Much to my frustration, when I tried to order a long-anticipated Osomatsu-san CD from AmazonJP last month, I was notified that this product could not be sent overseas. At first, I thought it was some crazy mistake on Amazon’s part (because I had no trouble purchasing CDs from them before), but after a little digging, I discovered that this issue was not specific to me. If you haven’t heard already, since February 15th, Avex has stopped all Blu-ray, DVD, and CD exports via online retailers. Avex Group is a publishing company that handles quite a few mega-hit titles such as ONE PIECE, Osomatsu-san, and Yuri!!! on Ice. Because the company has yet to release an official explanation for this action, international fans are raging with speculations.
Justin Sevakis from ANN has posted four theories on the export ban:
- Avex only has distribution rights for Japan for the titles they’re involved with, and other members on the production committee get to oversee international distribution. With other countries becoming more and more important to the revenues of the anime business, it became important to someone on a committee that Avex wasn’t overstepping their sales jurisdiction. Perhaps as an overreach, Avex made sure to secure their entire distribution channel against unauthorized export.
- With Japanese companies making a stink about cheap Western discs, and Japan incredulous that US law doesn’t allow publishers to block exports, one of them might have made the excuse that Japanese media companies DO have that ability, and yet none of them do anything to control overseas sales. This might have been a reaction to such a conversation.
- Avex is preparing a move into overseas markets, similar to how Aniplex and Pony Canyon have opened up US distribution channels. In preparing for this, they are making sure they’re not going to be competing against sales of their own product.
- Or, what most likely happened… some salaryman in charge noticed that people weren’t following the “rules” of media consumption and decided to make blind and pointless enforcement of long-established and somewhat outdated rules a priority. (This sort of thing happens more often in Japan than you’d think.
There are still ways to get around this export ban with alternative shipping companies like Tenso, and buying anime-related media in the west ultimately IS cheaper. A typical 12-episode anime in Japan might release 4-6 volumes in total. Each DVD or Blu-ray volume might hold 2 or 4 episodes and, respectively, cost approximately $55 or $65 each. On the other hand, you could wait and buy the entire set in NA for around $40. That being said, there are people like me who would rather spend their money on the original Japanese releases because 1) we want to watch without the locked English subtitles and 2) we want to directly support the creators. Whatever the merit may be for Avex, this move is downright insulting to devoted, international fans.
(Post by Gina)
Justin Sevakis. “Why Would A Japanese Publisher Restrict Exports?”