SOFT POWER HARD TRUTHS / Will fan site save anime in 2009?
As the new year fast approaches, the news across the anime industry looks persistently bleak: downward-spiraling overseas DVD sales coupled with decreasing profits at home, a shrinking domestic labor force combined with an ever-expanding menu of file-share freebies--and, of course, an anemic global economy for all.
But there is a silver lining on the horizon, and you can test its brightness and durability beginning exactly one week from today.
Next Friday, Jan. 2, California-based Crunchyroll.com, one of the largest and most popular of the so-called "fan sites," or Internet portals for free anime uploaded exclusively by and for fans, is going legit: legal and fully licensed for producer profit.
If you follow this column, this is not the first you've heard of Crunchyroll's foray into unchartered bandwidth. In September, I conducted a phone interview with Vu Nguyen, the site's cofounder and vice president of business, development and strategy. Nguyen recounted for me his team's trips to Japan at the start of 2008 to obtain digital strategies directly from the front offices of Japan's anime producers.
The result? They had none ... [read more here]