September 13, 2005

Naruto on Cartoon Network

Last saturday Naruto started airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block of programming. For those of you who aren't anime fans, Naruto is one of the most popular shows to come out of Japan in the last couple of years. Cartoon Network has a really random reputation when it comes to treatment of anime. Sometimes deserved, sometimes not.

Given the above, I was kind nervous tuning in to check it out. I tend not to be a fan of dubbing, but realize that it is the only way that most shows will make it onto TV. In the end, Cartoon Network did a pretty good job. My biggest complaint was 'why bother changing the opening and ending?'. The ones for the show are pretty good as it is (and some of the later ones are great). The voices themselves were okay, I think the VAs may have to grow into them a little, but hopefully that won't take long. Very little editing. One minor thing that bugged me a little was that they edited out nosebleeds. Nosebleeds? They're an anime thing. When a character sees something naughty or has perverted thoughts they tend to get nosebleeds. No, I don't get it either, but I'm used to it.

I've got it programmed into my TiVo as a season pass for now.

September 02, 2005

Anime in Wired

I haven't been blogging here much lately, but hope to change that in the coming weeks. Here's a post to start things out.

Wired has a semi-interesting article about the state of Anime in the US these days. It talks about the growing presence on TV. The upcoming arrival of Naruto on TV on Sept 10th on Toon Network. And also the state of DVD sales.

One of the more interesting things was some comments about pirated shows:

And there's an even bigger problem. Run a Google search for "Naruto," and the top hits won't be Toonami. You'll get sites like NarutoFan that serve up the latest episodes of the show, recorded straight from Japanese TV.

Within days, fans subtitle the shows on their own and release them over peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent.

One answer to both of these problems, said ADV spokesman Chris Oarr, is to invest upfront in new anime shows rather than waiting around until a series hits it big in Japan. "ADV has been an equity partner and a co-producer of anime series for over 10 years. It's now commonplace to see us in the credits for shows like Samurai Gun."

Oarr also believes that sewing up U.S. rights early on helps prevent piracy. "They know that we will go after people who are ripping us off. You can't find a single torrent of Samurai Gun out there." [Wired]

After reading that bit I suddenly realized I had no interest in Samurai Gun. I knew nothing about it, hadn't heard any buzz. Haven't sampled an episode or two of it. And as a result, there's currently no way I'll be buying it. At least until I'm able to rent it. Whereas other recent shows have had me waiting impatiently for the DVDs.

I'd love to see domestic companies like ADV come up with ways to let people see the first episode or two of shows. I know they are experimenting with BitTorrent for previews, but that still isn't going to convince me to go out and buy something. Maybe they could team up with Cartoon Network and have an anime preview show.

The other part of the article that was interesting were comments made about the price of anime DVDs, which tend to be a bit more expensive than other DVDs.

For starters, as more U.S. distributors compete for the hottest titles, the costs to license the series from their Japanese creators are increasing. And fans are paying the price -- anime DVDs are some of the most expensive on the market, at an average price of $26 each.

"They're paying way too much," said Chris Tibbey of trade publication DVD Release Report. "License holders are asking for way too much money for magical-girl type shows that only the hard-core fan base cares about." [Wired]

I've seen comments about the price of anime DVDs before and they never seem to take into account the difference between releasing an anime show and a popular Hollywood movie. First, there are licensing fees. Someone has to buy the rights to release an anime DVD over here. Compare that to the release of a movie like Spider-Man. The studio that produced the movie is the one putting it out. Then there is the added cost of having to hire translators and all the staff to do the dub. And then look at the number of units being produced.

The one thing I do really agree with is that companies like ADV tend to buy up a lot of titles that are (IMHO) quite mediocre. And they just end up not selling quite as well.

So, what do other people think?