Well–here’s my first salvo in the “12 Days, 12 Moments” project. Why so late and out of sync with the rest of the blogosphere? Well, as someone with theological training, I couldn’t bear to be so liturgically incorrect as to misidentify the 12 Days of Christmas as the days prior to Christmas, could I? After all, the first day of Christmas is actually Christmas Day, continuing until January 5, the day before Epiphany, and couldn’t people just look things up on Wikipedia and—
–oh fine. It’s really because I was lazy and I couldn’t be bothered to start until now. Anyways…
Our first moment is the release of the first episode of the Tower of Druaga. You might remember my initial review of it. It was not only one of the funniest, most uproarious parody anime episodes in a long while, it was also the augur of a revolution in the anime industry.
It really started with Crunchyroll. Crunchyroll, the bane of both industry-supporting fans as well as many a fansubbing group lamenting loss of control, changed the landscape of anime distribution. And, in a sign of things to come, it forced what I believe was the necessary step that the Japanese studios themselves needed to take. In a bold move, Gonzo Studios decided to release The Tower of Druaga (and Blassreiter) on the same day as the Japanese broadcast, online, subtitled, streaming for free and paying to download–on multiple sites.
This wasn’t just new and not done before. It was exactly what folks like me were asking for.
This experiment, which would prove very profitable for them, was the first sign that the Japanese were at last beginning to realize what had to be done in the new age of instant internet delivery and widespread fansubbing–which is to say, they needed to make fansubbing unnecessary and legal watching convenient. It wouldn’t be long before more shows were distributed by Gonzo in the same way, and before Crunchyroll itself began attracting enormous amounts of legitimate deals and business from the likes of TV Tokyo.
Of course, there are still questions of profitability, whether other studios will agree to the plan, and the economic downturn that remain unresolved. Still, the first episode of Druaga can thus be identified as a concrete turning point, and its consequences are still playing out to this day. It sends a signal that the anime industry need not follow the way of the RIAA and MPAA, and is ready to play. A genuine moment indeed.