July 17, 2009

Endless ∞ commentary

DiGiKerot has some intelligent commentary on the whole thing.

Two points he makes in particular: first, if anyone besides KyoAni had pulled a stunt like this, they'd have been raked over the coals for it. (Imagine if Gonzo had done it, for example. I don't even think J.C. Staff could have gotten away with it.) The only reason anyone is cutting KyoAni any slack on this is because of their formidable track record and reputation.

Second, KyoAni is squandering a lot of fan good-will. This business will cut way back on that reputation.

Yes, there are people who think this is a stroke of genius, and are genuine about that, but I think the majority opinion is that it would have been even more genius to do the same thing in two episodes or at most three.

His post also touches on something else that just happened. Bandai has the R1 license for Kannagi, and they're giving exclusive sales rights for the first round release to Brand X.

It's interesting that the market has changed enough now so that release houses like Bandai think that dealing with the big-box stores is more trouble than benefit. All the release houses have been thoroughly hammered in the last year by big-box stores returning unsold inventory for refund. (That was one of the things that killed ADV, for example. It hit them in their cash-flow when they didn't have enough.)

And it looks as if Rightst... er, Brand X, has made some serious contractual concessions to Bandai in exchange for exclusive sales rights to this release.

Next year sometime a full-series box set will come out, and the good guys will be able to sell that one. They're not being locked out forever.

But they are being locked out in the short term. Is it really a wise step for Bandai to favor one of their customers over all the others? Even if (hypothetically, because I don't know this for sure) it's their biggest customer? Historically this kind of thing has been a really good way to piss customers off.

And even if you think the customer has no choice but to deal with you anyway, poisoning a relationship like that isn't really very smart.

Anyway, another footnote: it's going to be sub-only. It looks like everyone in the industry is retuning their release process for lower volumes, which means they need less one-time expense. Releasing without a dub will reduce sales some, but it also saves a hell of a lot of time and money and even with lower sales could result in higher profits.

When Media Blasters first started doing this a couple of years ago I speculated that it would become widespread. Now all the R1 release houses are doing it.

UPDATE: Bob is not happy.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 03:21 PM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
Post contains 469 words, total size 3 kb.

1 There's difficulties in distribution, too. For one thing, while more and more fans are finding that they like high-def, there's not anywhere near the number necessary to pay for widespread Blu-Ray releases. Nor do the economics of streaming high-def work well. This leaves the studios in a cleft stick - there's no cost-effective way to deliver high-def content, but the fans are buying less and less SD-resolution stuff (on top of, naturally, the recession putting a crimp in buying in general).

As far as the exclusive, my instincts say "marketing gimmick", especially with a Japanese company in the driver's seat on this release. You can't solicit a title to retailers AND keep it secret at the same time.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 17, 2009 08:40 PM (vGfoR)


Had been expecting Nagi-sama to appear in R1 for a while now (ever since the fanclub website appeared).

Regarding Haruhi, my theory is two execs at Kyoani/Kadokawa had a bet as to how far they could go with this crap ('bet you 100 yen we can get away with doing the same episode 5 times'; '200 yen if you go for 6').

Posted by: Andy Janes at July 18, 2009 12:02 AM (lNf10)


The missus & I enjoyed about 60% of Haruhi S1.  When we realized just what's up with S2, we decided to wait until we read that "it's over" and then we'll watch that one. 

Put us in the "goodwill, squandered" category. 

Posted by: Tiberius at July 18, 2009 05:37 AM (TXmvK)

4 I rather suspect Bob is going to be even less pleased when he reads that Bandai are intending for next years general release version of Kannagi to be more expensive than the release they are putting out now...

Posted by: DiGiKerot at July 18, 2009 07:01 AM (y9Ale)

5 Maybe it'll be more money, but I don't think they intend it to be more $/episode. Next year's release is supposed to be the full show.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 18, 2009 07:57 AM (+rSRq)

6 Nope - they've been pretty clear about that fact that they intend it to cost more overall. To quote from Bandai themselves...

“Furthermore, when we do make this sub only version available to the mass retailers at some point down the line it will be the same product for a HIGHER SRP – not less expensive as being speculated, so the obvious inference is to get it for less, get it NOW.”

Basically, they'll bundle the two disks together, but I wouldn't expect to see it for any less that $65

Posted by: DiGiKerot at July 18, 2009 08:23 AM (y9Ale)

7 And here I thought America was the only country that had gone insane.

Posted by: ubu at July 18, 2009 08:32 AM (Die4U)


Well, Bob reads this blog so even if he didn't know about it, I guess he does now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 18, 2009 09:23 AM (+rSRq)

9 Naturally Bob isn't happy - like he's saying, he took a lot of crap over Bandai returns when they were having replicator problems.

On the other hand, Right Stuf has been doing warehousing and suchlike for Bandai for a while, so if they were going to pull a stunt like this, RS is the obvious partner to do it with.

(shrug) It's a stunt, plain and simple. I can see why Bandai wouldn't have any luck with conventional retailers - it's another moe comedy, essentially, and those don't exactly fly off the shelves. So if you're going to be moving most of your units online anyway...

I have to wonder how much of it was done to engineer an Otakon "event" (since they have Yamakan there as a guest). It'd be wagging the dog a little, but at the same time, with Aniplex calling the shots, it's entirely possible that they'd put short-term promotion over long-term dealer relationships... and Bandai, weakened as they are, isn't in any position to refuse that kind of thing.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 18, 2009 12:26 PM (pWQz4)


Given that at Otakon, Bandai had given the retailers from Anime Depot exclusive rights to selling Kannagi at the con...Well, perhaps Bandai likes dealing with retailers who will not publically (And sometimes, of questionable professionalism.) about their vendors?

Just a thought (From someone who bought Kannagi at Otakon.).


Posted by: cxt217 at July 19, 2009 12:05 PM (zgYCu)


I don't think it's fair to hang that on Bob. I think he's entitled to feel angry. If they'd played fairly with him he wouldn't have denounced them.

He's had to deal with their problems before and hasn't bad-mouthed them. Bandai had a run of unplayable DVDs due to choosing a cut-rate foundry, but that wasn't discovered until those DVDs were in customer hands. Which meant that Bob and the other retailers had to deal with customer complaints and had to ship replacement DVDs to them all.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 19, 2009 01:05 PM (+rSRq)

12 Yeah, Bob's justified here. He's a specialty retailer. If his competitors get a product to sell and he can't buy it, that hurts his business. That's the ostensible reason behind the "release date" in the first place - so that everybody would get the show up on the shelf on the same day, and there wouldn't be any reason for a retailer to fight to be the "first" one stuff gets shipped to.

In a lot of ways, this is even worse, because how is Bob supposed to know he needs to "fight" for a release nobody's ever owned up to?

Bandai's already not the favorite company of a lot of retailers because of the defective disc issues they've been having. Telling a bunch of them "we are prepared to sell our products and not ship them to you at release when it's convenient for us" is at least something of a slap in the face.

In Bandai's defense, they had an extensive layoff recently, so it's entirely possible that nobody who's left actually knew that this would be a bad idea. To the extent that RS does Bandai's warehousing and the like these days, doing a deal like this with RS is at least a little like "keeping it in-house" (or, by contrast, it would have been impossible for them to do the deal with anyone else and keep it secret from RS). And there's a real question about how much actual weight the remaining US stump of Bandai can throw around, if the Japanese licensor of a show is taking an unusual interest (and they are).

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 19, 2009 01:52 PM (vGfoR)


This really does smack of being something that the Japanese licensor crammed down Bandai's throat.

Not that that's any excuse.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 19, 2009 02:13 PM (+rSRq)


There is a lively discussion of Kannagi going on over at the Anime on DVD forums.


The comments by Chris Beveridge sheds an interesting light on this.


Posted by: cxt217 at July 19, 2009 06:11 PM (zgYCu)

15 I'd like to know what was so great about the series anyway. 
Yes, I watched the fansubs.  No, I didn't think it was that hot.. 

Posted by: ubu at July 19, 2009 07:12 PM (KzvqJ)

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 19, 2009 07:25 PM (ZpwKm)


I can't believe all the TRSI fanbois in that thread. Ye Gods.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 19, 2009 07:27 PM (+rSRq)

18 Well, RS has been posting regularly there for years, so they've got a lot of good will built up. (For that matter, I happen to think they're good people myself...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 19, 2009 08:32 PM (vGfoR)


I used to buy from them, but I got tired of their policy of "We ship at our convenience, not at yours."

I tried RACS once and was amazed at how rapidly my order shipped. Since then I've put in at least 30 orders and every one of them has shipped next business day.

That's not true. There was one that was delayed. That's because I entered my credit card information incorrectly and they had to contact me to get it straightened out.

The shortest I've ever see was 45 minutes from when my order when in until I received the shipment notice.

I give TRSI credit for their Nozomi subsidiary, who have released titles I am glad to have seen (e.g. Shingu). But as a retail outlet, I prefer RACS and that's why they get all my business.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 19, 2009 08:36 PM (+rSRq)


I don't quite get that speed of service, but then again, I don't order as much, rarely pay for faster shipping, and don't have near the online following.  Generally, if I put an order in on Sunday night, I'll get the ship notice on Tuesday.  I figure that's also due to the weekend backlog.

If Bob's giving you special service & perks, it's only a smart business decision, and I don't have a problem with that.

Posted by: ubu at July 20, 2009 06:45 AM (i7ZAU)

21 "Order Sunday night, ship Tuesday" would be "next business day," which was SDB's upper bound. Monday would have been same-day, since I don't think Bob has 24/7 warehouse service.

My last 3 RACS orders were "ordered 1AM Thursday, shipped same day", "ordered 8PM Monday, shipped Wednesday", and "ordered 10AM Sunday, shipped Monday". That's same day twice, next day once. And I don't have a blog or anything, so no reason to give me rock-star treatment... so I don't think SDB's getting special service. Other than that 45-minute thing.

My last 2 TRSI orders were ordered on Mon (8PM) and Wed (1PM) of the same week, and both shipped on the following Saturday. Fifth-day shipping does not impress me... especially when the shipping company doesn't do anything on the weekend, making it effectively seventh-day...

Posted by: Mikeski at July 20, 2009 10:27 AM (CT8LT)

22 I dismissed Steven's fanboyism about RACS until TRSI started screwing with my shipments as well, and completely abandoned them about two years ago.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at July 20, 2009 10:54 AM (/ppBw)

23 BTW, related - the classic at Pink Bento Box.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at July 20, 2009 11:43 AM (/ppBw)

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