Retail Valentine

I lack the bravado and skill to do this kind of self-insert, so I’ll just rant on some more about retailing. Saint Valentine’s day is a retail holiday after all in Japan.

I’ve been actually writing a long piece about the business end of this anime business. Or the non-business end, whatever. Where rubber meets the road. Where society pays out to creators for their copyrighted expressions. Where you and I pay in to get our fix. But the more I read my own writing the less I want to publish it at all, says this creator.

I think Shizuki’s written a good shakedown in the ongoing conversation about not just curry but also how we value DVDs and how we are asked to value them. It’s not about blame or who’s got the better way to do things or what, but merely a challenge to you and I; a dare to spend money. It’s a no-brainer why that the anime industry suffered when the retail industry did; Suncoast folding was a huge deal since it is a primary retail customer of our staple region 1 importers. It’s not a big surprise that online stores like AN and RightStuf stepped into licensing because both have ran relatively successful retail operations in this market. We (as fans and as an industry) all have to grow–some vertically.

To be more precise Shizuki’s discussion reminded me of the Tenchi Muyo OAV box that Pioneer put out in the early days of the DVD switchover. I remembered when Pioneer was dumping its LD catalog and going all DVD. Was DVD to be an premium format? It didn’t turn out that way. Today we have people watching (crappily produced) DVDs on their $75 portable DVD player with a craptastic 5″ LCD screen, mono sound out of a set of $5 headphones. It just doesn’t compare to the home theater system few people first had back in ’98 with their $1000 DVD/LD combo player. That’s what DVDs are as a format now and back then, respectively. Like newspaper and cell phones, we junk the old ones we had since yesterday or two years ago, simply because they are worth slightly above nothing today.

And this does have something to do with the curse of collectors, too. Aside from your personal satisfaction and peace of mind of ownership of some…random anime in its limited edition format, on the whole there is very little market value for used anime DVDs. I suppose people do trade them in at game stores or used media stores for some petty cash/credit, but we’re talking about a large depreciation of value. Or rather, what value we see for used anime DVDs (say, on eBay) is derived purely out of people’s personal valuation for those items, and not so much a fair market valuation based on consistent supply and demand. Or am I wrong?

As the global media industry grapple and come around to embrace the fact that we no longer treating music and movies as albums and DVDs, but as music and movie and as a part of our popular culture and life, we are left to deal with the business end of it. How do we make it work? Media companies can no longer peddle that same bicycle, try as they might. Or maybe they can upgrade their bicycle into hi-def, or over the internet. Or peddle something else all together different like the new wave of internet music and video sites. I don’t know.

To me, this is the real nail-in-the-coffin. It’s not about fansubbing, but it’s about how people value disposable entertainment media. If people valued it, even fansub “pirates” would buy them simply because they are worth the money (presuming they can afford it in the first place). This intangible value is what’s missing. It is what all those collector’s edition trinkets are trying to pump up. It’s what limited edition, limited print runs are trying to make. It is about being able to pay a good amount of cash and get something really cool, versus paying very little to get very little (that we can live without). The former bargain just doesn’t quite exist anymore, so we’re all going for the latter.

2 Responses to “Retail Valentine”

  • Andre

    This fansubbing and the overall state of affairs for the anime industry just gives mea big headache. No really good solution has eally stuck out to me yet that will really get this niche market out of the hole its built for itself. When it all comes down to it maybe,and I’m just using my own experience as an example here, therre just isn’ really anthing realy interestng or even new about anime anymore. It all seems like its going by the numbers waiting for a nice kick in the behind to wake them up. I can’t even remember the last time felt excited about actually buying or even downloading a anime show right way. (Except maybe gurren lagann for reson I can’t really explain.)

  • omo

    I’d agree that 2007 was a mediocre year for TV anime. I myself was excited only for a handful of shows; some are acquired tastes, even. It is about how excited we are that partly dictate how well the anime licensees do, partly.

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