Is it naive to try to engage w/ individual fans to ask nicely to support official release/ask what industry could do to get their business?
— jenniFFFUUUUUUUUUUU (@jennifuu) October 10, 2012
Over on Twitter, this question was asked and at the time I felt like I wanted to give an answer. I think it might not be the smartest of things but given that I’ve been killing aliens in my spare time and thus running on fumes in terms of Z’s, I made some sense at least.
@jennifuu it’s not, but it’s thankless and tiresome work. and it has happened before. but more has to do with motivation than per se value.
— omo (@omonomono) October 10, 2012
In short, it’s kind of naive. Mainly because for the longest time, the industry was fans. Things like Otaku no Video exists for a reason. The nature of otaku-targeted anime is extremely cyclic–between fans and creators–and it runs on short cycles. Only a few years ago we just started talking about Chuunibyou (the term was coined not even 5 years ago if I recall correctly) and there’s already an anime where that is the subject today. There are countless examples where creators take notice of what others have created and create something in response, in spirit of someone who appreciates that body of work.
That extends to the industry. Just to focus on the US scene (as it was my context) in this post, the original “industry” here were all because they were fans. Enterprising folks, they were, and there were enterprising Japanese folks who worked in the same, but the scene only exist because we were all fans. And this goes from all aspects of the industry–from people who run cons to people who runs Rightstuf to the dude who remastered Macross. So I think it’s sort of the fundamental baseline we have to work from.
Of course, the history lesson is not common knowledge. People who download anime just so they watch it probably could care less. Still, they are as much of a part of the dialog about industry and fandom as even the biggest fan who is now working for FUNimation or whatever. Or at least, in a perfectly democratic dialog where people value opinions on the basis of their merits, that should be the case.
@jennifuu It doesn’t takes a genius to figure out what fans want. The motivation is to build rapport so fans will support your experiments.
— omo (@omonomono) October 10, 2012
And I’ve implied to this already: it’s easy to know what fans want. We’ve been serving it to ourselves for the longest time. Just ask some huge fans and big-time consumers what they want–these people are the greediest, lack of a better word–they want the most. And of course, ask the masses of people who don’t really want very much, the types that are only watching a show a season (if that). Because even as hardcore fans, we value their opinions–lest we be unnecessarily elitist. I think a key aspect of dialog between fan and industry is to recognize this–we don’t want to exclude anyone, unless, you know, they are not doing it on good faith.
So how do you tell if they’re doing it on good faith? Because we’ve been doing it already. And this goes beyond free, 0-day (simulcasts that are…simulcasts), subs (perhaps multiple varieties), dubs for later, Blu-ray and DVD, streaming and DTO, and playable on phones and tablets, and home theater extensions (HTPC, Xbox/PS3, Roku/Apple TV etc). We also want merch. Like a Daru figure to go with this Part-time Soldier from Alter. Cospa T-shirts in American sizes (this is why I’m fat) that is less than $40. And paying less than $10 per month for all my anime streaming needs. I’m sure you can add to this list.
Well that is probably just the starting point but you can see it’s easy to list a bunch of very difficult things to achieve. Some might even be impossible, but I’m an optimist. Some, on the other hand, are easy. And to be fair if you dig deep into a lot of these demands, they aren’t so impossible on the surface.
@jennifuu because the bottom line is to show that you want to get what they want, and will at least meet beyond half way.
— omo (@omonomono) October 10, 2012
Truth is, if people come into this sort of dialog with good faith, telling the fans how it is, they will understand how it is. To me, words like “support the creator” are just code for words they’re too embarassed to talk about: this stuff cost money and it has to come from somewhere. And it’s the diplomatic thing to say. I think we all realize some money needs to go to the people providing the service, if we’re going to hold them to some kind of standard. Of course, the tradeoff is that the vendors have to stick to some kind of standard and deliver some kind of value against the ever-extending wishlist we all have.
At the same time, I think fans can obviously go overboard and make life miserable for those industry folks who do extend a welcoming hand to people who have honest opinions about the stuff they love. Lots of abuse have flew in the fansub argument or the dub/sub argument. I think it’s all kind of dumb, and perhaps even counterproductive. Actually, the whole Crunchyroll thing has been really counterproductive, but that one is a particularly difficult nut to crack and understand.
Well, that’s not so important in the big picture. To look at it differently, think about the role Crunchyroll has posited itself among people who do watch legit simulcasts. Why would anyone wish that CR simulcasted everything? It’s simple: CR has the best delivery system out of everyone by a long stretch. Its prices are fair and for the most part people have a good experience with them. But this is also a major testament to how they have changed the way people think and how their business model (compete with piracy) has really gotten them somewhere.
And it’s in the space of our collective wishlists that companies (anime or otherwise) have to exert themselves. Five years ago nobody would’ve wished that they can watch all their new shows on Crunchyroll, but people still wanted “0-day fansubs” today as much as they did back then. There are plenty of people who would buy their anime because FUNimation is releasing it, versus Sentai or Media Blaster or whoever, because they trust and like the brand and the way they localize things. In my mind, it’s exactly in those areas where industry has to be, either by words or by action (probably both) in order to add value to our self-sufficient fandom.
TL;DR: fans need to respect the industry’s value. Industry need to respect fandom’s resourcefulness to be self-sufficient. This is the motivation. If your motives are not encompassing or compatible, well, best of luck.
It’s better to think of it as opportunities than some kind of obligation, as there were fans long before there was the R1 industry. Typically demand exists before supply; mother of invention is you-can-fill-in-the-blank. Fans and industry are oddly and ironically, not beholden to each other, but are independently better off if they work together. If your company’s profile does not fit as an entity who adds value to fandom and rather as some kind of gatekeeper to what people want, then you shouldn’t expect people to like you, and you probably should expect your revenue stream to be, as Jeff Bezos would say, disrupted. Maybe it’ll take decades, maybe it’ll take months, but it’ll happen.
So, actually, yes, it doesn’t take a genius to know what fans want. It takes a lot more than a genius to know what fans don’t even know what they want, and bring it to them.