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Free Food = Free Manga = Free Anime? Wha?!

What does free food has anything to do with free manga + free anime? Is Pizza Hut finally doing a campaign tied in to anime in the US? OH BOY!

Well, if you look at the first pic, you will realize this is about opinions on supporting the manga industry – don’t leave yet! There is free food! Or that’s being mentioned, at least!!! Also fan service pictures are posted through out the article!

After many years (yeah, 3 years) of thinking and probing (don’t go there) about the issue from every angle, which is encased in today’s cyberworld under the tyranny of the global Giga banker-controlled economy – think the Genom Megacorp in Bubblegum Crisis or the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner, I’ll give you my reflections. It’s not going to be a long article, trust me, because when you boil it down to basics, it ain’t that complex.

1. Supporters, industrial personnels, artists, etc.

Folks like them grew up in the age that I grew up in – simply put, we paid for entertainment in different ways. Because the truth is, no entertainment is ever free. Are TV programs free? No, the people who pay to get their commericials, which have annoyed most of us except for the creative professionals and critics, pay for them, though not directly. How about PBS? Well, there are people out there paying for the programs! In Japan, NHK used to be able to enforce a fee out of everyone and people in Japan used to just pay it every month. But now they can’t. So they also depend heavily on public funding and when that’s short, anime like the Story of 12 Kingdoms gets cut short. Similar things happen to other public programs. After all, nothing entertaining grow on trees and even the jokes we crack as people come about because we’re alive and we eat, sleep and think. But I digress.

It’s almost like going to a store to get groceries, ice cream, coke or ordering a pizza. Think about it closely. Can pizzas come to your doorstep for free? If yes, either you won a promotion (the store paid for that) or your parents/friends/sibling paid for it. Can cable/satellite dish/PC/Mac come from free? If yes, your parents/roommates/school (out of your tuition) paid for them.

In short, folks our age and older were paying for any kind of entertainment before the younger folks were born. As a personal note, I transitioned from the Age of Paying to the Age of Freebies (or maybe not so freebies). Like Rock from Black Lagoon standing in the shawdow night and day (in the twlight), I have observed both ages.

2. Teens and younger people in their early 20’s and some others.

It’s hard to pin down the exact demographic, but here’s their story:

“Pay? Pay for what? It’s right there on the net and I can just get it! That’s how we are used to doing things!”

Put yourselves in their shoes for a second. Imagine growing up being taught to use the net to find any useful thing without having to sit in a car to get to the library, or not having to dial a landline phone to talk to your friends, or not having to get a piece of paper and a pen/pencil to write to a friend who moved far away. Imagine not having to pay long distance charges to talk to a friend on the other side of earth online, imagine having another friend telling you that you can just read manga and watch anime online.

I’ll bet the friend never told you that or cared to tell you where these manga scantalations and anime torrent/streaming/downloads came from. Imagine growing up in the past 10 years as you matured from anywhere from the age of…let’s say 7, to the age of…let’s say, 17. In other words, imagine that you have gotten free manga and anime for half of your life.

If I were these young folks, I’d be questioning the reason for buying them. People tend to gravitate toward the free and the available. Permit me to use a biblical reference – In the Garden of Eden, food was free. As an extrapolation, resources were free. Nobody paid for anything. While the Garden of Eden maybe only a myth, a tale or an allegory, it does highlight some of the issue here: it’s free resource, right? So why bother paying for it?

Well, techinically, in the Garden of Eden, GOD provided the resources = he somehow pulled them out of his sleeves, which probably cost him something, disregarding all the theological debates. I think.

In the case of manga/anime/other “freebies”, a group of people worked their butts off, sometimes pulling many all nighters, so that these things can get to the hands of buyers = readers/viewers. In other words, it’s their job. It’s how they get paid.

Now imagine this: you’ve been working at a McDonald’s for, I dunno, $7.50 per hour. One day, you’re standing after the counter taking orders. Your friend walks in and say: “I want a Big Mac.”

You: “OK. That’ll be $1.50 (note: pardon my lack of knowledge on that, haven’t been to a McDonalds in ages).”

Your friend laughes at you. He proceeds to plug his PC/Mac into the internet connection nearby, and from the PC/Mac, a Big Mac (har har pun) comes right out. He grabs it and leaves. Leaving you behind the counter.

Do you report that to your boss? Let’s say you do. Your boss tells you: “We can’t really track down everyone who downloads a Big Mac. There are too many of them.”

You: “Oh, all right.” Not a big deal. A lot of people came and paid for the Big Mac and you’re just a part-time guy/gal. Who cares if just a few Big Macs are downloaded for free?

After a while, one day you walk into the backroom ready for work, your boss approaches you. He doesn’t look too happy.

Boss: “I need to talk to you.”

You: “What is it? Did I do anything wrong?”

Boss: “No, but I can’t afford to hire you anymore.”

You: “Why? What’s going on?”

Boss: “Because so many of our food items are being downloaded off the net and fewer and fewer people are paying for it, we’re losing money and I have to conserve my budget. I’m letting you go.”

What would you do? Get pissed off? Trash the whole backroom? There’s nothing you can do, really. People lay off people left and right to save their own budget and their own asses. That’s how the world turns. Certainly, people could use better treatment but the reality is, no profit + losing money + budget in the red = layoff…

Wait, you said, that’s ridiculous! You CAN’T download a Big Mac for free! It’s…it’s…food!

OK, so let’s say someone downloads a medium, such as a torrent program, or uses a streaming site (not Crunchyroll or Funimation, we’ll get to that perhaps in a later article), but anyway, a medium, and somehow, the Big Mac arrives on his or her lap.

But the Big Mac comes from your store.

Do you get the picture here? Every Big Mac taken without pay puts a dent on the store’s budget. Oh, I know there are free beer, free fries, two for one deals and all, but in the end, someone has to pay for them. Because we don’t live on a planet with limitless resources, someone has to pay. Ultimately, Earth has to pay so we can have oxygen, H2O and other things. But I digress.

So for the folks who grew up getting entertainment for free, they don’t think much of it. After all, they have no idea or put it out from their minds that someone has to get the money from these blasted things in order to live, or face layoffs or even worse, in the case of some Japanese animators, live in a cyber cafe and skip meals daily, not for the sake of dieting or Anime Dieting.

There’s the conflict. On average, older folks, who are often the creators, the industry personnel and so on, are making things  trying to make a living or keeping a job. There are young voice overs and artists, but they’re on the side of making a living by making manga, anime, anisongs (Anime Songs) and so on. On average, younger folks, teen people and others, who are often the consumers, are sometimes getting these things for free, thus depriving money toward these generally older folks.

So as a final note, let me take this a giant leap further.

After you’ve been laid off from McDonalds (I hope that never happens to anyone and I know the example is exaggerated),  you read online that McDonalds will no longer make the Big Mac. As you scratch your head and hopefully not your crotch (that goes for boys and girls), puzzled, and then continue reading, Google News tells you that McDonald’s can’t afford to do any business at all, because virtually everything that they offer is being downloaded for free and they simply can’t afford to let people taking them for free. So they’re shutting off all chains. That means…well, you know.

Sounds impossible, I know. After all, there are people paying for it, right?And McDonalds will always be there (which also means, you could probably invest in their stock if you’re looking at 50 years-return).

By the way, when Mike and I was doing the Summer 2010 season preview, we were surprised how few new titles came out. It is true that summer has traditionally been a lackluster season; but 18 was a lot less than we imagined. At least we thought so.


P.S. Pardon me for the exaggerated example and for any stretches I pulled. But give it some thought. No pressure either way for either side (or any side), just some thoughts. Also, sorry if the article is too long for you.

News flash: Japanese, U.S. Manga Publishers Unite To Fight Scanlations

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