SakuraCon
Saturday, April 5th

by Kyle Pope, Apr 8th 2003
Industry panels were pretty thin this year as two of anime's major players did not have a presence at SakuraCon 2003. Bandai and Pioneer did not have reps leaving only ADV out of the big three anime companies to conduct a panel. However Manga Entertainment and Urban Vision did have a presence.

ADV

ADV was represented by David Williams. This time he was alone and didn't have his usual companion Matt Greenfield with him. Unfortunately there were no new acquistion announcements made today but given all that ADV currently has on its plate that may be a good thing.

Currently ADV is working on the three Dirty Pair movies (Flight 005 Conspiracy, Affair of Nolandia and Project Eden). There was no projected date given for their release however.

City Hunter TV series Season One is due for release in two boxed sets this July.

Also due for July release is subbed uncut release of the first season of Sailor Moon. It will be released on a total of eight discs in two four-disc keepcases collected in a boxed set.

Bandit King Jing is in production yet again not projected date for release given.

Excel Saga has wrapped (Let it be known that in D.L. Williams' opinion the final episode of Excel Saga is just WRONG.) Production work has started on the spin-off series Puni Puni Poemi. He was not sure how the dub would be handled given that the show makes constant references to the production staff behind PPP to include the actress who voices Poemi.

I asked if AD Vidnotes would become a standard item on future ADV releases as they have some upcoming series that could benefit from them (Super GALS! Kotobuki Ran being the most notable). He stated that the vidnotes are very labor intensive and so it is unlikely that they would be showing up on every ADV release.

ADV's first anime music CDs are scheduled for release in June. First titles projected are Nuku Nuku, The Slayers Movie and the Nadesico movie.

The Anime Network is receiving a very positive response with various cable providers actively seeking out ADV in order to add it to their systems. In all likelyhood The Anime Network will be showing up on your local provider very soon. There is some doubt as to getting it on satellite systems due to the nature of TAN's current architecture but ADV hope's to expand the concept into a linear channel as well as an on-demand channel. Mr. Williams also stated that TAN will not be restricted to ADV's library of titles and has been talking to other anime companies with regard to getting some of their titles on the network as well.

Cartoon Network's Giant Robot Week did very well for ADV garnering them a great deal of exposure. As a result ADV is talking with Cartoon Network about the possibility of acquiring some ADV titles to air on either Toonami or Adult Swim. So far these talks are in very preliminary stages and we will have to wait and see if anything develops.

Angelic Layer has completed pre-production work and is ready to move into the production stage.

Najica is also in production.

Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Shiki is due by the end of Summer.

Lady Death is still in production despite difficulties at Chaos.

Saint Seiya is in production.

ADV is now active in the role of anime production itself as it is now co-financing many new anime productions in Japan. This foreign interest in anime has reached the point where Japanese anime production companies now actively take foreign financing and licensing into consideration when planning new projects. While this is a good thing in that it keeps the anime industry running at a time when Japan's economy is in a severe slump, I am concerned that foreign market concerns to include US TV broadcast standards may start to dilute much of what makes anime unique. But then I may just be paranoid.

Another area in which ADV is expanding its interest is in retro-anime. Mr. Williams and many of the staff at ADV are fans of classic anime shows going back to the early '70s. With shows like Aura Battler Dunbine, Southern Cross and Mospeada due out from the firm, ADV is looking to giving proper releases to a number of classic older titles.

After Mr. Williams' panel I had an opportunity ti interview him privately. There I wanted to explore the state of ADV in particular and the state of the anime industry as a whole.

It was gratifying to hear that at a time where the American economy is considered to be in the doldrums ADV is doing well enough to expand both literally and figuratively. ADV is constructing new facilities in Houston to accomodate all the new work coming their way. In addition they are seeking new voice talent to expand their stable of actors (those of you with voice actor ambitions start polishing your resumes).

In addition ADV is looking to expand beyond being an anime company to becoming a full entertainment company. In addition to their translations of live-action Japanese films they have the rights to Tribune Entertainment titles like Andromeda and Farscape. ADV did not completely discount the possibility of financing further seasons of Farscape. However I was assured that despite whatever growth ADV experiences in the future, anime will remain at ADV's heart. While I was glad to hear that I still have to wonder what will happen to ADV when David Williams is no longer at the helm.

ADV is looking to expand their anime interests into the areas of anime merchandise. With the return of ADV Music the firm is looking at other types of merchandise such as books, toys and the like. ADV is aware of Bandai's foray into multimedia releases with their .hack project and would like to embark on a similar project of its own.

Certainly of interest is ADV's venture into independent productions of its own with a new branch called ADV Pro. They are currently producing an animated version of David Weber's book Mutineer's Moon (www.mutineersmoon.com).

And despite all this growth and activity ADV Films still remains a privately held company. While Mr. Williams freely admits there's a lot he can do with the capital that would be generated by going public he still cherishes the control he has over ADV and the projects they take on.

Big things are happening in Houston.

Hilary Haag II

Today also afforded me the opportunity for a private interview with Hilary Haag. If you think Hilary Haag is cute from thirty feet, wait until you see her at two.

Her two most difficult roles to date, she says, are Dortin and Chloe. Dortin was a challenge because of the rather unusual voice she gave the character. As for Chloe, the character's quiet, emotionless nature resulted in lots of retakes looking for just the right intonations.

In reference to her role in Chance Pop Sessions Ms. Haag emphasized that she is not a singer. While she states that no one would want to hear her sing, I wouldn't mind at all. It will be interesting should ADV acquire any more musicals and get the music rights to go with them.

Super Techno Arts (A.P.P.P.)

Super Techno Arts is the US arm of the Japanese production house A.P.P.P. They are working three titles for release to the US market. They are JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Robot Carnival and Sci-Fi Harry. Currently JoJo is their flagship title and is occupying all of their attention at the moment. Super Techno Arts is a company that is certainly receiving a lot of heat from the fan community due to their not yet having a product on the shelves. JoJo has a lot of fans looking forward to this release.

I met with Cindy Yamauchi of STA as well as Mr. Kazufumi Nomura, President of A.P.P.P. In addition I met with Mr. Brian Ray of Raven's Eye Productions.

STA is well aware of the concerns fans have and is working to adress them. They are projecting a possible summer release of the first of the JoJo DVDs. STA is situated as the US distributor of A.P.P.P.'s titles and have no interest in licensing titles of other firms. They are also aware of the immense popularity anime is acheiving on TV and have not ruled out the possibility of TV airings of their titles. In fact one of their projected titles, Robot Carnival, was aired by The Sci Fi Channel back when it was still held by Streamline.

Manga Entertainment

Manga Entertainment had no new acquisitions to announce but they are proceding on the titles they have acquired. Currently they are working on Read or Die, Kaidoumaru and Street Fighter Alpha II. Like so many other anime companies Manga Entertainment is looking to the opportunities presented by TV's interest in anime and is shopping its titles around for possible broadcast. So far Ghost in the Shell, the title that put Manga Entertainment on the map, has seen numerous airings on premium movie channels.

Also like other anime companies, Manga Entertainment is co-financing new anime productions in Japan. They are also looking to expand into anime merchandise.

Urban Vision

Urban Vison announced no new titles. They are aware of fan demand for the completion of Strange Dawn but currently all of their attention is consumed by Ninja Scroll TV.

Broccoli

Synch-Point remains Broccoli's US distributor and they, in fact, own Synch-Point.

They did announce that Galaxy Angel had been acquired but would not say by whom.

Di Gi Charat is currently in licensing Hell. Apparently so many people own so many pieces of it that sorting it all out to the point where an actual license can be sold is going to take some time.

Unlike the other anime firms Broccoli seems to have no interest in getting their titles aired on US TV. Admittedly the titles they currently hold would be difficult to market to US broadcasters. Neither FLCL nor Tenshi ni Narumon can be considered conventional titles by any means.

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