Do Western Fans Really Matter To Japanese Creators & Companies?

The Mary Sue did an article on Fanservice in Anime. Interesting piece, check it out. Fanservice has been a big thing in anime for about as long as anime, and even manga, have existed. I don’t know how far back it goes but I do know Fujiko Mine has been the bombshell since 1967 and there was that ridiculous series Cutey Honey in 73. I wonder if the T&A fanservice got more prevalent or we’re just now noticing it between the shift in western fanbase and easier access to anime and manga.

But ultimately I wonder, how much does Western fans matter to these companies or creators? The article talks about viewing data from simulcasts and what Crunchyroll does but what are the numbers? Or better yet, what are the numbers compared to native numbers? I’m nothing more than a casual anime watcher but from what I know, very few anime series were really effected by American audiences and those had a lot to do with Adult Swim. The discussion about fanservice and supporting alternatives with money doesn’t work without the Native audience. It doesn’t. If the native audience is the main audience filling up the pockets, why are we having this discussion? We are not the primary audience.

I’m a huge wrestling fan, if you follow this lackluster blog you know that. You might also know I follow New Japan Pro-Wrestling. The second biggest company in the world, but where are they in the states compared to other companies? NJPW has put in an effort to branch out but the majority of their profits comes from the native audience. Let me tell you something, I don’t like Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Generally I don’t. I get annoyed when I see him beat a wrestler I like. especially if their young. But the native audience fucking loves him! He means so much to the company for his years of hard work and standing by them when they were in their worst shape. NJPW isn’t going to job out Tenzan, or another 40 something like Togi Makabe who a lot of Western fans hate, Makabe maybe past his prime, but as he points out, he’s more famous in Japan than practically every other competitor. Japanese companies will always look to the native audience before the foreign audience.

In the Academy Awards for the Foreign film category, countries are allowed one submission. Generally speaking, the countries filmmakers or committees or whatever body chooses the films and they are not necessarily the film that appealed to the American critics. They can films that were huge hits in their home countries, they can be films unseen in the States until submission, they can be mired in controversy because the film body is partial to this creator. Whatever the reason, those countries don’t care what Western critics or audiences think.

Look-I ain’t shouting down the criticism of fanservice. Its an issue. Its made me roll my eyes more than once-though I have found myself liking a couple things its put me off to more. I understand why it puts people off. I’m just asking a question, how do you bring this discussion to the native audience? Without the native audience, change won’t happen. Its the native audience with their purchasing and viewing habits the facilitate the change in popular media. Always has been. For anime and manga to make shift to less T&A fanservice requires the native audience being right there to say “HEY! We want something different.” The industry has existed before the boom of popularity outside Japan, it held on with rampant piracy and the fall of several anime distributors and the fall of TokyoPop manga. Manga and anime can, and will, go on without me or you or thousands of Western fans tuning in. Its the native audience that needs to make the change. Lets be honest, the US anime fanbase is not equivalent to the Chinese film fanbase for companies to really, and truly change their thinking for.

Another question, sorta on topic but maybe off… how many of these shows are actually hits? I look at the upcoming anime listings every quarter and man, most of these shows come and go regardless of actual quality. Many of them I never hear a buzz for. I pretty much only check out what someones tells me is good or what the internet seems to be buzzing about. In the last few years I’ve only watched Food Wars, Kill La Kill, One Punch Man, and Gate. Manga wise only Attack on Titan, My Love Story, Skip Beat and One Punch Man of current stuff.


About CM Towns

I like comics, wrestling, and other junk.
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