About a week ago I posted that 2011, for all its problems, was a stable year for anime. It turns out that stability was short lived. In an interview with Justin Sevakis and Chris Macdonald on AnimeNewsNetwork, Bandai Entertainment President and CEO Ken Iyadomi announced Bandai’s decision to stop licensing and releasing shows. Some bloggers (including Charlie Maib from Kotaku via Japanator) have suggested that piracy killed Bandai. But if you look at what Iyadomi said, I think it’s more likely that Bandai Japan is to blame. And not blame in a bad way, blame in the sense that Bandai Japan (full name: Namco Bandai Holdings) made a rational business decision. It decided, maybe prematurely, to protect its profits and let mainstream fans get anime digitally.
Digital is the future of video media. Funimation’s announcement of a new premium streaming service this weekend shows that it recognizes what it needs to do to maximize its profits. Up until now, Funimation mostly used streaming to advertise its physical disc releases. I think this announcement reveals the company’s true online strategy, to use streaming as the primary source of Funimation’s profits.
Free. Legal. And released within a week of the show’s Japan air date. Streaming video is something that I have craved ever since I started watching anime. I always feel guilty about not doing enough to support the industry, even if I do buy more anime than a normal person should. Watching streaming anime gives me a way to offer my support without needing to shell out $30 for 13 episodes. The biggest (legal) services right now are Cunchyroll, Netflix and Hulu. Continue reading