Anime Central 2002
Industry Report

by George Phillips, Apr 21st 2003

Media Blasters

Media Blaster's biggest announcements centered around Berserk:

Berserk will hit the street in May. This title has been dubbed by NYAV, who have also done Knight Hunters (Weiss Kreuz) and Magic User's Club (Mahou Tsukai Tai!).

Extras on the DVDs include: production sketches and extensive menus. Additionally, the boxed set is a non-standard three-fold strong cardboard case with images on both the outside and inside. Additionally, Media Blasters confirmed that a second season of Berserk is entering pre-production. However, due to its extremely violent nature, it is uncertain if any Japanese TV stations will be willing to air.

According to Mr. Sirabella, Knight Hunters has been selling well. The name was changed from its original Japanese title, "Weiss Kreuz", by the Japanese licensor to prevent any possibly association with Nazi imagery. The Knight Hunters OVAs are part of the licensing agreement, and will be released after the TV series is completed. Furthermore, the success of Fake and Weiss Kreus has made MB interested in what Sirabella called the "grass-roots side" of anime fandom; accordingly, licensing the fan favorite Gravitation is being seriously considered.

Media Blasters has also acquired a number of 12-13 episode TV series for release through the rest of 2002 and 2003. These include Gundress, Babel II, Genma Wars, Space Pirate Mito, Leiji Matsumoto's Gun Frontier, and Go Nagai's Dante's Inferno.

On phone with John Sirabella we later confirmed that four additional titles that MB has licenced are Wild Seven, Dog World, Mars, Cosmo Warrior Zero, and Varoom One. Two of the first titles due to enter production are Cosmo Warrior Zero and Babel II.

A Kite or Mezzo Forte TV series is "not in the cards" due to lack of interest on the Japanese side.

Kenshin has only 6 more DVDs until the entire series is released in America.

CLAMP's Magic Knights Rayearth has been considered for TV broadcast by several networks, but ultimately rejected.


TOKYOPOP

Tokyopop is committed to the "Authentic Manga" line of unflipped graphic novels released at a US$9.99 MSRP using thinner Japanese-style paper to make turning pages easier. The nine titles released so far have enjoyed "phenomenal" success. The second wave, due out by mid-May, includes Love Hina, Initial D and Angelic Layer. In fact, the first volume of Love Hina debuted in the ACEN dealer's room. The line will also include a number of mahn-wa (Korean manga) titles that can not be announced at this time. Release schedules for the Authentic Manga titles will largely be bi-monthly. The only notable exception is Love Hina, which is expected to be monthly.

Studio Representative Ken Lee also stated that at present, Tokyopop has no plans to re-enter the anime fandom magazine market they left with the demise of Tokyopop Magazine.

Before the end of the year, Tokyopop's anime division plans to release Real Bout High School, Reign (aka Alexander), Brigadoon, Initial D and Marmalade Boy.

Real Bout HS will also be available in a limited edition first pressing complete with a translucent DVD case. Extras on the title include extensive liner notes, Japanese TV ads for the series, outtakes, interviews, a music sampler with three OST tracks, and menus design inspired by fighting video games.

Initial D will include a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Additionally, there has been "definite" interest in broadcasting it on American TV. No further comment could be made at this time, however.

Unfortunately, Tokyopop stated that due to low sale volumes, the remaining DVD volumes of St. Tail will not include an English dub track. Instead, the remaining DVDs will include 7 episodes until the end of the series.


Bandai

The Escaflowne Movie will street on 23 July in two versions, the standard one-disc at a US$29.98 MSRP and the $54.98 Ultimate version. The latter is a 3-disc set consisting of the movie itself, a disc of extras, and a soundtrack. Extras include: overlapping real-time storyboards, multiple audio tracks, trailers, interviews with the Japanese staff and cast, and footage from the Japanese premiere, promotional concert, and the US premiere at Anime Expo 2000.

It will include an extra where all the Theatrical Posters they made for the us theatrical run but did not use are in an image gallery.

The included figurine is the Black Escaflowne armor from the scene where the armor turns all black. It will be limited to 10k numbered copies.

The Escaflowne TV box set will be released shortly; the full box set will also include a bonus collectible action figure. The box alone will be offered for sale as well.

The Gundam Trilogy (movies) will be released with no English-language audio and a special foil box and individual DVD cases. Char's Counterattack may possibly be released by Fall '02.

Ronin Warriors DVD's will contain both the original episodes and the edited-for-American-TV Samurai Troopers. Each DVD will contain four episodes from each series, for a total of eight episodes per disc.

The DVD release of Brain Powerd will include both the Japanese and U.S. opening, with one of the two as an extra.

The DVD release of Silent Mobius will include a limited-edition poster and a mini-comic.

Only the Love Hina TV series has been licensed so far; thus, there are no plans to release the Christmas or Spring specials, nor the "Again" OVA series recently released in Japan.


ADV Films

The *major* news from this panel has already been reported -- ADV Films has acquired Noir, Angelic Layer, and a number of other anime series.

Excel Saga will be released using a 5/4/4/4/4/5 episode count, which ADV has adopted as its standard for 26-episode TV series. Extras on the discs will include "ADVidNotes" (optional on-screen notes for anime and cultural references littered throughout the series). Additionally, each DVD of Excel Saga will include items such as an ACROSS membership card, a board game, and posters.

Saiyuki will be released under the English title "Paradise Rangers".

The MSRP on the Miyuki-chan in Wonderland DVD is $12.98, and will include a .pdf (DVD-ROM side) of a paper doll that can be printed and cut out.

Noir is on a "fast track" to release. The "Making of Noir" documentary is currently not part of the licensing agreement but may be acquired separately and included as an extra. The rumors of a "director's cut" or different version of the series for U.S. release are not true. The only difference between the two versions will be minor clean-up done on the DVD's. (This also means that no blood will be added to any of the places it does not appear in the Japanese version)

The AnimeTrax line of soundtracks will include OST's of Ninja Resurrection, Princess 9, Giant Robo, All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Nadesico and Boogiepop Phantom. The Boogiepop Phantom image album will be released as well.

The DVD release of Burn Up Excess will include what Williams referred to as a "jiggle counter version 2," inspired by the v.1 used in Plastic Little. Details are yet to come but some of its functions will include counting for simultaneous jigglage across multiple characters as well as the cumulative jigglage after each episode.


Viz Communications

Two new titles have been acquired for US release: The Professonal - Golgo 13 and Blood: The Last Vampire.

The Professional, one of the longest-running manga series ever, will be released as a 13-issue limited monthly series, with issue taken from a different representative point in the manga. The first three issues will have cover art by Tim Bradstreet, who has also worked on The Punisher, Hellblazer, and several Vampire: The Masquerade sourcebooks. Golgo 13 will be released in chronological order, but due to the length of the series, not every story will be published. Expect the first volume (80 pages, b&w) to ship in October this year.

No information was immediately available regarding Blood, since the announcement was made during closing ceremonies.

By May, Viz will also release the volume 6 graphic novel of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga and complete release of volume 7 as monthly issues.

In terms of anime news, Horn stated that Viz had the rights to both the anime and manga versions of Project ARMS, but did not elaborate on that statement.

According to our discussion on the telephone with Viz representatives, Viz mentioned the following:

  • Viz has obtained the home video and manga rights to Hamtaro.
  • Alita Last Order is scheduled for a September 2002 release.
  • Ranma DVD boxed sets have been selling very well, and Season 3 (Hard Battle) will be out for $119 in late July.


Finally, Viz still has the rights to the Inu Yasha anime, and are working on getting it on Cartoon Network. They are very confident that it will be broadcast on CN but at this time they don't know when. The home video release dates will depend on when the broadcast dates are agreed on.


Fanboy Entertainment/Studio PLEX



During his panel, Tetsuya Aoki, who had previously worked on designing mecha for the Transformers, Power Rangers and Ultraman series, announced the launch of Plex's first English-language manga title, Angel Wing. The first two volumes of this full-color work, produced through a partnership with U.S.-based Fanboy Entertainment, are available now through Diamond. MSRP for the issues is US$7.95.


Central Park Media



CPM will be discontinuing its line of monthly manga issues. However, it will still offer titles in graphic novel format, including considering graphic novel/DVD packages for some of their titles. What was announced as the "Black Rose Saga" of the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV series will be released late in '03; by that, CPM means episodes 26-39 of the series. There will also be a box set of the entire TV series, and although no further information was made available, one of the representatives stated there would be "something crazy" with it.

The old Slayers TV boxed set (with the switched/phase-inverted audio problem) will be replaced. In the next few weeks, look for information about the matter on the CPM Website. Currently, the plan is to send the defective DVDs (just the DVDs, not the box or cases) to a mailing address, and new DVDs will be shipped back, as well as a $20 Off coupon. Please be aware that these plans may change before they are finalized.


The Right Stuf

"Kare Kano is going to hit its May deadline!", Right Stuf announced at their panel. After four years of delays and set-backs, Gainax's hit title is coming out in America!

At the start of the TRSI panel, Neil Nadelman walked in with a FedEx package containing the check disc of Kare Kano. Director Jeff Thompson watched this check disc of Kare Kano for the first time, along with the entire panel. While there were still some problems with the disc, Jeff seemed confident that Kare Kano will still hit the street on its May 26th deadline. Kare Kano will span 5 DVDs in a 6/5/5/5/5 format. Kare Kano's wacky "next episode" previews have been reproduced in the English version. In the Japanese version, two voice actresses were filmed as they announced the upcoming episode. In the English version, the same applies, but now some of the previews include hand puppets, costume changes, and all sorts of other silly things. The DVD should branch to the appropriate scene (Japanese or English) depending on which audio track has been selected.

Amongst Kare Kano's features are selectable sign subtitles and voice subtitles. As Kare Kano utilizes a large amount of on-screen writing, the need to have selectable subtitles for both on-screen writing and voices was necessary. The dub itself is very well-done, and each voice actor and actress took the part and made it their own. Arima's quiet-yet-stiff voicing sounded peculiar at first, but once Arima's past is revealed, it makes sense that he act that way. Yukino and family were all wonderful and extremely diverse in their roles. It seems the audience was quite pleased with the dub, and are anxiously looking forward for more. Because of the incredible diversity of options and features in Kare Kano, this title will receive a DVD-only release.

As we announced previously, Right Stuf picked up Comic Party, a 13-episode series about High School students getting involved in producing doujinshi (fan-made manga). No other information about this title could be announced yet.

Amongst TRSI's other titles, Dangaizer and KO Century Beast are continuing production. Jeff Thompson said that he recently heard a rough mix of the Dangaizer dub.

AnimEigo

One of the biggest announcements from AnimEigo at Anime Central was that You're Under Arrest will enter the DVD authoring stage of production on May 1st. AnimEigo expects YUA to consist of 4 boxed sets. The first three boxes will contain 3 DVDs with episodes and an extra "bonus" disc. In the final boxed set, each DVD will contain episodes and bonuses. Additionally, the third box set will contain a fanart gallery. Fans wishing to submit artwork to be considered for placement in a "fanart gallery" on the 3rd Box set will be able to download a permission form from AnimEigo's website. AnimEigo representative Scott Carlton said that pre-ordering might begin as early as this May.

If you missed out on the big Macross Boxed Set order, don't worry; AnimEigo is planning to release the series in Mini-Box format. The 9-disc Boxed set will be broken into three mini-boxes, with a price point of under $100.00 per box. Additionally, if mini-boxes aren't enough, AnimEigo will also release individual Macross DVDs sometime after releasing the mini-boxed sets.

One of the other major announcements from AnimEigo was the planned dubbing of Urusei Yatsura Movie #1: Only You. AnimEigo cited a strong desire to place UY in the retail market, and including a dub on the DVD will make it much more desirable to brick-and-mortar retailers. If sales of the movie are strong, then AnimEigo will continue to dub other UY features.

AnimEigo holds the license to the Crusher Joe OVAs and Movie, but currently has no set production schedule for the title. Crusher Joe will be worked on, depending on how much time AnimEigo's other projects take. Ideally, this title might be released on a DVD-10, a two-sided DVD, with the OVAs on one side, and the Movie on the other.

"The days of 4 to 5 year preordering are hopefully ending", Scott Carlton said when asked about future boxed pre-orders from AnimEigo. Scott also noted that the production department at AnimEigo has grown from Shin and an aide to 6 people, with a 7th currently being hired. Finally, Scott also noted that this was AnimEigo's 12th year of operations, making it the oldest surviving anime company around. Way to go, AnimEigo!


Manga Entertainment

Manga held another quiet panel this year at Anime Central. In it, they covered their basic plans for this year. Ghost Sweeper, Virus, and the Eva movies Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion are the four main titles Manga is producing.

The usual question, will the DVDs be anamorphic, came up. The answer has been, and continues to be "No".

The other important question for the Eva Movies is how the subtitles will be handled, as the movies are very on-screen text-intensive films. The answer is that there will be two subtitle tracks, one for the on-screen text, and one for the voices.


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