Monthly Archives: October 2017

Streaming Business, Autumn 2017

I remember supporting Crunchyroll when it turned legit in 2009 and started to charge a subscription. Now, it’s the incumbent, to answer the irony-note. There is nothing incumbent to Daisuki–it’s a new venture by a bunch of Japanese companies to try to stream internationally. Crunchy beats them by like, what, 4 years? A …decade (lol) by internet streaming time. Not that it really matters.

When Funi sold to Sony for ~150M USD it was a sign that CR is worth a lot more than that. Maybe $250M? When Chernin bought half of the company in 2013 it was valuing CR at about $100M, and today Chernin’s company owns about 80% share of the Crunch. It’s really hard to say how much more it is today in exact terms. Part of the reason is because not only we are long in the era of Warring Idols, we are squarely in the heat of combat during the era of Warring Streaming Services. Netflix’s random number drop here is a stake in the ground. This explains a major reason why Daisuki is going away–why would the production companies like Bandai Namco, several who are likely serving as middleware for Netflix and other foreign interests, compete with their customers? 30 anime is a lot of work that probably will go very far as far as engaging production pipelines largely controlled by the same o’ stakeholders that has been pumping out the animes that we know of since the late 90s. Plus, more competition will make Daisuki more difficult of a proposition when its owners may be better served with more “remotely-local” money participating, as it always is the case of doing business in a foreign country. By that I mean, why would Japan spend the extra effort and extra money courting Americans (or other foreigners) when American companies can spend that extra stuff courting Japanese licensors and production companies?

So, then, Netflix. Netflix is flexing this muscle because 1) they’re in a hurry for attractive original content and 2) they’re newcomer in the anime space, yet they have a major leg up over the other American competitors like Disney or Amazon. Anime, after all, is cheap, and its cheapness is possibly the strongest suit about this type of media. I can’t imagine how many live-action American Netflix Originals $8B can get them, maybe 10? 15 tops?So yes, Author is right, the incumbent will slap Daisuki, Crunchyroll and every anime-specific simulcast service in the world silly with $8 Billion. Why did FUNi and CR merge their streaming effort? Gotta hunker down when giants roam your town, I guess.

Crunchyroll is the incumbent in this space. It has some strong competition, but more because streaming giants are going further to reap margins and build walls to protect their revenues. Daisuki serves its masters more by folding and having CR do their deeds, or whoever else is paying more. Anime is just a growingly important area that has long been neglected. You can kind of tell that when big guns start to target the smaller fries, the market is maturing as margins thins enough so deeper niches are being courted, because now they make economic sense.

It’s worth taking a moment to also think about why Sony bought Funimation. Their FAQ explains a lot, but it’s basically because everyone wants a pie in the Streaming Wars. Sony’s stakes in the ground begins probably with Playstation Vue, and extend to their on-demand offering like Crackle and whatever you see in the Playstation Store. More importantly the rest of the world is fertile battlegrounds, where Netflix’s anime streaming worldwide will clash with licensed content from the usual folks, including Sony, eventually armed with a bunch of FUNi stuff. It’s been 9 years since I watched Xam’d on PS3. God damn.

Anime Weekend Atlanta 2017: Wrap

AWA came and went. I was in the middle of another “eventing sprint” so to speak, this time things felt rather last-minute. In August I did 2 weekends back to back: Anirevo in Vancouver, then Otakon, and after one more gap weekend I went to Anisama (didn’t want to make Animefest to become a 4-in-a-row). In September I attended a nerd wedding (which I guess isn’t so bad other than for sleep) and related stuff, AWA, and Hotch Potch Festival in Japan the week after. In other words, I was dying. So dead, I wasn’t able to finish this post until well after Hotch Potch.

Main interests at AWA this year was Luna Haruna, Bless4, and Ueda Kana. Bonus was Daoko and being to catch some miscellaneous guests like Takahashi Taku, Hanafugetsu, the Strike Witches guys, and the veteran Naruto seiyuu folks. I whiffed completely on the last group, but I already saw two of them before at other cons. Also, it’s always nice to hang out with other folks and see some new people.

This post is gonna be brief, because I forgot a lot of the finer details to bemuse on.

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Anime-Gataris Is BBT

I watched 3 episodes of Anime-Gataris. It reminds me of anitwitter in that it has all these really low level takes. Unlike anitwitter it wasn’t funny or even occasionally insightful, or all that updated–tons of old takes. What I find more troubling in Anime-Gataris is that it lacks the double layer of awareness that I am coming to expect of my meta anime in 2017. Imoto Sae is a good example of what Anime-Gataris is not, for a recent example.

The result, I don’t know if it’s fair to say, is that Anime-Gataris reminds me a lot of the Big Bang Theory. A character and situational driven comedy poised to drop bombs on nerdy references…is exactly what both are. The problem is the jokes and references are fine and well and good in Anime-Gataris, but I’m not sure if it’s for an audience that really wants to get all the jokes. To use an example, it’s like how Garnidelia’s Aikotoba has a space in it on ANN’s listing of Anime-Gataris, and not a no-space or even a dash. (Do you get what I’m trying to say by this meta joke?) If it was proper anitwitter, “A~I~Ko~To~Ba” or something just a little more ~woke~.

The problem at a glance with Anime-Gataris, and other shows like it, is that they are the sort of despised creatures of the 00s in that mid-Azuma, database creation space. I think on a certain level I’m intrigued to see that “character X is supernerd into [vertical Y] and character Z plays the outsider getting in” template is applied to actual anime and not as a derivative work, because that’s how everyone outside of Japan sees things. [Which leads to a bunch of thoughts in my head about oversea fan-catering-isms, but that’s besides the point.] We’ve had enough of this with games, cosplay, Akiba culture, idols, whatever. Finally one on actually anime as disposable entertainment.

Anime otaku is really an underground and hardcore breed of otaku in Japan, ultimately. There are a lot of “poser-likes” who are aware of the meta but don’t play, to use a CCG metaphor. The type of people who watches 10+ shows a season over the span of a few years (minimum) is what makes up real anime otaku I think. Except I think there are more people who don’t watch that many anime and know what’s up, than those who do.

Maybe in 2017 it’s time to have another show like this (yes, it’s novel), in this way (no, it’s tried and tired). Like at this point I don’t even care for its curious, gloves-on references to other properties (such as..Dub Tones? Or whatever Love Live is). It just feels like a by-the-committee effort to milk actual anime otaku, in that flat kind of way that I know oversea nerds like. Of course, this is also counting on Anime-Gataris to carry out its plan to develop its characters as usual and provide some compelling hijinks, but until it makes an IDOLM@STER reference, all it’s doing is saying the things I’ve been hearing people say for the last 20 years.

I guess I judge this kind of things on actual merits, not on superficial performances. So while I will observe Anime-Gataris from afar, I’d suggest people actually go watch all the shows referenced in Anime-Gataris first before watching Anime-Gataris. You are guaranteed to spend your time better that way.

Some Thoughts on the “FairyTale Ja Irarenai” Event

I went on Reddit looking for a fight and caught a fish who didn’t know any better. So let me summarize the finding in more precise terms. And also some thoughts.

  1. The new ranking event forces everyone to play the same way, with some options:
    1. You can pick your Stamina use, 2M, 4M, 6M, MM. (15/20/25/30)
    2. On the next page you can pick from two songs (one is “recommended” and gives slightly more points, see below), or a job;
      • And also, alternatively, the event song. Which uses no Stamina but song tokens and doesn’t count as one of the 5-things.
  2. You do 5 non-event-song things with Stamina and you get 1 event song token (max 99 stored)
    • Each of those things also give some amount of event points.
    • The amount of event score those 5 things give you correlates to Stamina used. More Stamina you use, more points you get per type of thing.
      • Job gets you about half the points as the recommended song for the same Stamina tier.
  3. The lower Stamina you spend to get finish those 5 things, the less Stamina per token you can get.
  4. Since event songs give the most score for the event, it is most efficient to do the lowest Stamina things over doing higher Stamina things, because you end up with more event song tokens with the same Stamina spend.
    • But of course, it also means playing for longer to get the same amount of points as someone spending more Stamina.
  5. People who don’t spend money on stamina or has a cap and need to maximize mileage, should play with minimal Stamina per 5 things.
    • Because you get more points overall since playing the event song gives you a lot of points
  6. People who have unlimited spend or limited time to play that they can’t use up their budget/Stamina store and need to maximize score at all cost, should play with max Stamina per 5-things.
    • The event song also rewards players who do the higher stamina 5-things, but not enough to cancel out just grinding with the lowest stamina and then play the event song.

I basically spelled out point #6 on Reddit and one person refuses to get it, because the realization that you get more points with the lowest setting stops them from realizing that this event is about max event score, not max efficiency. In other words, time is a limited resource for everyone, Stamina is not limited in the same way for rankers and whales.

Ultimately a hybrid strategy is ideal for people who want to achieve a high rank in this event; the score scale has changed from a standard “play songs normally, or crunch gems to P2W, whoever does the one or the other thing the most time wins” to “play songs normally…and optionally spend gems to get more points per period of time, and somehow someone wins?” The scaling swings towards people who can play the event song the most number of times, rather than the limits of the event token that you can get. It opens two doors for whales; you can grind 75 stamina or 150 stamina, the latter gives a modest advantage only (maybe 50% more points for 100% stamina), but it closes the door on them in that the overall time it takes is not drastically reduced unlike the jewel crunch method for the other type of ranking event.

There’s a calculus problem hiding in here.

My gut feeling is that much like the pay-to-lose style of grind that characterizes Greemas Million Live battle ranking events, pay-to-win jewel crunch for the typical PST event is too easy. You can grind in a couple hours enough points for the 5000th place tier, and that’s probably impossible for this event given how things are working out 2 days in.

The meta models is pretty easy to understand. Instead of calculating the best efficiency, it’s about predicting player behavior and figuring out how to one-up other players, in a competitive ranking event. So you do still need to understand efficiency, but the psychological barrier preventing people from spending or taking a less efficient route necessary means the group of players who do not have that Greemas 1200th place ranking mentality will have narrow score groupings, because you would do the max efficiency model. People who want to tier 2 will figure things out early and abandon that to go full throttle, or try to see if they can extend that efficiency to higher scoring tiers.

I sort of like this particular change they’ve done to the meta, but at the same time, it’s an outright nerf to P2W so it’s more P2L–in that the trap is both you could be spending your time grinding 2M and getting fewer points than your ranking competition, or you could be blowing cash and achieving fewer points than someone who has more time and is steadfast. Pegging the amount of play you do with the final score by requiring the # of tokens to be fixed and unattached to the ticket system is both good and painful, I guess.

At least, if anything, there are more options to victory in this event, and equally options to screwing yourself over. That is an overall improvement, I guess.

Eventer Police Meta

I think it’s generally expected that people behave like sensible, mature adults. But I don’t know if that is always the best course of action or the most interesting thing to do in all cases. More importantly, it’s not a realistic expectation.

I’m just going to sound off on this post a bit. Please read it if you haven’t yet.

Of the online reaction to “yakkai” this past week as a result of people complaining over little things there are a lot of things I personally reacted to, or found noteworthy.

  • Police exists in EN Love Live community. I want to know how it started, what people felt had to happen, etc. I don’t really keep tabs on the Japan side of things for Love Live, but I think the JP LL Police types have a hard time. Doubly so for oversea LL Police types? But wait, why does oversea LL Police even exist?
  • People don’t even know what yakkai is but they’re using the term, which I think is why Rop posted the second post partly.
  • It’s not a 1% of anything is trash kind of thing. It’s about leadership and fostering maturity within the fandom I think. Yes, there will always be some bad apples and the whine will always be highly visible, but there are still some “good” and “bad” fandoms, and what separate them is not statistics, but people investing into their community in a positive and mature way.
  • People don’t even know the context of things. Rop’s post gives a continuum, but I think it’s only really applicable for Japan. It’s not the case over in the USA at least–most people, after all, have not been eventing in Japan, so it would be pretty hard to explain to people how it works conceptually this way. More importantly, there are a lot of layers (not inclusive list)–
    • Live is not the same as a live viewing. Watching something in a movie theater necessarily mean you can’t do certain things you could in the live, and you could certain things you can’t in the live.
    • There’s a big picture fandom perspective that, obviously, some people don’t care about. Like, it’s fine to ietaiger, it’s not going to hurt anyone. But it’s not good to do things I mentioned in this post, that I saw people do at my LL2nd viewing. It’s not just dangerous, but that level of “bothersome behavior [TL Note: Yakkai]” causes problem for the management, not just other attendees. It’s not about presenting the fandom as good or uniform, but you don’t want to cause problems to the organizers, if you want them to keep doing live screenings?
    • Should fans from different countries and cultures behave the same as Japanese fans anyway? I don’t think it has to be like that.

To me, I don’t/can’t really talk about this without taking about it in the meta as well. So one meta here is that Rop is kind of a police type, if you didn’t know him and just read the 2 blog posts he wrote. It’s a pretty clear bias. It’s not a problem or an issue–he currently resides in Japan and Japanese society is rather police-like overall already, so it is only expected to hear him take a more harmonious view. I think however that is something of a lowest-common-denominator kind of approach to this.

Appealing to authority and making artists sad are also things I don’t really care for in the general context–these are things that Rop build his arguments on, at some level. The consumption of art is personal ultimately. Sure, fans should behave like, well, mature and sensible adults. But from an individualist view, I don’t really think it’s a big deal to cause a ruckus. That’s like the foundation of live performances for some scenes. Of course, it’s as Rop describes, it’s a spectrum. Even in America people need to not KY, but at the same time the level of forgiveness is a lot higher, the tolerance for violence is higher, and these kinds of things don’t “ruin” fandoms and people over here as easily.

I think it’s also a lot simpler than that. Manipulating fandom is easier when the artist gets involved, and if you need to keep fans within lines, that’s one way to do it. I think Anisama in 2017 sort of tried to do it their own way, and while it might be hamfisted (the initial rules they put out caused some online complaints), the method employed suggests they respect the attendee’s freedom to house tiger or do things along those lines. From a management perspective, they want to crack down on the craziest fans and the people who go too deep into the meta, by heading them off before things cross the line into the totally-unacceptable.

Speaking of which, Anisama, for those people who’d play the yakkai game, is its own game for “creative” expressions. What Rop’s informative posts don’t explain are some of the context behind the behavior–why do people run around during Days of Dash? Because it’s Anisama and it’s pretty awesome, the song works with it. And it’s one of those things people end up doing at anikura/wotagei events subsequently, thanks to Anisama. Anisama’s yakkai stuff, sometimes, is what I’d call clearly right and proper side of things. It is its own game, even if it breaks the rules (spoken and unspoken) sometimes.

Of course, you shouldn’t do all of these, to an extent, because the purpose of Anisama is the performers and the live, but performance art is both for artists and audiences, and I think any pro musician has to respect this on some level. Personally I think it’s okay to be yakkai if it will lead to a net positive outcome, so take that as you will. (This applies not just to concerts, but life in general, don’t you think?)

A good example of what I mean is touching the performer–it’s okay to try to high-five them as they walk past, but don’t make it an opt-out instead of an opt-in, if you know what I mean. Which, I guess, goes to why a lowest-common-denominator approach is sensible–because you can’t expect wotas to not be KY and follow common sense and be mature, etc. The online responses of some folks as a fallout of the Love Live 2nd viewing doesn’t do a lot to prove that stereotype wrong.

Which is just to say, the damage of house tiger is way less than the people reacting to yakkai. It is kind of silly to blow it up online, since the perceived damage, to me, is much worse than just some people yelling during a live viewing. I mean here is Rop, a guy in Japan and didn’t go to any of the viewings in North America, telling how some eventers should to behave, only because you made a ruckus online? LOL. I do appreciate his educational posts but at the same time, like my posts, they’re more for people who probably don’t need to read them in order to feel persuaded to make an attitude change. Ultimately, it takes a level of maturity and sense of responsibility, as well as a degree of not being too KY. These are not qualities that a person can be “persuaded” into having. You are either one of those kind of people, or not. Hopefully Father Time will give you a good teaching as you get older if you are not already one of those people.

PS. It’s totally OK to wave non-penlights/towels at Anisama. I waved a banana for Angela at Anisama, during Aho Girl’s Zenryoku Summer, because they did it in the PV and used it as a cyalume. And I saw at least 3 other folks who did too (out of possibly thousands). Use your judgment–it shouldn’t be that hard.