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Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Eric Sherman, President/CEO of the Bang Zoom! production company, sums up why the anime industry is about to fizzle out in the U.S. altogether in an impassioned plea to their fans.

Except the problem isn't those who download anime fansubs: it's him.

As the American anime industry has done so many times before, they're blaming fansubbers and pleading with you to spend $30 for three or four episodes of entertainment instead of actually creating an appealing product at the right price point in formats that customers actually want.

I've been following the anime industry for well over a decade now, and I'm familiar with the roadblocks that American distributors face. Anime is a niche product, lacking economies of scale enjoyed by mainstream fare. Prices are inflated and release dates are pushed back by Japanese studios concerned about "reverse imports." And so on.

That's all legitimate, but why would somebody new to anime risk $30 for a DVD that gives less than an hour of entertainment when complete seasons of American television can be had for less money? And why would a dedicated fan want to wait years for the latest installments of their favorite series?

Adding insult to injury, I couldn't help but notice that most or all of BangZoom!'s productions are completely absent from the iTunes Store, and I couldn't easily find a way to legally buy and download any of their titles. Not sure if the anime industry noticed, but people like to download things. BangZoom! is a production house, not a distributor, so they don't directly control the releases or pricing of the titles they work on, but it's indicative of the industry as a whole.

The fact is that the American industry either needed to solve these problems long ago, or call it a day and move on. A plea like Sherman's in 2010 is simply pathetic.

We have a lot of talented voice actors and directors among our members on OtakuBooty, so I don't say that lightly. There will always be a need for excellent voice talent, and I'm sorry a once-promising industry shot itself in the foot for reasons completely out of your control. You, friends, deserve far better.

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