I was doing my usual perusal of the anime news sites this morning when it occurred to me that anime this last year has changed drastically. The big issue of course, is that Geneon Entertainment’s operations were shut down by their Japanese parent company back in October. Many fans who were buying Karin, Hellsing Ultimate, Black Lagoon and The Story of Saiunkoku were hung out to dry with the news. I was buying two of those shows and had completed each to volume three. It’s enough of an investment in an anime series that to be unable to complete it at this stage is by God annoying.
Not only this, but I have noticed that the good stuff that we used to be able to expect to come from Bandai Entertainment, ya know, stuff like Wolf’s Rain, or Yukikaze… that stuff completely dried up this year. Thankfully, ADV and Funimation are doing a fine job of filling in the gap with anime that I want to buy, but more and more titles lately are so… ensconced in what’s popular in the Japanese market. It was more entertaining for me to see what would happen when studios would design shows specifically around the idea of marketing them in North America. That’s how we ended up with sublimely cool things like Samurai Champloo.
Geneon’s disappearance from the anime industry isn’t the only bad news we’ve had of the year. Bandai Visual USA released a ridiculous catalog this year, filled with shows that no one would pay the new MSRP for. There are shows that are worth 50$ for two episodes, I’d gladly pay that for Hellsing Ultimate, or anything that has ever had a pen touched to it by Shirow Masamune. Bandai Visual USA though, decided it would be a great idea to start to release titles like Demon Prince Enma and ask 40$ for two episodes. This is only a small portion of its mistakes for the year. When Geneon stopped its distribution, Bandai Visual USA also lost its point of distro, and so began releasing things from its website only, and eventually they found other means of distro, but the retailers that carry their titles are still limited, and didn’t include Amazon.com for quite some time.
Funimation and ADV films have had a decent year from my perspective on things. Funimation has released most of the titles I’ve purchased this year, including Mushishi, Beck and Tsubasa, just to name a few. I’ve also been on a hiatus from purchasing titles from ADV Films for a while, while their releases have always been decent, they had a bad year in 2005 with several sound glitches on their DVDs and that made it hard to convince me to purchase ADV titles, also ADV just wasn’t releasing things I was interested in until this year came around and they announced that they had licensed Red Garden and had acquired the license for the second season of Ah My Goddess.
Every release from both Funimation and ADV this year made me happy, both as an anime fan, and as a collector.
Anyone else that released anything in terms of anime this year… well I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy your titles. I suppose that says something in itself, doesn’t it? I did take a look at a couple of media blaster’s releases from 2006, Otogi Zoshi and Genshiken. I will definitely be purchasing Genshiken and Genshiken 2 when it’s released. Otogi Zoshi… I’m still undecided on, but it has been worth renting from Netflix so far. The point is though, no one else released much of interest this year. I would love to see this change for 2008 because, now that Geneon is gone, the other studios have big shoes to fill. I hope that 2008 is the year that the anime industry will re-examine the North American market, because it is so very different from the Japanese market. What sells in Japan will not sell to the anime fandom here, and none of us are so sick that we’ll pay Akihabara prices for a DVD. It just won’t happen. I hope the anime importers at least learn this much and keep the hobby from dying a slow, horrible death.