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Princess Principal, plus Sony buying Funimation?

Written by HotAnime

Princess Principal and Big Changes in the Anime Industry

Hello again from J-List! Today is a very special day — August 2, also known as Pantsu Day!

Although it’s not in the list of the top 10 anime series fans are current watching (blog link), one show I’ve been enjoying this season is Princess Principal, and not just because of it’s wonky name, though Lord knows I’ve watched shows for that reason. The story is something like Gunslinger Girl meets Bungou Dogs, with supernatural loli spies doing awesome spy stuff in a 19th century London that’s been divided between east and west via a Berlin Wall-style partition. The show is great for several reasons, including a high budget and great voice acting talent, and I enjoy the way the initial episodes are shown out of order, ala Haruhi or Firefly. The sense of design is amazing, too, with lots of attention paid to the Steampunk-ey world the characters inhabit. I’m also watching the show because it’s an original work, so hopefully it will have a proper structure and ending rather than just being an advertisement for the original manga or light novel. If you’re a fan of Megami Magazine, there’s a gorgeous Princess Principal poster you should see!

I’ve been an observer of the anime industry for eons, and try to pay attention to developments in the business side of things so I can report on it to you here. Japanese animation slowly grew in popularity through the 60s and 70s, finally emerging in the 80s with groundbreaking shows like Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Akira and My Neighbor Totoro. Things really got going in the 90s as shows like Sailor Moon exploded in popularity, and for a decade or so the industry was flying high, able to make money once in Japan and again by licensing the shows to each country around the world, $90,000 per episode of Sailor Moon per two year period at its height, I heard once. In 2006, the “DVD licensing bubble” burst as U.S. chains like Suncoast Video went bust — taking our beloeved Newtype USA with it. Losing income from international licensing meant studios had to make changes: within a few years, the shorter cour (12-episode) system, plus anime about moe girls and imouto and fan-service, became common.

Recent years have seen lots of changes in the anime industry, with ubiquitous production company Mages/5pb being swallowed by Dwango which was then acquired by industry behemoth Kadokawa, and new sources of funding from Amazon and Netflix, which is good (more money for the industry we love) but possibly bad (will we start to see nothing but Hollywood style prequels, sequels and reboots of popular series?). Today’s big news is that Sony is buying Funimation, and it has some fans a bit nervous. My main fear is that Sony isn’t always the best at executing, and if they fail to understand what fans want out of anime, indeed, why we’re anime fans in the first place, it could cause problems. At least we should be able to look forward annual Spiderman anime remakes!

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HotAnime