Which anime fan does not have merchandise of his favourite anime?
Merchandise is an anime fan’s pride and joy. Most anime nowadays thrive on merchandise to earn money too. Look at Bandai, which made Macross Frontier and the Gundam series purely in order to get fans insane over buying their robot figurines. Cardfight!! Vanguard was only popular after the anime, I think, as was Yu-Gi-Oh before it. Anime have also propelled many singers to fame. Not only are people like LiSA and m.o.v.e. catapulted to fame because of their contributions to anime songs, some anime themselves create singers to sing the songs for them. For example, people like Mizuki Nana and Tamura Yukari (the top 2 voice actresses to have become singing sensations) first sang for the anime they were voicing. Kalafina was created for the express purpose of singing for anime that request them.
In short, anime has spawned off a good number of money-making ventures. In fact, it should probably be one of the major lucrative pillars of Japan, being the international face of Japanese culture for decades now. The Japanese government has recently stepped up efforts to promote itself outside the country, facing the tough competition of South Korea now, and is actively publicising its TV programmes and music to other parts of the world. This is a big hurrah to anime fans like us, though admittedly anime is not part of their repertoire. They were thinking more along the lines of Japanese dramas and documentaries to promote tourism. That said, it may be because anime has been promoted adequately all these years and really nothing more can be done that hasn’t already. The start of NicoNico as an English website to stream anime is great (at least for people who are willing to pay to watch stuff) and admittedly it hasn’t stamped down on other video streaming sites as much as it could have (maybe because it doesn’t know enough English?). But in the long run, it probably understands that piracy is generating benefits for them. Look at the amount of money Sword Art Online merchandise are making for them, and other anime geared towards international appeal, such as Fate/Zero (I know it is geared toward an international audience because its logo has an English name in it). More and more English is appearing in their anime episodes, which can only mean it is setting its sights on a wider consumer market than just the locals. Or it could be trying to impress the locals. That might explain it too.
This is just a hypothesis, but I wonder if the English names of Japanese bands and songs are also in order to market themselves to an English international audience (mainly American I suppose, because America always represents the world). I mean, surely words like UVERworld and “Live everyday as if it were the last day” are completely mind-blowing to the Japanese, or they at least require some effort to tease out a meaning.
In any case, I must say I’m one of the anime fans with sparse merchandise on hand, save for a poster, a set of beautiful postcards and a plush toy. What about you?