It is a truism that companies supply what consumers demand. In the spirit of that truism, I'd like to mention a consumer technique. Actually buy some shoujo anime, if you like shoujo anime. Nowadays, nearing the middle of 2002, the genre representation in anime in America is soaring. We have sports anime like Princess Nine, old classics like Lupin and who knows what else. So why am I mentioning this in a day that includes DVD releases of Fushigi Yuugi, Ayashi no Ceres and Sailor Moon, not to mention future releases of Marmalade Boy and Fancy Lala?
First, one of those hateful personal stories. I was posting on alt.anime.shoujo, a group on usenet , giving a silly poll about what shoujo anime one looks forward to most. The thread segued into a discussion of the practicality of obtaining the whole 43 episode series of Saint Tail. Someone mentioned that Saint Tail was going to be on eight DVDs to cut costs on the poorly selling series. I had been planning to get another DVD of that, but I had been putting it off. Rational folks would note that one person doesn't have much effect. The guilt came from the If everyone does that... principle. Such as if everyone pirates, like a certain parasite later in the thread, we get less of it
The converse is also true. If more people rent it, buy it, talk about it, the more we have. Companies don't respond to internet petitions with thousands of unverifiable email addresses or carping on Usenet about why they don't release such and such. They respond to sales figures. If Fushigi Yuugi had not sold well, there would be no Ayashi no Ceres (Ceres, Celestial Legend) for us to buy. Companies tend to go for the tried and true. Sure, we have some maverick companies, leading the way, but most companies go for what will make the most money, regardless of what the owners think. For example, I'm sure the owners of Kitty Media aren't all hard core, drooling hentai freaks, beating their meat feverishly over every lolicon maid show that comes down the pike, but if Lolicon maids sell, they are going to sell that.
Why all the fuss over shoujo anyway? Why not fantasy anime or magical girl friend anime? Well, there are several reasons. Number one, it brightens up anime's public image. If all the stores have are male fantasies with large breasted girls on the cover, normal people start to think of anime as a genre for geeks only. But if they see a diversity of genres, with yes, male orientated fantasy romances, hentai, and mecha, but also female orientated romances, shows for young girls, including mahou shoujo, with their boxes showing a totally different vision of the animated world, the truth of this being a medium may be revealed. Or not, but we can try.
Anime fandom can be spread more easily through diverse genres. Let's start with primary anime fandom- someone sees something they like. Starting in 1995, Sailor Moon ran on TV in the US. Though in crappy time slots, and unavailable in some markets, nevertheless, Sailor Moon had a large impact on US anime fandom. Young girls were turned onto this show, and through searching for more information, learned that it was part of something more- anime. This created a ground swell of fans (I am one of them) with a love of shoujo anime. This was the first wave in America.
The second wave is now- with later seasons of Sailor Moon airing on Cartoon Network and Card Captors, and the short lived Escaflowne also appearing in 2001, many young girls are discovering that anime offers something for them. However, if a young girl browses the anime section of the local store, and sees that it's fifty-seven thousand DBZ tapes, she may be turned off and not return. Also, while in a store, browsing tapes, sometimes a tape can catch someone's eye, but if they don't stock the tapes, because 'that doesn't sell well', there is no chance the connection can be made.
And that's the whole point of this. The connection between a person and a piece of art can only be forged if that art is available. Maybe we can't save the world, but we can help facilitate ways for people to forget their worries and laugh for a while. To help a medium connect with more people, and build a community. it's not an either / or between 'important things' and things like improving a medium for all who see it. So don't pirate, you piss in the pool for all of us. This doesn't require great effort, just push a shoujo tape a bit higher in your priority list for this month, if you have money for luxuries. Yea, you could buy another volume of "Cum Loving Anime Chicks" or give your lil niece a b-day present of a cute sweet, Non-Disney animation. Or if you're really brave, take some home for yourself. So get out there, and be better anime consumers!