the shrinking world of anime

An interesting discussion at Pete’s and Steven’s has me thinking that the trend for anime is one whihch basically dooms DVDs to extinction (and why are we even talking about VHS anymore?). The problem is not just limited to titles that aren’t available in North America, but even titles which may technically be available but utterly impractical to obtain. Case in point – my beloved, $5-from-Walmart copy of Totoro has gone missing (unwillingly, unlike last time). I decided I’d buy a new copy – preferably one with all the extras – and guess what? It’s out of print. The only way to get my Totoro fix for my kids is to download a torrent (and watch on our TV via our USB-enabled DVD player). I fully expect to buy a Roku or equivalent device this year to tap into my Netflix on-demand account, which will also open the door to torrent convenience (though the demise of Mininova is a roadblock – I’ll have to start actually participating at bakabt or some other community now). Even titles which are available at Best Buy, like the complete Kino’s Journey, are absurdly expensive and the sad reality is that the pricing of anime makes most of it out of reach for anyone who has mouths to feed and bills to pay. Without torrents, the few purchases I can afford to make – Haibane, Sugar, etc – would never have happened.

Ultimately, anime is a hobby and not a necessity. But if we are limiting anime to only those who can afford to play by the industry’s rules, then anime will die. It’s really just the torrenters keeping it alive right now. That sounds paradoxical but it’s fundamental reality about the new era of digital content. Give it away, build an audience, and then hope some of them will buy for posterity. Assuming you’re making decent quality anime in the first place…

Incidentally, this story about Boxee being forced to give up on Hulu is pretty emblematic of the thorny issues of control being fought out in the marketplace. The anime industry is just a bit player in all of this.

2 thoughts on “the shrinking world of anime”

  1. Since Netflix has come to the PS3, I’ve been surprised at how much it’s changed my viewing habits in such a short time. Watching stuff on my PC was annoying and previous workarounds (i.e. that stupid playon thing) were buggy and frustrating to use.

    What’s more, the experience of watching Netflix through my PC has made me reconsider streaming solutions from my PC – and thus torrents are now on the table. So when I went to watch Banner of the Stars II and the last disc was on seemingly permanent “Very Long Wait” status on Netflix, I just torrented the last 3 episodes and streamed them to my PS3. Worked great, and now I have BotS III (which isn’t even available in the US) queued up.

    I’m not entirely opposed to buying DVDs or BDs, but they seem to be disappearing and in the case of BD, not appearing at all. If they were available on blu-ray, I’d easily buy Spirited Away (and maybe some other Miyazaki), Ghost in the Shell (already have GitS 2, which for some reason is available now), Cowboy Bebop Movie, and probably a few others (maybe even a series or two)…

Comments are closed.