Otaku Central – The Global Effect… In A Global Market

I’m not terribly accustomed to having the spotlight thrown on me without forewarning, especially when it’s framed in a negative light.

With U.S. President Trump’s recent tariff regulations on the news, a similar question has been raised to OC Staff​ about our place in the global market; more specifically, that should OC become successful down the road to a great degree, it’s going to cost other industry players in America a lot of American jobs and help foster our national trade deficit (our national debt).

Since this is a reasonable accusation of sorts towards what OC is about, I’m going to explain both sides of the situation and the effect that global industries and globalism in general have, and how OC plays into this in the anime market.

The point of this article isn’t to “convince” you that OC is right and these accusations are wrong, but rather to present you with all the information you need to make an educated decision on the subject for yourself, and decide where you stand on the topic of America vs. globalism.

Global Anime – Making A Long Story Short

Summarizing “America vs. globalism” for anime in a single paragraph isn’t easy, but I’ll do my best to improvise.

Otaku Central is in a position where we’re fostering globalism because we’re ultimately taking national revenue out of America and Europe, and putting it into Japan and China because that’s where the anime ultimately comes from. Because of this, it ultimately hurts the U.S. and European economies because it removes money from that country and increases their national debt (because it’s encouraging their “imports” to exceed their “exports”, which in turn directly causes national debt).

Is this a bad thing? Well, it depends on your perspective.

​The mainstream anime industry in America is currently weighted in America’s favor because the American anime distributors (CrunchyRoll, FUNimation, etc.) take an average commission rate of 82.5% on revenue proceeds for allowing anime to be streamed. Because of that, America takes more money than Japan does on anime that makes it into the international market here, and by a pretty significant margin, at that. As a result, the current situation helps to fortify the American economy, reduces globalism, and creates American jobs.

If that equation were flipped, you’d find that Japan would then be taking the vast majority of profits from anime streaming. This would subsequently cause the American economy to weaken, encourage globalism, removes American jobs, and increases our national debt.

The Japanese Perspective On Globalism

If you purely look at America’s perspective on globalism, it seems like a terrible thing, right? I mean, what honest patriotic American would want to further a venture that ultimately weakens their country?

Setting America aside for a moment and picking up Japan in its place, globalism tells quite a different tale on the other side of the world. Because the anime industry in Japan pays VERY little (anime shaders, backdrop artists, and color palette selectors make an average of $3.73/hour in pay – barely above a third of what the minimum wage is here in the state of Nebraska), coupled together with the fact that 91% of anime companies are based in Tokyo (the 3rd most expensive city in the world to live in, as of 2018), there’s a very real sense in which it sucks financially to work in anime in Japan. The quality of life many Japanese animators enjoy for their craft is atrociously awful.

From Japan’s perspective, promoting globalism in anime would improve the lives of thousands of people who work in this industry, moving them from living conditions that are in the poverty-level bracket into a more middle-class standard of living. In addition to living circumstances, it would also provide a massive injection of money into anime companies to improve quality, provide more adequate time for creation and polishing of products, and improve the industry overall as a whole.

Does This Ultimately Come Down To National Allegiance?

For many people, yes.

Since I work for the U.S. military as an engineering contractor, I can attest that many patriotic Americans who serve in the armed forces are very adamant about reducing globalism and fighting to “keep the money and jobs in The States”. I can completely sympathize with their perspective, as I’m an American as well and wouldn’t prefer to see my quality of life begin to decrease.

For Japan, they’re understandably beginning a hard push to try and get more money out of their international trade agreements across the board, with anime being a large component of that push. From my conversations personally with employees from Madhouse, Gonzo, Studio Deen, and many other anime companies in Japan, the fact that the idea of substantially-increased company revenue as well as employee pay is now on the horizon for them has brought about some of the most heartfelt displays of gratitude I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

I don’t believe there’s necessarily a right or wrong take on the situation, per se. I can completely understand why both sides are pushing in the direction that they are, and there’s a lot of personal and social interests at stake for everyone.

For me, is this about allegiance to my country? Or, is there something else that’s caused me to move in the direction I have with this?

The LastVanguard Perspective

I am an American. While I’d have to frown upon some of the decisions my country has made (especially recently), I still for the most part am proud to be an American and enjoy the freedoms I do from my citizenship here. I’d much rather live in America than in Japan (which surprises a few people who don’t know me well enough to grasp that I’m definitely not a “weeb”).

​While I have a commitment to my country in a very real sense, there’s a deeper commitment that I harbor.

​To me, one of the fundamental tenets of being a human being is to respect your fellow man. That tenet comes in front of most other beliefs that I hold, and is the core reason why I’ve set aside the matter of nationality in favor of striving to help people on a “human” level. That tenet surpasses anime entirely, and is the main focus of why Otaku Central is involved in so many charital causes to try and make the world (and the world’s people) better-off overall.

If OC is highly successful, it could cost America about 300 – 500 jobs. As a tradeoff, it would improve the lives of thousands of others in Japan and China, and open up a large number of jobs there. The cost/benefit analysis more greatly favors Japan – in other words, you’re “hurting the few in order to help the many”.

This is my decision, and I’ll own it along with any consequences that accompany it. While many would disagree with me, it’s my hope that ultimately, I’m doing the right thing.

​Only time will tell for certain.

Caleb Huggenberger is a 31 year-old systems engineer, old-school guitar and amplifier builder, and Eastern culture enthusiast. Outside of long work days, he enjoys electronics engineering, cast iron campfire cooking, and homesteading on his acreage in the Indiana countryside.

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