Being an admirer of anime and cartoons (or cartoonime for the sake of simplicity). I must admit that I am a slow-moving lover of both animation subgenres. Even if I have a greater passion for one genre than the other, I still believe that both of these sectors are in decline overall and have been since the 1980s.
But I do want to be clear about one thing. I do think that Japanese animation has gradually become better in recent years. Having said that, I am a little concerned about the new Youth Legislation Law that Tokyo, Japan, enacted. Even while there is now just a modest amount of restriction, this might serve as a precursor to far more extensive censorship. You see, once a government makes a tiny modification to the social structure, they often move on to make larger alterations.
Let’s return to the topic of corporate cartooning, however.
As you may already be aware, the 1960s through 1990s were the height of the popularity of cartoons and anime. Cartoons and anime were shown at this time on well-known broadcast TV networks including CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. All of the aforementioned stations were airing a Saturday Morning schedule with a wide selection of cartoon episodes to watch. Yet, things started to shift in the middle of the 1990s.
The first major network to remove animated cartoons from its Saturday Morning programming was NBC in 1997. The decision was made for a number of reasons, including economic ones, Disney’s acquisition of ABC/Capital Cities, the rise of KidsWB, and the strict censorship imposed by the Federal Communications Commission, which required that television stations air at least three hours of educational programming for kids each week.
Yet that is not where the narrative ends. The introduction of live-action children’s and adolescent programmes then started. Television networks switched their emphasis from animated programmes to live-action shows as a result of the transformation since they recognised a new market and possibility for them in terms of ad income. In reality, networks started to recognise that live-action toys, goods, and games may be just as successful in the marketplace as cartoon goods and toys. By the way, a lot of networks used the sale of popular cartoon show products as a big source of income and maybe as the primary justification for airing animated programmes.
Naturally, these occasions sparked a quick change that saw major television networks concentrate on live-action programming for children and teenagers rather than cartoons or anime, which was just plain awful.
Yet, the issue that major television networks or studio production are now facing is… They are first and foremost a business. They aren’t simply businesses; the majority of them are corporations or at the very least subsidiaries of corporations.
What does this have to do with anime or cartoons, some of you may be wondering? A lot.
Let me first briefly describe the function of a corporation or public firm. A public company’s goal is to grow shareholder wealth, not to raise revenue. Yup, you read it correctly. A company’s primary objective is to grow shareholder wealth, generally via an increase in assets or earnings. But what does this have to do with how terrible cartoons and anime are? Again, a great deal.
Most individuals are unaware that a business may become less valuable if its current growth is less than that of the previous year. If this happens, it’s possible that many of the company’s investors may sell their equities faster you can say “hot potato.”
then what? Right? Therefore, in order to avoid situations like that, firm leaders continue to make difficult choices (okay, maybe not that difficult for them, but difficult for others who are affected by them). These choices are often not pleasant since they frequently result in the layoffs of employees, the outsourcing of employment, and the reduction of production budgets. This might all have a significant impact on an animated production.
Many of you have probably noticed some of these inconsistencies when watching an anime or cartoon, I’m sure. Have you ever noticed how one scene seems to move really well with tremendous detail but the next simply looks so badly done that the main figure is hardly discernible? Indeed, that is often what happens when a programme or scene is outsourced to another nation or handled by a fill-in animator rather than a trained expert.
But, some programmes might simply look awful, so I typically pay close attention to the studio name and steer clear of any previous animated films they have done. Yet it goes without saying that studio corporations’ efforts to save costs are the real source of these mediocre films. Workers’ salaries and benefits, if available, make up the majority of firms’ greatest balance sheet costs.
But, when costs are reduced, some of the greatest directors, writers, or animators often lose their jobs. Such things have a big influence on future animation efforts. In fact, it’s perhaps the primary factor in the failure of many cartoon series after one or two seasons. I’ve seen series that, for the first one or two seasons, were fantastic, but after that, something simply seems to be lacking; this generally happens with the animation, the plot, or perhaps even the voice acting.
But really, how can we hold the businesses responsible? They’re just following the current trend of de-financialization, which results in survival of the fittest when businesses combine, sell, or are acquired. Which, for the most part, results in monopolies or too big to fail businesses (I struggle to see why governments don’t consider them as monopolies). This is primarily the cause of the significant (unfavourable) shift in almost every sector today. I mean, I’m sure most of you have observed how much worse today’s games are than those from the 1980s and 1990s. In cartoons and anime, the situation is similar.
Another way to look at it is that you are less required to manufacture high-quality goods the less competition there is. And from the 1980s to the present, many small, privately held businesses either went out of business or were acquired by a large firm since less is better for larger businesses.
The flashier and more attractive cartoons of today are undoubtedly a result of advances in computer technology and possibly a greater supply of kitchenware. Yet in reality, if you look beyond the flashing, gorgeous eye candy of modern special effects, you’ll see that many of the old cartoons and anime were far superior. In fact, several of them were entertaining while also being educational.
But it’s all down to monopolies, corporate monopolisation, or should I say stock market deregulation. Businesses no longer prioritise quality or pride in their work; instead, they simply seek to discover methods to satisfy their shareholders, which invariably entails raising revenues or assets to support business expansion. It often leads to poor business decisions, affecting individuals at the bottom of the ladder more so than those at the top, more often than not.
In light of the fact that even cartoons and anime are companies, allow me to be the first to formally announce the arrival of Corporate Cartoonime. More details Suzume no tojimari