On noitaminA, Again

Farming twitter is easy picking, especially when someone already collected the tweets. Take this snippet, originated from an interview of three key dudes behind Guilty Crown.  (So pardon the twice-in-a-row.)

I think this is indicative of how derailed how a few vocal types on the internet think what “mainstream” entertainment is. I mean, when I think about it, I think things like Michael Jackson, Transformer 3 or Donald Duck. I certainly don’t think Guilty Crown panders to the male otaku niche–that’s the same as saying action-fighting-violent Hollywood SFX in the likes of Avatar or Transformers panders to the minority otaku crowd. I think those words do not mean what some people (namely, this guy) think it means.

The twitter conversation went on from there, lots of people talked about certain things about noitaminA and the various shows from it. It’s not really important unless you do marketing and licensing for noitaminA, because I feel for those of us overseas who recognizes the name, that’s somewhat representative as to how we feel about the “brand.” But I wouldn’t trust it much further than I can throw it.

Unfortunately it isn’t typically possible for the average consumer to “reverse engineer” the brand’s image (especially when it’s projected without any direction from the original owners of the brand) and figure out what the business decisions are, when we’re talking about a multi-faceted franchising effort. Especially when it isn’t even in the same language. I mean I don’t even know if people know what the business decisions actually are, yet people are just shooting at it. [And I don’t mean it in a negative way per se: You go armchair anime producer, don’t ever let ignorance stop you from being creative.]

And I think likening Guilty Crown to Code Geass is also partly because in both cases, the producers were trying to attract the same kind of audience. I mean after all there are lots of girls who like Code Geass, I’d think. More than, say, Trapeze probably. So who am I to criticize? Well, maybe only at the fact that noitaminA is a crazy, 2am time slot kind of deal.

If you don’t believe me about the girls-liking-crap-like-this bit (if we can even consider that there are people at all who likes Guilty Crown; certain nobody admits to liking it), let’s not forget: Something like 35% of people who watch K-ON in Japan are actually girls. Is it pandering to otaku? I think it does–but it does also so, so much more. I mean, I’m going to have a :V face towards anyone who called it a moeblob show and left it at that. But since so many did, it just highlights the fact it is really hard to guess these things unless you’ve got the right context. (Or perhaps just as important in the noitaminA discussion: 30% or more of Kuroshitsuji 2’s viewers are male!) I mean there are probably more girls than guys reading Shounen Jump, a magazine clearly pandering to guys. (That one is a guess.)

And who knows, maybe K-ON is the answer, or at least it contains the start to it, a nugget of truth. Maybe noitaminA is known for things like Antique Bakeries or Houses of Five Leaves (to single out one creator on there that I dislike), but it just doesn’t pay. And who is to blame for that?

Reading the actual interview (Dave is in his usual form here), it all makes a lot of sense. They’re following a formula. It only further confuses me why people don’t understand what is happening here; this is hardly new territory. I suppose this can also be chalked up to another case of “catering to someone elses’s tastes = pandering” as per the usual otaku blogger parlor tricks for some people, but com’on man.

And whatever you do, don’t read the ANN forum thread for that topic. It’s even more stupid. Or perhaps the comparison to Transformer 3 is not too far off the course, in that it is a profitable and popular flick that got universally panned. And in that case it’s Mission Accomplished, no?

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8 responses to “On noitaminA, Again

  • Hogart

    The bottom line (har har) is that selling to a bigger audience IS pandering of a sort, no matter how you sugarcoat it. You pander to one market segment with one thing, and pander to another segment with another thing. Hollywood does this, so does TV, and so does anime.

    There is close-to-guaranteed money in this approach, unlike catering to the niches in a project like noitamina. It’s far from the death knell of creativity (Madoka shows how you can pander while still delivering something special), but it certain DOES squeeze the niches a little more to see noitamina gearing down their projects to become profitable.

    You can’t fault the companies for thinking this way, nor can you fault the pessimistic viewer who isn’t satisfied with seeing noitamina gear down their niche business to be more profitable. At a certain point, the niche viewers will just shift focus to smaller companies that cater to them, that’s all. There will likely always be smaller studios fighting for attention with Penguindrums and Ben-tos.

    I daresay noitamina may just be yet another example of traditional media being squeezed out of existence by viewer demand for a less old-school and cumbersome experience. It’ll be a long time before it’s sorted out, and in the meantime people will mistake the “death of noitamina” as something sad, rather than a chance for new and more innovative blood.

  • Taka

    Hey I’ll take the risk. I like Guilty Crown. I ain’t saying any more than that but I’m enjoying the show especially now that I got a brand new laptop that can run it in 720p this shit is gorgeous.

    I went to see Transformer’s 3 it was way more coherent than the 2nd one. It’s action-adventure-cgi porn and I can dig it for an few hours. Just don’t expect me to buy the dvd or go for repeat viewings.

    But yeah I try not to make too many assumptions about a studios business decisions unless I have on paper “This is what we were thinking”. I find it makes the shows I watch more enjoyable when I don’t have a mental checklist of everything I feel is bad about anime.

  • moritheil

    “And whatever you do, don’t read the ANN forum thread for that topic. It’s even more stupid.”

    This is pretty good advice in general, I think.

    “I try not to make too many assumptions about a studios business decisions unless I have on paper ‘This is what we were thinking.'”

    It’s worse than that, actually – many times businessmen make justifications of actions that have nothing to do with what they were thinking at the time and everything to do with what makes sense at that later date. A similar thing goes for when we don’t like something: in most cases, we are trying to make a plausible story of why we don’t like it more than accurately and faithfully depicting our real reasons. Omo’s mention of people rejecting K-On is a good example: “moeblob” is something tangible for you to wrap your head around that might or might not be the true reason a given viewer doesn’t like the show.

  • omo

    The bottom line (har har) is that selling to a bigger audience IS pandering of a sort, no matter how you sugarcoat it. You pander to one market segment with one thing, and pander to another segment with another thing. Hollywood does this, so does TV, and so does anime.

    Well if it’s pandering either way, isn’t it better to pander to more people? :D

    Plus, it’s way too quick to jump to the gun on creativity or squeezing or whatever. There’s plenty of creativity going on in Guilty Crown, just not in the way some people like it. I think there’s a lot to say on the animation and visual imagery present in the show, and it’s pretty striking at times. It’s kind of an arrogant thing to automatically assume, well, Guilty Crown automatically sucks because it follows a narrative pattern that other blockbuster shows have walked. For the same reason K-ON is problematic.

  • jpmeyer

    Pretty sure the last survey I read had the readership for Shounen Jump split 50/50. But even so, that’s 50/50 for something that is supposed to be for boys!

  • Hogart

    Yes, I agree with you, save for that tongue-in-cheek retort :)

    I just felt compelled to voice some of the more level-headed opinions I’ve heard on this topic, since it’s just as easy to blame the fans without considering what their real, de-moronized viewpoint tends to be (in my experience). That, and people sometimes seem to forget that most fans aren’t really that hung up about this and they’ll quickly move on, they want to rant a little in the hopes that noitamina doesn’t forget to pander to them as well.

  • omo

    Right. And to that I’d say you can always just tweet at @noitamina2010 or something. MAYBE they will hear your whining w

  • Hogart

    Exactly – if they really cared they’d bug noitamina as directly as possible. The common retort to that is “noitamina doesn’t care much about the opinions of people who aren’t in Japan watching their channel”. The obvious conclusion is that they’re too jaded to really try, and they’re just out to whine despite knowing it’s like pissing in the wind. Either way, I still maintain that it won’t really impact them much what happens to noitamina.

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