Tuesday, May 5

Anime bubble burst, Japan's softpower under threat?

From my friend and Sankaku, apparently the thing I have been fearing has happened; the burst of anime bubble which peaked at 2006 (The year of Haruhi Suzumiya). These 2 focused on moe retardation responsible for stagnation of anime storytelling, making anime genre becoming stale as too many predictable and generic animes (Akikan? Asu no Yoichi? Sekirei?) There is only so much harem school girl moe anime one can take before become jaded with the genre. To some extent but not all malaise of anime industry today can be attributed to this.

One just have to look at Kannagi which recently concluded and we can see how moe has distorted and blocked proper storytelling. One sacred rule of moe is purity of essence aka virginity. Woe on those who break this rule, unreasonable fans will rage and punish an otherwise well told story. How to blame studios not to deviate from this formula then? It takes 2 to clap. Kannagi is an interesting example of what I think is good story tries to combine with moe appeal but ends up paying the price since these 2 are incompatible concepts to go along. I know this is a rather controversial view but this is how I see it.

My friend put this as case of point:

"And you can also see this trend with well established titles such as the Sunrise’s Gundam franchise or Tatsunoko’s Macross. Macross Frontier was for me a crappy attempt to cash in on the Macross fame, whereas the old one was an epic space opera followed by hard hitting drama (Zero). Frontier was generic shounen shit with only good soundtrack saving it from being the most shittiest franchise ever created (thankfully for Frontier Macross already had 7 to take that title). Gundam was always the same since Turn A, with only Wing and the first season of Double O having a storyline that can be considered to be able to stand by itself."

Amen to that, brother.

Asahi Shimbun, leading newspaper of Japan also points out that digital fansubbing hurt the industry bad especially overseas. The recent initiative by TV Tokyo and GONZO for example to have simulcast in US and Japan is a backhand acknowledgment on success of fansubbers denting their profit, before this they couldn't give a damn about fansubbers. This have generated positive results, the studios are more aware and move quickly to broadcast quality episodes using streaming etc to combat fansubbing. However is this too late?

Statistically, 308 series were churned out in 2006 represents the peak to 288 in 2008. In same time period 1st quarter of 2009 have 30 series out as compared to 60 in 2006. It is grim situation as more and more studios feel the pinch of economy gloom. One case example is Vallkyria Chornicles animation quality is not so stellar as compared to Tales of Abyss despite being funded by SEGA (they in trouble too). It is symptom of what I believe is lack of $$$ to pay for animation due to current economy pressures.


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