It’s been a while since I’ve written about the state of the economy and how it’s affecting our little niche. In July, the price of crude oil couldn’t stop rising and breaking records. Now it seems like it can’t stop falling. It’s down more than $100 from its crazy peak in July. Before, people were terrified because the high price was slaughtering the auto industry (okay, well, the auto industry is still kind of screwed), and now the low prices are just another sign of economic weakness. Where’s the happy middle? Job losses in November are yet another record low, and meanwhile, the stock markets are as volatile and unpredictable as ever.
So I found it a little interesting that some people are still optimistic, at least about the manga industry. Yen Press is doing well, but it did also just come out of a merger. Viz still has it’s super shounen bestsellers, but while Naruto is a more popular search term than Angelina Jolie, its place on that booklist is still as unpredictable as the price of oil. I suppose for the times, these companies are doing reasonably well. It doesn’t look like any more of them are on the verge of collapse, anyway, and even ADV had some good news to share a few months ago. I think the dwindling economy is forcing a lot of companies to reconsider just which titles they bring over whereas before, it seemed like they were grabbing just about everything that was halfway popular in Japan.
That seems to have led them to somehow skip out on series like Dennou Coil, which deserves much more recognition and attention than its gotten, despite winning significant awards. But considering that Viz has licensed DOGS of all things, I have hope that companies are looking further and harder for titles with underground appeal or popularity. Here’s to hoping we’ll be getting more of a mixed bag and that this will somehow stimulate readers and viewers? I’m not as worried about the anime side of things anymore since the digital distribution thing seems to have exploded to the point that prominent fansubbers are hanging up their hats, but manga online is a harder proposal to sell.
I’m optimistic in that the manga scene won’t be dropping further for the moment, but it remains to be seen whether things will actually pick up. There’s all this talk about that $500 billion stimulus package. I’m not sure how much water the idea of using taxpayer money to pay taxpayers holds, but the immediate affect would (hopefully) be more people spending money, which is good news for businesses, which in turn is good news for workers, which in turn is good news for the economy, including our little otaku industry. I dunno. This holiday season is already kind of scary. I lot of people scoff that the luxury goods industry, but things must be pretty damn bad if rich people can’t afford to be rich anymore.
Then again, poor people go out to see more movies in hard times, so who knows?