What I, the anime fan, am due

Absolutely Nothing.

Let me back up for a moment while you all scratch your heads. Answerman’s Hey Answerfans segment this week (I really can’t seem to stay away, can I?) posits the question, “As a fan, what do you feel Japanese creators and R1 Anime companies owe you?” I think the question is worded poorly, but I’m going to try to answer it anyway. I already did that? Ok then, I guess I’ll just have to elaborate.

The word “owe” implies that I am entitles to something, and If I do not receive this something then I am being wronged as an individual. Anime isn’t some right or privilege, it is a commercial product. The companies that produce and distribute it aren’t doing so out of an obligation to me or anyone else, they’re doing so because they like the product and it makes them money. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any expectations for anime companies — I have plenty of those.

From the Japanese creators, I expect nothing except they keep making anime. Even though the American DVD market for anime is roughly as lucrative as the Japanese market, I don’t believe that Americans are entitled to have the Japanese creators make anime specifically for us. If they want to release a title with the American market in mind, such as Afro Samurai or Highlander, that’s great, but if they spend too much effort on the American market, anime in general will suffer.

The vast majority of anime never reach the R1 market on DVD, not because they don’t have an audience, but because anime fandom in America just can’t financially support the entire quantity of anime released in Japan. Things are different on the other side of the Pacific, because it’s far easier to get an anime on TV, and the companies who create anime are probably better compensated for the broadcast rights. From what I hear, R1 companies are compensated very little, if at all, for having their anime broadcast on TV — they do it so as to boost DVD sales, where they make all their money. In Japan, an anime’s production is usually sposored by a company, allowing for more anime to see the light of day. If the Japanese companies focus too much on creating for an American audience, they run the risk of alienating the primary financial supporters of anime, the Japanese people. Besides, how many made for America titles are among the most popular in American fandom? Zero.

From R1 Anime companies, I expect that, first of all, they license titles I like. This usually isn’t a problem, since most of what I like gets licensed. I also expect them to properly dub/translate a title if they want to receive any money from me. I don’t want to hear third year acting students playing the parts of my favorite characters, nor do I want to hear a script that tries and fails to capture the essence of the Japanese, or worse yet is so literally translated that the dialogue feels stilted. I also don’t necessarily want the R1 companies to try to mimic the voices of the Japanese actors. A dub should be an alternative to the sub, not a carbon copy.

I also expect R1 Anime companies to release a title regularly and entirely. This is why I don’t buy any ADV manga. Having good extras on the disk is also a huge plus, although sometimes this is not possible. Planetes is a good example of what I’m looking for with regards to extras; Bandai interviewed people who work with NASA, as well as both Japanese and English casts and released some of the discs as two-disc editions. One disc with the show and one with the extras. I’m also quite tired of being expected to pay $15 for an empty box to hold the DVDs in. Do they honestly think I’m stupid? If you want me to pay that kind of money for a box, there had better be a T-Shirt or Soundtrack in there, or something. Case in Point the special edition release of Haruhi Suzumiya. I didn’t mind spending the extra money because of all the cool goodies in the box.

If Anime companies want to keep me as a customer, this is what they must do.

Until next time!

(””)(;,,;)(””)

3 Responses to “What I, the anime fan, am due”

  1. Though I generally agree with your points, they’re not necessarily true for me to the same magnitude (I don’t really buy that much anime). That being said, very good insight, and you’re absolutely right, the question didn’t really make any sense the way it was initially worded.

    One thing I couldn’t sympathize with was concerning special features. In all honesty, I never watch the special features. You’re the first person I know who does watch the bonus crap. I just think it’s a waste of money, and the production cost for those could be eschewed and the savings passed onto the consumer. However, I’m absolutely positive that the savings would NOT get passed down the chain, so I really have no problem with them – I just never saw the appeal.

  2. I don’t buy anime dvds, but I personally like special features. For example, my favourite horror film ‘Tale of two sisters’. Has interviews between directors and actors, their insights, what they tried to do, their interpretation of the work and characters, etc. Also shows film techniques of how they shot particular scenes, which are often very interesting. So I’m guessing that extra features are certainly attractive in quality animes like Planetes.

  3. Extra features are a necessity, even if most of them are superfluous, since distributors need to do something to their product to make them different from fansubs. The problem anime companies face is putting good extra features on their DVDs. I mean, what is a good DVD extra? Usually it’s director and actor interviews and/or commentaries. Easier said than done when the most significant members of the creative staff don’t speak English.

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