On the night of 8th August, youths ran through the streets of London, throwing petrol bombs at the police, setting fire to stuff, and stealing things. That’s the best I can do for you, as I don’t particularly trust the original protestors, the police, or the press in their reporting of what happened.
One of the casualties was the Sony DADC distribution facility in Enfield, which burned to the ground, taking with it the bulk of the Beez Entertainment DVD backlist, the entire UK print run of the Arrietty soundtrack CD, and the entire stock of Lace Digital Media Sales, which includes the backlists of Revelation, ADV and 4Digital Asia.
One wonders what this tells us about the tastes of the average looter. Were masked hoodies with baseball bats smashing their way into Sony DADC, intent on burning the UK supply of the Dogtanian box set in fiery vengeance for the lack of extras? Were selfish savages taking the torrenting/piracy ethic to its logical conclusion, by “borrowing” Arrietty CDs by the box-load, and then setting fire to the warehouse to hide the evidence?
Although I don’t own a PlayStation or a cell phone, the name “Sony” conjures up images of such things in the mind of thugs who have grown up thinking that they can steal whatever they want from its rightful owners. I imagine that’s why “protestors” happened to set fire to the Sony building, but not before gutting it in search of the latest models. How disappointed must they have been if all they came away with was a box of Overfiend III DVDs?
But ironically, this could prove to be the most lucrative trading week in the history of UK anime. Insurers will have to pay out for those ruined or stolen DVDs. Anime fans might have displayed no interest in paying for Shadow Skill or King of Bandit Jing, but in an odd form of entertainment seppuku, these titles may have finally monetised through the act of being destroyed. A silver lining, perhaps, for some distributors, but what if they can’t be bothered to replace them? Worse news for the real fans.
Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. This article previously appeared in NEO #90, 2011.