Anime News Network has picked up on a fascinating trend over on YouTube: Anime and manga fans who show off their swag to support the industry.
The manga industry’s push against scan sites, which resulted in the shutdown of OneManga, seems to have raised awareness across otakudom that watching pirated anime and reading bootleg manga online is illegal. The anime industry has been faltering for years—long before manga began to wobble in 2007—but the general tendency among fans is to blame the publishers (for high prices and bad translations), so this is an interesting shift. It also mirrors the trend of “haul videos,” in which shoppers show off the results of their latest shopping spree.
This particular movement was started by The Right Arm of Edward Elric, who appears to have been doing video reviews for some time. In her introductory video, she discusses the industry’s problems and says, “I don’t see anyone at all doing anything publicly to help. So I guess, let me be the first person to do it.” She pledges to buy either one anime DVD or two manga a month, and make a video showing her purchase, including the receipt, and she encourages others to do the same. A number of similar videos have sprouted since then, all with the title “Sustain the Industry.”
Smart industry insiders should be watching these videos, as they provide an interesting glimpse into the lives of anime and manga consumers. There’s quite a range of demographics (although the age range was pretty tight, maybe from 12 to 25), and commentary on what affects their buyingo Palkia 678, one of the younger-looking vloggers was quite articulate in saying that he used to watch anime online and didn’t realize he was watching it illegally, and explaining how he did extra work to earn money to buy his anime legitimately. Also, the backgrounds are fascinating, sometimes worthy of our Shelf Porn posts, sometimes suggesting a very modest lifestyle. It’s a marketing researcher’s dream, a direct look into a person’s house while they display what they bought and explain why they bought it. For the rest of us, it’s heartening evidence that the kids really are all right.