556) Sony Anime Takeover?

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556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby Andrew » Sun Nov 01, 2020 10:21 am

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The hosts of the Otaku Spirit Animecast are here to take on the news of anime from the last few weeks. Listen in to get updated on the world of anime and get their take on it!

Topics this episode: RetroCrush new titles, Redo of Healer, Kemono Jihen, B The Beginning, Given Movie, Hanasaku Iroha novel, PS5 Anime Apps, Tokyo Babylon, Kaguya-sama Love Is War 3rd Season, Killing Bites license, Netflix new titles, Crunchyroll buyout by Sony, and much more!

Thanks to Hideaki Annoying, Bacon Chips, and Otakuusama1 for the great questions featured in this episode!

The opening music for this episode is the ED Moriarty The Patriot called “ALPHA” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION. The closing music for this episode is the OP for Rumble Hearts called “Precious Memories” by Minami Kuribayashi.

We hope you all enjoy!
http://otakuspirit.com/2020/11/animecas ... -takeover/
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Re: 556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby BlueSpark » Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:50 am

Kimagure Orange Road is actually one of the first anime titles I ever put on my to-watch list based on forum recommendations, only to find out that it wasn't dubbed in English. And after being an anime fan for a few years and slowly figuring out how things work, I realized it'd most likely never receive a dub, so I gave up on it.

Given the age of the show, however, I'm very skeptical on whether I'd enjoy if even if it was localized today. I did try the dubbed version of To Love-Ru about half a year back, and while the dub itself clearly had today's production quality, the show overall still felt old (and as I keep mentioning, I tend not to enjoy older series anymore).


I read about the announcement of the 3rd season for Kaguya-Sama. This honestly makes me hesitant as to whether I should check out seasons 1 and 2 once Funimation wraps up the dub production. I think I may just wait until next year instead to watch all of it in one go.


Huh – I recently read about Muv-Luv being a rather popular VN/franchise, but I never looked any deeper into it, so I had no idea it was actually a spin-off of Rumbling Hearts (and you even used that show's OP to close out the podcast – cheeky Andrew). While I loved Rumbling Hearts for its unique brand of utterly depressing drama, judging from the shorts bits I caught reading the Wikipedia synopsis, Muv-Luv seems to be in a different genre ballpark. So… not particularly interested (unless someone wants to throw me a pitch to convince me otherwise).


Regarding the potential Crunchyroll buy-out, I don't quite get Andrew's line of argumentation: If Sony (with both Funimation and Crunchyroll under its wing) isn't interested in a specific anime title, why would the producing studio in Japan decline licensing it to a different company at a lower price? It makes no sense to me that the studio would willingly lose out on potential licensing revenue altogether.

I do agree on the point that a single company coming close to holding a monopoly on anime licenses in the English-speaking realm sounds bad. But the way the anime industry looks to me right now, I don't see the gatekeeping threat the way you're describing it. As I alluded to above, if Sony doesn't want to license a specific anime, there are still smaller competitors to pick it up, unless the Japanese creators somehow refuse to sell it for cheap out of spite or something.

Now, as for my personal thoughts on Funimation and Crunchyroll merging under the same umbrella, I'm obviously hoping that Funi could localize titles licensed by Crunchy again, like back during their partnership a few years ago. This could spare us from debacles like A Place Further Than the Universe and similarly popular series remaining without English dubs.
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Re: 556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby Eira » Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:26 pm

BlueSpark wrote:I do agree on the point that a single company coming close to holding a monopoly on anime licenses in the English-speaking realm sounds bad. But the way the anime industry looks to me right now, I don't see the gatekeeping threat the way you're describing it. As I alluded to above, if Sony doesn't want to license a specific anime, there are still smaller competitors to pick it up, unless the Japanese creators somehow refuse to sell it for cheap out of spite or something.

HIDIVE is pretty bad at buying stuff even when it's a show that no other platform picks up. But I doubt this would be an issue anyway, I must agree with BlueSpark here. Sony has bought most shows every season since getting Funi and Wakanim and Animelab. So they're clearly just planning on owning everything, it's sony after all, they can throw their money around. Crunchyroll only had a handful of shows this season, and only 4 of them I really care about. I assume Sony is just doing this to 1. Make sure it pretty much gets every show and 2. To get the shows where Crunchyroll funds them or is part of the production committee, crunchyroll has their hands in enough anime cookie jars that you can't get EVERY show without them. I doubt they'll leave much out.

However I do wanna point out to BlueSpark that it's not just the english speaking realm, Wakanim obviously covers Germany, Russia, France, and the Nordic countries. Aus-NZ with Animelab is English speaking, but not "The West". Plus Sony is a Japanese company and so they've already built up some solid anime companies over there too, they own Aniplex, and Aniplex isn't just a studio, it's a production firm. Which means they have their hands in a lot of stuff, they're pretty much responsible for half of everything good you've heard of, cause they have worked on a lot of stuff, most of it good. That's why shows like Fate/Grand Order was coming to Funi first and then Crunchyroll much later, cause of Aniplex. A-1 Pictures is also a part of this, the A is there cause they're a subsidiary of Aniplex, so Sony also owns one of the biggest studios and biggest production committees in Japan. Since again Aniplex works with many studios, since they've helped produce many Trigger and Shaft shows too, they're not just limited to A-1.

This shows that Sony is going for a worldwide level of control over the anime industry, fully taking over control in Japan would be pretty hard but Aniplex alone gives them quite a wide reach and multiple streams of revenue that I think they're content with Japan. And then taking Funimation, Wakanim, and Animelab wasn't enough, they are deciding to spend OVER A BILLION DOLLARS to take Crunchyroll too, they're only real competitor left.

Chris and Andrew are wrong about them leaving shows out but that's what's scary about it. Sony is a huge company, they can throw their money around all they like, it means nothing to them, an anime studio will be happy to hand over rights to a big Japanese company like Sony. And these smaller companies that BlueSpark talked about, they'll be crushed, wiped out. As Sony will pump so much money into making sure it gets everything, the Crunchyroll Production reach and Sony's already large reach with Aniplex will cause them to be able to control most of what is allowed to even get made and they will shape the anime landscape. Shows like Yuru Camp, a place further than the universe, Space patrol Lulucol and others are only possible because Crunchyroll funded their production, a lot of shows have the same fate but owing their own existence to Aniplex. If your show can't get made without a big production company backing it with funding, it won't get made. And if most of the big production companies are actually all under the same 1 big company, they control the entire medium.
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Re: 556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby Andrew » Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:17 am

BlueSpark wrote:Regarding the potential Crunchyroll buy-out, I don't quite get Andrew's line of argumentation: If Sony (with both Funimation and Crunchyroll under its wing) isn't interested in a specific anime title, why would the producing studio in Japan decline licensing it to a different company at a lower price? It makes no sense to me that the studio would willingly lose out on potential licensing revenue altogether.

I do agree on the point that a single company coming close to holding a monopoly on anime licenses in the English-speaking realm sounds bad. But the way the anime industry looks to me right now, I don't see the gatekeeping threat the way you're describing it. As I alluded to above, if Sony doesn't want to license a specific anime, there are still smaller competitors to pick it up, unless the Japanese creators somehow refuse to sell it for cheap out of spite or something.

Now, as for my personal thoughts on Funimation and Crunchyroll merging under the same umbrella, I'm obviously hoping that Funi could localize titles licensed by Crunchy again, like back during their partnership a few years ago. This could spare us from debacles like A Place Further Than the Universe and similarly popular series remaining without English dubs.

It's a business practice of following the precedence other sales in your market set. If I have a product and I believe that product has the same value as any other company's product (or want to give the illusion that it does), I'd want to keep it at market value. If I sell for less that it, it either gives the impression my product is inferior or that people will get it for cheap from me every time. I don't have concrete evidence on this in the anime industry, but it is more me applying my knowledge in the procurement industry to what I see here. Unfortunately they aren't super vocal about this kind of stuff. There is a few statements and reports out of Japan from a while back you can probably look into (don't have them handy) that discusses the idea of pricing increasing through bidding and bigger companies. I think they came out around the time Netflix got involved in anime.

You also have to keep in mind that the western market is not a big part of their picture. It's not hard to imaging companies just saying "no" because they want to keep value on their anime. They don't always have to say yes, especially if they believe Sony will eventually come back to them.

The reverse is also true. Thinking they own the market, Sony could offer less, thus opening the chance for smaller companies on the west to sneak in and grab titles.

I do love the idea of Funimation getting back into Crunchyroll's catalog... or rather there not being a divide in anime for the sake of more anime getting dubs. However, I am curious if Funimation will continue to see value in dubbing a lot of titles after a merger. Technically Dubs are Funimation's tool for pulling a market to them. If there's no need to pull the market in their direction with a unique offering anymore, I hope it doesn't lead to them cutting costs by limiting their dubs.

Also, in the concept of Gatekeeping specifically, look up the Sony versus Senran Kagura ordeal. It's an example of a company (director) changing their content (or not doing it at all) all because Sony held the biggest platform and was telling them to censor their games. This is an obvious sign of what happens when one company holds too much power in the industry. It leads to developers (studios/committees) to purposely alter their content in order for the big dog to buy their title.

Man.. discussing this makes me feel like a negative nancy hahah.... I'm really just trying to set my expectations low on this I guess. Worst case scenarios.
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Re: 556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby BlueSpark » Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:19 am

Eira wrote:Plus Sony is a Japanese company and so they've already built up some solid anime companies over there too, they own Aniplex, and Aniplex isn't just a studio, it's a production firm.
That's a very good point I didn't think about at all - thanks for bringing it up. Although this has no immediate bearing on the Crunchyroll acquisition, it paints a bit of a different picture of Sony's overall power and influence in the market.

Andrew wrote:It's a business practice of following the precedence other sales in your market set. If I have a product and I believe that product has the same value as any other company's product (or want to give the illusion that it does), I'd want to keep it at market value. If I sell for less that it, it either gives the impression my product is inferior or that people will get it for cheap from me every time.
OK, that makes a good bit of sense. Since I lack the finer knowledge in business matters, I'll take your word for it.

Also thanks for enlightening me on the gatekeeping debacle. I get the gist of it now. As usual, I'm personally not too bothered by most types of censorship, but I acknowledge that it is a (potential) problem in the big scheme of things.

Andrew wrote:I am curious if Funimation will continue to see value in dubbing a lot of titles after a merger. Technically Dubs are Funimation's tool for pulling a market to them. If there's no need to pull the market in their direction with a unique offering anymore, I hope it doesn't lead to them cutting costs by limiting their dubs.
I don't see it that way. A major part of Funimation's fanbase are people who watch mainly or exclusively English dubs (like myself). If Funi reduced their dub output, it stands to reason they would lose a portion of their customer base. They could just switch over to HiDive or Netflix as their primary services if those eventually eclipse Funimation in the amount of dubs produced (especially keeping in mind how Sentai has been catering more and more to dub fans lately, and Netflix is becoming more active in the anime sphere in general, of course with all of their shows localized).

At the very least, I can speak for myself: With less localized animes on offer, I would obviously buy fewer of Funimation's blu-rays. Take that, corporate!
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Re: 556) Sony Anime Takeover?

Postby Eira » Mon Nov 09, 2020 9:10 am

BlueSpark wrote:
Eira wrote:Plus Sony is a Japanese company and so they've already built up some solid anime companies over there too, they own Aniplex, and Aniplex isn't just a studio, it's a production firm.
That's a very good point I didn't think about at all - thanks for bringing it up. Although this has no immediate bearing on the Crunchyroll acquisition, it paints a bit of a different picture of Sony's overall power and influence in the market.

Well personally I think it's scary that the company is taking up more and more anime space outside of japan aswell. And it does have bearing within the bounds of Crunchyroll being an entire company, not just a streaming service, and thus they are also a production company. Responsible for 30 shows so far, most of which are quite popular. https://myanimelist.net/anime/producer/1784/Crunchyroll_SC_Anime_Fund

As far as the 'will sony skip out on things' argument goes, I doubt it. But I wanna make a point of them owning two production firms, although the SC Anime Fund might just be absorbed into Aniplex. It's like the Disney of anime, and I personally see that as a bad thing, it's not just America or 'outside of japan' anime industry we need to look at, this merger specifically will affect the anime industry within Japan itself too. And yes the censorship is a big thing, Sony has been doing it for years with games, anime could go the same way once they have enough influence to basically stop anything that doesn't do what they say.
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