Publisher of some of Japan’s most popular anime suddenly restricts exports of its Blu-rays, DVDs

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

You don’t need a college degree in business administration to understand that the goal of each and every organization that calls itself a business is to make money. Yet Avex Pictures, publisher of anime including the phenomenally successful TV series "Osomatsu-san" and "Yuri!!! on Ice, is refusing to sell its products to would-be buyers outside Japan.

Online retailer CD Japan, which offers a variety of Japanese products to customers around the world, has announced that Avex Pictures “is restricting exports of Blu-ray, DVD, and CD titles.”

The video below is the official announcement for the "Yuri!!! on Ice" Blu-rays going on sale. Not that you can buy them outside of Japan (though if you are in Japan, they’re sold right here).

The move has been particularly disheartening to supporters of "Yuri!!! on Ice," which has been extremely well received in the international fan community. The series’ home video release is just getting underway in Japan, with only two of the planned six Blu-ray/DVD discs currently available. Since overseas home video releases for anime don’t even begin until the entire series has had time to entice domestic buyers in Japan, that means it’s going to be several months, at the very least, before foreign fans will have a chance to buy locally licensed "Yuri!!! on Ice discs.

So the question is, why would Avex Pictures choose to do this? Money is money, after all, and if overseas customers want to buy Avex Pictures’ titles, and at their Japanese prices (which are routinely higher than locally licensed versions’), no less, why stop them?

The company hasn’t released any statement spelling out its rationale, but just about the only logical, albeit speculative one, is that Avex Pictures has loftier overseas ambitions for its products than indirectly selling them to anime fans who’re savvy and dedicated enough to import the Japanese discs. Before it became a player in the anime industry, parent company Avex was (and remains) a successful youth-oriented music publisher with plenty of marketing talent, promotional clout, and shrewd business sense.

As the anime market becomes increasingly globalized, overseas license fees, whether for physical releases, streaming services or broadcast rights, become a sweeter plum. However, these fees aren’t standardized. All else equal, the license Aves Pictures grants its overseas partners is arguably more valuable if the product in question is, to that region’s consumers, brand-new, as opposed to something they’ve already been able to import for months. And of course, the more valuable the license is, the higher the fees Avex Pictures can negotiate for.

The counter-argument, meanwhile, is that limiting foreign fans access to a series, in whatever capacity, dampens the local community’s enthusiasm for that show. By not allowing its discs to be exported, Avex Pictures could squander opportunities to build excitement for its titles on the table. That’s a risky move, especially considering that with the anime industry as a whole pumping out more content than ever before, it’s not like overseas fans can’t get their Japanese animation fix from other publishers if Avex Pictures won’t let them purchase their wares.

Still, it seems that whoever the authority to make the decision lies with has weighed the options and decided that refusing to export discs is the best business decision for Avex Pictures.

Sources: CD Japan via Yuruku Yaru via Jin

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Right, and the folks that run other sites are probably drooling at the opportunity to resell the one's they purchased here in Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I thought that what Abe wanted was for Japan to export it's "Cool Japan" culture to the rest of the world. Doesn't this go against his idea. Does that mean his wife will now become the defacto president and the country will begin to run this company. Oops, that only is for ultra-nationalist kindergarten and elementary schools.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well, that means the last shred of moral guilt from downloaders and rippers disappear.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I'm sure there will be no shortage of people in Japan willing to buy the disks and mail them overseas for a tidy profit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Probably some yet-unannounced distribution deal coming in a few months.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not just anime, it's their whole catalogue, including J-Pop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

people still use DVDs?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What a bunch of fools. I hope they won't complain when people living overseas download their DVDs, but I'm sure they will. They will doubtless be moaning that piracy is costing them sales, even though they refuse to sell their products.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Not a smart move. It's easier than ever to download and stream. They lose big on this.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

idiodic morans! restricting the sales like this is not going to help their image. not a fan of anime myself, never had the interest, but from an entrepreneurial perspective its insane!

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Its already streaming on crunchyroll so why do i need to buy it

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Simply put, it all comes down to LICENSING. By not selling abroad, it can license other companies in the North American continent, European Continent, Middle East, and other markets. If it sold abroad directly it would dilute those license opportunities.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I bet all file sharing and steaming sites are happy with the increased traffic. If you want to deny fans outside your region something they enjoy, don't feel like you are robbed when they go elsewhere to find what they are looking for and you lose out on sales.

Japan is lagging way behind in terms of distribution of popular media. Knowing there is a demand for goods , instead of stepping up their game they become tightfisted and go backwards.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Physical media is dying abroad anyway, it's possible some anime fans like to buy DVDs, but streaming of some form is certainly how the majority watches this show. This will probably backfire when they hassle their licensing partner into releasing a dodgy dub.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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