Friday, December 28, 2007

Let Me Tell You About Anime

When there's no more anime for you lunkheads to watch, just remember how much you contributed to its downfall.

From Steve Fritz's latest "Animated Shorts" column on Newsarama:

• Piracy Is Not Your Friend

The fall of Geneon could be one of the biggest and nastiest bits of news this year.

At the moment, the distributor who provided America with such incredible anime and evergreen properties as Akira, Lupin III, Serial Experiment Lain, Last Exiles, Gankotsouo, Samurai Champloo, Black Lagoon, Ergo Proxy and many, many, many more is auctioning off its rights to these shows for whatever little they can get. Very informed sources tell me they wouldn’t be surprised if two more very long-running and equally important anime providers will be out of business by the end of 2008.

The reason? Video piracy. It’s gotten so bad that even though there are statistics that say the actual number of anime fans have increased by 30% over the last two years, the sales of anime DVDs has dropped as much as 50% in the same period of time.

What many of the pirates don’t understand is Geneon is the first domino in what could be an incredibly long chain. According to one source, it could go back to the studios, with at least one major anime studio also going down due to lack of American and international revenues. This can ricochet, too. American studios could savagely cut budgets at the minimum, or cease production altogether, if they don’t have studios like Japan’s Madhouse to pass on inbetweening and other such chores to.

The simple fact is while animation is getting cheaper, it’s still an expensive artform. While I discussed the coming of the one-person studio earlier, it isn’t here yet. Further, the animation is far more, well, cartoon-y, than shows like Avatar, The Simpsons or Legion. Shows like these involve small armies of production people.

Hopefully I’ll have a much more detailed report on this over the next 30 days. Still, it’s something we better stay well aware of.

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