I have a confession to make:
I’m an anime lover.
Yup, I said it. I’m an adult who still likes to watch “cartoons.”
For those of you who don’t know, anime is essentially Japanese animation. The word “anime” is short for “animation,” as the Japanese language has many loan words from the English language (among other languages) which they like to abbreviate for convenience of pronunciation.
Anime has a very large following and fans of this niche of animation tend to be very loyal and, shall we say, “ardent” about their views of it. Unfortunately, as passionate as some of us may be about whether we think *yandere or *tsundere characters are better, not all of us have educated ourselves about how to support the industry that we enjoy so much.
So today, I’d like to take a moment to bring to my fellow otakus’ attention the fact that they may indeed be harming the industry that they love so much.
[For those of you who are not fellow anime lovers and have no interest in what I’m talking about, feel free to skip this particular post.]
First, let’s just get one fact out there and out of the way:
Fact 1: Anime is awesome.
Anime has a special capacity to enrapture and inspire its viewers in a way that makes it a mode of media all its own. You’d think that because it is technically a form of cartoon and fits under the genre of animation it would just drop itself under that label and leave it at that, but Japanese animation has such a particular flair to it that it has managed to carve out a separate niche altogether in the eyes of its international viewers. The combination of eye-catching visuals, rich storytelling, dorky comedy, and often mature themes create a very distinct and beloved genre. The fact that it has caught the world’s attention speaks for itself.
Fact 2: Anime is well-loved and has many viewers.
Considering the fact that anime is awesome, it stands to reason that it has a lot of viewers. And a lot of passionate viewers at that. Some anime lovers are so serious about their love of anime that they go so far as to doing things like dressing up as characters they like (cos-playing) or writing fan fiction. While these things are great and dandy it does not erase the truth of fact number three.
Fact 3: Anime is a commercial industry.
And as such, it needs consumers.
I know, I know.
You’re thinking that you know what I’m going to say next and you’ve had quite enough of that spiel. But the only reason that I feel the need to bring it up is because it’s so true.
Not enough anime lovers are banding together to support the media that they so love by buying it.
Now, the concept of buying anime has changed much over time though. Before, buying anime just meant picking up a copy of the video cassette or dvd at the nearest store that provided it. But the concept of this definition has changed and broadened to include buying merchandise and, dare I say it, paying for online subscriptions.
Some of you may be thinking “Meh, I don’t trust online subscriptions. I rather keep my money than send it into the hands of greedy middle men in hopes of maybe a couple nickels reaching the actual anime production companies.”
I have to admit that I was of the same mindset but I’ve since read a couple things that have made me think maybe I need to kick that old excuse in the tush and open my mind to the possibility that this suspicion may not be true in all instances. Among these things things that I’ve read, one of them that really got me thinking was this article. (<–Clickety click the hyperlink, you might be pleasantly surprised.)
Now, I’m a broke college student so I know the pain of what some of your pockets might be feeling.
“I ‘aint got no money for that!” you might be objecting.
And I accept that this may truly be the case.
So for those of you whose pockets have a fly or two buzz out of them when you reach in like me, I say that the best thing you can do is try to watch as much of your anime from streaming sites like Crunchyroll who have paid for the license to show them. Because even if you don’t pay for a subscription, these sites make money off of the minute and a half ads they show you and are hopefully sending a portion of that money to the anime producers you are so grateful to.
STILL NOT CONVINCED that you need to do your part, even if you are reduced to having faith in middle men?
I urge you to watch this very informative video published only about a year ago, talking about how very much some studios are indeed suffering from a lack of support from their very large audience.
I think that just as a rule you should contribute to the people who put so much hard work into creating the amazing product you love. Because if you never bother then you don’t have the right to complain when shows are discontinued and less high quality anime is made.
It’s sad that studios who don’t deserve to go bankrupt or may be struggling when they have such a large audience. I hope that this post convinces some of my fellow otakus to make a change, even if only a small one, toward preventing this from happening more than it has to in the future.
*yandere-the specifically overly affectionate, overbearing archetype of an anime girl who tends to show their love through violence
*tsundere-the specifically slow to warm up, but very loving when they do, archetype of an anime girl that starts off very cold and strong-headed
*otaku-this word generally means “nerd” but has come to take on a more fanatical meaning, and has evolved to more specifically mean”extreme fans of anime”