Due Diligence

In Japan, where the concept was first invented, they were called the Money Tigers. In Finland they are the Lions. In Israel, the Sharks. We call them the Dragons, and their job is to audit the plans of would-be entrepreneurs in the Dragons’ Den. If Judge Judy isn’t on, I’m there, watching the way they pierce to the heart of bad ideas. And sometimes, for fun, I imagine what it would be like if someone tried to attract the Dragons to invest in the anime industry.

Gruff Scotsman: So these Japanese cartoons, are they big in Japan? How big? Right, I see, so the kiddie programs are watched by kids, but you want to sell them on DVD? How do little children buy a DVD? Oh, so you actually want to sell anime for an older audience than that… teenagers? Do the teenage shows have the same ratings? They don’t? They’re often shown at two in the morning when only security guards and insomniacs are watching? And you call that “big in Japan”? I’m out.

Scowling Blonde: So how do people know about these cartoons? The intarwebs? You can see them online? Oh, you can download them illegally. How much does that cost? Nothing? And how much do you want to charge for your DVDs? Twenty quid. Do you have any sort of legal protection to deal with the pirates? You don’t… but you hope that it will sort itself out eventually and that the goodwill of fandom will nurture your business. Hey… I’m so out.

Bespectacled Greek: My kids watch this stuff, I never thought there would be money in it! How big is the fan base? Wow, is that in millions? No? Er… so you’re telling me that number is in thousands? Blimey, you could fit that many people into one big hotel. What!? You do put them in a hotel! Listen, Great Train Journeys sells in the tens of thousands. Jade Goody’s Exercise Video bought me a new house. But the numbers you’re talking about… it’s not going to attract my investment. I’m out.

Dapper Pakistani: Maybe you could offer some extra incentives to encourage people to buy legally. Oh, you do…? Great. Commentaries, bonus video, interviews, that sounds good. And you can pick all that up cheaply? Great. But how does the BBFC feel about that? They charge you extra!? Six pounds a minute to “certify” a commentary track! And this makes you more competitive? I don’t think so. I’m out.

Bloke With Wacky Socks: My fellow Dragons are missing the big picture. Anime may be “taking the world by storm”, but the place to make money isn’t really in anime distribution. Instead, I’m going to buy shares in the Royal Mail, and then charge anime importers £8 every time they are hit by illogical and unfair customs duties. Basically, I’m going to tax fans for having interests outside the UK mainstream! I’m going to coin it in! I get money for doing nothing! I’m going to be a millionaire! Again! Ha ha ha!

Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. This article first appeared in NEO #52, 2008.

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5 thoughts on “Due Diligence

  1. Coincidentally I was umm-ing and ah-ing on buying the steel tin platinum box set of Evangelion. When several years from now I might just have four movies to buy that tell the same story, in a 16:3 ratio. and are a considerably cheaper price… I hope. Needless to say I opted after to ‘please cancel my order’ and do not deduct the £56.25 I was almost prepared to part with.

    I can confirm my goodwilled fandom does pay off since I think £15-17 for a 26-episode set is decent value for money, even though I could buy a season of a live action US show for the same price, but with the comfort of the runtime being doubled.

    Okay time to admit it, I’ve downloaded shows, for Lack of availability, affordability or just to try before I buy, shows with filler tend to fall into this one, because well, if a box set is entirely made of filler why should anyone pay for it, do fans pay for non canonized fan fiction? of course not, they write it!

    Theres a part of me that having read your book decided to look up Gunbuster, and apart from £45 dvds of gunbuster vs diebuster, and blue-ray editions of each for what almost totalled the same price (which seems comparatively like a good investment if I had a BR player)
    I found myself buying the only region 2 copy I could find on amazon, it was cheaper, but it wasn’t cheap. This was only the other day in fact so I haven’t received or viewed the disc yet, but imagine my reaction when I wiki’ed the show to read the following:

    “The series was released in English on a single DVD in the United Kingdom by Kiseki Films, but this release suffered from poor video quality and inconsistent subtitles. It was also criticized for lack of advertised extras and the editing of a scene with full-frontal nudity.”
    I was livid! I love nudity in cartoons… In all seriousness though, poor transfer and poor subs that I have since read, are hard coded.

    I complain, but then I still have Noein, Gunslinger girl, Rumbling Hearts and Elfen Lied all craving my money, and at some point I’m probably gonna give it up for them. Not right now though, I’m still waiting for yaysite to send me a £25 copy of excel saga.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with the quality of translation in the Gunbuster subs on the Kiseki DVD. In fact, if i recall, the first two episodes are translated by Trish Ledoux and Toshifumi Yoshida, and are so well done that I have showed them to translation classes as a textbook example of how to really translate anime properly. There are different translators on the later episodes, but they’re fine, too.

    Critics’ issues with the Region 2 Gunbuster are largely based on the fact that the Kiseki release was simply the US VHS version squirted onto a DVD. Hence, hard subs and not super-duper digital quality.

    There may be a shot missing of Jung Freud in the nude, but I don’t know — I have never seen the Region 2 DVD. I still cling on to my VHS copies.

  3. The disc arrived today, I’m really not bothered about the missing/amended footage. I probably jumped the gun (no pun intended) when I read the wiki page. Thanks for informing me about the subtitles, the quality is no different from the star wars fans who got lumbered with original vhs cuts instead of a clean transfer of the theatrical cuts so I really shouldn’t complain.
    I’m looking forward to the time dilation mechanic as that was one of my favourite aspects of the Ender/Shadow series by Orson Scott Card.

  4. “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” Michael Scott, The office (us.)

    Okay four episodes in and… I’m not sure what the original dilemma was over the music, but the music arrangement sounds like chariots of fire, but isn’t. Picture looks fine since its a cartoon so they never look that bad.

    Subs are inconsistent though but not on a translation level, basically after the first two episodes there’s a mixture of yellow font which is readable, white font even easier on the eyes and some occasional yellow italic which required me to hit the pause button maybe twice.

    I’m glad I picked it up instead of the remastered movie version since they’ve truncated that down to 90 minutes.
    (I’ll try and keep future comments to a minimum of one short paragraph.)

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