2016 was a rather interesting year when it came to being able to stream anime and view translated manga online. Thanks to a deal between Funimation (booo) and Crunchyroll (*crickets*) it is now possible to view both of their libraries instead of having to pay for 2 subscriptions or pay for 1 and pirate the other, not that I’m ever going to advocate for that. There are still a few exceptions like the inferior versions of Asobi ni Iku yo! being unavailable on Crunchyroll, but that’s to be expected to be honest. A lot of this is being driven by larger companies coming in and seeing that there was a chunk of money to be made on this particular fandom. Amazon’s deal with Fuji TV to make the noitaminA block exclusive to Prime subscribers is just one example of things heading this way. The money flying around from foreign companies meant that more series could be made than ever before. Yet, I get the sense that no one really knows how to make actual money from this stuff.
In the meantime, in recent months I have been revisiting the a lot of shows that I have dropped in the past along with those I never would have tried. This was done through the random feature on Crunchyroll’s site (why isn’t this available on their apps?). What it means is that it’s extremely unlikely that I will actually finish a show this way because the available list of shows is so massive now because I don’t stick with a show beyond the next episode.
I may never be caught up with a show ever again if I keep this method up, but that feels strangely okay. It feels better to me than simply being caught in the same loop of shows over and over again with each season. It’s probably a totally different way of experiencing the fandom from most anyone else.
As far as manga goes, it’s in a bit of a different place. To me it feels like I’m more aware of what has been licensed for legitimate distribution yet shocked when something I never would have thought would be licensed is. That was the case with the two manga/light novels I mentioned before in the first post of this year’s 12 Days series. There is also the conflict on those licensed series between legitimate publishers and scanlations/pirates.
I’m always one to say that piracy is a sign of a market failure, yet on this issue I’m not so sure. Publishers can’t really compete against people offering their services for free or in ad revenue/donations. Even contracting out translations has its own costs that the other group doesn’t have to worry about. There are no salaries, publishing costs and marketing budgets to worry about on the illegal side.
I’d like to think that there is more that can be done to solve this problem, but I’m not sure what can be done. I think the legal side is at least slightly dependent on the illegal side, but the latter has too much power at the moment. I think publishers could do a better job of at least making people aware of what they have released or licensed. Too often it just feels like they are catering to the hardcore fan who knows all about manga released in the West. On the other side, there needs to be more done to reduce revenue streams for the pirates. I have faith that a proper balance will be found eventually.