Despite having a fansubber character, I haven't discussed the fansub issue much. Why is that? Well, you may have noticed that in the last couple years, DVD prices have fallen dramatically. Anime prices have fallen dramatically. And the anime market is also shrinking. Stores that sell anime are closing. Stores that sell anime are cutting their anime selections. Companies that distribute anime are closing their doors, laying off staff, slowing down their releases, and eliminating English dubs. Some say that in a few years, there won't be any more anime in the US.
Maybe. Maybe one day, all of the companies I've fondly associated with anime tapes and DVDs will be gone. Will anime disappear entirely? Will shows stop being made? I doubt it.
Look at the history of US animation, and you'll see that there have been some strange times and some dark times. For a while the height of US animation was one or two big studios releasing a movie every couple of years. Then there were small companies that got lots of people on board to do lots of cheap TV shows. Now we have a handful of creator-driven pieces that have risen up through the support of fans until they broke out to a wider audience. With home video the old shows and movies have experienced a revival, but it's largely for nostalgia, or for collectors.
In the 2000's the Japanese market was glutted with new animated shows. Mostly short, cheap, derivative shows from new companies. A rising international interest in anime and manga kept money flowing in that direction, but with the interest (and knowledge of a broader selection of titles), many consumers have become impatient for the shows we want to come our way.
The US anime distributors would like us to buy more of their product. It pays their bills. It helps them license more shows. The idea is that by supporting one show, it increases the chances of getting another show. Thing is, that game doesn't play. If a title is going to be profitable, then you don't need to risk losing money on another title first. And if there are legal complications that keep one title from being licensed without another, or without a demonstrated return on investment, then that's fine. No one is expecting one company or another to license one show or another. I think all we really expect, as customers, is that the shows coming out are going to be worth our time and money.
So as DVD prices fall, more shows become worth my money. But that doesn't make any more of them worth my time. And thus the problem: even for little monetary investment, the US anime companies aren't giving me the return I want on my investment of time. A year ago I was watching 2 anime DVDs for every non-anime. Now it's the opposite. Why is that? Not because of fansubs. It's because the current US and Japanese anime markets are failing to provide me with interesting content. And when that happens, the industry is already in a decline.
It's no surprise. You can make 50 shows a year, but you can't make 50 good shows a year unless you have the talent and resources to make them good. And in a glutted market, even the best shows fall prey to the desire to appeal to a mass audience, and end up compromising quality in a misguided attempt to get more value from the production.
If everyone who only watched fansubs turned around and bought some shows, the anime industry would probably see a huge monetary boost. But if that money isn't going to get invested in making good shows, it's a waste to keep these companies alive. If you're not making products that appeal to me, what reason do I have to support you?
Beyond the impact to the anime industry, however, fansubbers have their own culture and ideas. Misfire Reactional isn't going to be a treatise on fansubbers, so you probably won't hear me speak on the subject much. But as a subject it won't be ignored by the comic. After all, that would defeat the purpose of having a fansubber character in the first place.
Time elapsed since comic debut (1/1/2009): 487 days.
Pages posted: 195.
Average days per page: 2.50.
Time elapsed since start of work (10/26/2008): 554 days.
Pages planned: 464 (63.4%) (1.19 days per page)
Pages sketched: 271 (37.0%) (2.04)
Pages drawn: 255 (34.8%) (2.17)
Pages complete: 226 (30.9%) (2.45)
Pages posted: 195 (26.6%)
That's 44 units complete. Chapter 8 is finished. Chapter 7 is nearly all up. Chapter 10 is halfway sketched. Even this far ahead I'm feeling the crunch. Unless something changes I'm going to put up chapter 9 at 2 pages per week. Right now the comic is 42% complete, meaning 44 months total, of which 26 remain.
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