Anime – R.I.P.

Posted on 25. Apr, 2010 by Herman in Blog

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From the desk of the President of Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Eric P. Sherman:

You must have noticed by now that many of the publishers that brought anime to the West have been shut down or substantially down-sized. There are only a few places left still able to bring titles to our shores. This is a critical year for anime. There’s no other way to say it. And I realized this morning that it was time for me to sound an urgent alarm.

If people don’t resist the urge to get their fix illegally, the entire industry is about to fizzle out. It won’t be a big dramatic change at this point. Last year we saw Bandai fire 90% of their staff on one Monday in January, and two years ago we saw Geneon (neé Pioneer) shut their doors and auction off their wares to the highest bidder. CPM died a slow, painful death. And ADV fell hard and fast, the way mighty giants will. But from here on, it won’t be so exciting. Japan is already suffering and struggling to bring out quality titles. They can’t rely on everything being picked up by US distributors anymore. And little by little, it just won’t be here anymore.

You can’t find much anime at Best Buy now. In fact, where can you find it for sale? Think about that.  There are fewer new titles coming out, and less and less stuff will be in English, because it’s just not worth the cost of dubbing it. It’s true that entertainment distribution models are going to be changing dramatically. DVD may be on the way out forever, and online TV is becoming a reality very quickly. But so far, there are no successful ways to monetize online entertainment. Not so that creators can afford to produce and distribute quality content.

Anime is going to die.

Unless YOU change. Right now. Stop stealing. If you have committed theft, robbery, shop-lifting, or just “downloading some stuff through torrent reactor,”  then just stop doing it — now.  You probably wouldn’t go into a supermarket and put a package of swiss cheese under your shirt and walk out without paying. Nor would you walk into Best Buy and try to walk out with Guitar Hero, bypassing the cash register. Why? Is it because you might get caught? Or are there other issues, such as standards of morality, that dictate how you live your life.

The net, for all it’s charms, is also a dark and dangerous place. When you’re navigating it, you need to ask yourself this question:  Is this right, just because it is so easy? You need to understand that quality entertainment costs a lot to create. And if there is no one paying for this content, it just won’t be made anymore. If no one bought tickets to a Lady Ga Ga show, she would not do the tour. That’s just how it works. For some reason, people don’t mind stealing their anime. I’m here to tell you flat out: This is wrong. You are doing something bad. And you need to stop it.

I’m sure that some of you reading this will laugh, close this window, and go download some more torrents. Why not? Who’s going to know? Who’s going to catch you?

I think this bears repetition, so I’ll say it again: Not getting caught does not make what you are doing right. And I am pretty sure it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.  What you are doing is not only illegal, it is actually hurting many people. From the artists and creators, to the voice actors in the studios — all working to put food on their tables for their families. You can’t see them, and you can’t see the immediate results of your actions. But believe me, you are hurting people.

If what I’m saying resonates with you, then consider this a wake up call. A call to immediate and profound action. It’s very easy to do.  You should support anime if you love it, by paying for it. Do the right thing. Plain and simple. Because if you don’t, I can guarantee you that this time next year, Bang Zoom won’t be bringing you anymore English language versions of it.

To all of those who support anime: a heartfelt thank you from all of us at the studio.

Eric P. Sherman, President & CEO, Bang Zoom! Entertainment / April 24, 2010

UPDATE: Eric responds on ANNCast. Listen Now>>

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263 Responses to “Anime – R.I.P.”

  1. Zach

    03. May, 2010

    Effing capitalism, mr. ceo, thanks for reinvigorating our perspectives on how the west makes money, now go make something of quality before complaining about people wanting something that doesn’t make their ears bleed.

  2. Jordi

    03. May, 2010

    “The only reason we have a music industry right now in the US is because of the RIAA and their lawsuits.”

    What a load of bull. People will never stop making music. As for the industry, with the commercialised crap that’s being produced nowadays, I couldn’t care less if it all went bankrupt.

    The point with anime is that the licensees (as mentioned before) need to step it up. How am I going to justify waiting years to buy an INFERIOR product (worse subtitles, worse video, and I don’t care for dubs), when I can more easily obtain a SUPERIOR product days after it airs in Japan.

    Not to mention how many more followers anime has because of fansubs. At least half the people probably wouldn’t even know what it is if it wasn’t freely available on the internet, let alone spend any money on it.

    If fansubs were truly harming the anime industry to total bankruptcy, the industry would have started cracking the whip on fansub groups.

  3. matt

    03. May, 2010

    You take an awesome anime series from Japan, cut out the bits you don’t like, change the audio to a poorly translated copy of the original, ( same for the subtitles) and expect me to buy it when I can get a better quality, better subbed version, months if not even years before you have anything. To most anime fans your just a greedy middle man who has to put his fingers in what would have been a good thing had you left it alone. Screw dubbing, if you just streamed some high quality anime, with some fan-sub quality subtitles (there popular not just because there free, they know what we want, they are us!) at least your have a start. I like honorifics, and when a fan-subber keeps typical recurring words untranslated, not saying everyone likes that but its far better than some official sub’s I’ve heard; there was one show that said “zoinks” I went straight back to the slightly dodgy speed subber who was still far better than any official stuff. I’m sure if you gave us what fan-subbers give us I’m sure you’ll find people will buy what you sell, that may be a little optimistic but ital be worth a try!

  4. zapi

    03. May, 2010

    Anime will never die, the industry is too large. Companies generally don’t make money because of the anime sales, but from the related products. Plushies, clothes, CDs, collectibles, games.

    Anime survived inside of Japan before it broke out to the rest of the world and it won’t perish in Japan just because it stops being westernized and re-distributed OUTSIDE of Japan. The reason they are firing people, is because they are gaining efficiency thereby lowering their need for staff, and this is evident in the entire world, just not in the japanese anime scene.

    People who think anime is dying need to look at the entire industry, not at the american corner of it. Re-distribution is shite and a douche way of essentially printing money by selling low quality material that someone else created, and should have been stomped out ages ago.

  5. Kristin

    04. May, 2010

    @Gameboiye:….You CAN watch shows online streaming. Problem is, it costs MONEY to license said shows. If no one buys the DVDs, no one can license anything for streaming.

    There really isn’t anything American distributors can do to please you guys, is there?

    “Why should we buy DVDs when the fansubs are quicker?” Quicker yes, but they’re also illegal. They are depriving an already struggling industry of the money it needs to continue.

    The industry can’t release the quality DVDs you claim it should because it can’t afford to. They can’t release as many shows as you want, or stream the shows you want them to because they don’t have the money to license them. If they can’t license anything then the Japanese industry can’t afford to continue to create a quality product because they lose a major source of revenue. Licensing shows is not cheap. Neither is animating them.

    As to the ‘crappy dub’ argument, I’m not going to lie. I hate some dubs. I hate the Gankutsuou dub, for instance, but I’m still buying the series. Why? Because I want to support the medium that gave me the original.

    Besides, there are some really amazing dubs out there, Hellsing and Cowboy Bebop spring to mind.

    You complain that the industry doesn’t give you the quality you think you deserve, yet you refuse to dip into your own pocketbook to help it to be able to reach that quality.

    And before anyone tries to tell me off for having too much time and/or money: I’m a college student. I’m struggling with finances, just the same as most in the demographic are. That doesn’t mean I’m going to make something I love suffer for it.

    To whoever used Eric’s position as CEO as an arguing point: The entire industry is a labor of love. Neither voice actors nor CEOs in this industry make enough for them to be the fat cats you seem to think they are.

    Also, for everyone whining that the fansubs are a better translation: how do you know? Do you speak Japanese? If so, why watch fansubs? If not, then I REALLY do not understand your argument.

  6. edo

    04. May, 2010

    I supported US releases for 2 years, and paid through the nose for a short amount of entertainment. Then I sold it, (which technically damages the industry), and got some of my hard earned cash back.

    After that, I torrent-ed like crazy and only recently stopped. Yes, it was wrong, and no I was not happy that I was doing it, …at a moral level anyway. However, the quality was superior and the opportunity was there.

    However, I have stopped pirating now, and I’m glad I did. Now I’m back to purchasing anime… from Japan. That’s right. I am damaging the US anime industry even more technically. I refuse to pay for the overpriced US release, …that has always been overpriced. Not only do I get better bang for buck, the quality is better, and the royalties of my purchase actually reach the producers; unlike the US contracts which only give a one time fixed lump sum to the producers.

    Flat out. I hope the US anime industry burns to the ground in a fantastical blaze of glory. It’s a niche market that should stay as such. Bring it back to 80′s style of private fan subbing; it was fair, legal, and paid for. If you want to watch your anime, buy it from Japan. Don’t know Japanese? Learning it. Don’t want to? Tough cookies, you’re missing out on a great language.

  7. LaviStrikesBack

    04. May, 2010

    I can see two sides here, one who wanted to keep ONLY the fansubbers alive, and the other who want kill off ALL independent subbing groups or individuals.

    I have a proposal. UNITE this two groups. Hire fansubbers as the OFFICIAL subbing guys, but let them release anime episodes online like they do now. Not everyone lives in America, you know. We don’t have the luxury of boxset animes, here in Malaysia, and even if we DO have them, the shops are all concentrated at the capital. All I have here are OFFICIAL PIRATED DVDs (mind-boggling, right?) filled with low-quality anime with subs ripped from various anime fansubbers on the Internet. :|

  8. AzarelHikaru

    04. May, 2010

    Well, I definitely agree with you on the morality of the whole thing, and I won’t make excuses to justify my continuing to DL anime off torrent. My cousin is struggling to start out as a recording artist and understands how much work goes into putting anything out in the entertainment industry, and how piracy makes most of that work go to waste, and the same goes for anime and the people who sweat and bleed to get it out.

    However, I have one major problem with buying anime legally, especially in my country, the Philippines. You just can’t. At least not the recent, teen-oriented ones. Most of the anime I’ve seen in stores are either movies (such as Spirited Away, and even seeing Miyazaki films in stores are pretty rare), or shows intended for children (Pokemon, Bakugan, etc.). The only other mainstream anime you see distributed legally are those who’ve had incarnations in the local TV channels (such as Yuu Yuu Hakushou or Ragnarok the Animation), and a lot of those shows are at least half a decade old. Long story short, none of the shows I’ve downloaded can even be seen in the shelf of a video store.

    One possible reason has been stated ad nauseum in the comments: the pricing. The Philippines is a developing country, so mass importing would put a heavy strain on distributors. In addition, most of my countrymen can barely eat three times a day, let alone trot over to a mall to buy an original DVD (or even a VCD). The lack of a target market for anime, coupled with the price, would naturally dissuade most distributors in the Philippines.

    Granted, we do have dubs, and some of them are pretty decent. But if you flip on over to the channels that provide dubbed anime, you will notice that there are only around 6 voice actors for 6 different shows. That’s the same set of voices for each show. Not exactly pleasant to listen to.

    In sum, it’s easy for anyone to say that piracy is a crime, or that the anime industry is dying because people are acquiring their anime illegally, especially if you live in a highly industrialized and economically well-off (by developing standards) country. But try living in our country, and you’ll see precisely why people choose to download or buy pirated DVDs.

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