Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who’s To Blame For Bandai’s “Shutdown?”

Well, they are not completely shutting down. Bandai Entertainment will not be releasing anymore new manga, DVD and Blu-rays. Instead, it will be licensing and sub-licensing its shows to the Internet, television broadcasters and merchandising. The decision was made in Japan by the contents Strategic Business Unit (SBU). As a result, people at Bandai Entertainment are going to lose their jobs due to the restructuring of the company. Now who is to blame for this event?

Since this decision became public knowledge, Twitter has been full of comments, ranging from condolences to speculations about the closing. After reading what some people thought, it felt like Group A, the industry professionals, was blaming Group B, the fans, while Group B was blaming Bandai. Then there was Group C, which was the group that felt other factors had to be considered for the closing. The tweets became so heated that I encountered profanity (do not ask me to link to that). This whole Bandai situation even popped up on my phone as a Discover tweet on Twitter. As you can tell this situation is a big deal and everyone wants to know why it happened.

I am going to give you my two cents, but I do not think we will ever know the full details behind this decision. In general, the three components that factor into the success of a product is the licensor, licensee and consumers. Even though the licensee has the ability to do what has been granted to them, the people in Japan still have some say in what can and cannot be done. The consumer ultimately decides whether or not a product will be successful, simply by buying it or not. Also, there are external factors that need to be considered: the American culture, economy and technology. In America, we like to buy products at a discount (look at Black Friday). The economy is not doing so well, so what’s more important: buying expensive products or paying off debts? Technology plays a role, because it affects the consumers’ choice of accessibility. There are some of us who likes to watch anime online or on the go, while others prefer sitting in the comfort of their homes to watch DVDs.

If the licensor or licensee makes bad business or strategic decisions, it will affect the success rate of the product, namely the consumer may not buy it. Would you buy a $30 single disc? That price alone might turn people away. Maybe you have something more important to purchase, like your next meal. However, if the company does make the decision by making the products affordable in this economy, having sales to draw in the consumers or have more accessibility due to the change in technology, then the consumer decisions determines whether or not a product will be profitable. Now if the consumer decides to not buy the product, there are probably a few reasons behind it. If it is because of priorities or lack of money or interest, then it is understandable. However, if consumers are buying bootleg copies or pirating, that will adversely affect the company and everyone involved in the product.

So what does this all mean? It means that any decision made during the life cycle of the product has an effect in the next step. Think of a set of domino pieces that are laid out on the floor, and the goal is to make all the pieces fall down to create a special effect or beautiful artwork (obviously, in the business world, you do not want anything to fall, but that is not the point at the moment). However, if one were to push the initial piece wrong or line up the pieces in the wrong position, it will affect the outcome. So who is to blame? The question should really be what is the cause of this? Everything: bad business decisions, people not purchasing the products (whether it is because of pirating, no money, lack of interest, etc.), the poor economy, rapid advancement in technology and the American consumer culture. I do not believe that there is a single entity that can completely close the publishing side. Sometimes it is not as clear as night and day. If is a single entity, we will have to wait until Bandai tells us what it is.
© 2012 Linda Thai

Photography by Linda Thai

NOTE: At the time of posting, the following tweets did not have profanity. Please inform me if someone ends up doing so. Thanks.

Tweets By Professionals and Fans, in chronological order:
Stephanie Sheh - 11:46 AM - 2 Jan 12
Dark Paladin X - 12:35 PM - 2 Jan 12
Steve Blum - 1:42 PM - 2 Jan 12
Yoshi Ayarane - 3:45 PM - 2 Jan 12
Zeether - 4:38 PM - 2 Jan 12
Christopher Demma - 5:40 PM - 2 Jan 12
Kyle Hebert - 5:47 PM - 2 Jan 12
Kidd - 5:53 PM - 2 Jan 12
Holidae - 6:37 PM - 2 Jan 12
Zac Bertschy - 7:33 PM - 2 Jan 12
Kyle Hebert - 9:17 AM - 3 Jan 12
Miguel Garza - 6:03 PM - 3 Jan 12
Chuck Baker - 8:00 PM - 3 Jan 12

Comments from Professionals and Fans
Christopher Ayres on Facebook

Articles About the Decision
Bandai Entertainment to Stop Releasing New DVDs, BDs, Manga by Anime News Network, posted on 2012-01-02 10:00 EST
Bandai Entertainment Will Not Release Nichijō Manga Also by Anime News Network, posted on 2012-01-03 10:00 EST
Ken Iyadomi on Bandai Entertainment's Downsizing by Justin Sevakis and Christopher Macdonald, Anime News Network, Jan 3rd 2012

Bandai Clarifies Manga Questions 'All or Nothing Decision' by ICv2, Published: 01/05/2012 01:44am

1 comment:

WBR said...

It is terrible to see yet another industry begin to suffer this slow decline. Newspapers, book publishers/bookstores, DVD/CD stores, etc., have all started down the same road. Piracy is a big problem for DVD/CD sales and there isn't a real excuse for it. However, I don't think moving only to digital downloads is the answer. Both consumers and companies have a responsibility. Just think about all the people who work in a store, those who ship the products to a store, those who make the product and of course those who originally create it. Companies' main drive seems to be have as much profit in the short term and have turned people into voracious consumers with an almost unstoppable appetite. Companies need to think long term and consumers should think about investing in a high quality product. That is why I agree with the notion of bad business practices, rapid technology advancement and the American consumer culture as all sharing in helping to create this problem for Bandai, and other industries as well.