AnimeFargo has come and gone. It was a fantastic weekend and I plan on doing a better write up tomorrow night. I have some sleep to catch up on and recovering from a 4 hour car ride home.
I had a friend recently post this article up to my Facebook timeline. While it is questions submitted by readers, it is only the first question I was directed to by said friend. The article comes from io9.
If you want the cliff notes version of the article, the viewer is curious if there is a business model or alternative business model for America to make anime. First, let’s clarify a few terms, at least for this entry, since many people tend to like classifications and labels to group things. I mean, look at the debates over what people classify as manga vs comics and some people believe the country of origin plays a role in these classifications, such as the great Original English Language (OEL) manga vs manga from Japan or Korea, etc.
Anime, in it’s traditional sense, is used to describe animation from Japan whether it is a full length film or a televisions series. However, I would argue that the term “anime” will be going through the same thing as manga does in the near future. I envision this due to the growing amount of artists that were inspired by anime and are taking on the world of animation. For instance, the web show called RWBY with heavy anime influences and the rise of “fanime” series and projects on Youtube, which are combined of the words “fan” and “anime”.
Let’s tackle the first model, which is the traditional route of a manga series being turned into an animated series. In a sense, this already exists in the US. We have animated shows like Batman, Superman and the Ninja Turtles, all based on comics. While they don’t follow the story lines note for note, these shows are probably the closest thing to that model in the US. With the slow death of comics, we have seen an influx of spin-offs from Pixar and Dreamworks films for animated shows, such as Kung Fu Panda. Now one could argue, that these are more children’s cartoons than anime, which kinda carries the more mature label of animated content. Could we classify shows such as Archer or the Simpsons as anime? I personally tend not to. Some people classify shows based on art styles and some on content. For instance, some would classify Archer or the Simpsons as cartoons since they are animated and others would classify cartoons as content geared towards a younger demographic. So with the terms being used, we will be flexible and look at the greater picture.
The article is called “Why America Will Never Truly Be Able to Make Its Own Anime” and that may be true to a sense. Anime in Japan gets made to promote manga, video games or a toy line. So if an American company were going to make an anime title but based it’s premise off of a Japanese manga, it would miss out on some potential marketing goodies. As the response to question states, if a series is doing well, a Japanese studio will license it, American studios wouldn’t get a chance.
America also doesn’t have the proper infrastructure to have a successful anime series take root. The show would essentially have one outlet, the late night block on Cartoon Network to reach the masses of cable viewers. SyFy no longer has a late night block in any form of anime to my knowledge and hasn’t had one for several years to my knowledge.
This all sounds kind of pessimistic, so what exactly am I saying?
In the US, people are increasingly cutting the cord to cable, thus making an American anime series primed for another platform, such as; Netflix, Amazon or some other player not in the market yet. As a culture, we are in a period of transition. One from the old ways of watching cable, to a new way people consume media that has not yet been directly defined. Once a show gains a level of success, it can then expand outside of the US. For instance, Roosterteeth recently announced that RWBY was going to be aired in Japan. You can read the article on adweek.
While I am not a businessman by any means, going this route may be a more profitable route. You wouldn’t have to pay to license a manga, and you could make money off of the licensing of the new Intellectual Property (IP), I believe.
So while anime is not the hot ticket item it was a decade or so ago, there is still room for an American series to make money in the space. I believe that we will see a successful title like that in the future and maybe develop it’s own niche as well. In my opinion American anime can exist, otherwise I wouldn’t be working on Cosmic Rage. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The final week before AnimeFargo is finally here, crunch time. This morning I dropped off my artist alley files to get printed, I am very excited to see them turn out after 2 rounds of test prints and final tweaks. I need to pick up a few other things for the table and then I am all set!
I have a few final edits to make to my presentations as well, something that I will easily get wrapped up this week. I have 3 panels for the event; History of CGI in Japanese Anime, a Q/A panel on storytelling and a presentation on anime as a storytelling medium. I am very excited to share these ideas with everyone and to help them in their projects as much as I can.
I also wrapped up my freelance project too. I am hoping after AnimeFargo I will be freed up to go all out on Cosmic Rage again. September has been an exciting month of preparations for my first artist alley and while I haven’t had a lot of work on Cosmic Rage to show for it, it isn’t without reason. AnimeFargo will be the debut of Cosmic Rage and for an important reason, testing the audience.
Right now, the plan for Cosmic Rage has been as a cross between e-book and animated hybrid. Seeing how the attendees of AnimeFargo react, it could alter the format of the project, which is why I didn’t work too far ahead this month, I was at a good stopping point that I felt was good to test and get feedback.
Check back next week for some exciting news and a con recap!
I know, I know. There has been a lack of posts for over a week, and maybe you are wondering what I am up to. It’s been a busy period so let’s get this production update started off with some awesome news. First off, test prints are done. You may be asking “what is a test print”? A test print, is a single print of a project, in this case, it was my character pin-ups for AnimeFargo artist alley. The 4 character pin-ups each had its own test print. By doing this, I am able to see what areas are too light, too dark, or if there are any clipping areas or artwork errors in the pieces final form. Since colors on your computer screen are different from how it will look after print, the test print allows you to tweak your artwork.
I have all of the pin-ups revised, mostly solving the problem of them being printed a bit too dark for my liking. I will be dropping the files off at the printer again tomorrow night after work to get another test print in.
Last week I also took a couple days off to go to Minneapolis for a concert to see my favorite band Rise Against.
I love their music and their message. You should check out all of their albums since they are fantastic and powerful. If you don’t believe me, check out one of their music videos. As an artist, I find so much inspiration in their music and our common interest in societal, political and other issues.
While in Minneapolis, I also checked out the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you haven’t been there, it is a great museum that has a ton of artwork. As usual I checked out the Asian art section, but they also had a powerful exhibit on death and the art of death.
Back to work this week on freelance work and wrapping up some more things for AnimeFargo! Hope to see you there.
I can’t recall if I mentioned that I recently bought some older anime or not, but I did. For the last several years I have been interested in the 3D animation scene in Japan, or lack thereof. A couple years ago, I presented some of the things I found and thought were interesting about it at the SGMS conference in Minneapolis (which is being held again at the end of September).
I thought it would be fun to expand on my presentation and dive a little deeper for AnimeFargo September 26-28th. The first thing I wanted to do was start digging into some of the early 3D titles to come out of Japan, which led me to the film A.Li.Ce.
A.Li.Ce may be the first full 3D animated film to come out of Japan, which would have been around the time of Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc in the US.
Visually, the film looks like cutscenes from RPG games of the same period with some shots having aliasing issues (pixellation). I am not surprised about some of the visual quirks, it was a standard at the time for places not named Pixar.
The story of A.Li.Ce revolves around a girl named Alice and her travels in space and time. While traveling in space, she actually travels into the future and runs into Yuan, a young boy who fixes robots. The two embark on a journey that involves a ruler named Nero and a super computer.
The plot has some pretty big and sometimes awkward gaps. Which I felt was a little surprising considering the novelty of the 3D animation and the potential marketing tool of that alone, I would have expected a cleaner story. There is also a weird appearance change by one of the characters in the film, something you don’t see too often. I’m not talking about a hair cut or something small like that.
The film was dubbed by ArtsMagicDVD. I don’t mean to beat them up, but the dub for the film is really bad. I would like to think that if the dub was better, it would have made the film a little more tolerable. As it stands, the film doesn’t have much for replay value. On a positive side note though, ArtsMagicDVD is the facility that released the other 2 full 3D features I intend on watching this month yet. The A.Li.Ce DVD also has some nice extras that I haven’t fully made my way completely through yet either. If your a fan of full 3D features, it’s worth checking out just for the fact it may be the first 3D feature to come out of Japan.
I hope everyone had a great extended weekend! I enjoyed some time in the garden and visited some family to relax as a very busy month is just around the corner. I wrapped up the 4th and final pin up for my artist alley table at Anime Fargo at the end of September. I am aiming to get them dropped off at the printer for a test print this week. Just need to run the text on the posters by an editor/writing friend for some feedback before taking them in. I am very excited to see them in the final form 🙂 The purpose of running a test print/run is to make sure the colors all look good and there aren’t areas that are too dark or too light, etc.
While those are at the printer, I am going to be working on getting my presentations into Keynote, a program similar to Powerpoint. I have to do a few updates to one of the presentations and the other one needs an overhaul.
So what else needs to get done in September? Well, I also need to get back on my 3D tutorials, I have been slacking on that front this past couple weeks. I also did some preserving of some fruit since winter is around the corner and it really got me thinking about doing a presentation at some point at a con about dieting and nutrition. I am not an expert on the topic at all, but it is something I enjoy learning about and trying to eat and live a healthier lifestyle. Would maybe need to partner with someone on that topic. I also have animation group this week and we are talking about expressions. I enjoy learning about those and seeing ways that those can help in my workflow as well. I also have a few freelance projects coming in so I can get the Cosmic Rage balance built up again for future needs and maybe a vacation 😉