Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Welcome back to this series of re-uploaded columns from my work with my college newspaper. One of the topics I covered on my column was the cost of anime as a hobby. While there are certainly a lot of modern conveniences that make watching anime easier, for those who would rather not resort to illegal streaming, it can still be expensive. I hope you enjoy the read.
One of the most deceptively difficult questions to answer about anime over the last few years has actually been “where do I watch it?” Most people would reason that since media of all kinds has become significantly more accessible that anime would follow suit. While this is true generally speaking, much like any hobby that isn’t rock collecting, the dollars start to add up after a while.
First, it is worth acknowledging again that, relative to just 15 years ago, it is definitely easier to watch anime. Before, if a show came out that someone was interested in, they would have to either buy an expensive box set or pirate the anime online in terrible quality while also risking the safety of their computer. Now, most people do not have to think twice about this.
However, the advent of movie and tv streaming has brought both solutions and also new problems. While getting a large number of shows for a set monthly price is a totally reasonable bargain, the model begins to unravel once a large number of similar services start to emerge, each carrying their own unique libraries. In fact, one might say that the problem streaming services set out to fix has been revived in a new way.
As time has gone by and the popularity of anime has gone way up, many of these same streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, as well as anime exclusive services such as Crunchyroll, Funimation, and HiDive! are also looking for a piece of the pie. Even Amazon a few years ago wanted a share of the market and attempted to cash in with their service “Anime Strike,” which cost five dollars a month extra on top of the existing Amazon Prime fee.
Exclusives have also become a significantly bigger part of the streaming service appeal, and the same is holding true for anime as well. Netflix made a huge effort early on to cash in on anime’s upward trend, and it does appear to be paying off, as the company owns the exclusive rights to an increasing amount of hot-topic shows within the community.
Companies like Crunchyroll are also beginning to dip their toes into exclusives as well, with a number of Webtoon crossovers including “Tower of God” and “God of High School.” These shows have also turned out to be relatively popular among fans. Funimation, while not as focused in that area, does corner a large part of the market for English dubs for many of the most popular long-running and seasonal shows, including “Black Clover,” “One Piece” and “The Promised Neverland.”
This further division of popular shows among various streaming services means that anyone looking to keep up with what is new is going to have to pay a fairly hefty price. This has led to many figures in the community talking about a potential rise in piracy if companies begin to raise their prices too much.
The streaming wars will probably continue to rage on for some time. Companies will continue competing for the various series which draw the most eyes in the short term. Long term, however, it may just be the case that being an anime fan, or a fan of tv and movies for that matter, continues to get even more expensive. It might be that streaming just becomes the new cable.
How do you all feel about the cost of anime? Let me know in the comments below. Feel free to also check out the column I uploaded last week about “Tokyo Godfathers” and Satoshi Kon.
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