[UPDATE] Here’s Why People Are Raising Red Flags About The “Anime Tube App” Kickstarter
An attempt to explain what's going on
UPDATE! On July 9, Kickstarter suspended this campaign. You can find details about the red flags that we noticed in the campaign below this image:
Anime Tube launched its Kickstarter a couple of days ago in the hopes of creating a new streaming service for anime fans. While it was funded quickly and, currently, sits $50K+ over its initial goal, many people (myself included) first heard of the Kickstarter through the many red flags that people began to notice and point out on social media.
1) what shows do you already have licensed, or are you still in just a negotiating licenses phase? Promising up to 5000 shows is a huge endeavor
2) how ad-heavy will the service be for free users? Expecting only $2/month for 500 shows seems really cheap,
— Destiny (@Blesstinychan) July 8, 2021
I’m going to try and break them all down … then probably get blocked by Anime Tube because “being blocked for raising reasonable questions” is one of the red flags. Just to give you a taste of what we’re in for, here is their FAQ section:
A good portion of the campaign’s “strength” just badmouths what’s already available
The campaign video starts off dissing the competition, and the campaign itself continues to belittle the likes of Crunchyroll, VRV, and Funimation for being Netflix-style streaming apps.
I’m not saying that having competition is a bad thing. What I am saying is that the time spent telling us that you won’t crunch our roll could be used to actually explain, well, everything else I’m going to lay out in this piece.
Here are the issues Anime Tube points out about its competition:
Okay so, first question, pretty basic one, I think: How is Anime Tube going to be the SOLUTION to the issues they’re citing from existing apps?
A series of follow-up questions: Are you suggesting that your library will be bigger than what’s out there, and if so, how? How are you going to optimize your search feature? Can we get an explanation of what separates Anime Tube from those other streaming services?
Well, we kinda do … okay, not really.
As it stands, offering “free anime for all” via ads is exactly what Crunchyroll does—unless if you’re saying there won’t be a week delay in episodes for free users, or maybe there will be fewer ads?
Having a better version of the Anime Tube app via a subscription service is also what Crunchyroll does. So, what makes Anime Tube different? Especially since the things being supposedly provided by Anime Tube (series being divided by genre, content filtering, etc.) also exist on the streaming services we already have. The only thing that doesn’t is the AI Virtual Assistant, I suppose.
If you’re gonna start out your Kickstarter by saying how everything else sucks, I want to know what makes your app different, and it kinda has to be more than “we have a cute girl mascot (that’s Aimi-chan) you can chat with,” especially when there are things like a $100K stretch goal to make a 3D model of her (I’ll circle back to this in a bit).
No real information on the team
As someone who has both donated to Kickstarters and run a couple myself, I know that backers want to know the credentials the creatives running the campaign have. This has to be more than blurbs that tell you that someone has 40+ years of software experience, backers want to see where they have worked in the industry to demonstrate that they can actually create this magical app they are trying to release.
These are just two of the team members. There are more, but their bios are written in the same way: first name only (so it’s impossible to look them up) with a description of having years of experience in their field without breaking down what that experience is.
The same happens in their “Risk and challenges” section:
You can’t just tell us you’re being assisted by a “highly successful Japanese business developer,” we actually have to know who this person is. Who is this “representative of the largest conglomerate of anime producers in Japan” that you’ve met with? What anime production companies have you talked to?
What is… anything!
So what shows are they licensing?
There’s a Kickstarter for a “Free Anime Streaming Service” that got super popular overnight, but the marketing for it is misleading at best.
The screenshots show popular anime like Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online and FMA, but there’s no way they can even touch those licenses.
— Canipa (@CanipaShow) July 7, 2021
Licensing anime is NOT an easy task, but at one point Anime Tube had a list of shows they were, apparently, “in talks” about getting. With them declaring they’d have subs AND dubs that would be a rather … extensive task. Many quickly noticed that the shows on the list were series that had already been licensed by other streaming services. Now, it’s not entirely impossible that a series would be on multiple services (there is plenty of crossover for anime and what platform a show is on), but two highly suspicious things happened.
One: the list of series they claimed to be in talks about has been removed from their Kickstarter.
Looks like just minutes ago they pulled the huge list of titles that they were using to market the campaign.https://t.co/EHQZxkiOGa
Any explanation as to why this list disappeared? Maybe something to do with the actual licensees of these shows starting to get wind of this?
— Skogrheim (@Skogrheim) July 8, 2021
You claim that you license list, which includes Netflix and Crunchyroll originals, is made using test data and does not show actual titles license.
However, that is not on your kickstarter page. You only claim to be “in discussion” which other licensers claim isn’t true pic.twitter.com/nzlbkh0Ooe
— YuriMother (@HolyYuriMother) July 8, 2021
Two: they haven’t been in talks with anyone—or at least some of the creators listed.
@AnimeTubeApp Why do you have listings for my titles on your kickstarter’s “Anime Licensing Currently in Discussion”? We are not in discussion with you.
— Irresponsible Dark Lord Kleckner (@shawnekleckner) July 8, 2021
Shawne is in charge of RightStuf, by the way, and has proceeded to alert others in the industry about how their titles have been included in this “discussion.”
@Funimation @SentaiFilmworks @GhibliUSA @VIZMedia @ToeiAnimation
Any of you familiar w/AnimeTube? Seem to have lots of our titles listed/representing in negotiations to acquire for their KS streaming project. I didn’t license them or have any discussions. Anyone?
— Irresponsible Dark Lord Kleckner (@shawnekleckner) July 8, 2021
The response to Shawne’s tweet has since been removed by Anime Tube, but you can see below the screen-capped response to Shawne where they claim to have contacted him through, checks notes, LinkedIn.
Note: you will notice this trend of deleted tweets and having to rely on what’s been screen-capped.
Hate to break it to the nearly 1000 people who gave this kickstarter over $100,000, but yikes.
Claiming they’re in “discussion” with rights holders when they’re not LOL. What an embarrassment. pic.twitter.com/YL5shjdFTX
— Connor (@CDawgVA) July 8, 2021
I should also mention how it’s an interesting approach to start your Kickstarter video badmouthing the very companies you will absoLUTEly have to talk to about licensing since your list contained their titles.
No real explanation on what the money is going toward
Where is the breakdown of where the kickstarter money goes? How much for the app, licenses, translation, rewards etc.
— Unpronounceable (@n_pronounceable) July 8, 2021
This is one of the most important things to have on a Kickstarter campaign. While there is technically a breakdown of how much money is needed to do each thing (app development, professional fees, etc.), there’s no real breakdown beyond that. $50K is a lot to ask for, and with $40K of that being “development” backers want to know what that development is.
Here is what it says for the primary goal:
“All of the base features you would expect in a streaming app are covered here,” is not as specific as they seem to think it is. I don’t know a damn thing about what goes into creating an app, running an app, playing videos on that app, and I certainly don’t know what all goes into licensing anime.
There also seems to be more care put into the stretch goals, which features that cute anime girl mascot I mentioned.
That last stretch goal certainly is … something. You’d think distribution rights would be a higher priority than Aimi-chan being able to chat with users, right?
No information on what regions will be supported
When you check the FAQ you will see a question about what regions will be supported. This is an important question when it comes to streaming, particularly in the case of anime. For example, Studio Ghibli movies are streamable on Netflix … except if you live in the US and Japan. Different regions have access to different anime, hell, certain streaming services don’t even exist in certain regions, so knowing if the service you’re backing will even work is crucial.
This is their answer.
Until we have finalized and signed off on contracts, we will not be able to provide the regions we will be supporting.
So … when does all of this finalization happen? I’m assuming after the Kickstarter. What happens if a backer can’t run the app because it doesn’t work for their region?
The campaign from last month
They actually had a previous Kickstarter last month with almost 90k pledges, but cancelled it for unknown reasons.https://t.co/7CfV9grcM4
— ✨Honey Flash✨ (@ShoujoRukiia) July 8, 2021
Note: That dollar amount is in Canadian dollars, the US amount reached was $63,278 before the campaign was canceled.
Last month, Anime Tube deleted their campaign and chose to relaunch it this month. They only had it up from June 8th to June 13th and had a bigger goal of $285K. This time around they have a much smaller goal of $50K and changed some things, like removing the $20K needed to travel to Japan to acquire licensing and the $50K for business development fees. There still wasn’t much detail on how exactly the money was going to be used, no real info on the team, the same smack talk about the competition, and variance between the pledge dollar amounts.
I’m not sure how your goal to create a streaming service dropped $235,000 in a month. I’m not sure how development is suddenly $40K with licensing only being $10K, but here we are.
The comic artist they were working with is backing out
Merryweather Comics was set to collaborate with Anime Tube but has since announced they are backing out of the project and have refunded the sponsor money they were given.
Regarding Anime Tube,
It was our first offer to do a sponsored comic, and the money was honestly pretty good. Our team and I looked into it, and found while we thought it was a very ambitious project, we expected outside investors to cover costs, not just kickstarter money.
— 「Merryweather Comics」🌴 (@Merryweatherey) July 8, 2021
They go on to say the following:
This morning I woke up to several of my industry friends telling me this would be a mistake supporting, and I trust them. Therefore, we have refunded the sponsor money they gave us, and I am currently taking down all posts and videos, and forwarding this message.
If you have donated money, you should be able to withdraw it before the funding period ends. If you have donated a substantial amount and are not able to withdraw it, please message me below this tweet and I will compensate you personally. In the future we will make sure to research properly the projects we support. We have never done sponsored comics like this in the past, it was very new to us, and I think we should have looked more into it beyond just assuming it’s an ambitious project run by some friendly people.
I’m sorry guys.
Honestly, Anime Tube isn’t a terrible idea, but it’s clear that they are getting in way over their heads. The mistake a lot of creatives do when launching a Kickstarter (and I’ve done this too when I launched my very first one) is not properly researching how much things will cost and everything you have to do in order to get everything off the ground. You miss who you have to contact to do certain things (in this case, licensing anime, getting things playable in certain regions, etc.) and what the proper channels are.
As an indie creator who has flubbed Kickstarter up in the past, I was hoping to give Anime Tube the benefit of the doubt … until I saw them flat-out lying about what they were getting and the unwillingness to actually respond when called into question. I absolutely believe that someone would go into making an anime streaming service without realizing how big of a task that is, but to offer a list of titles without talking to the folks who already own them?
In fact, it goes further beyond that, because as I said in the beginning, one of the red flags is:
Blocking people with valid questions
In the FAQ section, the following question is asked, “Why did you block me on social media?”
Here is their response:
Because we do not have time for negativity and trolls. We are here to make the best damn anime app on the planet, trolls and negative people are just trying to get in the way. If you believe in what we are trying to do, then support our campaign, otherwise find someone who wants to listen to you!
When you’re running a campaign with such an ambitious goal you HAVE to listen to feedback. Kickstarter doesn’t even let you create the FAQ section until the campaign starts, which gives you ample time to listen to feedback and create an FAQ to answer concerns.
Summarizing valid questions as “negativity” and “trolls” is just … bad.
In conclusion, um, maybe pass on this Kickstarter?
Or if you are looking to do a project like this, realize HOW big of a task this is and be open to the endless pool of feedback you’re going to get from the anime community—the fans and especially the industry folks who are wondering why you’re telling folks you’ve talked to them.
(Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
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