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one world, one anime. . .


we tend to think of gainax as an innovator. . .


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 no jijo.

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 parties.

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.

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