“The Anime Bubble is Burst, Moe & Fansubs are to Blame”


Anime industry figures say the anime boom of the past several years is ended, and the industry is quick to point fingers.

There seems little doubt that the production of anime has cooled off of late: in 2000, 124 anime titles were broadcast on Japanese TV,  but in 2006 this had risen precipitously to 306; in 2008 it declined to 288. The latest season sees 30 shows airing, whereas the same season in 2006 saw 60.

A director of an industry group is gloomy:

“The bubble of a few years back is well and truly burst. With declining birth rates and a recession it is downhill from here on. The industry has gone from boom to bust, and restructuring looks likely.”

Much of this success is attributed to a steady series of hit late night anime starting in the nineties, some, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, spawning entire industries unto themselves.  In this boom, domestic sales rose to 97 billion yen in 2005, but have since slumped to a “mere” 78 billion in 2008.

One anime producer has no doubts about where to lay the blame; he places it squarely at the feet of the increasingly unadventurous studios themselves, who have been endlessly churning out moe and mecha anime:

“The reason this stuff isn’t selling is because people have cottoned on to the fact they’re just rehashing the same moe and mecha anime over and over. With less disposable income and the diffusion of HD, youngsters have become very careful about what they buy; as only the best products can weather this, there’s nothing for it but to make more of them.”

The disastrous mishandling of the international markets is another worry for the industry, which has seen the US anime market shrink from $4.8 billion in 2003 to $2.8 billion in 2007, with DVD sales collapsing even as the online popularity of anime has been stable or risen.

Publishers blame the pernicious influence of fansubs and P2P, rather than their own willful failure to adapt to the digital distribution model, which has seen international anime fans left with no legal options in most cases.

Considering that Japanese P2P networks have been transferring vast quantities of data at rates most countries can only dream of for years now, the notion that torrents are a major drain on sales clearly has some problems.

Fortunately, publishers are finally beginning to take halting steps in the direction of a workable online distribution model, with anime viewable over a variety of video sharing sites legally, if with excessively restricted regional availability.

These efforts seem to be meeting with some success, so growth and supplantation of the ineffectual direct DVD sales model seems likely.

The collective realisation in the industry seems to be that quality must now come to trump quantity.

Prior to the boom of the late nineties, output was steady at 100 to 150 titles for many years, producing great hits such as Evangelion and Gundam all the same. This is taken as evidence of the fact that massive output is not necessarily appropriate.

The industry group director puts it plainly:

“We have to change fast. China already outstrips us in quantity of titles produced, so from now on it must be quality over quantity, with anime production taught properly at universities in order to create human resources of great quality; this can become a national forte.”

Via Asahi.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    16:23 05/05/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    People who archive fansubs on their HDDs/DVDs/whatever when there are legitimate releases out are killing the industry. Prove me wrong.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:10 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Half right. There are some people who won't buy even if they can as long as they can get it free. So even if fansubbing got eliminated entirely these people won't spend a dime and move on to other sources of entertainment.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:42 02/06/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    you know whats the difference in archiving things on my DVR or Tivo and doing it on a HDD off the internet? As a matter of fact why arent the studios going after the internet companies instead of the user that ARE paying for the intenet and using it for what is designed for. sharing information!! Whether it be text, music, movies plays whatever thats what the internets for! Thats why I'm paying extra for bandwidth speed. I'll go to jail before I pay anyone anything I already paid and I do every month if you didnt get your cut then go to them and leave us the hell alone!! It just completly absurd to me!

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Your ignorance knows no bounds, does it?

    Comment by Y10NRDY
    13:00 05/05/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    this was inevitable. with the advent of P2P and a lack of conscience on the part of the otaku community there was bound to be a hell of a backlash. what we can do, however, is SUPPORT the industry by committing to purchasing the things we see online and actually like - of which there is never a shortage. i mean, fansubs aren't really killing it. it's the people who refuse to put money into a market they can access illegally for free. i personally don't see any problem with fansubbing or downloading/streaming a series but once it comes out domestically if it was a show i liked, i will put my money where my mouth is as often as i can afford and buy the DVDs when they are released. at the very least in boxset form if nothing else.

    Avatar of kajunbowser
    Comment by KajunBowser
    13:05 05/05/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Best policy: Have fansubs, buy when licensed (if you can afford it).

    Comment by Sorrior
    18:07 05/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Here Here this is what i do i download the fansubs hell keep aloty of rhem but then buy the actual series or show i'm still behind on that but hey i'
    m wrking on it next tyime round i'm either gonna get shakugan no shan or ghost hunt MAYBE ah my godess season 2 all of wich i have on mu external juts wanna buy em., Hell i had Zegapain preordered till bandai cancelled it i just wanted the boxset now i'm probably gonna buy the singles at some point. My sister thinks oh just download your supporting the consumer based societal model and i think yeah t least i AM supporting it and one of my favorite entertainment modes up their with video games and manga.

    Comment by Oldtaku
    05:52 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I was hoping this would happen a few years ago.

    The only way for the anime market to go back to being about qaulity was for the anime bubble to pop, and the market to crash.

    If these companies don't suffer for putting out mass amounts of trash, they will never learn. Worse yet are the retarded newer fans who are too dumb to not fall for their schemes.

    Another lesson they need to learn: Real fans don't want, or NEED dubs. You are wasting your money making them. Quickly made subtitled DVD's (like they did with Gurren Lagaan)

    The faster these people who think anime is a "fad" are out of the fandom, the better.

    Anime has turned into everything I hated about western media.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:56 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    So I'm not a real fan if I prefer dubs? great logic buddy.

    Comment by Sakarii
    19:24 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wish I could say I agree but it's been proven the American fans like watching dubs more then subs. Even to the point of only buying DVDs that dubs with them.

    But, with everything else I agree with you.

    Comment by Detailoid
    00:31 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    And going "WTF is this bullshit!" when they get subs. Which strikes me as lazy and idiotic, but then again I grew up in a country where only kids stuff was dubbed in movies and tv, and the other stuff subbed, so that's a lot of cultural bias there...

    Avatar of sifian
    Comment by sifian
    17:00 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's just not true... there's are a lot of shows where cultural implications are lost in translation. However, in that absence, lots of people would prefer to spend more of their attention to watching the details of animation and less to understand what exactly is happening in the first place, Full metal Alchemist for example.

    And there there are some rare occasions where there dub is flat out better- or it makes more sense for the show to be in english. Black Lagoon, for extreme example, where three of the four main characters are American and everyone is assumed to be speaking english even though the vocals might be japanese.

    This clip really shows the superiority of the BL dub. There is no way I could possibly enjoy this scene in a japanese dub as much as I did in the english dub.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:10 26/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You forget that Japanese cartoons, are at it's heart, children's media. Many plots, themes and characters recycle for each successive generation because they appeal to a particular age group. This is all new to the shortys and there's nothing wrong with that.

    Comment by psychoticdream
    09:17 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    remember claymore?? i still die a little when i remember what they did to it

    for shame....

    Comment by Anon
    08:24 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    How can one complain about moe anime? They are selling pretty well...
    If anything, the other kinds of anime are the ones that should be blamed, since they are uninteresting and no one wants to buy them.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:13 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's one the whole reason about the post ass. How can you complain about other kinds of anime? Moe to me is like youtube videos with thumbnails of naked hot chicks. When you click on them, in the end they are just view cheats. that's what I see in moe fucking VIEWCHEATS. Sure, many of them look promising but for once i like to see some good story in too with the animation is the only reason we all gave a damn about anime in the first place. if not, at all.

    Avatar of Huey
    Comment by M I N N
    09:59 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yea, one reason why a lot of people turned away from american animation was lack of story and thats what anime provided cartoons that was for any age group that didnt need to be aired on HBO XD - tell me if thats now true. anyone one else who watch anime "ESPECIALLY GUYS" for moe - are only doing it like someones said above for their penis.

    I cant stand how many guys watch that shit too - and then say crap like they cried at the end of clannad GTFO are you a man or a bitch? all these girl animes aimed at guys - face it at the end of the day their not real u cant bang em - get a gf your anime desire will go down by tenfold

    Avatar of phisaki
    Comment by phisaki
    20:28 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I have a girlfriend and I watch Clannad. I got teary eyed during the series. What about it?

    Comment by Detailoid
    00:45 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    My husband gets as teary-eyed at really sad anime scenes as really sad movie scenes. Not that he cries frequently, probably just a few times a year. Congrats internet tough guy for being a jerk with great insecurities regarding your masculinity.

    That said, my husband didn't cry at Clannad.. Just because you can't cry without feeling like some "worthless girly girl" doesn't mean it's an accurate assessment of reality. You have a lot of emotional baggage I strongly recommend you deal with, before it bites you in the ass, especially your issues with viewing females as inferior weaklings. You'll never have a good relationship with that attitude, especially not with yourself.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:41 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is coming from the same person who said "You have a lot of emotional baggage I strongly recommend you deal with, before it bites you in the ass" Now I'm not viewing females as inferior weaklings Nor is it wrong to cry I'm saying you and what phisak are saying is flawed. We need less of these of what the /b/ tards say "emo" anime that will JUST leave us crying I want more animes to give us a variety of emotions.

    Avatar of phisaki
    Comment by phisaki
    11:21 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I stated earlier that we need more seinen anime that deal with mature themes rather than the stuff they're churning out lately. But I've just got into this "moe" type of anime so I haven't been overexposed in it yet!

    Comment by Anon
    23:53 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Moe anime IS selling well. The other kinds of anime are the ones that are not selling well.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:21 26/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's all about sustainability. Truly healthy production companies have a diverse portfolio of products designed to appeal to a variety of demographic groups. The problem isn't moe, but an over=reliance on one type of product aimed at one demographic. The industry followed a classic "gold rush" model with all of its attendant consequences.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:13 25/06/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's not the point. the fact (or lack there of) that "Mo anime IS selling well" is not part of my point. moe is nothing but a craze. and the over the top moe titles are nothing but cash cows using cute girls as view cheats. Japan is known for it's crazes. the sooner Japan turns to another craze the faster your so called profitable moe will fall short in it's ass like the others if it hadn't done so already. what sells good doesn't always last long. if the other kinds of anime aren't selling well and they were here before the moe craze, what make you think that moe is going to last.

    Comment by shalala
    06:16 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    In the end ill happy watch most anime.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:25 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Needs moar shota moe.
    Inb4 Hetalia

    Avatar of Huey
    Comment by M I N N
    06:10 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Need more people of color and backgrounds :P
    everytime i see an anime that doesn't take place in japan - or a future where the world is one they never have any people of fucking color - wtf, do we just die out in the future? Spice it up throw in a black lead role or latin role or something - this is why i respect people like Kubo tite, Shinichirō Watanabe, Rei Hiroe etc. they throw in other cultures into the mix. then i gave Masashi Kishimoto props when he made the cloud village 70% black XD

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:05 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    michko to hatchin

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:16 26/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    One or two outlier examples and a ridiculously unrealistic sample of unattractive or painfully stereotypical characters isn't going to work for crap.

    Japanese were better about presenting a balanced picture of ethnic people in the 80's for crying out loud. Sunrise, Statelight and Bones have bought some clues, but we're still waiting on the rest.

    Comment by Js2756
    10:48 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Let's see, the # of shows grew at an annual rate of freaking 41% for 6 years! Does anyone think this is a sustainable growth rate for any industry? For the love of god, give your head a shake and realize that the "contraction" of 2007 and 2008 (when the world is in the midst of a recession) is only 3% annually. Hell, the vast majority of industries out there would kill to only contract 3% annually in the current environment. Disclaimer: I'm heavily simplifying the numbers, but it's not like the industry is dying (yet). Btw, anyone who claims that 2006 was a golden age, wasn't paying much attention to the first few years of this decade. We got stuff like Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscience, Cowboy Bebop, Azumanga Daioh, Haibane Renmei, GitS: SAC and Fullmetal Alchemist; shows that (imo) have significantly outshone anything produced in the last several years (except maybe Higurashi).

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    17:48 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yes, nice and succinct (and Yoshitoshi ABe needs to get off his but and do more stuff, Chiaki did Ghost Hound recently at least... seriously get back to work you guys ヽ(`Д´)ノ ).

    There's no way enough new anime fans would arrive to sustain the boom, nor could enough old fans find the time to watch the 100's upon 100's of already existing anime their friends/internet will recommend to them as if we all have that kind of time :\

    Were there really commenters calling '06 a golden age? Probably 12 yo's... but to be fair I didn't seriously get into anime myself until about '04, so '06 was a pretty nice year.

    Comment by Sakarii
    19:35 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think I remember seeing some comments during '06-'07 that that year(s) were a golden age but they were probably from fans that didn't get into anime when the true Golden Age for anime happened.

    Though, '06-'07 was a very good year(s) for anime. The best since the Golden Age ended, even.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:25 26/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The 98-2002 seasons were probably the best years for Japanese cartoon writing since l978-1983.

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    18:53 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    *cough* not remembering to log in could also be a sign I'm experiencing withdrawal.

    thank you anon ¬_¬

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    19:03 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    No thank you LunarSD. <("<)

    Also a good sign of brain-fry is not replying to the correct comment

    Avatar of LunarSD
    Comment by LunarSD
    Comment by Anonymous
    19:18 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    And now you're talking to yourself (;д;)

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:45 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I used to love Bleach during season 1. So many characters and so much room for awesome developing relationships. (friendly and romantic). but now were at what episode? and it still seems like you cant even call the characters friends. name one time they've "hung out". people complain about filler episodes, but if youre trying to make a long running show, sometimes a few filler episodes really help identify your characters wth the audience and each other. inuyasha was so crammed full of filler it was crazy... but by the end you felt you knew the characters personally.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:37 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    If you want a solid thought-provoking storyline in your Anime then read a damn book you illiterate people, this is why light novels/novels from Japan are having a hard time making it to the US market because people would rather read pictures or watch their so-called literary pixels. In my eyes, Anime is all about the action and 2D appeal/characteristics and where it takes me from there. Both Moe and Mecha have given the Anime industry the opportunity to survive throughout the years, otherwise it would have been a dead hobby - its pretty much up to the Japanese Otaku now as to where every Anime studio in Japan is heading in terms of what to produce.

    Quality will come in due time you guys...just keep on living your lives and enjoying the Anime that you desire to watch...and stop stressing over this.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:11 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You're not going to get too much of a read out of a light novel either, to be honest. Maybe it's because I've read so many "regular" books but light novels barely last an hour for me before I've reached their end.

    Avatar of GHS
    Comment by GHS
    16:49 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, they are called 'light' for a reason...

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:17 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not really sure what I was expecting for 99 cents. Don't think I'll be buying any more anytime soon, and especially not for full price.

    Could probably just read them in a single sitting at the bookstore, heh.

    Avatar of GHS
    Comment by GHS
    17:04 18/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, light novels were really designed to be able to be read on places like the crowded subway trains in Japan on your way to work and stuff.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:21 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    I can equally enjoy both quality shows that are thought provoking and quality shows with moe, mecha, fanservice, over the top action, and so forth. My preference lies mostly in whatever I enjoy most, and I buy/support whatever franchise/product that I like best, of course.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:09 07/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    OK, we have never said animes were picture novels nor wanted it to be that way. We wanted the animes to pay less attention to the moe and more attention to ahh, I don't know, THE FUCKING STORY. In my eyes, Anime is like any animation, A play in the form of a painting. I can stand shows with moe, mecha, fanservice, over the top action, and so forth, just as long as they have something called quality with a good and interesting storyline. If they can't show that, then I won't show my appreciation. That kind of logic is what makes people in the US view animation now as nothing more than stupid kid shit, and treats is audiences as if they were idiots. That's why the US got so much bullshit animation these days.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:36 26/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Japanese cartoons are, for the most part, marketed as stupid kid shit.

    I absolutely agree on the need for quality story writing. It's amazing how many media production companies forget the foundational importance of a solid script. Gonzo could get away with half-assed 3D every episode if they didn't hack the bloody stories, killing off dramatic tension, theme and characterization.

    Comment by Hud
    00:38 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's not fansubbing that's hurting anime, it the people who say "I'll wait till the boxset comes out" who are killing the industry. That and Funimation.

    Avatar of chriselric
    Comment by Chris
    00:14 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    There aren't very many posts, but each big one is individually 5-6 times larger than normal on this topic.

    Pointing fingers is fun!

    Avatar of kajunbowser
    Comment by KajunBowser
    00:41 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Speaking of pointing fingers, I just read the "Chicks on Anime" interview w/ to-be-unnamed copyright guy from FUNi about copyrights. Needless to say it was a very "non-fansub" crowd in the place. Did point out that for copyrights, if the company gets the license, it's game over for those in the company's "copyright zone." Also, AMVs are grrrrrreat publicity (unless they start doing harm to their product(s)).

    Also, the dude made a business error: giving a definitive answer as to why ur trying to c0ck-b10ck the competition. He said yes to FUNi's simulcasting series like FMA: Brohood and Phantom against fansubbers. It's clear that they see the new business model that can sure up any series they're interested in, but don't flat-out admit that you're going after fansubbers like that. However, give 'em credit in this: when they license it, fansubbers, ur fair game just like a certain fansubbing group found out.

    Avatar of Katameido
    Comment by MaidNiac
    00:49 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    When ALMOST EVERYTHING (young girls, cute males, lolis, shota, being girlish/feminine, eating cakes, playing guitars, bipolar girls, psychopaths, eating curry, munching pockies, timid coward girls, wearing glasses, blushing, dancing, clapping castanets, having a twin/ponytail, gothloli, beach/hotspring, playing videogames, etc, etc... shitting on pavements, having multiple breasts, bitting someone penis, smashing a phone booth, peeing on Osama Bin Laden photo, breaking a Nendoroid Sebastian's head, etc... etc..), It's damn easy for people especially Nostalgia f@gs to stamp anime nowadays as Moe rehashers.

    The Mecha one made me chuckle.., i thought i've seen too much Mecha anime back in the 90's..

    Avatar of Katameido
    Comment by MaidNiac
    01:01 06/05/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sorry for the typo, i meant;

    When almost everything (young girls,... etc… etc..) IS CONSIDERED AS MOE, It’s damn easy for people especially Nostalgia f@gs to stamp anime nowadays as Moe rehashers.

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