Note: Updated 4/12/2012 to include the link to Geekwire.com about the attendance numbers for the show we went to.
Note: Updated 5/29/2012 – official attendance numbers were 19,000 published on the Sakuracon.org web site. This shows a flat attendance for the 2012 year.
Coming off the conventions over the last two weeks, I have noticed that there are some issues with Anime and the entire Anime/Manga world become overly apparent as a dying market. The Anime convention we went to this weekend was awesomely fun, but with attendance down from last year nearly 30%, and many customers saying they “love what we see, but have no money”. I have to question the ability to make money from the Anime business because of a number of events that happened at the shows, and in talking with vendors and attendees. We had low expectations for the show we went to, and I am glad that I walked in with low expectations, but other vendors had higher expectations, and hearing them swear on the phone about a lack of sales and a lack of attendees really sunk the idea home.
The Anime world, all of the Otaku, need to stop and think about what is happening with the industry. TokyoPop and Bandai are out of the easily digitized business of books and movies. Honestly, a lot more industries are going to follow in this direction because they need to, it makes good business sense. When it is easy to rip something, the tangible value goes to nil. When you do not get paid to do something, the eco system breaks down, and the industry falls apart as is obviously apparent in Anime.
Anime does not have the staying power characters of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, or even the affiliated characters that go along with that like the Penguin, or the Joker. Characters come and go; nothing stays perennial over the months, years, or decades in the industry. There are a couple of exceptions to this, like Mario, but that started off as a video game.
However it happened, the true value of items is now “free”, regardless of how you look at scannilators, or bittorrenting, or otherwise, the industry has been devastated into a ghost town of things to buy and things to share with friends. There is a lot of Anime items that are freely available all over the internet for no cost. It is hard to pay for authors, production, distribution, and the next generation of writers when the tangible value of the items is free. If you want an awesome example of that, the tangible price per item at the show was one dollar anime books. The booth that was doing it was mobbed, while people trying to get anything near retail were pretty much so ghost towns.
Generational Gaps – parents, children, story lines are hard to share because the kids are not seeing what the parents saw, and parents are seeing items that might not be appropriate at PG-13. There were a lot of mature audience’s items at the show, which was surprising in the longer run.
Pay people to attend the show in Costume – I have never heard of the show itself paying for people to attend and show up in Cosplay. While I am aware that there are professional cosplayers, I never thought for a moment that the show itself would pay for people to attend in costume.
Lack of awesome product – all of the core issues wind up as a lack of awesome product. You see this in many markets, and you see people like Two Keys Volume 2 written by Chloe Chan and Aliena Shoemaker trying to sell their awesome trades. But the awesome product is coming from smaller groups like Yen Press, and individuals like Chloe and Aliena. There is not a lot of marketing that can go into some of these efforts, and breaking into the market is tough, even when the items are free to read on Manga Magazine.
Vendors started packing early – I have never seen a vendor start packing out early from a show ever. Unfortunately a number of vendors were so disgusted by low sales that they literally started pulling product down and boxing it hours before the show was to end. If no one is buying, why even bother to keep product up and available?
The Anime/Manga market has basically reset to where it was in 1992 according to various marketing surveys. We need a new stable of awesome product that people want, at prices that continue to feedback money into the system so that we can regrow this industry. We need another Akira, Tank Police, Pokémon, and others that have some staying power, or set a new edge into the industry. Now how to do this, without the scanners going crazy, with the product able to be multi-generational with staying power across a wide variety of markets.
If you have walked into an Anime store lately, some of the ones we have been into are becoming toy stores. Some do not even bother to stock books and movies anymore because there literally is no market for them, it’s all free, it’s all downloadable, and it is having a serious dent in the industry. What are your thoughts on saving Anime? I would love to hear them, because I know the problems, but for the life of me, I can’t work out a viable solution.
- Sakuracon 2012 Day 3 and Final Wrap Up Report (comicsforge.com)
- Sakuracon 2012 Day 1 Wrap Up (comicsforge.com)
- Sakuracon 2012 Day 2 Wrap Up (comicsforge.com)
- Nerd Rants | Where Have All The Otaku Magazines Gone? (dnextraordinaire.wordpress.com)
- ‘Bat-Manga’ Comics Created for ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’ Are the Best Thing (comicsalliance.com)
- Love Japanese Cartoons and Giving Blood? Check out Anime Boston (bostinno.com)