In My View: Why Bandai Visual concerns me

(This is my slightly less informed opinion based on this post and these

Ahhh… Bandai Visual, you crazy, crazy company. To be fair, I haven’t really spent a whole lot of time thinking about Bandai Visual. True tears and Shigofumi haven’t really been on my radar much. Not because I hate the series, but simply because there’s a whole lot of stuff that I want to watch more. I know that their pricing scheme isn’t going to work in the States. Whether it’s reasonable or not, there isn’t a retailer in their right mind who’d put a $30 disk on their shelf that has a half hour of content. Especially considering that the majority of them are actually decreasing the amount of space they give to anime or at least not expanding it. Of course, they could always return the item to BVUSA and then nobody makes money. But how likely are they to race out and scoop up that next disk.

And as much as BVUSA’s distribution method reminds me of Print on Demand books, it also reminds me that once a product is out of sight, it is largely out of mind. But… none of that bothers me. Sure there are a few series of theirs that I’d like to see, but nothing I can’t live without watching.

No, what bugs me is something that shows up in Don’s first post on this subject:

“As a matter of policy, I don’t download series once they’re licensed. I don’t need to worry any more about Shigofumi or true tears. In fact, I probably will never see them at all, unless Bandai changes its insane pricing.”

Essentially, here’s a guy who’s exactly what the anime industry wants. Someone who doesn’t download once the series is licensed. Someone who follows the “rules”, and he’s saying that BVUSA’s pricing structure is driving him towards the fansubs. Is it me, or is there something wrong about all of this? The anime industry has been whining for at least the last six months about how fansubs will be the death of them (including executives from BEI) and here comes a company that is implicitly making a case for downloading.

And if you’re already ticking off your core audience, I can’t imagine what you’re doing to your fringe audience.

Granted, I realize that we’re still talking about BVUSA. In the end, it’s a business model that deserves to fail. And it’s likely that most of the fans are smart enough to distinguish between BVUSA and ADV, BEI or Funimation. But I do think they’re sending the wrong message. And what’s worse is that they’re sending the wrong message while they are doing the right thing.

Because the whole reason why these series are already licensed is because they’re planning on having a simultaneous release in Japan and the States. So they’re doing what anime fans have wanted for a long time (albeit a couple years too late), but they’re doing it in a way that won’t work. What concerns me more than anything else, is the chilling effect this could have on an industry that is already trying to play catch up. I can already hear it now, when the next person asks, “Well why don’t you try to get it to the States faster?” and the industry official looks at him and says, “Well look at Bandai Visual, it didn’t work for them.”


Agree or disagree? Leave a comment or e-mail


  1. I honestly don’t know why BV are releasing these two shows like this – it’s not something that’s happened before so I’m inclined to agree with a visitor to a forum I visit (who knows a thing or two about the industry, at least the UK fanbase): she suggested that it could be a stipulation on the part of the Japanese licence holders that’s making the US release take such a bizarre course. After all, it’s a schedule so unpopular with fans that I can’t imagine a Western distributor in its right mind would make such a decision unless it was part of the contract they had to sign; it could well be that the original licence holders in Japan have seen how the world market is expanding, and naturally decided to get their own cut.

  2. To me it looks like Bandai Visual USA doesn’t care that much about growing a presence in the US market. Their R1 sales strategy smells of a company who wants a modest revenue boost by dipping a toe in another market without cannibalizing their own market. Or that by pricing the R1 version similar to the R2 version, it stops the bleeding they suffer from R1 imports. Looking at their releases, I can’t imagine it costs them much at all to dip their toe into the R1 market. They probably view the cost of growing a presence to gain profits via sales volume would cost more than they’d get back and are happy with their minimal investment for modest gains approach. That would be my guess as to why they go on the way they do…giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re trying to be wise as opposed to maybe just being dumb.

  3. @ concretebadger – I do agree that it has to be part of the agreement so they can have simultaneous releases. Although I’m not entirely sure how their corporate structure works over there. I mean I know that they’re a seperate division, but I’m not sure how much of an initial investment they made in the show. And how much that counts.

    @ super rats – I guess what bugs me is the question of whether they consider the Western market an important seconday market, or whether they consider it a trivial secondary market. From everything else I’ve heard on the subject, it seems like they consider it important enough to rail against fansubs, and so on and so forth. But judging by BVUSA’s release schedule they seem to consider it a trivial secondary market. I do agree that they must not be expecting to make a whole lot of money on these releases, except from the few people who’d be willing to buy them.

    It’s just the larger implications that bug me (i.e. the fact that BV is basically giving the downloaders an excuse for not buying the product and the fact that other anime companies could point at BV as a reason for not trying to get faster releases to the US.)

  4. I think it’s important point that Bandai Visual isn’t driving that man, like me, toward fansubs. It’s driving him towards not watching anime at all.

  5. Personally, I really don’t mind BVUSA’s business model because if I like the series enough, I’m going to buy the series irregardless of the cost. BVUSA just doesn’t produce enough to be harmed as long as those who really like the series goes out and buys to collect. Remember, the stuff BVUSA produces is not in stores and is sold in a limited fashion online.

    However, what does tick me off is that the series they license is doomed to be niche just because it would never be produced enough and the price point scares away everyone else. That’s really depressing since both the series seem pretty good to at least warrant a look.

  6. […] 22, 2008 First of all, for anyone who hasn’t noticed, Bandai Entertainment and Bandai Visual are not two different companies. […]

  7. This won’t work. Once you compared it what Funimation’s doing with Claymore, here’s the reason:

    A good-enough fanbase had not been developed for “Shigofumi” and “true tears.”

    Claymore? Completed episode run. Well-known manga and graphic novels in the US. Claymore episodes removed from YouTube.

    Hell. Even Busou Renkin; a planned release of the anime by Viz is greeted with a lukewarm thumbs-up.

    You know, though: None of this. Not even the ridiculous pricing. This would NOT have been a problem if BVUSA had just flexed is muscle and added English dubbing to their titles. There would’ve been some rumbling behind that blah-blah-blah they so love to utilize.

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