Initially today I was going to talk about Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards and why they ended up being as big of a failure as they were, but also why it shouldn’t matter what was essentially an anime poll what was the most popular at the time of voting, but just before I sat down to write that piece I woke up to one of the most laughably bad business failures being created. Before I get into this, no, I am not paid by any of the companies I’m going to talk about today to talk about them and I will be constantly linking the text in this post for the sources I’m going off of and just like the piece on piracy, I’ll be linking everything at the end of the post as well if there ends up being a lot of sources people might want to refer back to in order to explore the topic themselves. With that said, why exactly is Amazon’s Anime Strike doomed to fail in its current state.
First thing I want to do is state what their clear competition is and why they have competition with these services. Of course, the immediate two that should come to mind are Crunchyroll and FUNimation. They’re the biggest names in streaming anime currently and undoubtedly offer the largest libraries of anime to watch. Both Crunchyroll and FUNimation are also avid advocates for making anime legally available worldwide, even if the latter is stuck to having it’s services only available for the United States and Canada. There’s a lot more to be said about those two, but we’ll get back to them in a minute to cover everything they’ve done. The only other active competitor that Anime Strike has is Netflix, and although Netflix doesn’t have a huge stake in the anime market right now, they do have what a lot of people would consider “entry-level anime” as well as productions like Little Witch Academia and pretty much everything from Polygon Pictures. Now, let’s compare these four using their subscription costs and libraries (I’m basing my data off of the United States costs and show counts since it’s what I personally have access to) along with what each company has been known to stand for and allow the reason Anime Strike is doomed to fail come into full realization. As a quick disclaimer “show” will be used a s a blanket term to describe both movies and actual multi-episode shows just to keep everything easy to count, and everything will be counted as yearly cost rather than monthly cost to be compared to Anime Strike more easily. In addition, I won’t be rounding any costs or show counts and I won’t add any fees that the companies themselves aren’t responsible for.
Let’s get the odd one out first. Netflix offers 5,532 shows (67 anime, including Little Witch Academia TV which has yet to be added to their catalog) for a yearly cost of $119.88 ($9.99 monthly subscription) in the United States. Unfortunately, if you’re going to Netflix explicitly for their anime you’re going to be severely disappointed. They do have an anime selection, but it’s far from large. On the plus side, you get access to a massive catalog of shows, one that puts the other three companies on our list to shame. I don’t think it matters too much what they’ve done to the anime community or what Netflix really stands for in this piece. They have a ton of shows for a comparatively stupid low price ($0.02 per show) and that’s just worth noting.
Onto the big boys of the industry. FUNimation has a library of 407 shows, all of which being anime, and has a yearly cost of $71.88 ($5.99 monthly subscription). Selection of anime wise, this is clearly better than Netflix in every way. While there’s plenty of examples of FUNimation accidentally making the wrong moves throughout their history as a company, they are still a huge member of the anime market and one I’m honestly glad exists. It should go without saying that FUNimation is one of the biggest companies responsible for anime licensing in the United States and English anime dubs (only being beat out by Sentai Filmworks who has a library of 456 shows, none of which are available for streaming through Sentai, however) and is a partner with Crunchyroll in order to spread the availability of their shows. FUNimation is also actively attend anime conventions, at which they commonly announce new shows being licensed, and is an active member of the anime community. Unfortunately their shows are only available in the United States and Canada, but due to their partnership with Crunchyroll countries outside of those two can have access to the shows they’ve licensed. They’re not the biggest name in the anime market, but they are worth mentioning.
Next up is the big one. Crunchyroll has a huge library of 768 shows not including their two original shows, Anime Academy and Crunchycast (yes, I counted them all), and has a yearly cost of $83.40 ($6.95 monthly subscription) in the United States. Crunchyroll is massive. Not only are they the biggest anime streaming service in the United States, but they also are active producers in some of the shows they stream, including shows like Kiznaiver, Uchuu Patrol Luluco, and the hugely popular short film Shelter; in total they’ve helped produce 16 shows in a large enough way to be listed in the credits for all of those productions. They also not only attend anime conventions to interact with fans of anime, but have two original series I mentioned earlier. Anime Academy is an introduction to the world of anime in a society where it’s very easy to get misguided. Along with this they have their podcast where they talk to other fans of anime and discuss anime. They reply to people on Twitter, have a staff that is outgoing and very adamant about the passion they have for anime, but overall care about the western anime community as a whole and want to help advance that community and make anime enjoyable for everyone. While it may be my opinion that Crunchyroll helps the western anime community in more way than any other company out there, it’s an awfully easy one to see the defence for.
Lastly we come to what I destined to be a failure no matter what in its current state. Anime Strike currently offers 41 shows total for the yearly price of $158.88 ($99 a year for Amazon Prime + $4.99 monthly subscription). I’m not including the free movies and shows you get with Amazon Prime or any of the bonuses or perks that come with Amazon Prime because you have to pay an extra $59.88 a year to get a laughably small library to choose from. This is where Anime Strike fails and billions of questions arise. Why do we have to pay more for anime? Why do we have to have Prime as a starting ground? Why isn’t the Prime membership enough when that membership is enough to get access to Twitch Prime? Why is it only available in the United States when you offer shows Crunchyroll has available globally (Akame ga Kill via Crunchyroll and via Anime Strike)? Why are some shows only available in English dub? If they aren’t only available that way, why isn’t it made more obvious that there are more options? What Anime Strike is, is Amazon seeing there was a market in anime and not realizing the inherit way this market works. The anime market, much like the games market, is constantly working to combat piracy. The only way to do this effectively is to make low costs, huge libraries, and appeal to people by being a member of their community. Why would I spend more money than I have available to watch Vivid Strike when I could just go to a torrent site and get to not only watch the show for free but watch it offline? There becomes a point where the closer you get to $100 a year and the further you surpass it that people are no longer willing to pay just because it’s supporting creators.
It’s easier to pirate, it’s free, and so many people do it that if you don’t understand how to you can just ask for help. Why would we care about you when you’re asking almost $60 a year more from us just to watch anime on top of you Amazon Prime plan? You aren’t a member of our community. We don’t know who you are, and when your first step is asking us to fork over a minimum of $100 just to get a free trial in your mess, you’re making a horrible first impression. The anime community isn’t stupid. We know what we can do, we know what is worth it and what isn’t. This is why Crunchyroll throws in store discounts and simultaneously published manga along with full HD anime for their subscription. This is why FUNimation offers access to their so-called “broadcast dubs” for simulcasting anime for their subscription along with the anime they have the rights to. You need to add something to the pot that pirates can’t for a price everyone is okay with paying. $7 a month for everything Crunchyroll offers? Sure, sign me up, as an added bonus I also get to know I’m supporting the industry. $13.32 a month (although billed annually for Amazon Prime) for nothing but 41 anime I could get most of from your competitors is no reason for me to care. You’re taking what everyone already has and saying for an extra price they can experience it through Amazon and no one but people who are too new to the community to know better will pay the price.
The reason this matters is because this small community, when compared to something like film fans or game fans, is attempting to be taken advantage of by a company that doesn’t understand it well enough to even know it wont work. Crunchyroll is working as a hub for everyone to get together and enjoy anime. Anime Strike is working as a company that understands the anime market as well as a majority of the “developers” on Steam Greenlight understand the games market. Even if you are run by self-proclaimed anime fans, even if you want to do good, you’re starting in a horrible way and you need to re-evaluate the way you’re approaching your customers. If anything, you’re giving people who pirate another reason to do so. You’re hurting what others have began to build up, and you’re misguiding those who genuinely want to get to know the community we are a part of. If you want to become another service to offer anime legally, be my guest. I’m all for more legal avenues. Just, for the love of God, do it correctly.
Expect me to talk about Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards next week. Even with as much as I praised them in this post, they didn’t do those “awards” even slightly right and I want to give my opinions on the matter. As always, thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to see what I’m up to on the other six days a week, feel free to follow me on Twitter. If you’re reading this post on the day it came out, I might not have all my sources listed below, but I’ll have them there shortly and the links above do direct to each source I used. It’s not a lot but I don’t like saying baseless things and treat them as fact. See you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist てい太.