Figured it’d be good to go ahead and share some words regarding the recent simulcast/streaming pull-out over the piracy of Yamakan’s latest series, Fractale. A series which only premiered last week, has experienced what has slowly become a popular occurrence. Bringing to mind the Oreimo pull that occurred via ANN late last year, this strange practice of supposedly having all ramparts covered for a legal means of display on screens nationwide, only to become threatened by a minority of eager folks seems less like a precautionary measure, and more a case of not understanding how the streaming model works.
Because on one hand, we have the system in place where the series can be shown in specified regions, all the while paid for by the use of online ads to pay for the space. Not unlike the way television had long done so. This is something that has been in the works for some time it seems, and yet perhaps frightens some due to it not making anywhere near the numbers some are used to with this type of entertainment. And on the other, as mentioned, this is a young system, filled with perilous gaps, and prone to wavering amounts of doubt as to whether this actually assures anyone on both sides of the Atlantic any real profitability. This is still very much Frontierland as far as many have seen, and has been a point of debate since legal streaming has become mainstream.
Or could it perhaps mean something more fundamentally basic than merely not understanding this young means of anime distribution? Again, one should not merely look at the recent Asahi Shinbun article as a point to contest as Yamamoto is merely a head staffer on the artist side of matters. (But the article should provide some good hint of what was to come) In the end, this is an issue decided by his producers, folks who for one reason or another saw a leak, and reacted in an overwrought, yet predictable fashion. Their onus for sure is to protect their investment, but to not consider the dangers inherent in online distribution seems more than a little retroactive, and not to mention silly for a society once known as a technological powerhouse. Now the details of the alleged act of piracy are sketchy at best, but to not consider the always present danger amidst the internet seems insulting, so in the name of giving the benefit of the doubt, perhaps there is another reason for this. A new development in the history of this show’s production/promotion?
Again, this is all speculation, but could it be a combination of a growing lack of faith in the streaming model,coupled with a more old-school way of looking at a valued product? Even Gundam 0079 was a long-prized title that asked for wildly high amounts before a distribution deal was ever made. As silly as this may sound, perhaps members of the Fractale Production Committee see something we don’t, and have taken it upon themselves to rethink the entire deal. (possibly only seeing salvation in physical sales?) Stranger things have, and can happen. Again, I’m not beyond them merely being reactionary, and desperate to save what they see as a potentially expensive project from being pillaged. But it does stand to reason that many in Japan still hold tight to older models of selling their product, and feel compelled to keep it this way.
Does it still make sense? Not really. Does this move truly combat piracy? Nope. But when a business is unable to see the possibilities, and remain unwilling to discuss it with progress in mind, events like this may continue to cut artists & writers off at the knees. It is this, coupled with a growing dearth of talent in Japan that will kill anime as we know it. But sometimes, it feels like impatient ones, as well as producers wear similar blindfolds to what can potentially save it.
Yamakan may wish to consider the globe with Fractale, but his investors may feel fiscally otherwise.