Since I just found out, there are probably some of you that don't know about it yet.
This about summs everything up with the letter posted here.
I'm just one person.. but goddamn if we haven't purchased a lot of Pioneer/Geneon titles over the years. I'm scrambling to try and get my copy of Hellsing Ultimate 3 now, because it doesn't sound like these are going to be widely available anymore. Come to think of it.. I haven't finished my Gungrave box yet either. I think all the other Geneon releases we've purchased have been whole series or stand alones, though. But Hellsing, Gungrave, Trigun, Fushigi Yuugi, Tenchi Muyo, X, Ah! My Goddess, etc.. They had a lot of really strong titles. Classic shit! And they continued to release new stuff... and now they're pulling out of the US. I was always really happy with their releases. They had really great pre-order/special edition bonuses and awesome packaging. ADV never really came close, IMO.
I don't think I realized exactly how much the US industry invests in the Japanese animation companies. From the stuff I've been reading, apparently the situation is so bad that if the American investors were to pull out from some of these animation studios, the industry in Japan would start to collapse in as little as 5 years. Considering how new the industry is in the US, I found that very hard to beleive. Even if it IS true, it's not going to help anything. It's such a sad situation. The people that are making it worse by purchasing fansubs off ebay (idiots to begin with), the people SELLING fansubs on ebay, the companies stealing fansubs to make bootleg DVDs, etc. I understand all of that contibutes to this. I used to have heated debates with some of the deadbeats I used to know in college. They'd buy the Chinese bootlegs because they were cheaper than the official release, saying they could have a whole series for 15 bucks instead of one DVD. Or those that would spend hundreds of dollars on better hard drives so they could download more, etc. There's no convincing those people to go out and buy a copy of somthing they really enjoy.
I admit I'm guilty too. I download Bleach every week. But you know what? I also buy the Bleach DVDs when they come out. It's not my fault they're on episode 150whatever in Japan, and they've only released through episode 25or so on DvD. I want to know what happens, and I'll continue to DL the fansubs, AND purchase the DvDs as they come out. But I also buy Bleach merchandise that strikes my fancy, and have purchased US volumes of the manga. I think it's pretty obvious I'm supporting the series. Honestly, I'm not actively following any other series right now. But if it wasn't for fansubs, I wouldn't have found a lot of the series I love, so it's a tough issue. There are impulse buys I totally regret, like picking up volumes of series I heard a lot of great stuff about but ultimately didnt' end up liking at all. (Wolf's Rain, Samurai Champloo, Maburaho) But because I'd seen fansubs before they were released in the US, I was all over other series like Jungle wo istuma Hare nochi Guu. That series is.. very strange XD <3
Unfortunately, I think the people like us must be few and far between if it's getting this bad. What can you do? Some of these local people I've talked to heatedly defend themselves when you confront them with this sort of thing. They can't afford the DVDs, they can't afford the real DvDs, it's easier to DL and delete from the HD every time you want to see it, etcetc. I beleive the medium that gave birth to the US industry is the same thing that is choking it to death right now. It would have been a lot harder to break into the market without fansubbers, but they can't be held responsible for the actions of the people that download the content. I don't think the problem would be solved at all if the fansubbers all just quit. There are torrenting sites like AnimeSuki that take down ANY licensed titles from their lists as they are picked up. But what about titles that arn't licensed yet? You have to admit that the industry as a whole has kind of turned a blind eye to the stuff they haven't aquired yet. The few times it's been address, the industry as a whole says "Naughty naughty! Downloading is illegal!" and that's it. While they persue legal action for titles they own to protect their interests, the stuff that isn't licensed is in limbo. People don't hassle you about it since no one's making money off it.
I think this attitude in general is contributing to the problem. Like I said earlier, I have downloaded before. What I've downloaded pales in comparison to the VHS fansubbs we used to get,though. Before the age of bittorrent (lawl) you could order VHS copies of fansubs from distro sites. Yeah, this is old news to most of you guys, but talk to any kid at an anime convention, and they'll look at you like you're trying to convince them peopel regularly bought records or cassette tapes when they wanted music. Anyway, you'd pay the distro site for shipping and the base cost of the tapes themselves, but you didnt' pay for the fansubs. These places all pretty much shut down when people started downloading stuff like crazy. We've even thrown away most of our old VHS fansubs and replaced the scary wall of anime with the scary wall of DvDs. Within the past 3 or so years, they've released stuff so fast on DvD, I'd be able to look at a wall of disks at a store and say "holy crap, this title is out already??" and actually buy stuff I heard was good as opposed to downloading episodes.
But if everyone has a lax attitude towards what hasn't been picked up, it's the same as saying "It's ok to eat this cookie on this plate, but not the one on the plate next to it."
(I guess if you think about it that way, you're eating the cookie that the distro companies have already licked. lol. Not really what I was going for, but the thought of eating a cookie ADV has licked makes me laugh in a "I want to puke" kind of way)
Anyway, it's a problem not easily solved. I'd stop downloading Bleach all together if I could purchase everything that's come out on DvD right here and now. It could cost hundreds of dollars I'm sure, because that series is too fucking long and I'd have to buy the filler season... but anyway. If they're running 4-5 episodes per disk and they released everything through the beginning of the season I'm watching, that would be awesome. But they're behind. If I stopped watching now, and waited for the releases to catch up to what I've seen, it'll be YEARS D: Then again, maybe the company will fold and I'll be screwed >..<
Being VIZ, though, I doubt it. Those guys have been around forever, and they have both Bleach and Naruto right now. I don't think they're going anywhere with two of the hottest series. Ultimately, though, it's tricky. I haven't seen the HBO TV series The Sopranos. I've heard it is good, but I haven't seen any of it. If I wanted to, I could go online and find a website that is streaming the whole series illegally. I'm sure I could find it in under 20 min. That's illegal. I'm sure if I wanted to, I could find someone I know who owns all of it, and borrow it or watch it at their place. Is that illegal? I could also go out and rent it all at a video store for a minimal fee. That's not illegal. But when you think about it, the video store purchased a copy of the series, and has made all that money back and more for letting people watch their copy of the DvDs. It's really hard to distinguish right and wrong when you break it down and think about it like that.
This leads me to beleive that the worst problem.. the one that's hurting everyone the most right now... is the illegal sale of bootlegged/pirated discs. That's not as prevalent as downloading fansubs, but it has to be a bigger problem than I may realize since so many fansubs I've seen have huge disclaimers saying "If you paid for this, you are a fucking moron"
I've also heard of bootleggers in other countries downloading US fansubs and burning them to disk, then turning around and selling them. And that's just horrible too XP It's the same problem that the movie and music industries in general are having. Maybe they can weather it better because they are much bigger than the anime companies. Maybe it's just easier to buy bootlegged anime. I don't know.
At any rate.. if more companies fold and pull out, people are going to download even more titles. If the industry is being held together by US money, then there won't be as many titles in the future, period. Maybe we can all wait for the anime fad to blow over in a few years and go back to being closet geeks? :P