Geneon and the North American Anime Industry.

It’s so sad.

Geneon Entertainment is no longer shipping new anime titles as of last Tuesday. Amazon gave me a brief ray of hope that I would be able to acquire volume four of Karin, a series I started purchasing because my kids think it’s hilarious. But alas, my hopes were dashed. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to finish buying the series, but I suppose that’s the way of things.

According to more recent reports, many of the major North American distributors of anime are showing a profit loss this year. Anime seems to be on a down turn. As it stands, there are only three companies remaining that will buy licenses for shows that they did not produce in Japan themselves, and one of those three companies is still clawing its way kicking and screaming from the loss it took on what was a really successful series for them. Unfortunately, sales did not cover what they paid to license the series, in spite of the fact that the show was one of the more popular releases of the year.

What it seems to mean is that anime isn’t as popular as it once was. It always has been a niche market, and I love my anime collection. I will probably keep collecting anime until I can no longer get my hands on DVD’s of shows that I like. But, it seems like that day is coming sooner than I expected.

With Geneon, in particular, I have always loved their releases. The quality of their releases always made it worth spending the extra money to buy a Geneon title, but unfortunately there have only been three series out of the piles of anime that I buy that Geneon released in the last year. One of those was Karin, the other is Hellsing Ultimate. Fortunately for me, Hellsing is a popular franchise, even outside of the pure otaku fandom, and there are rumors that Funimation will be picking up the license to that property. If there’s a Funimation rep reading this, let me just say to you: Please do! I will run out and buy the rest of Hellsing Ultimate, even if it is only one hour long episode a disc, because that series is worth every penny. Among my friends, I can guarantee at least three buying customers. I know that doesn’t help much, but I will keep my fingers crossed that the rest of Hellsing Ultimate will be released in North America.

As for Karin, Karin is an extremely niche title. I love the series, my kids love it, but it’s not something that has mass appeal like Hellsing, and I know it. I doubt that anyone will pick it up, and that makes me sort of sad. Geneon was there for us to depend on for titles like this and given that all pending releases from Geneon USA have been put on indefinite hiatus, I suspect that we will not be seeing any more shows like this any time soon.

It’s just as well. Markets change with the times. Geneon took a gamble and lost. It’s what happens in the business world.