It appears that Crunchyroll-Hime, the bubbly orange mascot of the popular anime streaming service, is a bit of a prude.
Crunchyroll has acquired anime merchandise retailer Right Stuf, the companies announced Thursday. The deal further consolidates Crunchyroll as a central force in the distribution of anime products, and it already sparked criticism from anime fans, since the acquisition has resulted in the removal of erotic products from Right Stuf’s storefront.
Under its new ownership, Right Stuf is “phasing out the Erotica genre content and product,” the retailer says in an FAQ on its website. All sales, including pre-orders and unfulfilled orders, are being moved to a new storefront called the Ero Anime Store. That retailer will “carry the full line of the erotica content,” and customers “can look to them for current and future releases,” according to Right Stuf. As for the origins of this third party, the people behind the Ero Anime Store said in its own FAQ that the storefront’s owners “have worked with Right Stuf’s team for many years.”
Not everyone is thrilled. The acquisition has immediately impacted consumers, since erotic content like hentai anime and manga is now gone from Right Stuf’s website. Jacob Grady, the CEO of Fakku, the largest publisher of English hentai in the world, said on Twitter that the deal is a “massive blow” to his company. “Right Stuf was a big account for FAKKU and one of the only retailers that really embraced 18+ anime/manga. Not good,” Jacob said in a tweet. It’s unclear whether Fakku’s catalog will be available on Ero Anime Store.
“[Right Stuf] have long been a champion of hentai anime and manga, having sold mature content since their print catalog days. We have long had a good relationship and have done many projects exclusively with them, so we are sad to see them move on,” Grady told Polygon via Twitter. “Consolidation in anime hasn’t really impacted us much so far, but after situations like this, it is something we will be actively tracking from here on out.”
Polygon asked Crunchyroll about criticisms of the deal. “We’ve worked with the Right Stuf team to ensure a smooth transition to another vendor (Ero Anime Store) who can fulfill mature content seamlessly,” a Crunchyroll representative said in a statement.
The Ero Anime Store isn’t live yet. In a statement published on the Ero Anime Store landing page, the retailer’s president — who signed off as “Wendy C” — acknowledged that the change might feel sudden, but asked customers for patience. “It may take us a bit, but we want to make sure it’s done right,” Wendy said. The site’s FAQ says that the store should be up and running “within a couple of weeks.”
Crunchyroll’s acquisition of Right Stuf has also prompted criticism regarding the streaming service’s increasing consolidation of the anime industry. Last summer, Crunchyroll merged with its biggest competitor, the Sony-owned streaming service Funimation, which further reduced competition in the space.
“One company, regardless of how much I like that company, should not be in control of THIS much of one product,” anime critic Kate Sánchez said on Twitter. In a separate thread later, she added, “Crunchyroll buying RightStuf is like Disney buying your local comic store and then limiting what they can sell.”
As for what’s on the horizon for Fakku, Grady says the change might provide new opportunities for customers to support the publisher directly.
“Going to the source is a good opportunity to better support the publishers and often may result in more opportunities to pick up exclusives that were never shared with online retailers.”
Update: We updated this article to include comments that Fakku CEO Jacob Grady made to Polygon.