. The simple fact is that Japan’s population is more aged than it is young. This is due in part to the fact that more and more individuals are not getting married until later and some, not even wanting to have children. This is not going to turn into a breed to save to industry speech, just a simple fact that we have seen from studies. Will this factor change? Hopefully. It would be the easiest solution to the issue of there not being more individuals available to work the animation industry.
That being said, finances are another big factor that just frankly cannot be easily solved. While I am all for a globally connected society, the sad truth of this connection is if Wall Street crashes, other markets crash. If China’s market crashes, Wall Street crashes. We all are connected more than we all realize. Anime is just another section of an economy connected to a global market. I mean what would happen if say both Funimation and Crunchyroll both turned off the switch to Streaming anime and purchasing goods? Well, a fountain of funds suddenly gets shut off and it will hurt. Not saying that would happen, nor would it be detrimental, it still would hurt. But at the end of the day, we all have to see what is happening and then look to what options we have as fans to help change the tide of the progression of anime’s fall. That being said, I do strongly believe that while the anime industry is shaky at best, it is far from falling any time soon. In fact the industry was up over 10% this past 2014 and I am sure the numbers for 2015 will show some growth, hopefully. This article was written in inspiration to Animereviewergirl’s latest YouTube Video. You should definitely check her channel out for awesome video’s concerning discussions on various anime topics and points.
As always if you like our content please like or share or comment down below to let us know if you love content such as this! I will state again, I do not claim to be any sort of industry expert or an actual analyst. I just simply write for the love of anime and I wish to bring issues to the forefront as an anime fan. As a reminder, we are in the process of moving and as such we may be slow on posting new articles!
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