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Why Isn’t Anime Selling?

by Esosa Osamwonyi

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I believe at this point that anime has pretty much grounded itself as a well-established form of media entertainment. Chances are you have heard or seen an anime series or film before, especially now with the way streaming, video-on-demand, and direct download technology has advanced. Given this, I think anime has really put itself out there as a viable media form and there is a lot of money and job opportunities that have arisen from the anime industry, both domestically and abroad. But, behind all the good and positive one has to wonder: why exactly is anime not selling? It’s not to say anime isn’t making a “splash in the pool,” as one would say, but I just feel that it is not making the huge waves that can really get people going.

Of course, there are plenty of causes for why things are the way they are, but one of the most obvious reasons lies in:

MARKETING

One thing a lot of people know within the area of business is behind every successful product is a good marketing campaign or team. A majority of the most popular selling products stem from this concept, as I guarantee that if you ask someone how he or she ended up buying the product, it’s most likely that they heard about it from somewhere initially. Marketing that really gets in your head as a consumer, then soon after some of your friends may have the product(s) as well. You ask them their opinion on said product. At this point in time more than likely you are about to buy the product. And even after or before you buy it, good advertising is still able to keep that product in your mind. And from there it just takes off like a rampant virus. Now, with anime in particular, its not to say marketing isn’t there because that would be a flat out lie. The way I see it is that many companies just put the product out and just expect it to sell just like that. Many anime shows and films, realistically speaking, can have a significant following but are simply marketed too poorly. And let’s not even mention how expensive DVD and Blu-ray titles can be, which actually leads me into my next point.

EXPENSIVENESS

Within the anime community, the discussion of whether or not anime is too expensive to purchase is a frequent one. But no matter what angle you come from, one cannot deny what is the “elephant in the room,” which is that is anime is indeed quite expensive. If that was not the case, then why is it so that a majority of anime buyers are the most hardcore of fans? With the art of marketing also comes the economical perspective of meeting the ideal price mark for the consumer. No one likes to feel like they are been shortchanged with a purchase, and with the way anime is marketed, it feels like you are getting fewer bangs for more buck. A perfect example would be this: How likely is it you are able to buy an entire anime season for $40…most likely not. The more realistic scenario is that you are getting volume 1, volume 2 etc. for around that price. A new one I saw not too long ago was volume 1/part 1, and believe me, if you want all of them, the cost for the entire overall series will exceed well beyond $40. And it’s also crazy to think that TV shows with their season box sets have become more affordable as well. It really should be the other way around but as a result the DVD/Blu-ray title sets are nothing more than collectables for the most hardcore of fans.

FANS

“You’re nobody until somebody loves you”. With that saying, without a solid fan base behind you how do you exactly plan to exceed to the fullest? When it comes to anime titles and the companies that bring them out, I think that a majority of fans have been really supportive—for the most part. But you look at it the other way around, it’s a different story. Many companies nowadays do not appreciate their fans, especially when it comes to the distribution of anime. Many of the anime companies have lost touch with the fans and simply treat them like garbage. It’s a funny thing because without the fans, none of these companies would be where they are today. Fans dress up, they go to the conventions, buy anime-related products and merchandise, share and promote, engage in public forums and all that. But the sad reality is that many anime companies are out of touch with their endearing fan base that has been there with them through thick and thin—especially now. Not too long ago, I remembered when the companies would listen and constantly interact with fans. Now, the connection has seemingly been severed. This is a huge reason why anime is not really selling because many of these companies have taken a “my way or no way policy.” I think it is very important that the companies reconnect with their fans as more than likely these are the majority of your consumers, especially in the contemporary climate of anime. Don’t deny the fans but embrace them.

INTERNET

When it comes to the Internet and anime, a lot of people tend to focus on the negatives (piracy, illegal distribution, etc.). I, however, see more positives than negatives. In retrospective, the Internet has been very, very good to the anime medium. You can read lots of articles and view tons of videos of fans talking about the medium, not to mention promotional campaigns and social media aspects of it. However, I have this inclination that anime isn’t really taking advantage of everything the Internet can offer. As we continue to slowly transition more into the digital age, information is steadily available at one’s fingertips but yet the anime industry that hasn’t been taking advantage of that reality. The truth is that it’s not as if anime cannot thrive in this environment. Marketing on the Internet is a very powerful thing for two reasons: 1) it has potential to reach and go far and, 2) for the most part it’s cheap to do so—It’s really a matter of simply getting the word out.

TIMING

So far I have touched on four major points and I think the final one is the most important. I personally feel it’s the most important because it really captures the essence of the previous four. In reality, knowing when it’s the right time to make a move is extremely critical for any industry. It’s similar to how a surfer knows when the perfect wave is coming. Now, when it comes to selling of anime, some companies seem to be riding on lukewarm waves. There has been times when momentum was at its peak for some products, but instead of pushing forward at that moment, they simply let it past by—with the obvious meager returns. One can simply see the four previously mentioned points becoming obsolete if companies can’t get the timing down and recognize the viewing trends of the community at large.

In the end, it’s not like anime can’t sell—to me it feels like some companies simply don’t want it to sell. The business practices of the anime industry seem to be stuck in the past while everyone else has clearly evolved. Without adaption there is only stagnation, and honestly, with the way things are when it comes to anime, wouldn’t you agree?

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Author: Esosa Osamwonyi

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