Why every UK anime fan should say thanks to Australian otaku
Date: Wednesday 22nd June 2011 [17:42] | Posted By: Joe
We're going all nostalgic here at Otaku News and have decided to dig up some old articles from our archive that are not published on-line, either because they were originally for print or from websites that are now off-line.
Just because they're old doesn't mean they're not relevant to today's otaku.
We start with an article originally published in the AmeCon 2007 Conbook about why UK anime fans owe a debt of gratitude to their Australian counterparts. Please note that it was written for a UK anime audience in mind, Australian readers might find it interesting to know how important they are to the UK industry and how the UK industry helps Madman out.
I wrote this article in 2007, a lot has changed since then, most noticeably Virgin Megastore no longer exists, nor does NewType USA. Some things haven't changed, UK anime fans still owe a lot to Madman.
Since originally publishing this article in the conbook, as of 2009, Madman achieved a 93% market share of the Australian anime market.
Every anime fan in the UK knows that the UK anime industry is supported by the American anime industry. Almost all of the titles out on DVD in the UK have come through America first. Titles are translated in North America, subtitled and dubbed in the US by US voice actors (who make guest appearances now and again at anime events including this one). The original rights deals are often done through US companies too. What many UK anime fans don't know, is that as British anime fans we're actually just as reliant on the Australian anime market. What? Yes, it's not a typo, the UK anime industry is supported by otaku down under. It's not an industry secret or anything, it's just not that common knowledge.
If you've been an anime fan for a long time, you'll remember the bad days when it was good to get a DVD release every 2 to 3 months, let alone the amount of titles that get released every month now. The speed of UK output is partially down to there being more anime fans in the UK now then there were during the bad old days as anime and manga is becoming more mainstream.
Another factor is a quirk in British fandom, there are two major delays in anime production, firstly after the rights for the UK have been bought, the title needs to be approved by the BBFC, this can slow things down a bit, secondly the DVD needs to be re-authored from the US video format NTSC, to the format used in the UK, PAL. This is where the Aussie otaku come in, Australia uses PAL format for their DVDs too. So to cut down authoring costs UK anime companies team up with Australian anime companies to speed up production and lower cost. There is really only one anime company in Australia and that's Madman Entertainment currently they own the majority of the Australian anime market. If you look at some of your UK anime DVDs, maybe in the about section, or if you wait until all the end credits have scrolled by, there is a good chance, after it's said Manga Entertainment, ADV UK, MVM or Optimum Releasing, it'll say Madman too.
This is where you'll actually start calling me a madman, we all know that anime fandom is bigger in the US, as everything in the US is bigger, they have anime conventions almost every week it seems, stores like Hot Topic sell tons of funky anime merchandise and companies churn out anime on DVD and print out manga like it never ends. Anime fandom in Australia is actually bigger than the UK too, despite the population of Australia being a 3rd of the UK. If you walk into any JB Hi-Fi (a chain that sells DVDs and CDs), anime DVDs get a very prominent placing, often taking up a large amount of the store, more than in a Virgin Megastore or HMV in the UK. Newtype USA acknowledges this too, dedicating two thirds of their overseas round up to Australia and the remaining third to the UK.
Madman Entertainment and anime fandom really took off at roughly the same time in Australia and it was no coincidence. Madman predicted that the DVD format would take off, especially with anime fans who like their choice between sub and dubs, they took a gamble and bought the Australian DVD rights for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shortly after, Aussie terrestrial channel SBS broadcast the series in January 1999 and it proved to be an instant hit making many more Australians aware of anime and also creating a great demand for the DVD series. They bought the rights for $20,000 US dollars, and grossed over a 1.5 million Australian dollars. This then allowed the company to fund a huge spending spree, which includes all the Studio Ghibli titles, and with the exception of some Tri-Star Columbia anime titles, almost everything that's ever been released in the UK.
At of the time of writing this article Eva hasn't even had a UK terrestrial screening, which might explain why we're behind the Australians fandom wise.
So next time you consider you feel lucky for all anime titles we now have in the UK, remember we got them with a little help from our cousins downunder.