Friday, November 21, 2008

A Whole Lot of Naruto

The quantity of Naruto available in North America is about to undergo a huge uptick.

First up Viz is preparing to repeat their "Naruto Nation" program next February. The last "Naruto Nation" event was to rush their release of the manga to reach volume 28, the beginning of the storyline seen in Naruto Shippūden. Now Viz wishes to catch up to volume 44 by next April. After that their Naruto graphic novels will be released quarterly. This will put the U.S. release only six months behind Japan.

That's a drop in the bucket compared to Viz's plans for the Naruto Shippūden anime. In the first week of 2009 twenty-four subtitled episodes will be available on, then eight more episodes will debut on the website every week until they catch up with the Japanese TV broadcasts. The series will also be viewable on other popular streaming sites like Hulu, Joost, and Crunchyroll.

The situation with Crunchyroll is particularly interesting. Crunchyroll is a YouTube-esque anime site that relied on user generated content. Essentially it was a business that profited off anime series they had no copyrights over which were subtitled by fansubbers that did not benefit from Crunchyroll's success. One would assume the company would be litigated out of existence but instead they have found a number of Japanese companies willing to sponsor them including TV Tokyo, Toei and Gonzo. Soon they will be a completely legitimate streaming site that no longer accepts any fan produced videos.

Why are these Japanese companies so quick to jump on the internet video bandwagon? Ostensibly it's too curb the proliferation of unauthorized fansubbing, but does this really make a significant difference? How much money can they really make off these ventures? I mean I prefer professionally subtitled work, but otherwise I don't see this as being a huge change for fans. They're still watching free anime as soon as it's being made available to them. I think these companies are looking at the big picture. I think they're hoping to slowly draw fans away from anime fansubs until eventually they're rendered largely purposeless.

And in Naruto's case they're also targeting manga scanlations with the "Naruto Nation". Fans want immediate gratification. By minimizing the gap between the Japanese release and the official U.S. release the companies will lessen the need for fan-made translations. They'll be feeding the demand to weaken the level of supply that they don't control.

I'm not sure where I stand in all this, particularly where Naruto is concerned. I perfer to enjoy the series at my leisure. I won't really be able to afford the eleven graphic novels that will be released in a three month span starting in February. I suppose I'll have plenty of time to catch up. The anime is another thing. We don't know about Viz's plans are for a TV broadcast or a DVD release of Naruto Shippūden. I guess I can take comfort in knowing that I'll have the option to watch the series online.

Source: Anime News Network


Jon said...

That is a whole lot Naruto.

And it will be weird to see how commerce will dictate and culture will follow.

Anthony said...

Ha, yeah we're sheep.

jon said...


Jon said...

so you think it would be a good time to get that naruto jacket from the wannabe suncost media store?