Thursday, February 21, 2008

In My View: Why Bandai Visual concerns me

(This is my slightly less informed opinion based on this post and these

Ahhh… Bandai Visual, you crazy, crazy company. To be fair, I haven't really spent a whole lot of time thinking about Bandai Visual. True tears and Shigofumi haven't really been on my radar much. Not because I hate the series, but simply because there's a whole lot of stuff that I want to watch more. I know that their pricing scheme isn't going to work in the States. Whether it's reasonable or not, there isn't a retailer in their right mind who'd put a $30 disk on their shelf that has a half hour of content. Especially considering that the majority of them are actually decreasing the amount of space they give to anime or at least not expanding it. Of course, they could always return the item to BVUSA and then nobody makes money. But how likely are they to race out and scoop up that next disk.

And as much as BVUSA's distribution method reminds me of Print on Demand books, it also reminds me that once a product is out of sight, it is largely out of mind. But… none of that bothers me. Sure there are a few series of theirs that I'd like to see, but nothing I can't live without watching.

No, what bugs me is something that shows up in Don's first post on this subject:

"As a matter of policy, I don't download series once they're licensed. I don't need to worry any more about Shigofumi or true tears. In fact, I probably will never see them at all, unless Bandai changes its insane pricing."

Essentially, here's a guy who's exactly what the anime industry wants. Someone who doesn't download once the series is licensed. Someone who follows the "rules", and he's saying that BVUSA's pricing structure is driving him towards the fansubs. Is it me, or is there something wrong about all of this? The anime industry has been whining for at least the last six months about how fansubs will be the death of them (including executives from BEI) and here comes a company that is implicitly making a case for downloading.

And if you're already ticking off your core audience, I can't imagine what you're doing to your fringe audience.

Granted, I realize that we're still talking about BVUSA. In the end, it's a business model that deserves to fail. And it's likely that most of the fans are smart enough to distinguish between BVUSA and ADV, BEI or Funimation. But I do think they're sending the wrong message. And what's worse is that they're sending the wrong message while they are doing the right thing.

Because the whole reason why these series are already licensed is because they're planning on having a simultaneous release in Japan and the States. So they're doing what anime fans have wanted for a long time (albeit a couple years too late), but they're doing it in a way that won't work. What concerns me more than anything else, is the chilling effect this could have on an industry that is already trying to play catch up. I can already hear it now, when the next person asks, "Well why don't you try to get it to the States faster?" and the industry official looks at him and says, "Well look at Bandai Visual, it didn't work for them."


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