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Anime sales in North America at an all-time low.
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28 / M / Colorado, USA
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Posted 5/30/11
Well, I doubt it's the only industry with a decline like this in recent years. Unfortunately, I cannot even begin to step in the direction of buying DVDs to support the industry. I've done the math before, and if I convert the rate I watch anime into buying DVDs at an equal rate, it becomes a TREMENDOUS expense. Compounding that cost upon facts like I rarely rewatch a series and that I never sit in front of a TV (ie I'd prefer a digital medium over a physical DVD) makes DVDs personally undersirable.

Thanks to CR as a medium, I get my series completely legally now. I could show the industry even more support if there was a "click here to donate" button, but specified prices like DVDs quickly escape my range.
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Posted 5/30/11

kendodog wrote:


MeidouZangetsuha83 wrote:

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-04-15/america-2009-anime-market-pegged-at-us$2.741-billion
I blame pirating as it's now easier to pirate titles today than they were back in like 2005.


People like to blame fansubbing because it's an easy scapegoat but seriously, that's almost complete bs. The vast majority of fans wouldn't pay even if that was the only option and for multiple reasons including, bad economy so people have less disposable income and, much of the imported/fansub anime isn't worth buying.

Anime is a bigger market in Japan mainly because, it actually gets network broadcast revenue. That's a difficult sell in the US because of cultural sensitivities as well as the fact that it's a niche target audience that doesn't generally have much disposable income. By cultural sensitivies, I mean anime similar to Kodomo no Jikan or Vampire Bund, which makes a large part of the Japanese market, would be received very unfavorably in the US. Thus, a huge segment of anime is just unmarketable here.

What the US market really needs is anime produced with a US audience in mind. Funimation could become huge if they'd just make an investment to build up a US based animation studio. No more paying license fees for anime that are basically a gamble, and no more having to worry about censoring imported anime to make it safe for US broadcast. This will make it easier to sell to the networks for mainstream timeslots and attract more buyers who actually can afford to buy anime and are more likely to as opposed to pirating.


That is ridiculous. If Funimation made cartoons geared towards an American audience they would just be cartoons. That's it. I don't want a Western cartoon from any Anime studio. All you would have then is garbage like Avatard: The Last Airbender. Come on...
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Posted 5/30/11
i hate that people are doing that! the more people do that the less anime will be brought to the U.S. and that would just be the worst thing ever!! T-T but i also don't like that many anime box sets only have like 12 episodes and cost like $50 that does make it harder to buy i really wish they would make it like they used to where there used to be at least 24 episodes on one box set
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35 / M / Construction land!
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Posted 5/30/11
*sighs, then grabs a soapbox* This is something I've been watching for a while now, and not just the NA market, but the Japanese market also. I'm going to take a quick look at the Japanese side before getting to domestic licensing.

Sales in Japan have never really been huge. Shortly after release (or in a few cases, before), it would find its way into China, and be pirated all over. But, this would take time, and before China's disks could reach the rest of southeast Asia, there were a fair number of people who would import releases from Japan. This number has been decimated over the past several years. Sales to some countries were down over 90%, and even some of the smaller series would see sales down almost 50% in Japan itself. Of notice is that while media sales were down, merchandise sales were not. Initially, it was seen as a small problem, since Japan is less reliant on media sales; the merchandising and TV deals pay for a fair number of things. Then, of course, we had the worldwide recession which led to lower merchandise sales. Now it's a problem- more things are losing more money. It's why some people refer to these past few years as 'chasers' for trends: companies release clones of what was big last season, hoping to ride its coattails. Taking the extra risks is not deemed worthwhile. So the common masses are pandered to.

Meanwhile, in the US, yes, the early-mid 2000s were a great time for anime. If anyone remembers the .Hack//Sign hexagonal box, it was hard to find shortly after release, with a print run of 15,000! Sales of 20K per volume was seen as good, and a blockbuster could easily clear 50K per volume. Not Hollywood numbers, but not bad for an anime. Around the same time as Japan saw reduced media sales, so too did the American market. Without another means of revenue, companies were put into tight straits almost instantly. Companies looked for other ways to diversify. (ADV is the most notable example of this, though...) With reduced sales comes reluctance to pay top dollar for a license, and thus, the royalties paid to Japan also dropped off. Add to this the demise of Musicland and its stores, and the end started for some companies. (CPM is a noted casualty from this time.) Things didn't get better, either. More companies closed for varying reasons, further limiting things coming over here. A recent figure for sales that has been stated is that a decent selling item sells 2000 units. That's it- and it's a far cry from the boom. Only recently have things like simulcasting gained traction as a way to recoup some of the losses, though the margin as of now makes it unclear if this will be sustainable.

So, what was happening around this time, when sales started to drop off? This little program had been gaining traction rapidly on the scene; many of you have heard of it. It's called BitTorrent. This is responsible for moving fansubs from a mostly underground area, to a huge public fronting, where people could easily just put a bunch of torrent files on a page, spreading the files. People in southeastern Asia were happily downloading these, as they came out faster than the DVDs, and were cheaper. Meanwhile in the USA, when a series would be licensed, the fansubs were not suddenly removed- they remained up for people to leech, thus not encouraging people to pick up legitimate releases. Coupling this with the increase of a lot of fansub groups wanting to boost their egos by doing popular shows, and fueling a sort of entitlement to free anime (I'll actually address this in a bit) led to backlash, and thus caused domestic sales to also drop. It was no longer about the promotion of the anime- it became solely about bragging rights. (In all fairness, the bragging rights thing goes back further, but that's a slight deviation, so I won't go into that.)

I wish I could remember what series it was, but ADV had a series released a while back on 6 DVDs. The first half was fairly heavily fansubbed, but for some reason, the second half was not done. At volume 4's release, where the fansubs had not released, ADV reported sales on that volume had actually exceeded those of volume 1! It shows the power that fansubs have! And it shows how the original purpose worked- to increase awareness of a series for it to be licensed and sell. The decay of that coupled with BitTorrent enabling the files to come above ground is what killed the sales. How can a company compete with a product that is out first and is free?

And then you have the real kicker: how much the leeches are actually hurting the industry. Fewer sales in NA means less money to Japan. Less money to Japan means less new series being produced. Less series being made, well... I think you can see where things are going. Yes, the shows were free to watch in Japan. However, they were paid for by ads. Fansubs are not released with relevant ads to help pay the creators. And this brings us to sites like here, CrunchyRoll. I'm... fully aware of this site's origins. But now, everyone who signs up for an account helps to support the series through direct contributions. A monthly fee is not as much as a DVD, but the power in numbers is where the difference comes from. And the free accounts? Well, that's what those annoying ads are for. Instead of you paying, the ad sponsors are paying your share; in exchange, you view their ads. I recall hearing, but am not certain, that FUNimation sees about 1.5 cents per episode viewed on their Youtube channel. Again, it's not a huge amount, but it is support, and that's what matters. Sales may stay down, but if you can do what you can to help the industry, it's that little bit to help it survive.
Posted 5/30/11 , edited 5/30/11
Before people start blasting, Pirates, Fan subs ect. Lets look at the cold hard facts.

Sales are down and the biggest reason is not any of the fame 'evil doers' but the economy. Anime is not a important need (unless your crazy devout to buying anything regardless of the sticker price.) When you have food, home, PC and utilities to pay luxury items tend to take a back seat to the more important things in life. Thats the first major hit to Anime sales in the US.

The second problem is the wait time. Yes the US and Europe have a hard time getting any anime mainly because of the stigma of it being 'for kids' and having a idiotic double standard with very few shows airing. So in that order Fan Subbers fill the roll nicely of both problems. Free and instead of waiting 3 months and another 2 months to see if the series gets picked up you'll get a new ep within a week or so.

Third is the quality of anime being pumped out by Japan. You could pretty much set your cock every season that there will be 3-5 moe-blob anime, 3-4 harems, 1-2 loli , 2-3 mecha, 2-5 magical girl, 5+ shonen and maybe 1 unique anime. Not in that order but a mix or so. With such a predictable lineup (just talking for myself) but generally most anime fans are picky. Like it or not maybe 1 or 2 series per season if were lucky will be picked up to go out of Japan and hit the Western World.

The thing is, a TV show may count for 1/3rd to 1/2 of the total sales an anime may produce. If you add in figures, games, character CD's musical scores, Seyuu appearances, and Advertising. Companies are making money (in Japan) hand over fist. In Expos we western fans may get lucky to buy, figures, character CD's, T-shirts, and CD's from that series. OP don't look at just sales of the TV Show; thats the only thing that is in the toilet look at the bigger picture. Since what I stated multiplies the output of revenue on a TV series.

I hate to say it but Japan's overall sales are not going to hurt them. Good businessmen take into account that western sales are not going to be high enough, mainly because the stigma is so dominant over here. Funimation is smart that its capitalizing on Youtube and put out its own Anime Channel (that I bought). Still overall most of the animation companies will continue to cater to their core and that is Japan. Even if by any chance there is a huge shift towards anime in general it will take a long time. I mean how long did it take Funimation to take advantage of Youtube, CR, putting a channel together for the US and Canada? A few years and that was when Anime was hitting its peak in 03-06. Just dont cry for these companies, they are making enough money in Japan and whatever they make in the Western World is gravy to them. I'm not being cynical but this is the hard truth.
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Posted 5/30/11

hoffstyle wrote:

That is ridiculous. If Funimation made cartoons geared towards an American audience they would just be cartoons. That's it. I don't want a Western cartoon from any Anime studio. All you would have then is garbage like Avatard: The Last Airbender. Come on...


Hmm...I think you misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting they make Disney-like cartoons with anime looking characters. It still should be recognizable as anime but it has to be marketable for the NA audience and it most likely will be more profitable long-term to develop local VA and animation talent rather than license existing anime from Japan. It also gives the US based companies an opportunity to have something they can export to other countries and become even more profitable.

Anime is a niche market. If you only try to satisfy the elitists, you will always be on the brink of failure. It just isn't smart business and it's the reason why companies are failing in the current economy.


Marketing to a wider audience means safer content but it also means more money and and surplus which can be used to support niche anime. The company stays in business and even grows and everybody gets what they want.

If you want the industry to be sustainable, you can't just think about what you want. You have to give consideration to what can improve industry growth.
The Wise Wizard
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56 / M / U.S.A. (mid-south)
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Posted 5/30/11

kendodog wrote:
Anime is a niche market. If you only try to satisfy the elitists, you will always be on the brink of failure. It just isn't smart business and it's the reason why companies are failing in the current economy.


Marketing to a wider audience means safer content but it also means more money and and surplus which can be used to support niche anime. The company stays in business and even grows and everybody gets what they want.

What bothers me about the above is that it sounds like the path taken by most cable/sat networks. They start with a clearly defined niche, and then in the quest for "growth" start straying off the path, and become much like the other networks, with little to differentiate them. They increasing provide little support for whatever niche they started from.

I fear while what you propose might indeed preserve the anime market, it would result in even less that would appeal to current anime fans. It would be a case of winning the battle but losing the war.



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Posted 5/31/11
Alas, it is sad but true. I partially blame the North American companies for their poor marketing strategy and bad choice of investments. But hey, blame the fansubs and pirates for bringing you down when in fact your own incompetence brought you to your own downfall.
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