Thursday, April 17, 2008

In My View: Why I can’t stop worrying and learn to love the anime industry.

Honestly, I think a lot of anime fans don't have the foggiest understanding (or concern) for the general business of anime, both the creative aspect and the commercial aspect. How often do you hear a fan criticize an animation studio for a business decision it had absolutely nothing to do with, as if the giant media conglomerates bankrolling and controlling the production in the background didn't even exist? And how often do you hear anime fans whine about getting "ripped off" by greedy anime "companies" without any real knowledge of, 1) how much money it costs to produce anime, 2) how little television broadcast ad revenue amounts to, and 3) how little the people working in the trenches get paid?

Jeff Lawson on the Animanachronism's post Studiotolatry

To be frank when I first started learning a bit more about anime, I started to get interested in the decisions of the studio. And how the business worked. So I sent one short e-mail into "Hey Answerman!" It read:

"How much creative control do the studios have over the anime they select? Can they choose the series? Because I've noticed some similarities between series from certain studios (like Bones and GONZO)."

It's a really simple question. It certainly didn't require a page long answer. A simple "A lot" or "A little" would have sufficed. But it didn't get answered. Maybe it's because it was poorly phrased. Maybe because it was too vague. Maybe because I have bad grammar.

Or maybe because he wanted to talk about fansubs that week.

I don't know. And I probably will never know. So when I read that little snippet from Jeff Lawson, frankly it pissed me off. But I couldn't put it into words why. Somehow the crux of my problem was eluding me. That was until two things happened. The first was a comment from Sejanus over on the blogspot version of this page on my strangely popular rant about ANN's spring preview:

I think you are over-analysing it… ANN is just trying to do a better job, give us, the fans, what we want: more information.

And what do the fans say about it? Not surprisingly, they're bitching.

Now you can read my rambling after that. Frankly, I got on my high horse. And I went into my traditional rant. Now maybe omo is right. Perhaps my crime is caring too much about standards. Perhaps my crime is that I think there's a correct way to practice journalism. And perhaps Impz should have written this rant.

But if I might be indulged to misquote Shakespeare, "Let it not be said that I loved too little, but that I loved too well." And that's why being told that I'm bitching and that I should just sit down and shut up, ticks me off. Because I do care about those things, whether I should or I shouldn't. Like I care about how much money it costs to produce anime. Like I care about how little television broadcast ad revenue amounts to. Like I care about how little the people working in the trenches get paid.

Like I care about anime.

But no one would tell me anything about it. And why should they? I mean they already knew. Why bless the unwashed masses with that information? As Avatar put it:

Hey, if you've been in the industry for a decade, you know better than to talk to damned anime fans... there's nothing but abuse in it, and you can't tell them anything good anyway, so why bother?

Perhaps the same thing could be said about the anime fans. That they love too well. They care too much about things that they don't know enough about. And why don't they? Because frankly the information isn't there. Avatar makes an interesting point about subtitlers, but I couldn't tell a good subtitle from a bad one. I couldn't tell a good timer from a mediocre one. Some people might even accuse me of the fact that I can't tell a good voice actor from a bad one. Because no one has ever taught me. They're all inside some secret chamber somewhere, doing stuff and all I have are questions.

But it wasn't that I read TheBigN's blog post that I finally got it though. I wasn't just mad because I care. I was mad because I got lumped in with THOSE people. You know the ones. They talk about how, "fansubs are protected by the First Amendment." They complain about how the anime companies are ripping them off. They blame the studio for a bad business decisions.

And you know what? I am.

But I don't want to be. I listen to Anime World Order and Anime Roundtable as often as I can. And even though I might complain, I read ANN. I check out the blogs. I try to gather up as much information as I possibly can. So maybe it's time to turn those tables around. Maybe it's time for the people in the know to stop bitching.

And to start teaching.

Now in all fairness some of them do, but they still keep this pretense up. That somehow those of us that are less knowledgeable shouldn't be speaking. But how are we going to know unless we ask questions? How are we going to know unless we challenge?

How are we going to know unless they answer?


Related Links

Anime Almanac's take on my poorly worded rant.

Jpmeyer's take.

1 comment:

LytHka said...

The simple answer is: You will never know the intricate details about the industry unless you sell your soul to the devil, start working in the industry, and inevitably become a jaded anime fan. The fact of the matter is that the industry has got too cozy with anime fans. Anime doesn't exist so that fans can nitpick at the industry, it's to be consumed and at most be given a critique of the creative process and the creation. If the industry could somehow monetize on our business curiosity, they may not be doing badly, as reports suggest.