Picofarad #12

March 2008

The Anime Rapture Approacheth

Listen up, you otaku, you fen, and especially you Hugo voters! The end times are upon us! Great changes are roiling the world! Starting with the anime part of it...

Let me start, for those of you unfamiliar with it, by explaining the current model for worldwide anime distribution:

  1. A studio produces a show.
  2. It airs on Japanese TV.
  3. After a year or so, it gets picked up for North American distribution.
  4. After a few more months, DVD collections start to appear at an interval of one every month or two. A typical collection holds 3-4 episodes at the price of a hardcover book. A typical show runs about 26 episodes.
  5. Then repeat steps 3 and 4 for other parts of the English-speaking world, if you're lucky.

If you're very, very lucky, the show you're dying to see gets picked up by a cable network while the DVDs are being released and you can watch the whole series without such a huge financial outlay. the main source for nationwide anime in the US is Cartoon Network--or was, until just a week ago, when it axed most of its anime lineup.

You can probably guess how well this model works in our modern digital age. Into the gap between supply and demand have sprung the fansubbers, who record the shows off Japanese TV, do a fast translation, and release them online for the enjoyment of anyone feeling sufficiently entitled or desperate to watch bootlegs. there has been a lot of public pleading in recent years for these fans to stop destroying the anime industry, and some attempts at wholesale deletion of the fansubs, but the one thing everyone has come to agree on is that the only thing that will really stop this is for the industry to compete.

And now, finally, the first step is being taken. Say hallelujah to GDH (the parent company of the Gonzo studio), which will shortly start to release two new series online at YouTube, CrunchyRoll, and BOST TV, subtitled, the very same day each episode airs in Japan! the relief across anime fandom is palpable. As is the anticipation, looking forward to a future without all this endless waiting, for licenses to be acquired, for DVDs to be released, for confirmation that the licenser is actually going to release the entire series, and with it all available free!

But there's a little more than that we should look forward to. I'm thinking Hugos.

See, the sf product Hollywood is putting out now, by and large, sucks. The Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form is probably going to season 1 of Heroes this year. Yes, a season of an episodic series! Which means that anime series are eligible too. And why shouldn't they be considered? Some of them can beat the best of what the English-speaking world is producing right now.

Well, the retort to that, up until now, is that no way are you going to get most of the Hugo voters to fork over well over $100 to evaluate just one series, let alone get a sense of all the shows eligible that year. (Remember, the series is only eligible for an award for the year it's released, so you can't wait for the discount thinpak set.) But if it's free? Available online? At any time of the day or night?

GDH is releasing The Tower of Druaga (billed as a parody of adventure game clichés) starting April 4th, and Blassreiter (man vs. demons) starting April 5th. We can't count on these turning out to be top-quality, of course, so we need to make sure all the good stuff winds up being released this way by showing the world that we will turn out in huge numbers for this sort of thing. Mark your calendars, set your clocks, and be ready to witness, brothers and sisters! Amen!

Next: Scintillations

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