GO! GO! MANIACS! The eternal whoring of anime

Followng the recent announcement of the new K-On manga, one of them appropriately named K-On! Carat, with the other having the less than clever name K-On! Kirara. Which leads me to wonder how much authors actually care about how their stories turn out, since more often than not, with every popular (dare I say, successful? ) series, there will always be a ton of merchandise and profit to be made. Here, I ask this: How much does profit affect anime?

It seems like standard procedure: release show, whore show, ??? , profit. Who, honestly, has heard of K-On!! before the show even aired? Back then it was just a comic, not very popular, not very famous. Soon the nice folks over at Kyoto Animation skyrocketed the show to success, where it remains as one of the genre-defining shows for moe and slice-of-life. (Sadly.) Look into any anime merchandise stall, and a good amount of its goods are K-On related. Figurines, posters, T-shirts, mugs, you name it, they have it. Japan sure knows how to milk a cash cow.

Oops, not just Japan. The whole of Asia, especially the east, has been catching on to shows like K-On. China and Korea make their own little merchandise, such as poker cards and keychains, and with reasonably good quality as well. K-On manga and anime get translated and distributed, aired in different countries. People start dressing up in costumes of K-On characters. This is the tipping point ; the point where K-On has burst out into bigger, and greener pastures. But here, the manga ends, yet suddenly it’s revived with this spin-off detailing their lives after graduation. Something about this just doesn’t sit well with me : it’s like Titanic 2. It’s like you take a finished story, and extend it. For what?

Fans ask for it? Perhaps. But the amount of merchandise is staggering. Is it a case of greed? Or is it a case of really, really successful marketing?

Take for instance, Neon Genesis Evangelion. How did it ever survive that long? And they even released a figma and a movie lately. All of these merchandise and sequels all lead to building up its presence. Which seasoned anime watcher has never heard of the show before? It’s highly unlikely. With more and more merchandise, I suppose it builds up curiosity and interest, which in turn leads to watching Evangelion and most likely repeating the process. It’s a cycle. The more merchandise they produce, the more they eventually need. So now that K-On has sequels, K-On could possibly replace shows like Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star as the figurehead for the genre simply because more people have heard of it.

But I start to wonder what’s the point of all of it if the author can simply drop a sequel whenever he or she feels like it. It’s like a plague on the media industry. Same reason why there was an Indiana Jones 4- this desire to expand , and make as much out of a successful franchise as possible. Or as you might put it, ‘whoring’. Making something out of everything possible. Basing an entire series on Azusa’s little friends feels a bit over the top.

K-On was nice now that it had closure, but now that their lives will be continued on , who’s to say what will happen to the girls? How will they possibly advance? The point of K-On!! was to watch their little sessions as a struggling band and all the antics they get into (cough) as a result. Would they regroup later in college to yet form another band in a college setting? After all, wasn’t the point of K-On, to focus on the light music club? Will they even bother to focus on that any more? And will they make Azusa and her little friends form a band too? It seems the only reasonable and interesting path left..

For Christ’s sakes, there might even be a K-On!! Kirara or K-On!! Carat anime under way. . . .

And you know what’s the saddest thing? That all of this is normal now. It’s successful marketing. As much as I may complain now, I know I will watch or read it anyway. And now that Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is getting another OVA . . .

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30 Responses to GO! GO! MANIACS! The eternal whoring of anime

  1. Janette says:

    It’s already starting to be the figurehead instead of Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh, and I’m hearing some regarding it as the mother of the moe genre. And I think, no, it’s a product of the genre…

    • Valence says:

      See, successful merchandising. I bet you, if Azumanga Daioh could churn out just as much figurines, they would have been that figurehead instead. . .

      • Janette says:

        I don’t think Azumanga Daioh is the figurehead for moe persae. More the figurehead for slice of life/school anime. Moe wouldn’t catch on for few to several more years. Those were also the years I tuned out the scene, so I don’t know what anime did it, but as Clannad and Haruhi came before K-On, it definitely wasn’t K-On.

        • Valence says:

          Not figurehead per se but probably a pioneer at least. K-On seems to have replaced is as a pioneer,eh? Azumanga Daioh came out before the moe boom so it’s got to have some significance when it comes to discuassing the genre.

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  3. shumbapumba says:

    I think the majority of the industry is profit-driven. Like Hollywood (besides a few passion projects every now and then), the anime industry is art as business, and business will generally win out. They will milk a concept until its dry, as long as it still turns a profit. The wheels of capitalism keep on turning.

    • Valence says:

      True, but then this would answer why there are no longer any true anime classics any more : since everything seems to be made simply for the purpose of making a quick buck. Potboilers. Nothing better than that.

      • shumbapumba says:

        What would you label an anime classic though? Classics, for me, are texts that stand the test of time and continue to engage audiences. So then, it is hard to immediately identify an anime classic. I’m sure more anime classics will reveal themselves over the years to come.

        As an aside, the idea and discussion that the topic of ‘classics’ would generate sounds like a good idea for a post…

        • Valence says:

          But I mean, none of it seems particularly fresh any more. We get, what, two or three excellent series per year? So many series in the past seem so excellent , but now many things seem so lacklustre. Harem this, ecchi that, cliche this, boring that, getting more and more hard to find good shows now that it seems how every show is produced simply for profit.

          • shumbapumba says:

            Yeah i get what you are saying. It’s the Hollywood logic – producers and studio bosses putting a lot of money into films/TV and want to take the least risk possible. Hence, they stick to formulae they know work. It’s when the scales start tipping away from art and favouring business. A shite state of affairs haha :(. Maybe there will be an Anime New Wave movement to look forward to?

    • Valence says:

      Claustrophobic comments do get out of hand. . . .

      And it’s hilarious to realize that stuff like tentacle hijinks were born out of the need to avoid censors . . . .it’s such a vicious cycle.

  4. Nopy says:

    As long as the people like it, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s when the series keeps on dragging on even when everyone has already stopped watching it that it becomes annoying.

    • Valence says:

      What’s irritating for me is that it’s nothing more than endless spin-offs and finding every opportunity to make money out of nothing. A movie, a continuation of the manga, what next?

      • shumbapumba says:

        Chime:
        Yeah unnecessary sequels and spin-offs have the potential to ruin the mythology of certain texts. To reiterate Tarantino’s comments on The Matrix, the first film is great but the following two really ruined the mythology for me. Interestingly, Tarantino claimed that the last two Matrix films actually decreased his enjoyment of the original.

        (Hope I haven’t provoked too many Matrix Trilogy fans…)

  5. ~xxx says:

    I cannot blame businessman for being profit-oriented.

    Well, that’s why you made business… to make lots of money and then you came to social and economic responsibility.

    But I do have to say that I liked K-on!.
    But I don’t have to brag it because there are many better shows than this one.

  6. Azure Hoshizora says:

    Well, money makes the world go round; and this IS an industry so money’s probably at the top of their list, way above purpose and meaning…

    I liked K-on, until it became so popular that even those Narutards have heard of it. I then started liking it discreetly.
    I really think K-On should have ended. A few OVAs here and there would be good but 2 different sequels with silly names make no sense. At least stick to one sequel not 2. Lucky Star’s original manga had the girls going to college and still continuing the story but unlike Lucky Star, K-On’s entire point is about a high school band so I’m really not sure what the 2 sequels will focus on… The 4 girls minus Azusa forming another band and Azusa graduating to their college and joining them again?… If you wanna milk money, take a leaf out of Lucky Star and let people draw a spin off of your work…

    Though from a positive light, the sequels may surprise us. Chances of that happening= 5%

    • Valence says:

      2%.

      That’s EXACTLY what I was worrying about. K-On revolved around their light music club in High School while LS simply revolved around Konata and her little group of friends. One could exist anywhere, and the other really , really has difficulty…

      And I wasn’t actually much of a fan of the original manga anyway. Art looks funny. I only started liking K-On after finishing season 1 and after months, finally realized that I actually had a tsundere relationship with the show…I was ranting about the show for ages, and then I realized that I liked it! My eyes were opened~

      • Azure Hoshizora says:

        High School life is wonderful. College life: not so much. High school bands are wonderful. College Bands: I’ve never heard of them.
        But Moe and friendship should work for both cases…

        The original had stiff characters. It was the magic hands of KyoAni’s animators that brought K-On to life. If possible, I’d even like to assume that the anime was the original…

        • Valence says:

          The original was boring. The art was un-moe too. KyoAni gave life to the show, and I sure hope they don’t run it to the ground. . . .

  7. I’ve only watched season one of K-On so far, and I can already wonder why they would bother with a sequel OTHER than money. But profit is the big thing in any business; we can’t expect our anime to be some kind of exception to that. Much as it sucks and leads to us watching utter crap compared to what we used to get.

    • Valence says:

      Maybe it’s just me not wanting to believe that all the shows we come to know and love are churned out solely for money and not for anything else. Kind of like calling feel-good shows like Pixar movies and Spongebob capitalist money-makers. Feels weird.

  8. afkeroge says:

    I don’t even know what to say anymore. I want to say that this is a marketing genius, given how many will take this two sequels hook, line and sinker. But at the same time, I feel that it has a very high chance of failing altogether.

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