May 28, 2012

Aniplex Announcements

Crunchyroll has a report on a bunch of recent Aniplex announcements.

  • Sentai Filmworks is confirmed as the licensor for Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works
  • Aniplex will take pre-orders for the second volume of Fate/zero on Blu-Ray starting June 1st for release on September 9th simultaneously with the Japanese release
  • Bakemonogatari will be receiving a new sub only boxset release this Fall on Blu-Ray with no plans to dub either it or the sequel series Nisemonogatari. Unfortunately, there are also no plans to stream Bakemonogatari.
  • Aniplex does not have plans to go back and dub either Blue Exorcist or Fate/Zero
  • OreImo will be re-released later this summer in a lower-priced DVD edition
  • Baccano will be re-released following its previous limited Blu-Ray box release
  • Kara no Kyoukai/Garden of Sinners will be released in a new limited edition DVD boxset this Fa

There is a bit of good news in that Sentai did indeed get UlBW. They have announced a Bang Zoom dub which speaks well of their finances and confidence in the market.
However, In the rest of the announcements I note the continued trend in avoiding dubs. While this is of little direct concern to many of our readers it means that the current plan does seem to be to skip the US Distributors and simply release Subtitled Japanese Blue Rays at... Japanese prices.

US Anime is doomed!...must..tweet...everybody!

Ubu saw this coming a while back, and while it is indeed a big FU to the US fans it is not entirely out of the blue.

The Japanese prices are insane and, I believe, counter-productive even to their domestic market in the long term, but they are, in part, a response to the huge piracy issue, the shrinking domestic market (which the prices help to shrink) and the fact that the Japanese companies have the additional overhead of producing the product (US and other overseas distributors just have licensing, distribution and occasionally dubbing ).

I would be very surprised if a lot of the licensing was not discontinued in favor of just the subtitle track. The total sales would drop but a few hundred or a couple of thousand sales total would make what they'd get from licensing with an option for more if it was a runaway hit. If there is licensing in the future it might well be restricted to dub only in the future to kill re-imports.

Of course they'll also kill off most of the legit market here because 700 dollars (350 per season) for a series is stark raving cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

The Japanese prices also make clear one reason why collector Otaku are thought of poorly in Japan. The hobby there takes as much money as a heroin habit. Someone who indulges in it there is either rich beyond the dreams of Avarice or has some seriously screwed up priorities.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 03:19 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 477 words, total size 4 kb.

1 The Japanese prices predate widespread piracy, and are more cause than effect. It's the same model the US had when home video started; their distributors and retailers just successfully lobbied to preserve it.

The good news is that attempts to sell sub-only BDs at Japanese prices will bomb miserably, with all of those overpriced discs ending up heavily discounted at Amazon (something that Amazon Japan can't do, another piece of the puzzle...).

I just checked, and most of the Japanese DVDs of G-on Riders are still selling for Â¥6000 new at Amazon. Used ones are Â¥1 plus shipping, and Marketplace dealers can call them "new" at Â¥500, but if it's in stock at Amazon, they can't sell it for a realistic price. 


Posted by: J Greely at Mon May 28 13:05:16 2012 (2XtN5)

2 True about them always being expensive but it is my understanding that this got a lot worse in the last decade or so. That may be whining on the part of fans though.

It's true too that in the US VHS and Beta were initially very high (60-100 dollars a pop) at the insistence of the studios but in the US prices came down rather quickly. In Japan, not so much.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Mon May 28 13:23:09 2012 (EJaOX)

3 I bought 3 of the Yamato movies on VHS back around 1985. IIRC, they were about $150 apiece. Current prices, seem to be about about the same or actually a little cheaper. Taking inflation into account, prices definitely seem to have dropped. Which just means prices are slightly less outrageous.

Now that subs on Japanese disks are beginning to appear more frequently, I'll CONSIDER buying them, but ONLY where I already know it's something I'm going to enjoy & watch more than once. Not many people are going to sample anything at those prices.

I've seen over & over that (for the most part) Japanese execs just don't understand the US market. They keep expecting it to behave like the Japanese market & keep being surprised when it doesn't.

Posted by: Uncle Willie at Mon May 28 19:40:51 2012 (xZueN)


UW, that's not the issue. The issue is that they don't really care about the US market. They can't afford to care about it.

Their great fear is reimportation. If they sell BDs at high price in Japan, and essentially-identical BDs much more cheaply here, then Japanese fans will buy North American BDs instead. The result would be less income for the studios.

Their financial model is a mess, and in the long run is probably unsustainable. But trying to move to a more rational one would result in lower income in the short run, and studios going under.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Mon May 28 19:58:41 2012 (+rSRq)

5 For what it's worth, most of the Aniplex releases mentioned in the news story you quoted are not (or almost certainly will not be) Japanese priced. The only one fitting that description is Fate/zero. OreImo, Baccano, and Blue Exorcist have already been released at prices which, while somewhat higher than the current R1 standard, do not remotely approach what you'd pay for the equivalent Japanese release. Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari will likely get similar treatment; the fact that the Japanese boxset for Bake has no English subs precludes a Fate/zero-style release, and I'd expect Nise to follow suit.
Kara no Kyoukai is interesting because the Blu-ray boxset released in early 2011 was Aniplex's first attempt at the sort of release you're deriding here--$400 for an imported Japanese boxset of all seven movies with English subs. It sold out on both sides of the Pacific in a matter of weeks, and now they're re-releasing it on DVD at a lower price point. Perhaps they'll do the same for Fate/zero a year or so from now?

Posted by: Andrew F. at Mon May 28 21:37:33 2012 (975Ae)

6 @ Uncle Willie: Yeah, back in the '80s the prices were hideous. They were only a little better in the early '90s.
However,  I was told by Japanese fans in '09 and '10 that the prices went up quite a bit recently. I'm not sure how much they meant and my sample size was small... It could also just be fans kibitzing.

@ Steven:
You'r points about re-importation are absolutely valid but Uncle Willie is right. They don't grok how the US market can possibly work,  which is part of the reason they are in a mess.

@ Andrew F: Good info on the other prices. Thanks! Though upon reflection Kara no Kyoukai selling out does not bode well for us. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue May 29 08:44:35 2012 (EJaOX)

7 "Selling out" in the US means what, I wonder?  My feeling was they put somewhere between 50 and 300 units into the hands of their North American distributor, but I don't have the hard numbers on that.  There is a small group of American fanboys for whom money literally means nothing; apparently there's enough of them to clear the market at that level of inventory.

Nobody can be making much money at that sort of volume, it's basically the same sort of business that they'd normally do with importers.  The people buying those Kara no Kyoukai sets are the same people who pay Japanese prices along with the actual in-country otaku, via pre-order, ahead of time.  I'd guess that a plurality of these doofs hang out on the R2 forums at Fandom Post and

My feeling is that the Aniplex/NIS America model is deeply unhealthy - it's a pact between obsessives willing to overpay, and companies uninterested in doing the marketing work to deal with non-obsessive fans and the general public.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Tue May 29 09:17:39 2012 (jwKxK)

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