Why should you support the anime industry when you can get it all for free?

Recently I have been harping on and on about supporting the release of an anime movie that has somehow managed to make it to the South African movie circuit, this has led to mixed reactions. The main ones being excitement and joy. The other, however, was more of a ‘so-what?’ approach.


In my various groups, across multiple social platforms, I had people coming forward and proudly and excitedly saying that they had pre-purchased their tickets for the movie. I can not tell you how happy and hopeful this makes me. I will explain why in a bit. However, some people responded by saying that they had seen the movie and that these people have wasted their money. This is where my frustration sets in.

Yes, you are fully entitled to your opinion of the movie and you can think of it, whatever you want. However, my dilemma is this, if you have already seen the specific movie, you have watched it illegally. Now, I do not know a single anime viewer who does not have an illegal source. I am not judging. I understand the struggle. However, we finally have a way to directly support the industry we love oh so much. It is also being presented in a setting that many of us anime fans have longed for in South Africa.

Why does buying one ticket to an anime movie matter?

If we as a community stand together and give our support and commitment to this one movie, it shows there is a market in our country. This, in turn, means that we will likely get more anime movie titles screened. Plus in the long run, we will get these movies available in more cinema branches. Once we can show that there is a demand for anime movies in the market, we will also start to get a voice in the market and request anime titles as a community.

By having that one voice in a single market, it will cross over into other markets as well. This means licensed merch will be more accessible, a bigger variety in manga choices and so much more. As we grow the voice of our community in multiple markets, the anime industry will take more note of us. The louder our voice and the bigger the market, the more of a priority and interest we will be. This means our beloved medium, anime, will be more accessible and affordable for us.

Plus, personally, watching anime movies on ‘the-big-screen’ has always been an amazing experience. I have watched three movies, and since they are technically foreign films, yes they have been subbed.

However, for me the biggest reason to support this and spend money to watch a movie that can easily be illegally viewed is, to support the anime industry.

Why must you bother supporting the industry?

If we fail to support the industry, we could lose it.

If a series only has a thousand ‘legal’ views but 150 000 fans, the industry will only consider the legal views. Thus, to the industry, the series was a failure. The industry is out to make money; plain and simple, no ifs or buts about it. It goes the same for manga. If the official, legal and licensed version is not supported it will be scrapped, completed or not. So, if you were one of those who did not watch it legally this time but want to watch future seasons, you will likely not get to.

Why is money a factor? Without money, the industry can-not keep functioning. They will be unable to pay for the ability to use the source material – yes that needs to be paid for too. This is before they even look at animators, voice actors, directors, producers, or any other of the multitude of elements that go into animation. Every element costs money. So, sad as it is, money matters. Thus, if they do not make their money back or see a profit on a series, why would they make another season? If a studio sees failure after failure, it will be forced to close. Even if the anime titles are a big success and have millions of ‘illegal’ fans.

Also, keep in mind, if the illegal distribution skews the market too much, it could strangle the market and kill it altogether. This would mean, NO MORE ANIME. This is at the extreme but it is not outside the realm of possibility.

I refer to the industry instead of specifying ‘anime industry’ because it is part of a bigger picture even though it stands on its own in one aspect. The anime industry can-not really be separated from the manga industry, nor can it be split from the gaming industry or the merchandise sector either. They all build on one another and support each other.

I did not mean to lecture; I just feel not enough people realise the danger that illegal sites and distribution pose. However, the illegal sites also have their part in the industry and thus their place in the industry. It really is a double-edged sword. It really comes down to us as the consumer and the community to do our part to support the industry. Whether this is buying a ticket to an official movie release, getting our hands on licensed merch or legal translations of the manga. Yes, money is an issue for a great number of anime and manga fans alike, myself included, but there are so many ways to support the industry legally, without spending or with minimal spending. I will do a post soon on how you can give back to an industry none of us wants to lose.

As a community, let us work together and build up our voice. Yes, this will take time, but it all starts with a single ticket purchase, a simple subscription or getting creative.


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