This is the first post in (hopefully) a set of posts about this past year in the world of anime. I plan to do at least another post on my personal favorite anime from 2007. So for now enjoy this first post on the major news stories of 2007.
So thinking back at the 2007 anime news stories, I wanted to pick out news stories from both Japan and North America that had an affect on anime in the States. I tried to list these more as major news themes than individual stories. So here are the top five anime stories of 2007 that I came up with:
5. Government Involvement in Anime
Both the Japanese and American governments have done things that may affect anime in the future. The American government has increasingly focused their attention to the regulation of child pornography which may lead to possible increased censorship of anime. On the Japanese side, the Japanese government has been particularly active with anime this year. The government is open to actively promoting anime as a cultural export which has also seen some criticism in a major American publication. Yet promotion also comes with some policy as the government looks to possible censorship because of poll and asks the American government to stop the distribution of illegal animation online. Along with this, the Japanese government also is looking into realizing “Gundam”.
Seriously Japan. You know that if you don’t get there first, the North American Colonial Army of Britannia (*cough*United States*cough*) will flatten Tokyo with their Knightmare (*cough*George Bush Class*cough*) frames.
I was kinda expecting this since anime is slowly growing into American culture in the States. However, I wasn’t expecting the Japanese government to be this slow on the 8-ball with culture promotion and censorship. Though quite a major topic, government policies always feel like alot of talk than actual action. Although, making real Gundams would be quite awesome.
4. Anime Mishaps
There was an unusually high amount of anime mishaps this past year. The types of mishaps varied from executive staff firings, broadcast issues, censorship and episode preempts/reschedulings. The most infamous of these (whether it was coincidental or intentional, let the conspiracy theorists decide) was the “Nice Boat” incident relating to the preempting of the last episode of TV animation of School Days. This list posted by Shingo at Heisei Democracy gives a good overview to all of the mishaps in anime over the past 12 months.
About “Nice Boat,” I feel like that the producers used “axe-tan’s” murder for profit and had this entirely scripted out. I don’t have much to say about the other mishaps except that it is very unusual to see so many production mistakes in 2007 compared with previous years. It made my wait for the last two episodes of Code Geass pretty long.
3. Anime Expo 2007
Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the United States, held arguably the most-anticipated well-hyped anime events in American anime convention history: The SOS Brigade Invasion Tour. The complete event set that weekend included a Q&A, concert and signing with the three main female seiyu from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Aya Hirano, Yuko Gotou and Minori Chihara. However, the concert was delayed by two hours and had plenty of technical glitches. All the SOS Brigade events had large lines and many weren’t able to get in. In fact the theme of delays, technical glitches and long lines resonated throughout the weekend. Poor management was not only cited by angry congoers though blogs and forums but also through the annoyed Japanese guest Halko Momoi in her blog. Though she later apologized. Convention organizers did hire a third party company to deal with the problem of long lines with registration for AX 2008.
Ah yes… the complete anime convention experience… dealers, cosplay and the occasional trap…
As an anime fan on the east coast who has never been to AX or Otakon, it is really depressing to hear this kind of story. It doesn’t reflect well as anime fans to Japan that the largest anime convention in the States with 10+ years of experience repeatedly commits the same problems which pisses off congoers and now Japanese guests. With many other conventions growing, AX really needs to step up if they actually want new guests and fans to go to their convention.
2. Anime Fansubs & The State of the Anime Industry
One of the longest running active arguments has gotten more and more heated. One of the first moves occured when the Singapore anime distribution company Odex began going after fansub downloaders. This reached international attention when non-Singaporeans received Odex warning notices and the Odex website being hacked. The debate got further fueled when GDH Int’l head Arthur Smith used the “stealing” iPhones analogy for illegal anime downloading. Since Smith’s comments the anime community exploded with opinions on the state of the anime industry including one notable open letter from ANN.
Up until ICv2 published their white paper recently (in the ICv2 conference before the NYAF), I never really like to talk much about this topic since there is not much in public financial data. Even with the white paper, I think it is very hard for an anime fan to really gauge the industry unless you are an insider. Putting on my business/investment hat, I believe that there will be more consolidation in the industry either by way of less DVDs produced, less licensed titles or less American distributors. There is still too much of a product (the high priced anime DVD) saturating the current market. Many others have expressed their solutions so I’m not going to suggest any here. All I will say is that companies really need to get their act together.
1. The Fall of Geneon USA
On September 28th, Geneon Entertainment USA stopped distribution of their anime DVDs to retailers. This was the direct result of Geneon and ADV Films’ failure to come to a distribution deal. The decision to leave the anime distribution business was highly influenced by Geneon laying off their sales & marketing department in preparation for the would-have-been deal with ADV and Geneon’s parent company Dentsu losing its investment partner. In the end, the North American anime market loses a major player, other anime distributors are looking to gather Geneon titles (which Geneon still rightfully owns) and the opinions/arguments about the state of the anime industry was brought into the spotlight once again.
Actually, anything I see in the store with this logo will get my attention now. I’m still looking to complete my Shana and Fate/Stay Night sets.
This was arguably the biggest news story to hit American anime fans in a long while. Most of us wouldn’t be talking about the state of the anime industry and fansubs if this didn’t occur. Even though I argue that Geneon mismanaged itself into oblivion, everyone is playing the blame game. I think the one major thing to take from this: There is an actual fear out there that anime can be less then what it is now if companies and fans don’t work this out together.
So what to expect from 2008? I have no idea. There is so much that has yet to happen and might very well happen in 2008. I don’t think anything that might happen in 2008 will sour my love for anime. Onward to 2008…