It's become pretty obvious to me that as much as SDB deserves my respect for his incisive geopolitical analyses, he doesn't know shit about the anime business. He's had a hate on for ADV for quite some time, and posted a rant yesterday afternoon (7/31, 1605; for some reason he gave up on permalinking when he switched from USS Clueless to Chizumatic) about what a bunch of assholes they are in Houston for selling stripped thinpaks. Now, from what I know of the situation, SDB has described the company's problem fairly accurately and their actions likewise, but he's left out a very big factor in ADV's cash flow problems - namely, the bankruptcy of the Musicland Group, which had a fair chunk of ADV merchandise in their holds when they went down. That hurt the industry as a whole quite a bit, and ADV especially because they had tried to get into TV by launching the Anime Network. Strike one. He then goes on to lambaste the company for accelerating their relese of series in thinpak box format so that they can get more cash in faster. Now, as any otaku knows, thinpaks are cheaper than regular series DVDs because they don't have all the cool extras such as art galleries, commentary tracks, clean opening & closing song sequences, and whatever the company thinks is worth throwing in to get your $30 per box. Quite frankly, SDB is acting like a spoiled fanboy if he thinks ADV or anyone else is going to leave all those extras in on the economy model DVDs. The whole point of loading the initial release DVDs with the special content is so you'll pay extra up front, and the analogy between stripping the passenger seat out of a car you're buying with a rebate is just asinine. Strike two. Finally, in the middle of all this thrashing around, he provides not one single stinking link to support his raving about how ADV hates its customers, which is standard operating procedure if you want someone to take you seriously. Strike three!
Now, I haven't been an anime fan for that damn long, but I do know that the practice of releasing thinpak sets without all the extras is hardly new, or unique to ADV. In fact, Geneon was the first company to start that practice, and nobody complained about it at the time - on the contrary, it was seen as a rather fan-friendly practice that also struck a blow at fansubbing and fileswapping because the resulting sets were so damn cheap. I also know that in the three years we've been doing Anime Detour, few companies have been as helpful and quick to respond as ADV when we wanted screening permissions and help getting guests. Their voice actors and actresses, on the whole, have been class acts and wonderful people who I would be happy to recommend to anyone as convention guests. The bottom line here is that SDB is talking out of his ass when it comes to ADV. He obviously has never dealt with them directly, or he wouldn't be spouting this kind of crap.
The whole thing reminds me of the old days in wargaming when people would bitch and moan about the myriad shortcomings of Avalon Hill and SPI, the dominant companies in the hobby at the time. What the grognards overlooked was that AH and SPI put out a hell of a lot of good, enjoyable games that people wound up playing for the next three decades. ADV doesn't have nearly the same dominant position in the anime field - Geneon, Viz, Bandai and Funimation all have a decent slice of the market - but because they've released so much product over the last few years they get a lot of the attention and a lot of criticism as well. I don't think they deserve it, myself, but then again, I have some perspective on the hobby that I think SDB and others lack when they slag the company for doing things they don't like. It's childish, it's stupid, and worst of all, it's beneath the standards he led us to expect from his days at the helm of USS Clueless. Don't get me wrong, he's as entitled to his opinion as the next fanboy, but I also think he's old enough to take his lumps when people call him out for talking shit.