I am sort of worried about something right now. Its as if that in some strange way, history is about to repeat itself.
On February 13 2002, we heard the news that many anime fans had waited to hear, the Marmalade Boy
anime had been picked up for North American release. TOKYOPOP
had made the news known on a press release
that day. The details at the time were for the first 24 episodes of the 78 episode saga, along with the movie prequel, naturally TOKYOPOP
had the option to pick up more. Finally the long awaited anime that helped spawn many of North America's anime fans was finally being given its chance in the domestic market.
The first volume of Marmalade Boy
on DVD was initially set for July 2001. Then it got delayed to November. Then it got delayed one more time with no real indication of when it would finally come out.
The whole story sounds just like another shojo
anime that went through the same type of delays.
I believe it was in 1998, Right Stuf
announced they picked up the domestic rights to a handful of titles, among them was Gainax
's much talked about Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
(His and Her Circumstances
Well there is a personal dimension I'll add to this. 1998 was also the year I became president of my anime club. Now as you might guess, finding stuff to show at the time wasn't easiest thing to do. But if there was something I would always do, it was to always respect the commercial rights. My belief was that a fansub
of a title would only be used if it didn't have a domestic pick up. Otherwise we'd wait for it. Boy times have changed, now clubs have a lot to choose from, and my stance on showing such fansubs has softened a little (I'd still be hesitant on them today, but ultimately flexible).
In 1999, people tried to push me to start showing His and Hers, but I held firm. I vehemently said not until we see Right Stuf
's version. You would not believe the arguments I got into over the hesitancy of showing this one title. Enough people told me that if Right Stuf
hadn't done it now, they will never do it. I still believed in waiting for it, and I still had to defend my reasons for doing so (things I won't share here…this is a family column after all).
Of course as many of you know, the first two volumes of His and Her Circumstances
finally came out on DVD last year after about 4 years of waiting. Honestly, it was worth the wait, this is one of the most detailed, extensive, and labour intensive anime DVDs I have ever seen. Really I never paid any attention to the show until the commercial version came out because of its known complexity in translating, and I am happy I did. Right Stuf
has done a lot of justice to this title. I highly recommend this series.
But now I am seeing it again with Marmalade Boy
. Just before the end of 2002, bootleg DVDs of the anime started appearing. I started getting people telling me that TOKYOPOP
has dropped the ball again and that they'll settle with these bootlegs. If they haven't released it yet, they'll never do it. And once again, I am becoming very upset people would say that.
I never showed His and Her Circumstances
in my time as an anime club president. I felt doing so would be a cop out to many of the things I believed in at the time, things I still very much believe in today. It really comes down to giving companies a chance to get it right for us the viewer, and us respecting their rights as the owners of these properties. We're not doing any favours by just dismissing their efforts so quickly.
Its not as if Right Stuf
are huge monolith companies buying out the rights to obscure stuff, then not releasing them so that it won't undermine their own in house properties. These are small enough companies who aren't buying the rights to these titles just because. They are looking for a return of some sort. And these shows are their property.
Now having said that, I can make some suggestions for the companies. When you make a big announcement over an acquisition, you put yourself on some sort of invisible clock towards making an announcement for a firm release date. Obviously the longer you wait, the worst it gets PR wise. Once you make a date, obviously be very sure of it and stick to it, especially if it's a high profile title. My ideal turnaround would be a release date would be no more than a year after an initial acquisition announcement, with the announcement of that release date anytime within that twelve month window. Here's some examples of good ones.
Pioneer I think has played its cards pretty well over their latest acquisitions. They announced titles like Vandread
Second Stage, Ai Yori Aoshi
, Master Keaton
during the summer at Anime Expo. They followed it up nicely by announcing their release dates just before the end of the year. Those release dates will be within the next two to three months (First quarter of 2003).
Bandai confirmed their acquisition of Love Hina
at Anime Expo in 2001. We started seeing the DVDs by the beginning of 2002.AnimEigo
really started talking about their Kimagure Orange Road TV
DVDs in the summer of 2001. They placed up their preorders in the fall of that year. Despite the delays, the DVDs still made it to Spring 2002. It helped them public relations wise that AnimEigo
really kept fans informed of any information and delays in its production.ADV
usually remains very coy about many of their acquisitions because I think they have a sense of that invisible clock I am referring to. But they usually pour on the promotions with con announcements press releases when they are VERY firm on release dates, which are usually no more than six months ahead of them.
In defence of both Right Stuf
, at the times of their respective acquisitions, neither had really established themselves as studios in North America. Right Stuf
was more known as an online and catalogue anime store, which has since established itself as a production house with a pretty decent library. TOKYOPOP
really hasn't established themselves in terms of anime with only about half a dozen titles on the market at the moment. Their bigger focus has been on their manga line...and we know how that's going. If they can shift their focus well when they do come to their anime, it should be fine too. In my eyes, they've struck gold with GTO
. 2003 should be a big year for them, I consider Marmalade Boy
one of their key titles this year along with Initial D
Still that doesn't change the fact that we're almost near the one year anniversary of TOKYOPOP
's announcement of their acquisition of Marmalade Boy
. Its pretty obvious we'll go past that. I just hope we don't go too far past it before we actually see the first DVD.
Hey we've waited the better part of five years…what's a few more months? What's a few more years? I think there's a difference.
Tell me what you think? [email protected]