The nice thing about anime being a part of so many people’s lives is having people you wouldn’t expect get into anime. Maybe your dentist likes Studio Ghibli films because the soundtrack helps him fall asleep, maybe your drama teacher got into Castlevania for sexy vampires, but stayed for the fight scenes, maybe your Grandma’s book club thought Heaven’s Design Team was actually about religion, but let’s be honest: that show is so wholesome, it doesn’t matter. However, there’s one unexpected group getting into anime that may raise more than just a few eyebrows: the U.S. Department of Justice.
While we’re sure there’s no shortage of DOJ employees that enjoy anime, their workplace’s entry into anime is more concerned with particular companies involved in trying to snap up pieces of the anime distribution market. They’re particularly interested in Sony’s potential acquisition of the streaming service Crunchyroll. So interested in fact, that the Department of Justice is extending a current antitrust review of the company into a full investigation on the grounds that Sony’s purchase of Crunchyroll could constitute Sony having a monopoly over anime distribution, with a potential monopoly over the industry as a whole, given Crunchyroll’s other manga and anime related functions, like manga publishing and anime conventions.
Now for those who didn’t get the chance to brush up on their economics, an antitrust review is a review done by the Department of Justice and other government agencies to make sure that a company isn’t making a merger or deal that would be considered a reduction in the amount of competition in a certain area of commerce. A monopoly is when a specific person or company is the only supplier of a particular commodity.
So in layman’s terms, the Department of Justice wants to make sure that Sony buying Crunchyroll won’t make Sony the only company that people can go to for anime streaming. This doesn’t mean that Sony would have full control over the anime streaming industry (if they did then that would be a monopsony), but Sony is concerned enough about the potential of that happening that they’re willing to turn a normal review into an in-depth investigation.
Whatever the outcome of the investigation, it may not have immediate repercussions on the way we watch anime. However, the ensuing ripple effects will most likely be felt in the industry for years to come.
Source: The Verge