January 16, 2021

Cartoons and Anime – Fun, Amusing, and Entertaining But a Business

As a fan of cartoons and anime (or cartoonime for the sake of simplicity). I must say my fandiom for both genre of animation is slow wanning. Though, my enthusiasm for one genre is higher than the other, I, however; still feel that as a whole both industries are on a decline and have been on the decline since the 80’s.

But I do want to make one thing clear.
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I do believe that the quality of Japanese anime has slowly improved in the recent years. Though with that said, I am a bit worried about the new Youth Ordinance Bill that was passed in Tokyo, Japan. I know it’s only a small level of censorship but this could potentially be the stepping stone towards a huge creation of censorship. Because as you know once a government issues a small change in the social structure, they tend to make more and bigger changes in the future.

But let’s go back to the point on Corporate cartoonime.

As you may know, the golden age that occur for cartoons and anime occurred in the 1960s-1990s. During this time period, cartoons and anime were aired on major broadcast TV stations such as, CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. The aforementioned stations were all broadcasting a Saturday Morning lineup with dozens of cartoonimes to watch and choose from. However, by the mid 1990′s things began to change.

In 1997 NBC became the first major network to drop animated cartoons from its Saturday Morning lineup. The decision was made for various reasons such as, economic reasons, the Disney acquisition of ABC/Capital Cities, the emergence of KidsWB, and the strict censorship imposed by the Federal Communications Commission which mandated that television stations air at least three hours a week of educational programming for children.

But the story doesn’t end there. What began next was the infusion of live-action programming for kids and teens. The shift made television networks change their focus from animated shows to live-action shows, as they saw a new opportunity and market for them in terms of ad revenue. In fact, networks began to realize that live-action toys, merchandise, and games could sell just as well as cartoon merchandise and toys. By the way, many networks the sale of merchandise of popular cartoon shows, was major source of revenue and perhaps the main purpose of broadcasting animated shows.

Of course, these events led to a rapid shift, causing major television networks to focus on live-action television for kids and teens rather than cartoons or anime, which well…plain sucked.
However, the problem that’s occurring today for these television networks or studio production are… They’re first and foremost a business. Not only are they just a business but most of them are corporations or at least a subsidiary of a corporation.

Some of you are probably asking what does this have to do with anything about cartoons and anime? A lot.

First let me explain the purpose of a corporation or a public company. The purpose of a public company is not to increase revenue but to increase shareholders wealth. Yes that’s right, a company’s main goal is to increase shareholders wealth which is usually done by increasing company assets or profits. But still what does this have to do with cartoons and anime sucking? Once again, a lot.

Most people don’t know that a company can lose its value if its current growth doesn’t exceed the previous years growth. If this occurs there’s a possibility that many if its investors will bailout on company’s stocks before you can even say hot potato.

So what. Right? Well, to prevent things like that from occurring company executives continue to make hard and tough decisions (well maybe it’s not so hard for them but tough on those who are effected by them). Usually these decisions aren’t very pleasant as they often lead to workers being laid off, jobs being outsourced, and production budgets being cut. All which can have a major effect on an animated project.

Which I am sure, many of you have noticed some of these discrepancies while watching an anime or cartoon. Ever noticed how one scene seems to animate very good with great detail and the next just seems so poorly done that you can’t even make out main character? Yeah, that’s what usually occur when a show or scene is outsourced to another country or is worked by an in betweener rather than a professional animator.

But for some shows, they can just look plain awful and usually I tend to take good look at the studio name and stay far away from any other cartoonime they produced. But of course, the reason why we have these lacklusters is because studio companies are trying to reduce cost, plain and simple. For many companies, their highest cost on the balance sheet usually tends to be workers wages and if offered, pensions and benefits.

However, when cost is cut, it often leads to some of the best animators, directors, or even writers out of the job. Things like this can have a tremendous impact on future animation projects. In fact, it’s perhaps the main reason why many cartoonimes don’t make it past one or two seasons. I know I’ve seen shows that started off great for the first one or two seasons but after that something just all the sudden goes missing, usually it’s the animation, the story, or even sometimes the voice acting that tends to go south.

But hey, how can we blame the companies right? They’re just trying to keep up with today’s trend of de-financialization, which in turns means survival of the fittest as we see companies merge, sell, or be bought out. Which by and large, forms monopolies or too big to fail companies (which I fail to see how government(s) don’t view them as monopolies). This is mainly why there’s a huge (negative) change for just about every industry out there. I mean, I am sure most of you noticed how today’s games are much crappier than the games in the 1980′s and 1990′s. Well, it’s the same thing with cartoons and anime.

As another way of viewing it, the less the competition the less you’re obligated to produce quality products. And between the 1980′s through present, a lot of small private companies either went out of business or were bought out by a major corporation, because for the big companies less is better.

So sure today’s cartoonimes are flashier and prettier but that’s due to increase in computer technology and perhaps better supply of utensils. But really, if you look beyond the pretty flashing eye candy of today’s visual effects, you would realize that many of the cartoons and anime were so much better back then. In fact, some were informative all the while at the same time, watchable.

But all thanks to corporate regulation or should I say deregulation of stocks, greed, and even monopolies. Companies no longer look for quality or pride in their work but only to find ways of making their shareholders happy, and this always means increasing profits or assets to provide company growth. Which often results into bad business making, that mainly affects those at the bottom of the ladder rather than those at the top.

So let me be the first to officially announce the welcome of Corporate Cartoonime, because like I mentioned before, even cartoons and anime are businesses.

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