In one sense, an academic approach to anime does not require much beyond access to anime – and access to/familiarity with some kind of theoretical framework to base the approach in and validate it. But, this kind of approach is also exactly what Thomas Lamarre has criticized as exemplifying the “the book report or film review model” of writing about anime – useful, but limited and limiting. Anime studies – like film/television studies in general – must be concerned with more than the texts themselves. How are these texts created (in all senses of the term)? By whom? With what money? For whom? How are they distributed? To where? Again, why?
Asking these kinds of questions, in turn, requires a different set of resources and essentially, a different knowledge base. For example, writing about how anime developed in America in the 1980’s and through the 1990’s could require using articles on the work of various “anime entrepreneurs” that appeared in business publications such as Forbes and Fortune, as well as local magazines and newspapers, and interpreting the annual reports that public companies like 4Kids Entertainment and Navarre (for several years, the corporate parent of Funimation) are required to file. And, the recent announcement by anime streaming platform (“the leading global destination and platform for anime and manga”) Crunchyroll, Inc. that it now has over 1,000,000 paying subscribers, and over 20,000,000 total registered users can lead into a great case study on the kinds of materials that are available for research on the “business of anime”. In the decade now that Crunchyroll has existed, how has it been covered in the media – and in scholarly writing?
In its original form, Crunchyroll was just a central hub for individual users to upload their anime videos – without worrying too much about how legal or illegal this would be – and definitely drew some attention, such as from TechCrunch: Crunchyroll Pushes the Envelope on Video Copyright. So, how did it grow from that to – this?
The first steps of Crunchyroll’s evolution into its present form can be documented in brief notices on specialized websites like PEHub:
“CrunchyRoll Inc., a San Francisco-based video sharing site focused on anime, has raised $4.05 million in Series A funding, according to a regulatory filing. Venrock led the round, with partner David Siminoff joining the board of directors.”