Fandom, Geeks, Jobs, and the Japanese Economy

On and off I encounter speculation that Japan's economy is going to get worse. I'm sure you've seen much the same news over and over.

I'm not able to speculate in detail, but I can see that Japan has had its trouble since its own economic meltdown, doesn't seem to have solved it's issues, and is having problems with its workforce.  In my own opinion as a non-economist, I can at least see why people are concerned.

Geekonomically and fannish-job-wise, I wonder what will happen to the major geeky industries of video games, anime, and manga if Japan's economy does take a serious dive (again).

(This is why following economics is important to any career.  Period.)

Think about it for a moment – if the Japanese economy nosedives badly, there are major industries that are part of geekdom – in both product, image, and influence – that will suddenly face a lot of changes.

This changes what is made, where it is sold, and who competitors are.

Some thoughts:

ANIME: Anime has obviously been popular and influential in North America, and the move to online seems to ensure stability and distribution of material and solidification of the fandom.  As I understand it the industry in Japan has had its problems.  There are well-established companies, properties, and distributions, and I suspect the companies in troubled times would shift to more online and focusing on global audiences.

Manga companies as we've noted are making big inroads in the US.  Between Viz and Kodansha's presence in the US and ambitions it's already clear Manga companies are looking outside of Japan for profits and potential.  These companies are ahead of the game, and I figure any meltdown would lead them to accelerate and expand their plans.

Japan's place in video games is pretty set – Sony and Nintendo aren't going anywhere, though a Japanese meltdown could be quite a hit.  However where I see a hit happening, in the as of such  problem, is a hit to Japanese STUDIOS.  Game studio life is always more precarious than the big boys, and a downturn could affect a lot of them – especially ones that pitch mainly to the Japanese market.  The game market would have to retool even MORE globally as well – bringing it into more competition with the American/European age companies.

These are just a few speculations, but an example of how economic changes in one country can impact specific areas – areas we as fans and fan-to-pro types are interested in.

Now, that was Japan.  What about other countries?  China has been awful productive and had it's downturn.  Canada seems stable economically but has powerful geekonomic companies like Bioware.  Bollywood has an in-built audience but national ambitions and attention.

National news.  Economic news.  Geekonomic news.  It's all the same . . .

– Steven Savage