This new year marks quite a few leaps for anime, such as more titles getting a streaming license right alongside their Japanese debut, such as Guilty Crown and Last Exile -Fam, the Silver Wing. But not everyone is smiling this New Year’s and in Bandai’s case the change is more negative.
Bandai Entertainment has just released news that they will no longer be distributing anime dvds or manga titles in the US and everything that was licensed before will soon be dropped. Instead, they plan on focusing more on downloadable content. For fans, this boils down to two options. 1) Buy physical content now. 2) Buy downloadable only content later (assuming you even can as some titles might be permanently dropped and up for grabs by second-hand distributors).
If course, this development has re-opened the old piracy debate (which frankly shouldn’t even be a debate). Although everyone agrees that there are more factors involved, fans are hard pressed to deny that piracy is a big factor. After all, some laughed it off when Geneon went under, but when ADV films followed suit the laughter died. The issue is far from comical now that a large company, previously thought of as “untouchable,” has stumbled.
As far as I’m concerned, piracy has always been wrong. The argument of “not having money” has never flown with me because I worked my small 10 year old butt off for VHS titles with only two episodes a piece (dub only). And I was proud of that accomplishment. I was proud that my money went to help the people who made the show I loved. Now, entire series can be had (dub and sub) for the same price I would pay for only 4 episodes back in the day. That’s a HUGE jump! And a blessing too. Anime is far cheaper now than it has been in the past. If I could raise money as a kid, I know my fellow anime fans can raise money now, although it might mean not getting anything at Starbucks for awhile or cutting back on their cell phone usage.
That leaves just one last argument. “But I like obscure shows that don’t get licensed!”
Here’s an analogy to help: You go with a group of friends to this huge candy shop. There are hundreds of different kinds of sweets. Then one person starts to freak out because they don’t the the exact kind of chocolate bar he likes. Really? There are hundreds of candies to choose from, various kinds of chocolate too. What’s the deal? Yet many anime fans today do this same thing, ignoring hundreds of licensed shows for the sake of a few that aren’t. Why not simply ask the companies to license them, getting some other people that expect it to do the same? You can send links of the Japanese trailers around, that’s legal and will help a fan base. And, hey, if it’s not licensed, why not check out all that stuff that’s already there? You just might find something else you like just as much, if not more.
Bottom line: Being able to watch anime is not a right, it is a privilege.
For more information on Bandai’s situation, check out Anime News Network’s article or voice actor Kyle Hebert’s video below.