I don’t know of anything else that can be said about using the Japanese Anime pricing model in the US. It will make money because of the hard core demand, but it’s my firm belief that as a long term strategy it is doomed to failure. The thing that concerns me is that it may pull the existing US distributors , Funimation, Sentai, NISA and even RightStuf, down with it when it inevitably sinks.
I’ve seen what this sort of thing - limited runs of a high investment product - has done to one of my other hobbies, shrinking and aging the customer / fan base since new customers / fans can no longer afford to enter the hobby.
I’d get out the Popcorn and watch the fireworks as Pony Canyon tries to make this one fly, but I don’t have the heart for it.
As Far as the Limited Edition collecters edition stuff goes, The one thing that I think Funimation does right, is that they use the Limited / Collector’s editions to help lower the cost of the regular editions. Both Attack on Titan and Cowboy Bebop regular editions were sold at a lower price point than usual. This allows the regular fans to get interested in Anime and be able to have the series available at a decent price point, while it allows the hardcore to have their precious Limited Editions. I think it’s a good policy.
As irritated as their pricing scheme has made me I was very pleased to see this quote. We do enjoy the things they, and the other Japanese studios produce, it feels good to know that our enthusiasm is appreciated.
I’m suspecting that they think our enthusiasm translates to willingness to pay their very high prices.
Why would the quality degrade at all (especially at their prices)? When did Pony Canyon become synonymous with quality? I can’t say that I’ve ever heard any anime fan use “Pony Canyon” like people of yesteryear used the “union label” lol.
North American releases don’t typically have much in the way of extras, which is in line with the goals that the distributors have for profitability. I.E., A Relatively Small Market, Small Product Runs and Sharp Price Competition from other Distributors. With all that pressure it is surprising that there aren’t a whole lot more QC issues ( I’ve another hobby that the largest supplier of product in the US has had massive QC issues over the past decade. ) in the NA Anime industry. I’ve only ever had to request replacement disks once for a couple of Funimation Case Closed DVD’s. Really rather remarkable.
In the end what is happening is that AoA and now Pony Canyon are attempting to recreate the Japanese market for their products in North America, which means pushing the physical release market towards being driven by “Uber Collectors”. This is rightly being greeted with an amount resistance by Anime fandom and appears to be on a fast track to a train wreck.
I still find it perplexing that SAO came with a special features DVD that was only offered with the more expensive bluray-only version. Luckily neither of these Pony Canyon shows really call out to me so not supporting them will be easy for me.
As much as I’d like to see the end of the “American fans don’t matter to Japanese anime companies (except for a few exceptions)” era, I don’t believe that turning the US market into an extension of the Japanese market will achieve that.
I think the lack of consistency on AoA’s part stems at least some from trying to customize the Japanese approach to work in North America. Some of what they’ve released was almost pure or pure Japanese product, some was customized.
Pony Canyon is going the semi - customized route with these first two releases.
The way the Anime market works in Japan was fairly well settled long ago, in the 1970’s (?), and has slowly evolved since. The North American market went down a completely different path and has ended up only vaguely resembling the Japanese market, which when you think about it it is surprising that they resemble each other at all.
The market here will push back, which is different and likely more effective now than it would have been in 70’s Japan, so smooth sailing it won’t be.
Q. Will we be releasing a complete season box set or a standard edition later?
A. I made some queries around the office to get confirmation about this, but the answer is that we currently have no plans to do so. We will be focusing our efforts on the Collectors’ Edition Box Sets. We would like to bring high-quality animation that was produced in Japan to North American fans while keeping the quality intact as much as possible.