With renewed focus back not he age old question I felt it apt to explore this issue once more. This time with a bit more knowledge under my belt; hopefully. Bear in mind this is just an opinion piece and as such take it as such. My input is based purely from a consumer and enthusiasts standpoint.
Lately I have begun to see the term, “… this anime will save anime!” What’s the deal with that? Why is that undisclosed anime going to save anime? Well frankly anime is in a bit of a shaky predicament. With series that honestly shovel quick money for little return. Others have opted for… saucy titles that have a quick grab, but poor impression on a wider community. This focus has been driven by poor publishing choices and market reception towards products.
But wait, what about anime like Yuri on Ice or Attack on Titan that have done an impressive job at getting product out their? Well you are right, those two titles have done impeccably well and have a great product base. Other series like Monster Musume have had decent success, but are meeting criticism towards it’s more service based atmosphere. They lack the massive base of substance and general accessibility that the few and far in-between series have. You may not think about it, but the general acceptance of a series goes a massive way in helping overall success.
The other moving aspect is general public reception to merchandise that is available. Blu-Rays, DVD, Digital, Books, LN and etc… all have an enormous effect on the industry and helping to bolster sales for a local company. Sure those of us in the United States may not physically see this due to most of these sales being done in stores across Japan.
But is the current model working? Is it taking down a much beloved industry and can these new anime titles swoop into to save it all? Maybe or maybe not. Consumers are creatures of fickle nature. We want the best, but we want little to do with a premium price tag. It’s one of those you can’t have your cake an eat it scenario. There is always a fine line with give and take. Sure, I hate having to shell out near 80USD to grab a Blu-Ray release of an anime that I really like. It just doesn’t sit too well with me.
If you cannot motivate a consumer to shell out hard earned cash on a product then it just won’t happen. It will still draw in the hardcore enthusiast, but not the simple and casual viewer. This issue is just not an issue of expensive Blu-Ray. It is lack of product (in my opinion) that hurts the industry more so. Take the Goodsmile rerelease of the Ryuko Matoi FIGMA as an example. It was a hot selling item that had a short run. People craved after it and aftermarket buyers faced ludicrous pricing from scalpers. With the Re-Run back in coruscation we get a chance to grab it.
This effect has another positive bonus: People will actually buy more of it. Individuals, like myself, may have not been into the figure collecting scene. Having had time to dip my toes into the water I have started to come around to the idea and have been purchasing them more and more. Thus with a renewed interest from collectors and new inductees, the market opens up a lot more. This mentality of doing limited runs works in the short sense of time. It will NEVER work in a long run model; period. This is something that many studios have to acknowledge and tackle. They just need to avoid the issue that is “lack of interest”.
Funding is another issue and as of this writing one animation studio is experiencing the woes of that issue. Studio Artland is facing bankruptcy (although they have not officially filed for bankruptcy). The cause is massive amounts of unpaid debt that was taken out to account for outsourced work. It isn’t uncommon for a studio to outsource their work due to being behind on a time table or trying to keep ahead. This can become a delicate situation, especially if the work is quite niche or received negatively. While Studio Artland did create some beautiful work, their line up hasn’t been widely received as critical success. If it cannot draw in perspective viewers then you risk losing it all, especially if it gets slotted in a time that no one wants to watch it at.
With all of that in mind, is the industry failing? Possibly. If the continued practices are not changed then an industry collapse is possible. Given that we literally just lost a studio as of this post. It is disconcerting and is an ominous sign of situations to come should this path be walked on. As a general consumer all I can do is encourage legal streaming and the purchase of physical releases. It may not seem like your subscription to Crunchyroll does much, but all I can do is hope that my money is going back to these companies in one form or another.
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