Paying for anime.

The view on the way to the nature trail at Towada-Hachimantai National Park in between the mountainous borders of Akita-ken and Iwate-ken.
The view on the way to the nature trail at Towada-Hachimantai National Park in between the mountainous borders of Akita-ken and Iwate-ken.

I’m back! I had a lovely 2 weeks-ish in Iwate-ken. Temperatures ranged between 12-25degC – cold at night but hot at midday – and I got to catch up with some very lovely people that I hadn’t seen in over a year. I also survived a tsunami warning at three in the morning, watched a friend sustain a badly fractured knee cap (she had to return earlier for surgery), and became a farmer for a day picking apples and packing sacks of rice, thus returning home two shades tanner.

Adjusting back at home and at work has never been so hard. Of course, coming home to the annual haze didn’t make things any easier either.

Home sweet home....
Home sweet home….

I’ve been in a huge funk with my anime shows of late. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to finish practically all the series I started this year – from Your Lie in April to Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet 9, and even Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace.

What have I actually finished? I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying 2, Usagi Drop, and Oruchuban Ebichu – possibly the most perverted anime series I’ve seen yet. 

... Yup, the 90's were fun times...
… Yup, the 90’s were fun times…

R-rated Hamtaro aside, I couldn’t help but feel that this year’s titles were a little lacking in the pull factor. Besides new seasons to old favorites, it was hard to find a show that had a plot that I felt I could explore further. There was plenty of eye candy and stunning graphics, but I couldn’t focus, and now they all feel forgotten and far away.

So I felt a twinge of guilt when I stumbled upon a YouTube video on why good anime is hard to make:

If you don’t have seven minutes to spare to watch this video, what it basically says is this – anime lovers need to learn to appreciate it more by paying for it. The fight for viewership is real, and more often than not, the margins are thin due to the increasingly higher costs to produce a show, and can drive production houses even to bankruptcy. To find sources of funding, animators have even resorted to crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter.com – such was the case of Little Witch Academia 2.

Feeling guilty for watching Noragami Aragoto for free (ahem), I found myself looking at Crunchyroll and Funimation for subscription options, and discovered that (1) Crunchyroll doesn’t carry any of the titles I’m interested in, despite being available for viewing worldwide, and (2) Funimation has all the shows I want to see – largely because of its partnership with Japan’s anime network Noitamina – but restricts access to viewers in North America.

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Almost just as suddenly, I felt more justified about spending my hard-earned money on merchandise instead. You can’t exactly fault me for not supporting my favorite shows if you’re going to be a pain in the ass with distribution.

If only anime could be made available and accessible the same way music is available on iTunes… but I suppose that’s slightly wishful thinking on my part. Perhaps Japanese production houses need to think of how to market their content in a way that global audiences can relate to.

If budget is such a huge issue, how about telling a really solid, good story that everyone can identify with? Everyone thinks that Hayao Miyazaki had a magical touch to his shows, when all it takes is being more open-minded about the world around us, and outside of Japan’s conservative, collective, bureaucratic mindset. When I hear his name, I think of all the shows where all his protagonists have grown to become strong female leaders in a non-threatening way. I think of the way he tells his stories that don’t offend anyone (except for The Wind Rises), but rather spark joy. I think of him as a relevant person whose thinking is rather un-Japanese-like.

Maybe that’s exactly what they need – a team of animators who understand the value of good storytelling, and someone in the team to be un-Japanese and rock the boat a little. Give us a good story – one that captures our imagination, our senses, sparks feelings of joy and memory, or even set off a series of trigger warnings – and you can have my dollar.

What will it take to pay for anime? What do you prefer spending your money on – streaming, DVDs/blu-ray, or other merchandise?

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3 thoughts on “Paying for anime.

  1. Actually, Crunchyroll isn’t available for viewing worldwide. I couldn’t access the site at home in New Zealand and I still can’t access it now in Japan. The irony of being unable to do so in the birthplace of anime itself has not escaped me. (-_-;)

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    1. I read somewhere that Madhouse was the official distributor for anime content in Australia and NZ, though I don’t know if that applies for streaming.
      Is there no legit English-subbed content in Japan? 😦

      Like

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