the legendary company that defined the otaku nature with otaku
no video, destroyed the mecha genre with neon genesis evangelion,
introduced completely new styles of animation with kareshi kanojo
their newest series, furikuri (FLCL for short), is groundbreaking
in a completely new way. . . the first volume costs 2700 yen, and
the subsequent volumes are 3700 FLCL's first disc costs about 100
yen per minute, about one dollar. starting with the second disc,
the prices go up, but the discs include english subtitles. (never
mind the all-digital animation! this is marketing!)
technically, of course, star child manufactures and sells the discs,
and yet i credit gainax throughout this article because it is their
discs that are translated.
gainax begs the question: what function do u.s. distributors have?
given that japanese companies are capable of translating their own
products, given that companies like sega, movic, king records, and
bandai are already multinationals with close ties to the u.s. market,
what value do ADV, manga entertainment, etc. provide?
from gainax's point of view, it makes no difference where the anime
they create is sold. gainax is only a studio. they have no distribution
arm. thus it is sound and rational for them to attempt to unify
global distribution of their discs, and avoid dealing with third
after all, japanese companies have been trying to deal for years
now with a stagnant economy. the prices of tapes, lds, and dvds
are all approximately the same,and all artificially held at about
three times what the american consumer expects to pay. anime in
past years has more and more succumbed to the mass-market, lowest
common denominator style of thinking that plagues american mass
media. the current climate does not foster innovation.
expansion into the english-speaking market represents one of the
most attractive methods of maintaining profitability. rising license
fees, faster acquisitions by american companies, and bandai's animevillage
spinoff all reflect this.
gainax brings it a step further, a step closer to eventually unifying
american and japanese releases. as an otaku, it would be wonderful
if i could buy the japanese dvd on amazon.com, put it into any dvd
player anywhere in the world, and watch it with english subtitles
and the original japanese audio track. wonderful not just for me,
but for production studios currently afraid of innovation, for the
sake of the razor-thin profit margin that keeps them alive.
and i think gainax agrees.
[ this article continues ]