We all know anime that was produced entirely to get people to buy something. Whether it be cards, the manga, particular products, an idea, or games, these kind of productions have been around for a long time. Let’s be honest, a lot of this is actually the reason anime gets funded. Like with any kind of commercial art, someone is trying to make a profit from it and the show itself may not be enough to cut it.
Usually, I don’t really care whether an anime is trying to advertise something provided it follows a few simple rules.
- Tell a complete story. Even if you want me to buy the manga to see other parts of the story and further developments, your anime series should come to some sort of resolution. This is just storytelling basics. Don’t start something unless you intend to end it.
- Your advertising should not intrude on the story. This one is an issue for all those card battle anime. Some of them manage to integrate the card systems into their narrative without too much contrivance but others it just feels awkward.
- Be up front about your purpose. People more or less accept advertising and product placement. Most fans also accept that something has to fund the entertainment industry. Nobody really cares except for a few idealists who think art should exist in some commercialess (okay, positive that isn’t actually a word) vacuum. What viewers tend to dislike is being sold something (hey, great anime here!) and then finding out that rule 1 and 2 are completely broken and all we have is a vehicle for selling something.
- Be good. You bothered to fund an anime to advertise. At least do a solid job and entertain us. This one really should be self-explanatory and yet seems to be the one that gets dropped most often.
The reason I’m thinking of this at the moment is because of Tales of Zestiria/Tales of Berseria. While I am enjoying the anime, the last two episodes have really been pure advertising. I didn’t hate it (in fact I quite enjoyed both episodes) but I haven’t been given a complete story here. What I’ve been given is something that actually was really good and enjoyable to watch, didn’t feel like advertising (for most of the episodes) and I was pretty clear on what I was getting in the first place. But I haven’t been given a complete story.
As someone who hasn’t played Tales of Zestiria and is fairly unlikely to go looking for a spin off/prequel game, this is a bit disappointing. I also know that makes me not the intended audience so I should probably just not whine and enjoy what is available.
I don’t see making an anime for advertising as a cash grab necessarily. A lot of the time these anime do provide fans with a lot of entertainment. These anime can also draw in new fans (not in a sleezy cash driven way but just by exposing a new audience to the characters and merchandise they may not have seen otherwise). Basically, for me it comes down to transparency of purpose and whether or not what is made is worth watching on its own merit. And that is a really important point. Telling me that the visual novel, the manga, the game or whatever else is awesome does not make the anime any better than what it can deliver as a stand alone piece of entertainment.
Where-ever you sit, I’m curious as to what you think about using anime for advertising.
Or failing that, what are some of the anime you’ve watched that have existed to advertise that you’ve enjoyed/found really irritating?