Random Ramblings: Niche


It’s been a while. Let’s ramble about what this word means within the Anime Industry.

Everyone here at NeoParadigmCity has been sort of AFK as of late. Chocolavia is in Japan living his dream as an ALT, school started back up for me (sort of), and Robert(lacendeus) along with me and other friends of ours recently went off to a convention in Dallas and had some good ol’ family fun. There wasn’t really much rhyme or reason in me wanting to write recently. Maybe it has to do with wandering around drunk at a simple anime convention or maybe it was the drive from Houston to Dallas. One thing’s certain, it’s healthy to write down your thoughts. Even if none of it is all together right then and there; it’s a good thing to think/write about it all. So yeah! What is niche? What does it mean? What ways can we convert it into what we watch or what you personally watch?

 Random music blurbs btw:

Niche is defined as “a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.” which basically translates to whatever someone sees as sheltered by a small or normally specific group of individuals as a preference in…well whatever you like or dislike. It’s always been grouped as a noun but can and is mostly used in some sort of adjectiveish form for some incorrect reason. Usually, these days, niche is used to describe an action or type of entertainment not seen as a proper mainstream subproduct/activity. It’s guaranteed to not sit well in the eyes of many. I feel as if niche falls under a negative connotation despite having a simple yet humble definition. We all see certain things differently and some people may be just a-ok with having their subculture called niche. Anime in the Americas and outside of Japan is somewhat considered “niche”. Not many people care about it, no one who watches it with any interest pays it any real attention, and it’s of another culture so it sort of categorizes itself. Despite how most westerners and even the anime fans of the Westernized communities see the industry, there exists a deeper meaning to what is niche or different in anime. A lot of anime fans think seinen or creative animes are niche in japan. Well, the definition gets split up around right here. The industry in all markets must conform to what is going to sell and with anime in Japan, not everything sells. What further pushes a show into stardom or a second season, is the DVD and bluray sales. Surprisingly, shows that we americans like never actually sell all that well in the land it originates from. Which is where we see the market and distribution splits from the mid 2000’s.

Anime is expensive. No studio, producer, station, or even overseas distributor wants to market something that won’t sell. As cool as anime, movies, tv shows, music, etc etc is there will always be an ever present worry when it comes to money. Despite how popular the airing or tv ratings might go, people won’t necessarily buy a product that they think is worth buying. There’s no real reasoning behind why people who love what their seeing won’t buy the dvds other than accessibility. I can watch this there, I can torrent it here, no need for me to buy with an open resource like the internet! Now, I’m not going to dog on anyone who doesn’t buy what they like. Only buy what you want to see more of. In the end what we westerners buy may not even matter in the long run. The market scheme and reason why we see so many of the kawaii desu shows being pumped out is that it sells. The airings may not go so well but the market is guaranteed for these types of shows because the fans love the hell out of the characters and will want to see more and more figures, blurays, and ovas of them. There’s always a market for things we want, but in the end, it’s not as niche as those other shows. Shows that are so not your thing that those who do love it have to cherish what they have and end up buying merchandise to support it. The same formula goes for the american market. Ever wonder why funimation mostly licenses ecchi shows? They sell here. People want that. That’s what sells. So arguing with the numbers is not a smart thing. Complaining that your show didn’t get a bluray isn’t the solution. It’s just how things are. It’s niche.

Now back to the whole “anime is niche” thing. I don’t really have a stance on what it all means or if it’s true or not, but I think it’s really interesting to see how irrational we can categorize some shows and movies to call them so “out of this world different” or “hard to watch” that it’s automatically a niche show or genre. I was rewatching the first episode of kara no kyoukai and realized something. This format isn’t all that crazy. Sure, I love the hell out of it and it’s a great series, but in comparison to American HBO media, it’s the same format. We have a single chapter of the story laid out in around 50 minutes to an hour and maybe sparse some special episode that lays an extra 30-40 minutes of sick action sequences and story elements to round out a great mini movie for a great series. Sherlock Holmes and True Detective have done things similar to this. Anime is a form of media in which storytelling can be infinitely more diverse than normal cartoons or adult television can be, but that doesn’t necessarily categorize this certain show has gone with the wind when it comes to formation. Look at shows like steins;gate or heroes. Similar plot and climaxes. Do we really need to call a show or series “amazingly original” or “revolutionary” when the plot has been done in other forms of storytelling? I have no gripes with how Steins;Gate played out or how Sword Art Online and Log Horizon got their main synopsis mixed with an older series. As long as a show is done right and is entertaining, then it did it’s job. It told it’s story and has made us think about the worlds we visited through our televisions and monitors years after we watched them. Originality and subtext from the writers and show runners is where the lines of “niche and mainstream” are crossed. We are seeing a new generation of viewers take pleasure in crazy plot twists and character deaths in both Game of Thrones and Urobutcher shows. It’s a toss up in whether or not a show, movie, book, whatever is going to go the way people want it to go. That’s the fun in it all. Creating original works and niche anime aren’t going push the boundaries of what is considered “forward thinking” within a series. It’s now where the journey takes us and not what we’ve learned. Some may hate it, but the reality is that everybody loves it and your opinion is invalid. Entertainment is key and if that isn’t doing it, then just go watch some evangelion.

Or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. If you’re into that…

About Kefka
Writer for NeoParadigm City. Aspiring Jpop gravure idol. Look out Shakira.

One Response to Random Ramblings: Niche

  1. lacendeus says:

    Okay, I’m getting it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: