Right, I said, I see that you are writing an article about why anime has disappeared from TV screens. Great to have attention from the mainstream press, and yes, I will happily help you out. After all, there’s no such publicity as bad publicity, right…? However, I am not sure that you are asking the right questions. I am not sure that I accept your premises.
Firstly, is anime really not on television any more? I’ve just flicked around and I’ve found Pokémon and Dragon King airing right now. I’ve found a rack of Studio Ghibli movies airing on Channel Four. I’ve found an obscure cable channel pumping out Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
I think there is a story here, but I think you’re looking in the wrong place. The story appears to be not that anime is in trouble, but that anime is doing fine, while television itself is in trouble. If anime fans are early adopters, and one in ten UK residents are torrenting, doesn’t that tell you a whole lot about how fans are accessing this material? Particularly when we consider that so many anime television shows in Japan are aired in the graveyard slot when nobody is watching. So if nobody is watching them in Japan, why do we expect them to be on in primetime here?
Look, I said. Why don’t you talk to Joe Bloggs from well-known Anime Channel? Here’s his email address. He will tell you about the anime channel that he set up, and give you precise reasons why it shut down. And while you’re at it, why don’t you talk to John Smith at Anime Company? Here’s his email address. He will tell you that his company is now bypassing TV entirely and offering direct anime broadcasts to X-boxes, downloads from iTunes and free try-before-you-buy streaming from his own website. Let me put it like this, your premise is that more anime should be on television. I suggest that anime is finding another way to reach fandom, and that television doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it any more. That is sure to be an interesting thing for your tech-savvy readers to think about over their cornflakes.
Alternatively, if that doesn’t sound good to you, why don’t you just pick someone at random in a comics shop, ask them for their opinion, and fill up a quarter of your article with whatever they say? I am sure that the readership of your newspaper won’t mind. It certainly won’t get me into trouble when I am the only person from the anime industry quoted in your article. If anyone complains, you can say that you “didn’t have enough time” to interview everyone worth interviewing. That is sure to impress everyone (er… me) who gave freely of their own time to help you out before you collected the money for writing your article. And yes, that might be why I so often get an awful sinking feeling when approached by mainstream journalists who want to talk about anime, when I realise that I don’t merely have to provide answers, but also the questions. And even then, it’s no guarantee they’ll talk sense.
This article first appeared in NEO #76, 2010. Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade.