pandering of mikuru-run

Since my Higurashi 6 post got hi-jacked with this “moe is evil” article, I feel I can contribute something to the discussion, from a corporate standpoint at the very least.

Mimei Sakamoto’s rants about three things: the creepy pedophilliac nature of the otaku crowd (Nanoha did beat out Lacus), her “street cred” (though using “street cred” with anime makes you seem… well… a client of Poser Mobile), and this perceived pandering to otaku. I think there’s enough discussion on the loli nature of anime (it’s debated to death along with the “fansubs r piracy” topic), and since I feel strongly that only African-American basketball players, rappers, and bouncers are allowed to use the term, “street cred,” there’s not much to talk about there. Beyond the hilarity of a middle-aged female mangaka driving around in an Escalade with custom rims, I think that topic is dead.

I’ll only address the pandering part in copius, unnecessarilary long detail:

“There’s a tendency in the otaku market to avoid producing contents that are going to sell in terms of millions or tens of millions. Instead, they find a semi-hit then bring out figurines, DVD box sets, premium editions and all sorts of related materials that are drastically over-wrapped and sell to the same people who bought the original product in the first place,” the manga artist says. “So-called otaku are caught up in this money making cycle and all they’re doing is spending their hard-earned yen (which often comes from their parents in a lot of cases). And, what’s really sad, is that loads of these gullible suckers don’t even realize that they’re being taken for a ride.”

The problem is, of course, is that every company does this practice, not just anime companies catering to otaku. For example, Motorola released the original RAZR back in November 2004, and since then, it has become one of Motorola’s most popular and defining phones. So what do they do as an encore? Milk, milk, milk! First came the CDMA spin-offs then the color spin-offs then the new iTunes version. Verizon has been running “Get your mom a pink RAZR for Mother’s Day” ads for the past month or two. Things like color changes aren’t trivial, but they’re not exactly groundbreaking work for Motorola to do. Same with Apple’s iPod. They do it the same reason SquareEnix pumped out Advent Children, Tom Cruise and MI:III, and the upcoming Caprica spin-off for Galactica. Why? Companies know it’s very difficult to come up with a genuine hit… if they get one, they must milk, milk, milk. iPods, RAZRs, and Battlestar Galactica are lightening in a bottle.

Another example is the Gameboy Advance and SP. Or DS and DS Lite. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with either the GBA or the DS, but Nintendo decided that, wow, they could sell more and cut costs by pushing out the SP and DS Lite hoping that some GBA or DS owners would “upgrade” their “obsolete” old machines. It worked. I know many people who owned GBAs and purcahsed GBA SPs. “Well, it has a better screen.” You do realize that Nintendo could have included the same screen on the GBA, but make it a bit more expensive. They didn’t… why? Make the overall product more expensive since now a good fraction (not all, but enough) people will purchase a GBA then an SP.

So anime companies and so on need to make a quick buck at the expense of its target audience… so what else is new? Didn’t ADV release Eva then push Eva Platinum on us? Didn’t ADV release Fuggly Overlay Nadesico then charged extra for Non-Overlay Nadesico? So what if they do this? If you don’t like it, just don’t buy the new product. I’m happy with my original Eva DVDs, and I’m using my Fuggly Overlay Nadesico DVDs as coasters.

I don’t agree with the milking practice (I always argue for new things, as explained in my kanon look at remakes rant), but it is a cheap, quick, and easy way for companies to make money. While coming up with genuine hits, like Haruhi (I mean, look at how well the ED is selling, for one), isn’t easy, it means not only a new franchise, it means a new franchise that can be milked. So what’s wrong with that? How is remaking Kanon any different from Pink RAZR? Sure, Motorola could have put more marketing effort into SLVR, just like how Kyoto Animation could put more episodes behind Haruhi, but pushing Pink RAZR and Ayu is the “safer” and quicker bet in their minds. While this is a problem in terms of sustaining the industry, I don’t see how it has anything to do with otaku. In fact, I don’t think it’s an otaku problem at all… greedy and shortsighted companies are commonplace. Tell me something new.


The problem isn’t otaku or the market or even the companies… it’s modern society. American’s have this -0.8% savings rate, which means that we spend more than we take in. It doesn’t mean that we spend it on anime DVDs or plastic models… in fact, people buy stuff like RAZRs, iPods, BMWs, and so on. Whatever floats your boat. I have a friend who recently charged his new $2,000 camera and is currently paying 15% interest to Visa for that priviledge. Why? He wanted the camera, so he overextended his ability to pay for it. That’s not the camera’s company’s fault… it’s his fault for wanting an expensive toy outside of his budget.

Ben Stein (of all people) posted an interesting blog entry about Americans and their perchance for spending now vs saving for the future. The woman that he refers to in that article blows her money at Nordstrom’s… so it’s Nordstrom’s fault that the woman can’t save up enough cash in her 401K? Gimme a break. Sometime, people just need to take responsibility for their own welfare and their own future. If you want a Powered Natsumi PVC more than a Louis Vuitton Antigua bag, that’s your prerogative, but don’t blame Sunrise for making that Natsumi PVC more than Louis Vuitton for making that Antigua bag. (If you want a good rant about luxury goods, I suggest Tuesday Morning Quarterback’s rant on Abercrombie and Fitch, which is buried under football-like substance, over Mimei Sakamoto’s otaku rant.)

I own some “luxury” anime goods, including the rare, out-of-print Powered Natsumi PVC and a first edition of the R2 ああっ女神さまっ movie boxset (which is more expensive than buying all of season one’s DVDs). I like the series and wanted to enjoy them… I don’t see the problem with that (my 401K is fully-funded… only 40 years before I can touch that money again! Good times!). Same with how I purchase anime DVDs… I like them, I want to support the companies such that they’ll make more… is this any different from how I blew $100 for more RAM? Or how I spent $25 for dinner at a fancy Japanese restaurant last week?

Mimei Sakamoto kindly overlooks the fact that this behavior is wildly abundant in human society, and not just in otaku culture, and I think she puts the blame in the wrong places. I think she’s caught a bit off-guard with the Americanification of Japan, and the perchance of otaku who may buy one Lacus PVC model too many is just a leading indicator. Though whether a Lacus PVC, a Louis Vuitton bag, or a Lacus PVC featuring a premium, limited edition Louis Vuitton bag, I don’t think anime companies are alone in trying to separate us from our hard-earned money.

(Jim Fallows wrote a great book about Japan’s Americanification, which, oddly, I originally skimmed through because of TMQ. So there, Margret Atwood and Jim Fallows in two consecutive posts. Some days, I’m amazed people visit this blog.)

28 Responses to “pandering of mikuru-run”

  1. [JOKE]
    Moe is definitely evil. Look at Utawareromono’s Archer twins. THOSE ARE MEN, BABY. CUTE GIRL-LOOKING MEN. And Bridget. And Yuuno. And KoGil. DEFINITELY EVIL.

    Just to add something. It was America who introduced them this business model.

    It’s simple to pick at otaku, as they don’t fight back and do not help the Japanese economy grow.

  2. Sorry for aiding the Hijack of Higuarshi Episode 6, though in a way you sort have knuckled under to the might of Crimson Jihad (FYI its from a really bad Ah-nuld movie True Lies the lame name never ceases to amuse me)!

    May I inquire how you feel about post hi-jackings? I recall that this was at least he second time I have helped in taking posts on a tangent, I am really sorry if this has been a nuisnance.

    Well at current interest rates in the US by saving you are simply beating off inflation usually just barely if at all. Hence why a lot of people I know are leaning towards mutaul funds to beat inflation.

    Actually Ben Stein was in one economics video about credit cards and how he can use his constantly and not actually go into debt by paying it off ASAP. He also explained how credit cars companies hate people like him because the most they get out of him is the convenience fee the seller has to pay to the credit card.

    Milk in technology is a double edged sword on the one hand you can incorporate new technologies into an exisitng sucessful product to gauge profitablity and work out bugs.

    You may have contradicted yourself a bit here, you say the otaku is not the problem but at the same time you mention that the problem is with society in general. As I understand otakus are a part of society. In the end by buying that platinum edition an otaku is encouraging milk. If milk was less profitable companies would be less inclined to do it. As a community we have the option of not following societal norms, at least in spending habits. I would like to think that as a community we are more than capable of excercising retraint, but there will always be that one guy who’s willing to go into debt for something that moe.

    We may not be the sole source of the problem but there are those among us who so contribute to the problem. I am not saying that this purchase of multiples of the same good by one person is a bad thing. If you have the means go a ahead and spend, so the rest of society can benefit from your unwanted wealth. Though I concur the downside is that the medai as a whole suffers for it by having more of the same rather than true innovation.

    As for finanacial responsibilty in anime purchases I have found that buying second hand makes this experience all the more bearable. In fact convention vendors can at times offer a much better discount than buying at retail chains. I confess though that a major reason why I can even afford to get anything at all is because the military gives me cheap groceries, dental coverage, decent medical care, and discounted and tax free goods to balance out the meager reserve paycheck.

    Still I wonder how some people can afford to buy some rather expenisve looking loot on a monthly basis.

    As for pandering, in small amounts it is pretty good, heck if Ouran continues long enough it will even pander to meido fans.

  3. They do help, with their spending fueling the boost of the anime industry which in turn is becoming quite the export.

    I think Sakamoto’s rant was right in some places. She blasts the moe image so rampant in today’s anime. She’s probably pissed that there are so many series that have an otaku target audience. And a lot of these directly/indirectly promote festishes and paedophilia. Would the maid phenomenon have taken off so much if it weren’t for maid anime?

    It could be a vicious cycle, where consumers have tasted the sweetness of moe/loli/meido and demand more, so firms produce more, thus attracting more fans and so more demand again.

    The truly evil thing is the rise of pre-pubescent sexy idols. Sweet Kiss for one. These just show how perverse the Japanese otaku crowd has become, since the majority of their fans are otaku.

    It is one thing to drool over mecha, Last Exile, Gekiganger 3, Haruhi and even Ichigo Mashimaro. But to do that in real life, chasing after busty 11 year olds just plainly reeks of paedophilia. Japan is probably the only country to have porn sites with primary school kids nude.

  4. Um…I like cake. I don’t have much to contribute other than that. (Although I’m dumbfounded at the amount of preeettyy complex arguments you guys have written there.)

  5. …It could be said that anime Haruhi would be milking the folks who bought the manga Haruhi (I mean the show doesn’t really reveal anything manga fans wouldn’t have already known). It is because of it’s success as a manga that an anime version was made, that there is so few truely original-to-anime shows out (just look at this season, almost everything either came from a manga, video game, h-game, etc.) shows that any particular must have a very good guarantee of success in order for a show to be made. Believe me, your beloved ‘New Evangelion’ wouldn’t have been made if there was a significant risk involved of it flopping.

  6. Pandering to audience is bad?
    Me thinks she’s just bitter that she can sell as much yaoi manga as the moe makers. ;P

  7. @Crusader:

    >>In the end by buying that platinum edition an otaku is encouraging milk. If milk was less profitable companies would be less inclined to do it.

    The first thing that popped into my mind was something perverted.

  8. “…It could be said that anime Haruhi would be milking the folks who bought the manga Haruhi (I mean the show doesn’t really reveal anything manga fans wouldn’t have already known). It is because of it’s success as a manga that an anime version was made, that there is so few truely original-to-anime shows out ”

    …You just lost any credibility with that first sentence.
    Haruhi is based on a novel series. A very respected new series by a new author, who won an award.

    Please use examples of series that you know something about. The reason Haruhi the anime was such a surprse hit, was because it was NOT made for the anime/manga crowd. It was a fantasy/school comedy novel that had to compete shelf space with every other novel in Japan. Most anime/manga fans know nothing about it.

    There might be other series that fit your profile, but Haruhi isn’t one of them. It’s times like this that reminds us how often people assume everything without examining the accuracy… Facts are what TRULY matter.

  9. The batsu game that Keiichi winds up losing in onikakushi-hen (not in anime) is much, much worse than that last picture…

  10. I think moe and consumerism are both red herrings here. The article is about Mimei’s self-image and only incidentally about modern otaku’s. She’s just bitter that a label she was proud of changed when it went mainstream. To her she’s a “real otaku” while they’re “so-called otaku”. Bad luck, languages are dynamic.

  11. >Bad luck, languages are dynamic.

    …And I do think that there are plenty of different types of anime otaku in activity nowaday, from moe maniacs (just a recent addition in the crowd) and occult freaks to people who are a mountain of knowledge about animation itself (pelleas, catsuka).

    As for the excesscive consumerism, I think it’s not neccesserily a fatality. I do buy mangas and DVD, and art-books from time to time when I really like an anime or an artist, but in limited quantities as I prefer quality over quantity and I want my colection reflect that line of tought. I do not see the appeal of PVC (it’s not as if they are alive ^^ alas ^^), plushies, bishoujo art-books or ero games. Am I an otaku or not ?

  12. Please allow me to attempt a guess at the long term picture of the things.

    1. There is a huge inherent problem in today’s model of consumerism: If you figure in the environment cost into the whole thing, it is generating deficits at alarming rate. Unless there is huge advance in technological in very near future, a good example would be Moore’s Law being continued for at least another decade, which, right now, may be physically impossible, all those hidden costs are going to catch up with us, probably within 30 years when the world’s petroleum reserve would have become less than half of the current level, and we would experience the great collapse of majority of monetary institutions; end of the civilization in view of the rich. All these talks about sustainable economic growth will become exponetially more prominent in coming years and, as far as we know, these milking schemes and excessive luxury spendings is standing in way of achieving this dream of continued prosperity to majority of people on Earth. The scope and depth of this problem is so huge, that I doubt we can give its proper dues here.

    2. In 1980s and early part of 90s, Korea had imposed strict ban on broadcasting any new Japanese animation on TV or theaters, due to fear of negative influence on the society. While I believe in free flow of informations, there are many dark sides to Japanese animations, some of dark or bad stuffs in 80s were much worse than run-of-a mill things we see today, which deserves to be checked. Coupled with the fact that issues of sexual harrassments and discrimination is much more serious in Far East compared to most Western Nations, this makes some concerned people worry whether the society is actually going backwards in its treatment of women and the child. There is a need for people to know about these and, if we deem an anime series to have crossed the line, voice our objections and do a one-person boycott of the series. Suzumiya Haruhi’s acts toward Mikuru is something my wife and I condemn, but while we condemn that aspect, we do not condemn the whole series for it has its moments and they have toned down Haruhi-Mikuru things recently. However, I consider most anime to be better off compare to many shows in USA which have lots of violence and/or mostly brain-dead materials, while many good animes give you lots to think about.

    3. There may be too much ‘moe’ these days, but I am concerned more with the fact that almost all characters in anime, no matter which company made them, looks like they were cut out from the same cookie-cutter. There is a need for more diversity, at least for me, and in the long run, for the anime industry as well, because one of these days, people will get tired of similar stuffs over and over again.

    4. Although they check themselves just enough for it to be exported to Korea, the biggest buyer of Japanese anime, there is a tendency for some animes to subtly glorify things from past that knowing people in China and Korea would be very bitter about. For instance, anything that has to do with the name ‘Yamato’ should bring out red flag to Koreans, for that is the name of government Japanese claims to have conquered most of South Korea around 3rd Century, a claim disputed by Koreans and majority of Chinese scholars studying cultural exchange between Chinese ports and Korean peninsula. Japanese used this claim to support annexation of Korea in 1905, officially it is either 1909 or 1910, but effectively it is 1905 when Japanese stationed their government officers into various Korean posts and took away all possiblie representation to local government and international community from Korea. Battleship Yamato is the command ship of Japanese Navy for majority of World War II, so any glorifying of the ship, as in case of Space Battleship Yamato, which has one of the best opening songs I heard, needs to be taken with a grain of Salt.

    Now we can be somewhat tolerant on this glorification of past, for everybody does it, but Anime sometimes exerts false claim into several matters. Many of things and saying which originated from China and brought to Japan by Korean scholars are now known to be Japanese to those dimwits in Western Mass media, who wants the sensation associated with the word ‘Japan’ more than historical accuracy. I believe false information are mostly harmful to everyone who receives or originates it. There is a need for a watchdog over such matter.

    5. Finally, Japan’s prosperity has diminished many of good things in cultures of neighboring countries. The fault for this lies mostly with the gatekeeper, Korea, and the big guy, China, but there is a need to educate the world that what they see in Japanese Anime is a very small cut of the whole Asian Culture; There are almost 4 Billion people in Asia, so only about 1/30 of the popularation, and much less in the size of the land is Japan.

    I wonder if I had fallen into the nearby river, a saying in Korean which means we have strayed off the main subject of discussion.

  13. >>Me thinks she’s just bitter that she can sell as much yaoi manga as the moe makers.


    her arguments – leaving aside the usual complaints from subcultures when their interests become mainstream – boil down to the fact that she’s angry that publishing compaines are pursuing their *own* profits – by focussing on low-risk, highly profitable genre pieces – instead of pursuing *her* profit (thru higher risk attempts to make a mass-market hit, which would bring the mangaka more fame and reknown). poor diddums – my heart bleeds for her.

    this practice is hardly limited to anime or manga – it’s the basic business model of all cultural producers. if she didn’t know this before she signed on, she’s an idiot; if she did, then she’s a hypocrite.

    and if the subtext of her complaint is that she’s finding that as a mangaka she’s not as free to produce what she wants as she thought she would be, but is instead subject to the same constraints as the rest of us: again, my heart bleeds for her. but then, i’m always surprised at just how clueless mangaka sound in interviews – maybe they really *are* all hikikomori?

  14. Like I’ve mentioned, she just want some damned publicity.

    I’ve already said she and Jack Thompson should meet.

  15. I think the issue that she has (and that I also have) is that people are buying anything related to the animes and that the companies know this and charge whatever they want because they know that their fans will buy anything that they release. Or, to put this in Marxist terms, a lot of the things that they sell for a lot of money have no actual use value and only have sign exchange value. Meaning that what you’re actually buying is cred.

  16. Just had to share this with someone.

    Found this on Animesuki

    looks like there is going to be a uncensor scene on the Soul ink DVD


    need to start watching soul link again.

  17. Well to add to wontaek’s comment about the resurgence of a male dominated society here’s a repost fromt he original hi-jacking:

    This esteemed lady is also responsible for this:

    Now if it is a joke I aplogize in advance, but given this little fact works: “In October 2005, Sakamoto started a full page comic strip in the Sankei Shimbun a daily newspaper in Japan in an attempt to educate the young about a broad range of timely social topics that include the revision of the constitution, the imperial system and the internet boom.” from SSU people. Sankei Shimbun is the 6th most circulated paper and is defined by wiki as nationalist, anti-communist, and pro-American, much like Pinochet and a host of US friendly fromer dictators, no? Perhaps I am smelling the stench of a bilibous purple pissing right-wing stack of [explitive]?

    However if it really defines her attitudes I must disagree. I personally find the idea that being feminine to the point of trophy wife to be both backward and degrading. First off happiness is what you make of it. Following dogma on what is happiness for all women is stupid and irresponsible. It is up to every man to and woman to define his or her own existence and attain what ever happiness as that individual defines it. Like voting only a fool would decline his/her right to seize destiny and have a say in how their future plays out. She however disagrees.

    Her little doodle is anti-intellectual and would have it seem that all things are formulatic and that all is well in the world. Smart and average women suffer while the pretty and promiscuous women have children and therefore the accompanying youth and happiness. (it might be funny for Japanese women, but for a cynical otaku you lost me at hello) Such baffling ignorace only reveals that she does not and, should she persist in such idiotry, can not ever comprehend the true scale of the bitterness of this world.

    In regards to the glorification of old Japanese Imperial Ships. You can see it in Evangelion with the naming of Asuka “Soryu,” and Risuko “Akagi.” (Both the name sakes of Japanese Carriers that took part in Pearl Harbor, and later sunk by the US Navy at midaway, breaking the back of Japan’s carrier force and killing the cream of their naval aviation) Shinji Higuchi (also name sake of that bastard Shinji Ikari) directed Lorelei: Witch of the Pacific Ocean, very much a shameless pandering it right wing nuts who love the idea of dying for the Co-Prosperity Sphere, but still ain’t got the guts to carry through and run their mouths. It show cases German exploitation of humans, Japanese technological superiorty and the Americans willing to bomb Tokyo with a third atomic weapon for a ficticious system. (In all honesty the brutality of war essentailly means you really don’t care about your enemy’s causualties, the goal is to save the lives of your men. If the war is shortened for a day militarily speaking it doesn’t matter how many you kill to achive it if there is a fear that you’d lose more if it drags on.) As can be ascertained it did not stack up to Das Boot. In short another we were the same “we were just victims schtik.” (There fore Gainax is a right wing organization…)

    As for Yamato despite my Chinese heritage it still reperesnts from a purely military view as a all bark no bite ship. The Japanese were so concerned with a Tsushima-like showdown or final battle between the entire fleets of both sides that the Yamato was never seriously commited to battle. It is also quite baffling that the IJN realized the potential for carrier assaults and yet built this expensive class of warships. At Leyte Gulf she was beaten off by Taffy-3 which was made up of lightly armed and armored escort carriers and destoyers. Against horrific odds Taffy-3 survived by the skin of their teeth as the destroyers engaged point blank against IJN cruisers and the Yamato herself (she was caught between paralle torpedoes and essentailly left fot avoid being hit). The veritable tin-cans broke up the IJN formation and cause the loss of tactical control. The Yamato and her escorts retreated, and by the time they reached home port only the Yamato was in any fighting condition. She was then sunk by 8 bombs and 10 torpedoes during the failed Operation Ten-Go. As I see it they can glorify it however they want, it still does not change the fact that her record was poor and was a hollow symbol of IJN might.

    Dang a third attempted hi-jacking…terribly sorry.

  18. This post was a really good reading. Around here in my country there’s the opposite problem of US, we’re a bunch of SCROOGES ( ).

    But fear not! With the EURO we’ll be soon much much poorer and full of debts, so welcome loans&such. With Americanification going strong around here, I expect everyone to fall graciously into those big “credit insitutes” arms very soon.

  19. The negative saving rate is not a proof that “[Americans] spend more than [they] take in”. In reality, it only says that more Americans turn to wealth and investment and away from savings.

  20. And to finally make sure the train is heading in the wrong direction at approximately 350 mph:

    If we’re gonna encourage milk, we should encourage milfs. Or else we face THE JAM.

  21. DrmChsr0: Look at Utawareromono’s Archer twins. THOSE ARE MEN, BABY.
    I hope that’s not true. Oh I hope that is not true.

    jpmeyer: Meaning that what you’re actually buying is cred.
    Prestigious consumption has always and will always be a facet of human society. Buying stuff that makes you look cool is always infinitely preferrable to buying stuff that you’ll actually use.

    LL Capitalism!

    tjhan: But to do that in real life, chasing after busty 11 year olds just plainly reeks of paedophilia.
    Even without the pedophilia bit that’s wrong. 11 year olds should not be busty.

  22. what was that girl’s name… saaya irie or something? some japanese middle schooler who made some controversy over her fans, her chest, and the china/japan split or something?

    prime example of the perverseness of japanese idolism?

  23. Yep. That’s the one.

    Japan is a sad place to live in, with all the Haruhi rape and whatnot.

  24. Saaya Irie two words I never should have typed into wiki. :(

    I feel dirty…

    Something is not right here she’s 11 years old and has to use and F-cup?! What the heck are they putting in the water? I don’t recall ever seeing an actual human being live up to loli-fantasies in my 21 years of sentience. It must be photo-shop it has to be…that or they’ve used gentics for the wrong cause.

  25. Or maybe she’s a genetic anomaly.

    Things like this happen without any rhyme or reason. If Haruhi-sama hath declared it, we must accept her decision. Or face the wrath of a female immortal.

  26. Well, in Japan an F-cup is equivalent to a C-D cup here. But yes, she is–how do you say?–a “busty loli.”

    It doesn’t mean that Japan isnt still messed up. Good and bad ways, that is.

  27. Well, I don’t know about a “genetic anomaly” I went to middle school (6th-8th grade) with three girls (at least) that had D cup sizes. Depressingly this would have been almost fifteen years ago. So it must be in Nevada’s water as well. Maybe it has something to do with the nuclear waste dump?

  28. One strange thing is, in the official English translation of Haruhi, they changed the dialogue so that she was an underclassman to Haruhi and Kyon, making her a “loli”.

    But in the Japanese version she is described as being older than both Kyon and Haruhi but with a youthful appearence.

    This, it would seem, the translators actually pedo-fied Haruhi.

    Now that’s what I call innovation!

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