The (Psychological) Problems of Streaming

Buzz201

Mad Scientist
Sorry for the weird thread title, I'll try and come up with something better. I appreciate most of this thread is probably self-indulgent whining, but please go with it.

Recently, it has become clear to me that my wants and desires aren't the way the physical anime home video market is heading, and it's increasing leading to friction. I have now come to the understanding that it would probably be best for me to go streaming-only sooner rather than later. I am however having some difficulties with this. Aside from the obvious (lack of extras/OVAs/shorts/dubs/anything Toei or Manga UK, non-indefinite availability), one of problems I'm facing is that for me streaming doesn't feel "tangible". With streaming, once the show ends, its gone forever without a physical trace. Somebody could enter my room and perhaps not even know I was an anime fan. I appreciate this is purely psychological and perhaps personal only to me, but I'm worried I'll stop feeling "connected" to anime and fall off the wheel.

Take AUKN for example, the vast majority of the discussion is about home video and various different distribution and licensing companies. If I massively scale back my anime purchasing, how can I participate in such discussions? There is discussion of simulcasting anime, but like most anime fandom it tends to be limited to certain series. This season for example, Re:ZERO, Danganronpa 3 and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable seem to be getting all the discussion. If you don’t watch the ‘in’ series, you’ll be left out. I guess my concern is that I’ll start to miss out on the communal aspect of anime fandom, if I don’t buy home video like everyone else does.

The final problem is perhaps more complicated. Just streaming shows doesn’t feel like supporting anime, even though it is. If we were even more brutal, we might ask if streaming-only is even making a meaningful contribution to supporting anime. I subscribe to Crunchyroll for £4.99 a month, and according to their PR people they split revenues 50/50 with the Japanese producers. At my £4.99, minus 3.5% (18p) and 20p as PayPal’s fee, leaves £4.61. Meaning the most I will contribute if I only stream is £2.305. To put this into context, even if all of Crunchyroll’s 750,000 subscribers watch only the one show and all paid £4.99 per month, their combined revenues wouldn’t cover the cost of producing that show. They reach £1,762,000, which just falls short of the 250m Yen figure cited for the production of P.A. Works’ Shirobako. This is not an argument against legal streaming, clearly any money is better than no money. However, knowing this, I think I would still maybe feel guilty that I wasn’t contributing to anime in a meaningful way.

I suppose you could argue that even if you buy a home video a large percentage of that will be mark-up and only very little will make it back to the licensor and then even less to the Japanese producers. I doubt a licensor would ever be willing to give specific figures, but buying the home video release feels like you’re contributing more, not just to the Japanese producers but also to your local industry. I have Assassination Classroom Part 2 on pre-order. Even if all of the £25 doesn’t go directly to the Japanese producers, the parts that don’t will go to helping HMV and encouraging an anime presence there, allowing Anime Limited to do interesting and exciting things and keep making better releases, and potentially help cover them if some of their riskier titles don’t pay off, allowing for more obscure titles to get released. Whereas, the part of my Crunchyroll that doesn’t go to the Japanese producers, probably isn’t going to do much if anything for the UK anime scene. The one UK convention appearance and one UK & Ireland-only title in recent memory demonstrates they don’t have much of an interest in us. Sure that money will help AT&T and The Chernin Group and Crunchyroll get anime out there and do interesting things and pick up more titles, but my cynical side doesn’t think that’s going to give much benefit to the UK. Illogical as it is, if something happened to a UK anime distributor, I’d probably feel guilty about any role I might have played in their closure. I know the more callous and logical among you, would say it was their fault for not serving the audience, but I don’t know that I’d feel like that if something ever did happen. I also suspect there might be resentment from those that did support home media if streaming-only fans were perceived to cause a distributor’s problems.

This thread has perhaps been a bit moany but I figured it might be worth having a discussion about this, to try and see what others think, and to see if there are any potential solutions to some of these.
 

IncendiaryLemon

Captain Karen
AUKN Staff
You make a lot of valid points, but, no offence, I'm not sure if you're thinking this through entirely. Despite the fact the anime scene in the UK, is heading towards the majority of releases being Collector's Editions first, this is exclusively Anime Limited for the most part, with Manga and MVM still pumping out Standard Edition titles at more reasonable prices. I will grant you that AL are gobbling up a hell of a lot of licences and the selection of what's left over might not interest you. I definitely think that a big area of improvement that AL could use is more standard editions. Whilst there are always going to be fans out there dedicated enough to buy a CE of a less than stellar/popular show, not every show they have nowadays seems really deserving of one. Not only does this exclude newer fans who perhaps aren't willing to drop large sums on blind buys or people who just don't have the money to anyway, but it could also turn off people who want to just own the show, but not pay a large amount of money for it. This reduction of LEs could also lead to more focus on the titles that do deserve a nice LE. Even these popular shows should still get Standard Editions for the more price conscious, even if it does mean a little bit of delay, I'd say no more than a month or two. That tangent aside, even if you were to abstain from the buying of physical anime, I don't think that really means you're not allowed to take part in discussion of home releases. You'll still have an opinion on them after all, the artwork, the features, etc, and people aren't just going to shun you because you don't buy them.

As far as discussion of currently airing shows go, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to try and generate discussion. It makes sense that the more popular a show is, the more people will talk about it, but I can't imagine it's only you who doesn't watch one or any of those shows, or any popular show airing at the time. I notice you don't really post in the viewing journal thread, if you were looking to start discussion, that would be a great starting point. I'm pretty sure we also have a dedicated thread for discussing the simulcasts of each particular season, which could also be a great place to express your thoughts on what you actually are watching. Hell, if there isn't, make one!

Basically, the gist of what I'm saying is, you don't have to be excluded from the community just because your watching or purchasing habits don't conform to the popular consensus. At the end of the day, you still have an opinion to express about things, and we'll be more than happy to read them.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
For the sake of maintaining my very limited storage space, I stopped buying physical releases almost entirely a couple of years ago and, yeah, it did feel a bit odd for the first while, but honestly, I can't say I feel like I'm missing out on anything. Maybe it depends on how much you like to rewatch things, but we're bombarded with so much content these days that I rarely find myself watching a show more than once, especially if it's a long one. I'll still buy a thing if I think it's going to have rewatch value, if it has a bonus like a commentary track I particularly want, or if it's a title that wouldn't be readily streamable, but I feel if it's not something I'm likely to come back to, I might as well just save my cash. Whether this is enough to really feel like I'm supporting the industry is a fair question, but equally I don't feel inclined to shell out for something I don't really want, in the hope that Studio X will make something I do want down the line.

It is also a fair point that a lot of AUKN's discussion that isn't about home video releases seems to centre on the biggest simulcasts (paritcularly on the discord), but I suspect that's probably much the same situation you'd find in most fandom circles. I'd never really thought of posting about other simulcasts in the season streaming threads, as I always thought they were just for announcements, but I've certainly seen general season discussion threads done on other forums and having something similar here might not be a crazy idea.

Equally, I'd welcome more show-specific threads in the general discussion area, be they for currently airing shows or older titles; it seems nearly all the posting that goes on in general is focused on the viewing journal and out of ten threads, so it'd be nice to see a bit more variation. From experience, I know it can seem like a lonely business if you make a thread and no-one replies, but I think it's always worth doing anyway - sometimes you'd be surprised at how much discussion you can spark off with just a little bit of effort.
 

britguy

Za Warudo
If I don't buy anime home video releases, then I'm not consuming anime. I know there's countless anime streams out there, but I just don't feel compelled to watch them. I only watch shows when there's a blu ray really.

It is definitely a mindset thing. Im 30, I grew up with vhs, casettes, cd, dvds....physical media basically, I just think I'm stuck in my ways, or perhaps I just don't like anime as much as others do? I get more than enough anime from buying a couple of titles a month, I just don't have the time or desire for much more, which is what streaming basically offers, anime on tap :/
 

crashmatt

Death Scythe
Im a physical media kinda guy as you probably know. I have a large vinyl & CD collection so it's natural for me to collect anime in physical form. Streaming is great for the sheer range of shows you can watch. However even now certain popular shows from the late 90's and early noughtys are no longer available. This will eventually happen with many of the shows we know and love today.

If you still wanted to keep your hand in the physical releases and cost is an issue (as it is for most of us) then you could always try shops like CEX where you can pick up new-ish releases and a more reasonable price.

Anime is anime in any format so it shouldn't stop you from discussing it here or anywhere else.
 

Smeelia

Thousand Master
I think it's dangerous to get into the idea that you're responsible for funding the anime that you enjoy. Anime needs to be funded but it's not really down to individuals to get that done. People will have their own circumstances and we can't all contribute as much financially. Still, even if you're not paying out as much money as another fan, there are other ways to contribute. Talking about shows and trying to share them with others can help to build up the fandom and that means there'll be more people to share the load. Even just watching shows at least helps show there's a demand and that feedback can help the producers to find other ways to make money.

I think the social element is particularly significant. Many (perhaps most) anime fans want other people to be watching the shows they love too, they want people to discuss and share shows with and maybe to have some people that understand things the same way they do. People don't necessarily support anime purely to get more of what they enjoy for themselves, they often want more of it to be available in general. You might well feel guilty if you don't feel that you're contributing enough but maybe it's worth considering that you're actually a part of a larger community and you're not alone in trying to support anime. In a sense, we're all in this together. Even people who are only interested in anime for themselves can still contribute to the wider community (that's basically how our society is supposed to work, even).

I think it's probably worth remembering that part of the reason streaming has grown is because it does work for the companies to some extent. If it was only costing them money then they wouldn't do it. Maybe they don't make the same money from every fan but it's ultimately balancing out to a positive.

I don't think it's wrong to think about these sorts of things but I don't think it's worth letting it get in the way of enjoying your anime. At the end of the day, anime pretty much exists to be enjoyed so it seems contradictory to let worrying about it get in the way of it fulfilling it's purpose. I suppose that's easier to say than to live by but it's probably at least worth thinking about.
 

black1blade

Thousand Master
Also you don't necessarily have to keep buying and watching new shows. Plenty of older shows and shows with cheaper releases are out there that are really good. Also there is conversation for pretty much every show coming out but you have to dig a bit deeper in various communities. It's also hard to tell how popular or generally acclaimed a show will be in the long run based off it's simulcast run. You also shouldn't necessarily watch shows so you can talk about them with others. Yes it is a bonus but you shouldn't let what is generally popular and acclaimed dictate what shows you watch and enjoy, simply augment your enjoyment of anime as a whole.
 
I am very much of the, if I can't hold it in my hands, I don't own it persuasion. So I want paper books that work without electricity, I want CDs, DVDs, BDs, I want to be able to enjoy all this stuff even if someone sets off a bunch of EMPs over all the major Internet nodes. I'm at the point now, where I can watch three or four hours of DVDs and BDs a night, and looping through my collection, I won't be re-watching them for another five years. As I reviewer I guess I'm an outlier, in that reviewing is my streaming, so I actually watch a mix of review discs and my own collection, but otherwise it would have been a mix of my collection and streaming (or broadcast TV). I haven't clicked on my CR queue in six months.

One thing you can do is sell off those titles in your collection that you won't re-watch, and put that money towards the next purchase, less clutter, and you wind up owning only the shows that you love.
 

Buzz201

Mad Scientist
That tangent aside, even if you were to abstain from the buying of physical anime, I don't think that really means you're not allowed to take part in discussion of home releases. You'll still have an opinion on them after all, the artwork, the features, etc, and people aren't just going to shun you because you don't buy them.
I think part of the problem that nobody's really thinking about is that with the vast majority of simulcast titles (and a fair few catalogue titles as well) being more expensive CEs, sales across the board will probably drop. If Anime Limited, the company that now has all the big titles continue their practice of only doing standards when the CE sells out, it's quite plausible the rate of standards will slow down significantly. And that's not to mention the titles that you mentioned that probably aren't viable in CE form, and may not ever get a standard release at all, never mind having to wait later. For me personally there are other reasons I want to reduce my home media purchasing, however I chose to filter those out to keep things on topic.

But to reply to the part of your post I specifically quoted, the first time I voiced a dissenting opinion, somebody would reply with "Well, why do you care? Not like you're going to buy it." I'm not sure I'd want to comment on releases that had no relevance to me, because I'd know everyone else would be thinking that.

For the sake of maintaining my very limited storage space, I stopped buying physical releases almost entirely a couple of years ago and, yeah, it did feel a bit odd for the first while, but honestly, I can't say I feel like I'm missing out on anything. Maybe it depends on how much you like to rewatch things, but we're bombarded with so much content these days that I rarely find myself watching a show more than once, especially if it's a long one. I'll still buy a thing if I think it's going to have rewatch value, if it has a bonus like a commentary track I particularly want, or if it's a title that wouldn't be readily streamable, but I feel if it's not something I'm likely to come back to, I might as well just save my cash. Whether this is enough to really feel like I'm supporting the industry is a fair question, but equally I don't feel inclined to shell out for something I don't really want, in the hope that Studio X will make something I do want down the line.
I would agree, I do feel like I have brought some series out of some bizarre desire to own every series I finished watching, even if I wasn't really a fan. (I do probably regret buying Aldnoah.Zero, for example.) For me, it's more a case of say, I'm enjoying Twin Star Exorcists but nowhere near enough to shell out potentially 4x £40-60 for an AL CE of it. I would like to support the show, but given I'm already buying the manga, options are somewhat limited.

Andrew Partridge has talked about potential DTO options, which would be a good solution provided he could clear some problems. (I don't trust DRM that can't be easily removed, and I'd rather pay for access to home video versions of episodes.) Part of me feels like I'm just being very fussy though, desperately trying to have my cake and eat it, but then why would I pay for something I can already access and might be taken away without recompense at the randomm and unpredictable whim of a Japanese licensor?
 

Smeelia

Thousand Master
But to reply to the part of your post I specifically quoted, the first time I voiced a dissenting opinion, somebody would reply with "Well, why do you care? Not like you're going to buy it." I'm not sure I'd want to comment on releases that had no relevance to me, because I'd know everyone else would be thinking that.
I've never really bought into the idea that people who aren't directly involved in something/have no experience of something shouldn't be allowed to give their opinions and/or take part in discussions on that subject. Sometimes an outside perspective can be useful in a variety of ways, people who are close to a subject may take some things for granted and may fail to consider certain points because they've gotten used to thinking of the subject in a particular way. Maybe I just feel that way because I'm nosy and opinionated, but I do feel there's value in having several different perspectives on a given subject. Turning people away because they're "not involved" or "couldn't understand" just feels like wasting potentially valuable input (often seemingly out of some self-serving desire to act as some kind of authority on the subject).

Regarding physical media, I probably have a tendency to buy too much but I think I prefer that to potentially missing out on things that I really want to get by leaving them for too long. Still, I suppose the ideal is to only buy the shows that really matter to you, especially if you're likely to re-watch them at some point. Or maybe the ideal is buying shows because doing so feels right and then when remembering why you bought them when you're later on wondering why you have so much of this stuff. I do occasionally look at some of my purchases and think that it might be nice if I had the money I'd spent on them instead but I'd like to think that what I got out of buying them at the time was worth it (even if I don't necessarily remember).

If you are going to buy anything, I think it's better to get the shows that you love the most even if it means skipping a few that you did like but not quite as much. If you set your standard too low then you might just eat up your budget and miss out on something particularly worthwhile.

Anyway, I am in favour of owning physical media but I think people should only buy for their own reasons and not worry about making purchases out of some sense of obligation (unless maybe it's to make up for being a pirate, but even then just mending their ways is probably good enough without having to go too far).

Saying that, what other people choose to do with their money has nothing to do with me.
 

black1blade

Thousand Master
Having a show available on streaming does kinda make me less hasty to buy the discs. Because psycho pass in now on crunchy I wont be rushing the buy season 1 anytime soon but I will probably buy the movie as that isn't available anywhere else.
 

ShipTeaser

Dandy Guy, in Space
I tend to share my beliefs with Just Passing Through as i want to own physical copies of things so I can watch again if i wish (and if it is good i will)

However i have definitely got more into streaming recently as I hate waiting for things and so I have a Crunchy account for that. Thus has actually led to an increase in my purchases as I watched the asterisk war which i wasnt going to blind buy at Aniplex prices, liked it and slammed in preorders. There have been others too.

I think for the price streaming is worthwhile and it does support the industry as even a little is better than nothing.

As for not having a valid opinion anyone can have an opinion on anything and it can still be valid. After all i can talk about football without playing it heh
 

qaiz

Pokémon Master
I've never streamed a single anime and never will, the quality is trash. I also don't really operate with the all you can eat buffet style of consuming media that many do and I'd much rather focus on quality rather than quantity and so the raw number and stats regarding the amount of shows available on streaming sites is meaningless because I already know what shows I want to consume and there's no substitute to that, I'm not going to go into a streaming website with one show in mind and coming out watching another. To add to that, the fact that I couldn't care less about what's "in" and have no desire to mingle and stay in touch with the anime zeitgeist helps.
 

Demelza

Adventuring Alchemist
AUKN Staff
I stream a lot of anime season to season and I definitely wouldn't buy every series I watch, but I think streaming it is still giving back to the industry well enough (provided it's CR/Funi/etc) and the series I stream and really enjoy I'm happy to pick up in case they do leave the streaming service. If I liked the show enough to ever rewatch it then I'll happily buy a BD release.

I think where I differ from most anime fans is that I don't buy that much anime week to week, or even month to month, because I don't have a lot of free cash and what I do have is usually spent on manga and maybe a video game. I tend to put my money towards a few collector's editions a year (this year was 5-6 but that's not my usual) and that's it. I'm more likely to support the industry by going and buying the manga after (if the series has one), than I am to buy a BD but it really does depend on the show.

With anime movies I do tend to be more open to blind-buying them, but this is usually influenced by the studio/staff/source more than anything. However, I also think that there is a bit more value in buying a movie because you can quickly and easily lend it to a friend to watch or just watch it with them, whereas if you have a 12-25 episode show then that isn't as easy

What I'd recommend to you Buzz is to simply stream more and just buy the series you think you'll rewatch or those that catch your fancy and didn't stream here. I think there is more value in saving up for a few select shows than there is in buying a lot of anime (and I'm not saying you did buy a lot, I'm not sure how much you bought month to month on average), especially on a tight budget.

*edit* Also in terms of discussion shows and stuff... There are plenty of shows everyone else is watching this season that I'm not, like Berserk and the new Live Love, and there are plenty I'm watching that others aren't (like I haven't seen anyone mention Servamp really), so I just wouldn't worry about it. I think @Professor Irony made a good point about how more topics should be made about series as I'm sure that would actually get discussion going.

I wouldn't force yourself to watch the hot shows like, say, Re:Zero because if you aren't interested then there isn't much discussion value in it for yourself anyway.
 
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Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
At the risk of going off-topic, I was thinking that, once the autumn season gets underway, I might try putting up a general season discussion thread to see how that fares. My hope is that, without the relative formality of the viewing journal thread, we could see a bit more back and forth posting on how people feel shows are progressing, but I dunno. It's worth a try anyway, I'm sure.
 

st_owly (witch)

Time-Traveller
My rule is that if I want to watch something more than once, I buy the physical copy if it's available in English. I see watching something streaming a bit like watching on TV, it's "free" at point of use, but it's being paid for elsewhere (in anime's case mostly by the sponsorship and Japanese disc sales) and my tiny subscription costs, whilst individually small, is infinitely better than stealing it. My way of giving back is to buy physical media and if it's a series I really like, I'll import merchandise too.
 

ShipTeaser

Dandy Guy, in Space
I think people underestimate the merits of buying merchandise as industry support, and anything that discourages piracy is a winner over the long term.

I've been streaming series like a machine these past two weeks and this has led me to many new series i'll be buying physical copies of, along with merch such as figures etc.

I think the key is even if your subscription alone doesnt add much it keeps the service strong which allows those with deeper pockets/less common sense to splurge. So streaming is definitely worthwhile. You get to see what you want while helping the industry
 

Buzz201

Mad Scientist
I think people underestimate the merits of buying merchandise as industry support, and anything that discourages piracy is a winner over the long term.
I did actually look at merch. If you want to be 100% sure it's not fake, you'd have to order from the US. (I did look at AOL and UP1, but their selections aren't great..)

RightStuf's site is very hard to navigate and Crunchyroll charges ~£10 delivery a T-shirt. And that's assuming I could actually find one I like/that suits me...
 

Lutga

Mad Scientist
The day I stopped buying tonnes of anime was the day I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I realised I'd been in a situation for around 2 years where buying anime had been like a drug - an instant hit of pleasure knowing I'd 'got' a show and expanded my collection. But when I looked at my shelves and realised I'd watched most of it only once and some of it was still shrinkwrapped, I knew I had to stop.

The way I see it know, streaming is just absolutely the most convenient way to consume anime (for me) - it means less wasted shelf space, cheaper and I think in many ways it encourages me to both be wider ranging in my tastes and try stuff out, but also to be more ruthless if I don't like something - there's never that regret of having bought a show and then feeling like you have to finish it.

Over the past two years I've found I've had less and less time to watch anime, and I realised that as other things like work etc. started taking over my life, the importance of 'collecting' diminished - what was important was the 'experience' of watching instead, and it didn't require me to own something to do that.

I'm probably an outlier now amongst hardcore anime fans - and believe me, I understand where the collecting mindset comes from.

I dunno - I just felt that over the space of just a few months that compulsion to 'own' stuff fade away, replaced by the sheer convenience and ease of streaming in our increasingly time-poor world.
 
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