Thursday, April 29, 2010
Response to the Bang Zoom and Yawara Situation
I wasn't going address this until the end of my Anime Industry article series but with Astronerdboy currently reviewing Urusei Yatsura and just because I want to get my opinion out there before too much time passes.
To backtrack, earlier in the week the CEO of Bang Zoom, Eric Sherman released a controversial article blaming anime downloaders for the decline of DVD sales. He then went on to announce the Bang Zoom was retiring from dubbing anime in 2011. For those of you not in "the know" Bang Zoom has dubbed many of CLAMPs works including Card Captor Sakura Movie 2, Chobits, X TV, and Magic Knight Rayearth. Outside of CLAMP they dubbed Samurai Champloo, Haruhi Suzumiya, Rurouni Kenshin, and Gurren Laggan.
Now let's clear the air here, Bang Zoom is located in Los Angeles. There is more than one dubbing company in Los Angeles including Studiopolis (Digimon, Naruto, Bleach) and Animaze (Cowboy Bebop, Ah My Goddess Movie) and various others that are still active and use the same pool of actors. Bang Zoom is like, the cheaper version of Animaze. It actually makes sense that they are not dubbing anymore. Their biggest employers, Geneon and Bandai, have encountered issues. The former going under and the later downsizing and limiting the number of dubs they do. Funimation has been helming the industry these days and they have their own dub studio. Then there's the fact that Bang Zoom hasn't had that much presence since Geneon called it quits. While I've been a big fan of their dubs I do admit they lack the naturalness of many of Funi's dubs and often times come off more "manufactured" like safe casting where you know X actor will do Bishonen voice Y. Still, big loss.
I'm far more reactive about Animeigo's being unable to license the rest of Yawara. Behind the admission that Bang Zoom is retiring from the anime industry this is a bigger slap in the face. Think about it, unlike Geneon, ADV, Bandai, Viz, and even Funi who always try to get into the newest fad Animeigo has always been the underdog of the anime industry. Next to RightStuf/Nozomi they have always aimed for series that had small niches of popularity among the anime fandom. It wasn't about the BIG series that everyone was into but the smaller quality stuff that went under everyone's radar. It was this type of dedication that allowed them to finish Urusei Yatsura after taking so loooong to release the series. It helped that they put out the remainder of the series during the height of the anime boom but they always had the patience to see things through with their licenses. So to hear that they cannot get the rest of Yawara is really a red flag about the state of the American anime industry. It's one thing when the anime companies that try to hard mess up, but when a small company has trouble securing the rights to something that is NOT good.
In the end this leaves me pretty numb, but I get why things are happening the way they are. My thing is if companies like Nicklelodeon and Disney are putting investments into keeping anime on TV there is "something" there BUT at the same time with anime having a more online presence through legal streaming (think Galaxy Epress 999 on Crunchyroll) DVDs have become more of the "middleman" and if that is the case it make sense they are gradually being phased out.
I will go into more detail about this when I finish my anime industry series but thought I should put some thoughts out there.