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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Japan's DVD Economy and Why Media Blaster's Still Selling Singles

In recent years, we experienced quite a meltdown of the anime market in the United States. The Japanese market took quite a blow from the meltdown and suddenly was unable to afford to produce as many shows at it did before the meltdown. It didn't help that Japan never recovered from the 20 year old recession and therefore all the anime companies in Japan have been having a difficult time in making profits and even staying in business. So there was no surprise to me when I read a blog post about reverse importation of anime to Japan. The post goes into detail about the history of the dvd format, Japanese economics, and the effect of reverse importation of Japanese anime.

X9 = ~$800
Versus:X2 = ~$90
A fine example of why reverse importation exists.

My view on reverse importation is that it should definitely be allowed. Japan is still selling all anime in singles for $40-$60 for a large variety of reasons. One main reason for the high price for so little is that the anime is released a week to month after it has aired. Also most importantly, there will always be a number of geeks who will buy these shows no matter what. So why lower the price? This reason is also responsible for Media Blasters decision to continue releasing anime in singles despite a recent trend in the industry to move to 13 episode sets. Inflexible Japanese retail system be damned. But, now is not the right time for reverse importation to transpire. We need to let the Japanese anime market recover first before giving it further blows to their profits.


  1. Interesting analysis! Thanks for pulling this together.

    But I'm confused as to your point. What are you suggesting that otaku do?

  2. @BrentN Recently, otaku in Japan have been responding to the pressure of poor economy and high prices by refusing to either buy dvds, reverse importing, and/or even piracy. Meanwhile, the whole retail system in Japan has not adjusted pricing for this phenomena depending solely on the hardcore audience who will still buy expensive DVDs. But, if this trend continues, many anime businesses will go out of business UNLESS they find other means of profitability. Unfortunately, otaku outside of Japan can do much about this other than continuing to support their local distributors in an effort to keep Japanese anime studios in business.