In October of 2007, I wrote a pretty well received treatment of the Anime industry and their attitudes towards social media and online video. I meandered and reminisced a bit in the piece, but the thrust of it was the question asked in the title: “Can Anime Reach Version 2.0?”
The Anime community at large was dealing with a backlash from the publishing side directed at the fansubbing community, where they were cracking down on them and lambasting them as a drain on the system.
Setting aside the various problems with that statement, I tried to address the many ways that the Anime publishers could thrive in the new social media ecology, as did Mike Masnick and Anime News Network’s Justin Sevakis.
For a time, it looked like they did. Not long after the article came out, I was apprised of a number of niche social networks that worked hand in hand with the Anime publishers as well as new distribution routes that were opened up for Japanese animation such as Joost.
It would appear, though, that the Japanese are now having a change of heart. Viz Media, the producers of the highly popular series Naruto and Bleach, have mandated that Joost no longer allow remote embeds of their online episodes.
Earlier today, we removed the ability to embed shows from VIZ Media – Naruto Shippuden, Naruto, Bleach and Death Note. Many of you may have watched these shows on Anime News Network or NarutoWire, and you’ll notice that they’re not available on those sites now, either.
We know this may upset you, and we’re sorry – we want to offer the best web video experience possible, and we know this falls short. We hope to be able to allow you to embed and watch these shows on other sites again soon. In the meantime, we need to respect the requests of our content partners so that we can continue to offer the variety and quality of programming you’ve come to expect on Joost.
You can still watch these shows on Joost – like the most recent episode of Naruto Shippuden – and we have no plans to change that. In the meantime, please continue to send your feedback to us at email@example.com.
It’s a very bizarre move, and one that seems to mirror the moves made earlier this week at Hulu, but can’t imaginably be for similar motivations.
As you probably heard, TV.com and Boxee were both forbidden from using content sourced from Hulu in their products and services. Clearly both of these decisions were made by Hulu’s puppetmasters at the major networks to build up the destination portal of Hulu while cutting off at the knees any potential competition (to either Old Tee Vee or their preferred new version).
VIZ, on the other hand, has no such stake in Joost, and no vested interest in making it a more highly trafficked entity.
My friend, Sean P. Aune, has a sideline business (aside from being listmaster-in-chief at Mashable) in which he deals in comics and anime products. As such, I imagined he might have some insight as to the mind of the Japanese on this matter, so I asked him what his theory would be.
“If Viz is answering to Japanese bosses, their minds move in mysterious ways,” said Sean. “Even for all of their technological advances, they still aren’t quite sure how to handle Internet ventures.”
It’s a position that seemed sadly consistent with what I learned in 2007: aloof and uneducated in how the social sphere works on the Internet.