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#1
Old 04-02-2006, 02:41 PM
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Why are anime series on DVD so expensive?

I really don't get it. Cowboy Bebop has something like 26 half-hour episodes. To own it on DVD (excluding Chinese bootlegs), ther'e seither an out-of-print $200 box set or you have to buy 6 individual discs at $30 each. Same for Samurai Champloo with 7 discs retailing for $30 each. And Fullmetal Alchemist with 51 half hour episodes has 10 discs sold individually.

In comparison, a recently released US live action series such as House retails for $60 for 22 one-hour episodes. That's 220 hours of program for $60 compared to 13 hours of program for $200.

I don't understand the huge pricing disparity. Granted for an anime series, you have to buy the rights, hire decent transaltors, and do the dubbing. But I can't believe that costs anywhere near the cost of a full-production crew, writers, name actors, etc.

And, of course, anime has a much smaller market than a hit series but I would assume most of the costs would be recouped through the airing rights and most of the DVD sales would be extra profit. And yeah, anime fans tend to be a bit obsessive and some will pay anything. But a fot of anime fans also tend to be younger without a lot of disposable income. IF the discs were cheaper, they'd sell a more. No wonder the ebay bootleg market is thriving.

Anyway, anyone know the logic behind the pricing? There's mutliple titles I'd love to own but I'm just not willing to pay these insane prices.

BTW, sure if this woudl be considered a QG of CS question. I put it here since it is DVD related but feel free to move it if appropriate.
#2
Old 04-02-2006, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tremorviolet
In comparison, a recently released US live action series such as House retails for $60 for 22 one-hour episodes. That's 220 hours of program for $60 compared to 13 hours of program for $200.
You mean 22 hours for $60.

I would imagine that a network show like House makes most of its money when it originally airs, and there is less of a need to make money off of DVDs.
#3
Old 04-02-2006, 03:09 PM
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Here is your answer:

Quote:
Okay so explain to me this answerman: why is anime so expensive? I can buy the simpsons season box sets for like 30 bucks but anime costs like hundreds of dollars to own a whole show. why do they insist on totally ripping off the fans?!

Oh good, this question again.

There's a big misunderstanding among anime fans wherein they assume that the economics for every company that releases DVDs are the same across the board. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, the reason 26 episodes of The Simpsons only costs you $30 or so is because the show costs Fox virtually nothing to release on DVD. Sure, there are packaging and production costs and whatnot, but the show has already turned a giant profit thanks to its initial TV run (on a network Fox owns), the colossal amount of revenue that comes in from syndication fees, outside character licensing, all of that stuff that provides revenue for a company like Fox that creates content and then airs it on a network they own. There's no licensing fees to pay and DVD is basically an afterthought, a new stream of revenue from a series that's already bringing in millions.

In terms of anime, this is not at all the case. Anime has to be licensed, dubbed, produced on DVD and then distributed in the States before ADV or Bandai or Geneon or whoever sees dime one; DVD is, most often, their sole revenue stream, unless they branch out into merchandising. When an anime runs on TV, rarely do the anime licensors see profit from that; some smaller networks may pay out a bit, but oftentimes it's the anime company itself that has to pay various networks to air their shows. Samurai Champloo on Cartoon Network isn't generating any profit by airing on TV; in essence, the TV run is a promotional tool to help bolster DVD sales, which once again illustrates my point.

When you buy anime on DVD, you are supporting the show and the company completely, because most of the time, that's their only revenue source. They can't afford to sell anime for $1 an episode or whatever the going rate is for American shows; their cost is closer to the $3 or $4 you currently pay. The economics of anime are vastly different from those of major American media conglomerates, so you should probably stop expecting Ghost in the Shell to be offered at the same price as Family Guy. It's apples and oranges.
#4
Old 04-02-2006, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tremorviolet
In comparison, a recently released US live action series such as House retails for $60 for 22 one-hour episodes. That's 220 hours of program for $60 compared to 13 hours of program for $200.
22 hours, not 220, so not as great a disparity between the actual content. The pricing model is the problem - like you said, you tend to not be able to buy boxed sets of anime series, so you're forced to buy on the disc-by-disc basis. If you could only buy House this way, it'd probably be just as expensive.

FLCL, by the way, is the most egregious - 2 25-minute episodes per disc at $30 a pop.
#5
Old 04-02-2006, 03:17 PM
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I have to imagine that licensing fees to the original Japanese companies make up the largest reason. The reason I think this is because anime DVDs are far more expensive in Japan than they are in the US. To take one of the examples you used, individual discs of Cowboy Bebop retail for $60 each. Considering there are 9 discs (8 discs w/ 3 episodes, 1 disc w/ 2 episodes), the box set is a real bargain at $400. I have to imagine that this factors into the equation.
#6
Old 04-02-2006, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickbacon
Here is your answer:
Dang, so my assumption that the AdultSwim airing paid for the translation is wrong, I guess. So I guess I'll never see particularly affordable anime. I still think they could reduce the prices some and increase the sales, particularly now that anime is getting more popular.

What? 22 x one doesn't equal 220? No wonder all my bridge and overpass designs suck. (evidently, examining my other posts, I'm having major typo issues today.)
#7
Old 04-02-2006, 04:50 PM
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When an anime runs on TV, rarely do the anime licensors see profit from that; some smaller networks may pay out a bit, but oftentimes it's the anime company itself that has to pay various networks to air their shows. Samurai Champloo on Cartoon Network isn't generating any profit by airing on TV; in essence, the TV run is a promotional tool to help bolster DVD sales, which once again illustrates my point.
This sounds seriously fishy.
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#8
Old 04-02-2006, 05:07 PM
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Supply and demand. The market is smaller for the Anime, so production costs per unit are higher. The anime crowd is willing to pay more, because they are serious fans. Also, I'm betting the market for Anime is much less price sensitive than a seriies like 'House'. If you like Cowboy Bebop, you'll pay big bucks for the DVD set. If you don't, a low price isn't that likely to entice you.

You see the same thing with other series that appeal to hardcore fans. I'd like to catch up on Farscape and Babylon 5, since I never got into them first time around and I've heard good things about them. But the Farscape box set is something like $115/season around here, when other TV series go for $30-$50. The Star Trek box set is even crazier - 3 years of episodes, and it's something like $320. I bought the entire five years of Futurama for less than $150.
#9
Old 04-02-2006, 05:20 PM
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Back in the day, you were lucky to get 2-3 episodes on VHS, for $30-40.
DVDs are cheaper. Sigh.
#10
Old 04-02-2006, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cckerberos
I have to imagine that licensing fees to the original Japanese companies make up the largest reason. The reason I think this is because anime DVDs are far more expensive in Japan than they are in the US. To take one of the examples you used, individual discs of Cowboy Bebop retail for $60 each. Considering there are 9 discs (8 discs w/ 3 episodes, 1 disc w/ 2 episodes), the box set is a real bargain at $400. I have to imagine that this factors into the equation.
There's a similar disparity on music CD imports from Japan versus nearly-identical (same artist, same tracks) domestic CDs. Gah.

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#11
Old 04-02-2006, 08:11 PM
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Sometimes, if you keep an eye on the discount sites, you can get a good deal. A few years ago I bought the Escaflowne box set (all 26 episodes plus the movie) for $55. My brother bought the discs individually and paid four times that amount.

As much as I love FullMetal Alchemist, I don't plan to buy the series until I can find a good deal on the box set.
#12
Old 04-02-2006, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladybug
Sometimes, if you keep an eye on the discount sites, you can get a good deal. A few years ago I bought the Escaflowne box set (all 26 episodes plus the movie) for $55. My brother bought the discs individually and paid four times that amount.

As much as I love FullMetal Alchemist, I don't plan to buy the series until I can find a good deal on the box set.
Box sets can be good, as can the multipacks some distributors (ADV, for instance) have released. I picked up Martian Successor Nadesico for $60 in a multipack. Also the Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada sections of Robotech in multipacks cost me about as for both as I paid for the two DVDs of show, one of content three DVD box sets of the Macross Saga section of Robotech. These days, it depends on how much I want it.

And yes, you can get lucky with discount sites but you've gotta watch out for bootlegs. I picked up one boxset of a series for about $90 less than retail off Half and it's not a boot.
#13
Old 04-02-2006, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladybug
Sometimes, if you keep an eye on the discount sites, you can get a good deal. A few years ago I bought the Escaflowne box set (all 26 episodes plus the movie) for $55. My brother bought the discs individually and paid four times that amount.

As much as I love FullMetal Alchemist, I don't plan to buy the series until I can find a good deal on the box set.
Huh, I wonder if that was a bootleg. You have to be really careful to avoid them, they're everywhere. I accidently bought a Cowboy Bebop bootleg without realizing it a couple of years ago. It looked like a real release and was excellent quality.

And you bring up my other gripe with the official anime releases, the lack of box sets. For Fullmetal Alchemist, you would have had to buy a special edition first disc with accompanying box to store all your future disc purchases. Same for Samurai Champloo. And, even if you managed to buy the limited edition box release (which is now sold out, I think), since each disc only has a few episodes on it, the box set takes up a lot of space. I'd much rather buy the whole series at once in a nice compact package that doesn't take up a whole lot of room.
#14
Old 04-02-2006, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
When an anime runs on TV, rarely do the anime licensors see profit from that; some smaller networks may pay out a bit, but oftentimes it's the anime company itself that has to pay various networks to air their shows. Samurai Champloo on Cartoon Network isn't generating any profit by airing on TV; in essence, the TV run is a promotional tool to help bolster DVD sales, which once again illustrates my point.
I call shenanigans. Or at the very least I'm curious about source of the author's information. Anime programs have been airing in the United States for years before the home video market took off let alone the DVD market. Speed Racer, Robotech, Voltron, Star Blazers, Gatchaman, etc. are just a few of the ones I can remember seeing in the United States during the early 80's. I find it highly unlikely that the makers of Samurai Champloo (or whatever it's called), Naruto, Gundam in all its carnations, Cowboy BeBop, and Full Metal Alchemest aren't making money off of Cartoon Network. I doubt they'd be operating at a loss by paying networks to air their shows.

Marc
#15
Old 04-02-2006, 09:59 PM
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I think that the answer, isn't about whether the project made money in broadcast. It's about a one word answer: Volume.

Let's face it, the market for anime in the US is not likely to ever reach the same volume that the latest top rated sit-com will make in it's first week of release.

So, the production costs get amortized over a smaller print run of the given anime, than they would for a sit-com.

BTW, anyone who thinks Cowboy BeBop is expensive should look for the prices that VHS anime was commanding when it was first available in the US: $39.95 for a 40 minute episode.

It is getting better. Slowly, but it is.
#16
Old 04-03-2006, 04:47 AM
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You don't really have any reason to complain. You're paying much less for your versions than you would if you were buying the original Japanese versions in Japan. Typical new releases of anything are just now starting to get down into the sub-$25 range. Many movies will stay at 4500 and up for years. Anime prices are not really exceptions to this. It's cheaper for me to buy movies from Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the US and have them shipped here than it is for me to buy them in Japan.

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex retails for 6300 normal price. Check it on amazon.co.jp. That's 2 episodes per disk versus the 4 episodes per disk you get in the US. That give you a price per episode of approximately $28 in Japan versus $11 per episode in the US. Add in the fact that you almost never pay full retail in the US, but good sales are rare in Japan unless you buy used, and you guys are getting really good bargains. The only times you should ever consider getting original Japanese releases would be if there's stuff that you can't get any other way.

Oh, and MGibson, Justin_Bailey, Japan is not the US and the market doesn't work the same way. I don't know the intimate details of how deals work here, but the studios do have to give networks all kinds of concessions on things to even get their work aired. There are basically no alternative venues unless they want to try a theatrical release, and there are only a few networks in Japan, versus broadcast, cable, and satellite alternatives in the US. I would not be surprised at all if the studios did basically have to pay the networks to get airtime. I've heard that some anime studios are starting to concentrate on the US market more because they are actually making better profits -- even with various middlemen taking their cuts -- than they typically make from Japan.
#17
Old 04-03-2006, 06:45 AM
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After doing a semi-exhaustive search I found some prices for popular anime series on DVD but Gremlins ate my post. I'm beginning to question whether or not the mainstream, ie. popular, anime programs are all that expensive. Naruto and Full Metal Alchemest can be had at Best Buy for about 20 bucks a pop. That doesn't strike me as all that bad but then I don't know how long each DVD is.

Back in the day the only place we could find anime was at someplace like Suncoast and they charged us the full MSRP. Now there's a lot more places to find anime so you don't have to depend on specialty stores. I don't think I spent more than $25 for each of my Cowboy Bebop DVDs back in 2000.

Marc
#18
Old 04-03-2006, 12:06 PM
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It's because people will pay that.

Anime fans are already used to paying premium prices on imported sets. So even though it had joined the mainstream and found more efficient methods of distribution, there are enough people that are willing to pay a premium to make that pricing viable. With a show like House, they are trying to attract people who may not have bought series on DVD before. But few people just pick up an anime series out of the blue- they pick it up because they really want it. And that means they are willing to pay for it.

Which brings us to the anime fanbase. Many of them have a "collector's" urge- they like to buy stuff just to have it. I've never met an anime fan that didn't have a whole collection of expensive toys, etc. They are willing to pay prices for something above the prices of their use-value. Kind of like people who buy designer clothes.

They also tend to be single people in high-paid industries who don't consider $300 to be a major purchase.
#19
Old 04-03-2006, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brickbacon
Here is your answer:
Quote:
You see, the reason 26 episodes of The Simpsons only costs you $30 or so is because the show costs Fox virtually nothing to release on DVD. Sure, there are packaging and production costs and whatnot, but the show has already turned a giant profit thanks to its initial TV run (on a network Fox owns), the colossal amount of revenue that comes in from syndication fees, outside character licensing, all of that stuff that provides revenue for a company like Fox that creates content and then airs it on a network they own. There's no licensing fees to pay and DVD is basically an afterthought, a new stream of revenue from a series that's already bringing in millions.
This quote suggests a misunderstanding of economics. The Simpsons isn't cheaper because Fox has already made a lot of money on the show and they just added the DVDs as "an afterthought." The reason The Simpsons DVDs are cheaper is that that's the price that Fox can maximize profit at. If they could make more money selling The Simpsons at $60 a season, or $100, they probably would. Granted, the profit point is dependent on the licensing fees that must be paid, but it's not like the Fox producers looked at the bottom line and said "Hey, you know we've already made lots of money on this show. Let's release the DVDs, but for cheap. We don't really need the extra money, and the fans won't take a big hit to the wallet."
#20
Old 04-03-2006, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGibson
I call shenanigans. Or at the very least I'm curious about source of the author's information. Anime programs have been airing in the United States for years before the home video market took off let alone the DVD market. Speed Racer, Robotech, Voltron, Star Blazers, Gatchaman, etc. are just a few of the ones I can remember seeing in the United States during the early 80's. I find it highly unlikely that the makers of Samurai Champloo (or whatever it's called), Naruto, Gundam in all its carnations, Cowboy BeBop, and Full Metal Alchemest aren't making money off of Cartoon Network. I doubt they'd be operating at a loss by paying networks to air their shows.

Marc
Not necessarily shenanigans.

When World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) first started airing on UPN, they would pay UPN for the timeslot, then would sell advertising themselves. My guess is that is the same way it works for anime. Depending on the demand and demographics, it could be quite lucrative for the distributor.
#21
Old 04-03-2006, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tremorviolet
Huh, I wonder if that was a bootleg. You have to be really careful to avoid them, they're everywhere. I accidently bought a Cowboy Bebop bootleg without realizing it a couple of years ago. It looked like a real release and was excellent quality.
Nah, I'm pretty sure his Escaflowne is legit. Once in a blue moon, Rightstuf.com will have a ridiculous sale to clear stuff out. I got the full Evangelion box set (the original one with the cool black box) for about $40.

Also, I got the limited Cowboy Bebop boxset back in the day for ~$90. Envy me.

On preview, I'll echo even sven's assessment of the collector mentality. Anime fans are nuts.
#22
Old 04-03-2006, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGibson
I find it highly unlikely that the makers of Samurai Champloo (or whatever it's called), Naruto, Gundam in all its carnations, Cowboy BeBop, and Full Metal Alchemest aren't making money off of Cartoon Network. I doubt they'd be operating at a loss by paying networks to air their shows.

Marc
Keep in mind that the people who get the TV show put on TV may be totally different from the people who put the show on DVD. Most Anime DVDs you buy in the US are licensed and released by US companies (such as ADV in Houston, Texas) who make most of their money off of the DVD sales. I don't recall if ADV ever gets involved in TV distribution, though I do think they did at one point sell soap. Not sure if they still sell the soap or not.
#23
Old 04-03-2006, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Gozu Tashoya
Nah, I'm pretty sure his Escaflowne is legit. Once in a blue moon, Rightstuf.com will have a ridiculous sale to clear stuff out. I got the full Evangelion box set (the original one with the cool black box) for about $40.
I don't know ... I just looked at the set and now I'm not so sure. According to this site, the set that I bought fits the profile of a bootleg copy. But I honestly thought I was buying the real thing.

Expensive lesson learned: if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
#24
Old 04-03-2006, 08:30 PM
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ladybug, don't be too hard on yourself: It is in the interest of those persons selling bootlegs to leave you with the impression you're getting a legitimate product. So, they can be pretty damned slick at times.

I know I've ended up buying a few bootlegs by mistake, myself. And that's while I've tried to avoid them.

Personally, I hate region coding on DVDs. It has exactly one purpose: To make it nominally impossible to buy an import version of a given presentation. Since I own about 30 Japanese LDs that have never been released in the US, I'd gotten very used to doing this. Having said that: I won't bid on anything on eBay, now, that does not state upfront that it is a Region 1 DVD. It's the best indicator I have found for avoiding bootlegs.
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