Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fighting Reverse Importation Is Rational

Fighting reverse importation is also a hard thing to do. It’s like a chain of unfortunate events, by the time you get to the point we are in, a lot of other things had to screw up first. But really, there’s no need to get upset when Japan decides to torpedo the BD release of Persona 4 anime by making it less appealing to the home-grown Japanese crew. What’s sad is how they made it less appealing to everyone. (Okay, except the potential dub-only crowd, a crowd that probably should DIAF.)

How do I explain it? You start with ANN’s licensing write up. The key concept to take note on is the Minimum Guarantee–that’s the bulk of the money anime licensors make on most titles. Some titles do okay and beat the MG, and US companies make that money back over time to a point in which the profit sharing kicks in. That’s when the situation becomes ideal. The details of these contracts, well, vary and I don’t know anything about the specific beyond what typically gets passed around.

The MG is generally pretty much pissant for majority of the late-night variety of anime. Let’s say it’s $25000. Now compare it with a best seller. For example, let’s say your profit Fate/Zero BD boxes  (just for example; that one sold really well so it’s probably not a good example but let me use a box set to simply the math) is 30% of MSRP (total MSRP for the 2 boxes is  75600 yen, so 30% of that is 22680 yen). If you lose 1000 units would-be sales (for a frame of reference, F/Z BD box #1 sold 43000 copies on the first week) from reverse importing that means you lose 22,680,000 yen or roughly a quarter of a million or 10 times of the MG. Well, great, the average late night anime sells at around the “Manabi” line, which is something like 4000 units. So that factor of 10 makes sense, right?

Of course, if you want to be the North American licensee of Fate/Zero you will be paying a lot more than $25000 for your MG. Of course, Persona 4 anime is not Fate/Zero. Or is it? P4 anime sold over 20000 BD on its first week. If we really just ballpark it and assume P4A cost roughly the same as F/Z (7600 *9 + 4000 = 72400 yen) and assume it will do half as well in Japan (disc 10 is not out yet) as Fate/Zero and it will only lose 500 units from reverse importation, at 30%, it comes to about 130k-140k.

Of course, we don’t know the extent of reverse importation (and, in addition, people who do not import the Japanese set because they prefer the domestic one) so I can only guess, but the numbers are very convincing. Let’s say if your average 1-cour collection R1 DVD yields something like $14 profit, that means in order to match $140,000, the domestic licensee has to sell through ten thousand copies to break even. I guess you can tweak the numbers here and there to make it look not as bad, but 10000 units generally is like, R1 bubble-era best seller level of sales.

Does it make sense to you now that nobody has licensed Fate/Zero? Unless you are Kaze, of course.

Does it make sense to you that P4 anime BD doesn’t have a dub? Only partly. There are other ways to fight reverse importation. But that this element exists and Japanese companies, who can do math as good or better than I can, want to fight it, seems to be a natural course of action once you take a closer look.

One last kicker: Shawn K. mentioned roughly 500 units of Kara no Kyoukai BD box sold through Aniplex’s “official import” program. Think about it for a minute.

For more actual acts of reverse-importation, I wrote about this which is just more about how Clements blogged it on his Milky Crisis doohicky. And the reality is that like bootlegging (as opposed to internet piracy/file sharing sort of thing), people buying Infinite Stratos or P4 anime are just Japanese kids who probably aren’t buying the domestic release anyway even if they have the money to blow on it. There’s going to be a percentage distribution, where we can only reasonably claim a subset of total reverse imports as economic replacements. It certainly can be a matter of ethics–as in, a guilt-free way to “fight the system” and “support the creator” all the same. In other words, things that doesn’t really matter on the spreadsheet.

Because the math is pretty clear. It only takes a little bit of that substitution effect make all that MG money moot gravy. Japanese accountants just need enough to justify a 3-digit loss of sales!

Another angle to this is that P4 is an Aniplex title. How will Aniplex play its cards? Especially in light of their recent spat with Amazon? Seems to me that this move went down to the wire with Sentai, how it’s announced right after Otakon. I can’t say what works and what doesn’t, but such is the fate of popular otaku titles in Japan I guess. Clements pointed out the obvious and salient thing: a lot of this depends on the overall economic climate. With the way the yen is, the price gap between Japanese release and every other release is going to widen and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about that. It’s just another factor moving the wrong way on someone’s spreadsheet, another link in a chain of unfortunate circumstances.

The only saving grace is that I think P4 anime is going to be popular enough in America that the DVD sales will be okay to make it somewhat profitable. The price change on the BD seems like a concession on Aniplex’s part, too. Is that enough to convince the people who would have purchased P4 anime if it was DVD only but now won’t be because there’s a gimped BD? Time will tell.

Otakon 2012: Day 3

Otakon day 3 by stats

  • # of Jimmy John sandwiches consumed: 2
  • # of meals at the con: 1
  • # of tweets at home: 16353
  • # of autographs: 3
  • # of handshakes: 7
  • # of UOs burned through: 4

Otakon day 3 by Tsuritama cosplayers

Otakon day 3 in a paragraph (or 3)

Aya Hirano went overdrive and signed a billion autographs. There were a lot of happy fans. Jim Vowels finally announced his J-music festival. There were a lot of happy fans. It’s one thing to bid farewell to friends departing the con, it’s another to say “see you in November” to them. Thanks Otakon! And all it took was to wait until after the closing ceremony before leaving the con! If there was one “I wish I had” moment on Day 3 for me, it is missing out entirely on the Charity Auction. Which, in retrospect, might be a good thing.

PS. I listened to a bunch of iM@S music on the way home. In fact, the entire way home. Two observations: First, I really do like the iM@S 2 related tracks much more. Second, it is probably because they are better produced. Maybe by “second vision” it actually does mean something, something that kicked into effect in 2009 or 2010. Because it is just outright so much better than their previous string of stuff.

PPS. I listened to a lot of iM@S music on the way home because I feel yet again a severe lack of iM@S content. I did see some couple Ps with their iM@S shirt. A particular person on twitter wore Iori and the other guy (friday) wore Makoto. I tried unsuccessfully to search/stalk for an iM@S cosplay gathering and I guess there was one but I probably should’ve asked someone working the ACP or something. Which is funny, because I do know someone!

Otakon 2012: Day 2

We ended the night spending 3 hours at a tapas place, chatting and drinking. It was actually quite pleasant and I would love to do it again when I’m not running on fumes. When we got back to the hotel room, well, there was this still.

As for the con, it was fairly condensed. Content ran from early in the day (NISA’s first East Coast anime panel complete with audience plant for Umineko’s announcement) and ended also early in the afternoon (was done after Maruyama’s MAPPA panel/Madoka autograph, unless you were pressed into doing Yuuka’s, er, press events–all by 6pm or earlier). Well, 6 was kind of late. Instead I played Tanto Cuore at the dealer’s room and spreading that Love maid love. Only wish if I had a chance to play some Riichi with all those mahjong addicted guys. I guess we could’ve played tenhou IRL, which is less pathetic than tweeting across the dinner table.

Ai Nonaka’s panel was quite something. I’m obviously way biased as a long-time fan, but it’s not usual when the Japanese seiyuu guest goes on the stage and says “take lots of photos!” and goes double-V for all the guys in front. Well, there were a couple girls in the front row after all. That’s just the start. Her English was passible although she stuck to very simple phrases when she could, and went to the translator (Taka) for the rest. It was an early-morning panel and she was very full of energy. Possibly one of the best seiyuu panel i’ve been to for a girl.

Yuuka’s panel was fairly predictable, but she played it straight.

Aya Hirano’s was actually also predictable. She’s a good sport and very pro at this stuff. Katja line required some guts! I think she got in the spirit of thing while keeping it under control. Definitely pro.

Can’t complaint. I got my main targets today. Urobuchi’s interview went well, although I could use another 10 minutes, if not an hour. He’s “one of us” in a lot of ways.

Lots of MJ and Tanto. Good times.

Otakon 2012: Day 0, 1

Actually I was already in Baltimore by day -1. Day 0 was mostly enjoyable for a sweltering-hot day at the Camden Yards. James Shields pitched into trouble and that was the end of that. I also realize how tough it is to be an O’s fan. I hope they make the playoffs this year.

“I don’t need THIS ONE!”

By Day 1 I was able to meet/greet most of the internet/twitter dudes I wanted to see. Hopefully I can catch the rest tomorrow. For now, a little bit of sleep.

Nanri Yuuka, when dolled up, is a little exotic actually. She’s got this natural beauty that doesn’t show up on pinup shots. But at the same time I don’t disagree with Momotato’s “type 3″ cute estimate. Not that I know what he means. When she’s just walking around the con, you would barely notice this 4’11” Japanese woman just walking around.

The Aniplex guy working with Urobuchi recognizes my script from AX, LOL. Maybe when the time is right I might donate it. I’m in that kind of mood. For that to happen more people need to watch Fate/Zero. By that I mean having it being a meaningful donation and would fetch a higher price.

This Mikako Joho girl is pretty okay.

Best part of the day that I can blog about was probably when the Baltimore Fogo had no lines, and is $30/person. A+ deal will do it again.

Otakon 2012: Day -2

Here’s the deal.

All vitals are on their website here.

There are a lot of details about Kakihara’s autograph session, the best thing to do is read Loy’s post. The key takeaway is that for both of his sessions, there will be no more than 1 hour or 100 autographs, although in times past the autograph staffers have powers to make a plea and if the guest’s management is nice enough, the autographing will extend to accommodate as reasonably possible. The booth Kakki session is with Bandai and require a purchased item for a ticket, which probably limits you to just Gundam related items for autograph. (You can find more details about that if you read the same thread.)

For everyone else, expect the usual treatment. To spell it out– be ready 90 to 75 minutes before the con autograph session time. Session will last for an hour. Same location as last year. Most likely not ticketed. Contact autograph staffer at location for specifics. For booth deals, consult specific booths for their location and time, but most likely the English-language dudes as well as Aipon, Butch, and Kakki (as mentioned before).

Bandai Visual has outed some guests and autograph session details besides what Loy has posted publicly. That includes a Sasaki Shin autograph session at their booth Friday at 6pm,with Sinterniklaas. Sinterniklaas also will have a session Sunday at 11. I’m going to assume they are signing official goods only at their booth, and will have freebies to provide if you don’t have something.

I haven’t read anything from NISA about Otakon specifically, in terms of what they have in store for the con. I guess that’ll be on their agenda hopefully before Wednesday’s out. On that note, I looked for NISA on the dealer room listing, and I didn’t see it. This probably means they won’t have a real booth, and may sell through another retailer at the con. It may also mean they will just do their ninja stuff for the two panels they have Saturday and be done with it. I don’t know, they haven’t said anything to any degree and it doesn’t look like they need to. Maybe they still will.

Aniplex is fronting the Madoka guests, and their panel time and detail can be found on their calendar/website. To summarize, there is one booth session for Nonaka at 3:30 Saturday and another booth session for Urobuchi at 5 on Saturday. Both require a ticket, which comes with purchase. And, yeah, that means you have to buy Madoka BD/DVD for Aipon and Madoka BD/DVD or Fate/Zero BD for Butch. Hah. I’m going to say that at the con, they might have more things to sell that may come with tickets, or they may be giving tickets to people who do certain things at their panels and booth shows (like they usually do). But a copy of Madoka on DVD is not ridiculously expensive.

Unfortunately, that second Aipon session lands right smack in the middle of the Maruyama panel I wanted to go to, and may cut into the Hirano panel. Bah, I might go anyway if by that time I am “satisfied.”

Funimation isn’t doing anything special that isn’t handled by the con. They are doing the usual con-special bonus item stuff, including leftover Panty Stocking stuff, but new with One Piece bonus items and something for Steins;Gate? Nothing looking very interesting. No more Fractale bonus items, I see. Which means losing that $60 plastic bag at AX kinda sucks… [Totally side note, while looking for some Lost & Found function at AX, I came across this, the guy who bought the Takeuchi sketch from Otakon 2011 (at a low price to boot). He also had the “high score” at this year’s AX auction.]

The Matsuri would be a good way to kill time. It’s located in the First Mariner Arena parking deck. I don’t know how that works, but given the ~100 degree weather you might be experiencing on Thursday, it would be more preferable than out in the open. Kind of interested in Hsu-nami but blargh.

There’s some details on the charity auction already, but hopefully it will pile on with the donations from the attending industry and guests. Will the East Cost wota gang continue their quest for full concert wardrobes? Aya Hirano probably won’t have the time to donate her sweat-drenched gear given the timing, so too bad! If a certain somebody’s mannequin had a head, he could buy, say, Aipon’s hat?

I wonder if I will have time to make it worth the while of carrying around a copy of Tanto Cuore. Speaking of maids, maybe the Maid Cafe is worth a visit, to just go and chill. It could be a more baller location, even with the $10 cover charge. Well, I’ll think about it. The karaoke room/Otacafe is always a good fallback.

Lastly, there’s going to be an Otakon…video game. I don’t even.

Personally, my schedule is not set. I have at least one commitment and probably two that I have to go to that isn’t set in stone. Most likely I will try to catch a game Thursday, get some nice dinner on Friday, hang out at the late-night panels Friday and Saturday, and hit Aya Hirano’s show. For loot, I really want at least get Butch to sign my AX loot, and get my Manabi Straight DVD set up to 3/5. I did buy the blu-ray and that shipped last night. The odds of me getting it by tomorrow is pretty slim but I should be fine without it. I would be elated to just set eyes on Nanrietta, to be honest. Autograph is a bonus.

Hope to see you there! James Shields is pitching Thursday, which means that I would have seen every one of their quality starter in the past few years, which is amazing–just how many games did I go see in the past few years? Not very many at all. But what I do not want is an extra-innings affair when it’s going to be like 99F outside. Speaking of hot and humid weather, that’s something Ichiro now has to live with, huh?

[Updated: NISA newsletter]

There will be a “special anime announcement” at NISA’s anime panel. I guess it can’t hurt to check it out. Saturday 9am! Plus the usual giveaways, I’m going to assume.