A tale of two lists

Here’s a list:

Animal Yokocho
Dennou Coil
Hakaba Kitaro
Mind Game

Here’s another list:

Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
Galaxy Angel Rune
Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling For Me
Peach Girl
Princess Princess

The anime in the first list are all very good to excellent; those in the second list range from mediocre to vile. Guess which are commercially available in region one? Until the situation is reversed, fansubs will remain necessary.

9 thoughts on “A tale of two lists”

  1. There appear to be two underlying assumptions in your post.

    1. Everyone or at least the majority of anime fans share your taste and thus would agree that everything in the first list are all very good to excellent while those in the second list range from mediocre to vile.

    2. That if you believe that something is very good to excellent for you then you are entitled to it and if you can’t get it legally it is necessary for you to acquire it illegally.

  2. Pulling “Bayesian” rating and original broadcast year from ANN:

    Animal Yokocho #1076 2005
    Binchou-tan #2056 2006
    Dennou Coil #71 2007
    Hakaba Kitaro #1915 2008
    Kaiba #112 2008
    Mind Game #243 2004
    Mononoke #37 2007

    Ratings are out of 3560 shows. So “the masses” agree with you on 4 of them, but the other 3 are in mid-grade land; 2 aren’t above the halfway mark.

    All of these are from the post-crash/R1-has-no-money-left licensing wasteland; and I totally agree that there’s lots and lots of shows in the 2004-2008 range that really ought to be picked up in R1. (Or at least given the Kara no Kyoukai treatment of a Region-A bluray with english subs.)

    Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan #1602 2005
    Eiken #3531 (out of 3560… so close to being the worst show evar!) 2003
    Galaxy Angel Rune #3192 2006
    Ikki-Tousen #3008 2003
    Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling For Me #1295 2006
    Peach Girl #1345 2005
    Princess Princess #1579 2006

    Four of the “poor” shows outrank some of your “good” shows. Of the three “poor” shows that really are in the basement, one was a spiritual successor of a series of shows that did get above-the-midpoint ratings (the non-Rune Galaxy Angels are between #500 and #1700), and two were from the tail end of the Great Anime Boom that ended circa 2003. (And one of those, Ikki-Tousen, must be some kind of so-bad-it’s-good cult classic, since it’s been done in 7 other langauges. That, or the licensing fee was 98 yen and a box of pocky. I may have to buy it to see how bad it is.)

    And if the situation *were* reversed, fansubs would still be “necessary” to someone, just not to you. They’ll be “necessary” until every show is available for free, download-to-own, commercial-free, in HD quality, 17 seconds after its broadcast in Japan, because some “fan” out there expects at least that much… after all, that’s what they’d get if they were Japanese and had a TiVo (and could ignore what their parents were paying for TV service in the first place). Case in point, the recent “1337” lawsuit from Funi… people torrenting something that was free and timely, but not d/l-to-own or HD or sans-commercials.

    Disclaimer: I personally dislike fansubs (if I did d/l one, I’d order an unwatchable-to-me Japanese-only copy) due to my small-town-Midwest Christian upbringing, and my dependent-on-selling-ideas career (patentable instead of copyrightable, though, so much harder to steal my company’s work than it is to fansub anime.)

  3. @lesterf1020 and Mikeski:

    Do anime vendors study their intended market, or do they simply pick the hits in their country? It sure seems to me that they don’t care what North Americans want. They have an incentive to push the unoriginal, uncreative shlock to us that they have heavily invested, much as Hollywood does to their countries (instead of only sending the timeless movie classics). Thankfully with the advent of simulcasts I see this problem vanishing.

    Also, lesterf1020, your second point is wonderfully indicative of the type of attitude that will only serve to prolong this problem. Business-wise, there is a demand here that isn’t being fulfilled. Until that changes, people will fulfill it themselves, laws be damned.

    Lumping everyone who does this into some grey bucket of immorality and childish self-entitlement is itself a childish notion. Many of us rely on fansubs, yet pay for out-of-region copies to support the industry. We would rather not waste out bandwidth, either, and some of us even have the time and technical skill to just download only the subtitle tracks and rip the copies we legitimately purchased. Until we’re given a simply way to do this legally using existing video player and streaming servers, we’re going to be unhappy as well.

  4. I made no judgment call on your post adn I am not interested in picking a fight with you. I simply pointed out what I saw as the underlying assumptions in your post based on how it was worded.

    You did not say that “fansubs would be available” or that “there would continue to be a demand for fansubs” or that “people will continue to create and use fansubs”. What you said was that “fansubs will remain necessary”. In other words, something essential if you cannot find what you consider very good to excellent legally. In other words endorsing the consumption of an illegal product if you cannot find it legally.

    If this was not your point then you should consider rewording that last sentence. As Miseki demonstrates this is a very heated issue. Misunderstandings could easily derail the point you wish to make.

    To be honest, I don’t think you have been clear about your point at all. Your post seems to imply that until the R1 anime industry publishes anime that you like and refuses to publish anime you don’t like you will use and endorse the use of fansubs. I don’t think that was your point but as Miseki illustrates that is the impression you post gives.

  5. My apologies for the wording of the previous post. I did not mean to imply that Hogart was the original poster. My comment was directed to the original post.

  6. Oh, wow, sorry but I’m not the poster, I just commented on your comment. I didn’t realize it would be so difficult to tell. I’ve just ended up unintentionally putting words in their mouth now, sorry about that.

  7. @Hogart
    I have no doubt there is a demand that isn’t being fulfilled. However, that does not mean that it is economically viable for someone to do so legally. If it isn’t economically viable for someone to make it available what do you do then? Acquire it illegally? How sustainable is that for the industry?

    Anime are normally not licensed for R1 for one of 2 reasons:
    1. It is not possible.
    a. The licensor is not interested in licensing the anime at all or at anything resembling an affordable, practical rate.
    b. It is impossible to get permission because the production committee that created the anime disbanded and one or more members went bankrupt or were absorbed into other companies and it is now impossible to get all of the people who have rights to agree or even find someone who has the rights and is interested in doing a practical deal.

    2. It is not economically viable.
    a. The license is too expensive and the approval process is too cumbersome to allow the R1 licensor to make a profit.
    b. There are not enough people at any price point to make the license profitable. How many people do you think will actually buy “Hakaba Kitaro” no matter how excellent The original poster thinks it is?
    c. There are plenty of potential customers but the price point they will accept is not profitable.

    To state the obvious … R1 Anime distributors are in a business. They cannot do licenses based entirely on their anime tastes or on what they perceive as quality because if it doesn’t sell they are out of business. Guessing what will sell well in R1 is a difficult business. Just because something is popular or receives a lot of acclaim does not mean it will sell well. “Dokuro-chan” who is listed in the initial post under mediocre to vile was initially released sub-only but sold so well that Media Blasters went back and dubbed it. Funimation was surprised at how well “Kenichi” sold given how little internet buzz there was on it. Geneon lost big on their bet that “Heat Guy J” would be the next big thing and were very disappointed on the performance of shows like “Rozen Maiden” and Higurashi, which were very popular in their time.

    This is not a simple issue. The demand for anime is high but everyone wants their anime really cheap or free and they want it now. No one has worked out a viable economical model that will let that happen for most anime. The question is “does that make it Ok to acquire the product anyway illegally?” That question is not as simple as it appears. Sometimes the illegal demand results in a legal economical deal and sometimes it makes it impossible for anyone to make money and hurts the whole industry.

    At the moment I believe that having an entire generation grow up thinking anime should be free and instantly available has produced fansubbers and anime “fans” that are now actively destroying the hobby they love.

  8. @lesterf1020

    Basically, we’re on the same wavelength then. I just don’t agree with the notion that the businesses aren’t at fault here, if that’s what you’re saying. They could work to change licensing restrictions between regions – it’s not like it’s difficult or expensive in an online world. If the fansubbers can do it, then all it will take is a little effort to revamp the licensing system and bring it into an Internet age.

    Thankfully this is slowly happening, and as it does these issues are vanishing. It’s just silly to blame the people who want to pay, simply because you aren’t willing to bring them the product yourself. Whether it’s legal or not is clearly not going to stop people, regardless of what you or I may think about it.

    As for the “culture of entitlement” debate, I come from the pre-Internet world that views things in such old-school ways.. but it’s just as complex an issues as licensing is for anime creators. It took me a while to understand that, and after I did I found that it’s far easier to convert people by simply pointing out the legal options, or at least making sure that they aren’t part of the “problem” as we see it.

    That being said, I agree with the poster.. with the caveat that they realize they need to support the shows they watch (and especially the ones they enjoy) with thanks that businesses will understand (ie, paying for them). It may not be “fair” to everyone in all cases, but it’s the reality of the situation for now.

  9. @Hogart
    I am not saying that the businesses are not to blame. If you are not able to adapt to your market, your demise is your fault. What I am saying is that the fansub issue is a complex mess and not just a matter of the R1 Licensors licensing everything for worldwide distribution and releasing it an hour after release in Japan for free or at some ridiculously low price. While this is not your point, it seems to be one of the prevailing views. The other being that no one should pirate anything ever and should just make do with what is legally available to them.

    But as you said reality is a different thing. Licensing restrictions still makes a lot of money for Hollywood so I don’t expect the system to change soon. I also doubt that companies like Manga UK would appreciate American companies flooding their market with goods and thus putting them out of business. These restrictions were never about the customer. It was always about finding ways to create local jobs and generate extra revenue. Given how important those things are I don’t expect it to change soon.

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