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ANNCast - The Life and Kime of Geneon, USA


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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 1679
Location: Los Angeles, CA
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:08 pm Reply with quote
A couple little notes...

rinmackie: I share your frustration, but it certainly wasn't for lack of trying on anime companies' parts in general. Geneon had several people whose SOLE JOBS it was to try to get any and every company to play their shows on their tv/cable/satellite/hand-crank-projector-in-the-back-of-a-speakeasy. Nobody cared. Network execs, by and large, would not give them a chance. Most were TV sales reps with years of experience. They took out booths at trade shows like MIP-TV and Licensing International. But the TV execs "didn't get it." Every anime company had one (or more) of these guys, and most of them quit after a few years out of frustration.

Dunno what's going on at IFC, but given that they're also home to Whitest Kids (which I love but seems to be kryptonite to anyone over 40), they must have some young guys at least partially in charge of programming over there.

Baltomoron: I agree that Bebop probably sold in the mid-to-low 100,000s, like a decent indie movie of the era. (Today, of course, indie movies are in as bad a place as anime, if not worse.) The only anime to sell mainstream numbers is the Ghibli stuff from Disney, FFVII Advent Children and Pokémon. I might be missing a few, but that's pretty much it.
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redcar



Joined: 04 Jun 2009
Posts: 165
Location: Texas
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:22 pm Reply with quote
Thank you both very much for getting this kind of discussion on the show. I'm glad we finally get a chance to know the full details on what happened with Geneon.

I'm pretty sure I still have my KiSS dolls of Rei and Ami somewhere on my old desktop, along with tiny profile pictures of all the characters from Lodoss War TV. Oh the memories...

As for Cardcaptor Sakura, it makes me sad that it didn't do so well. I have always hated Nelvana for what they did to it, and this new information doesn't help my view of them. I'm certainly glad that I immediately bought Geneon's boxsets when they first came out; that was probably one of the best $200 I ever spent. Now if only the price for the Blu-Ray remastering would come down out of the clouds...
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Prede



Joined: 17 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:27 pm Reply with quote
jsevakis wrote:

Baltomoron: I agree that Bebop probably sold in the mid-to-low 100,000s, like a decent indie movie of the era. (Today, of course, indie movies are in as bad a place as anime, if not worse.) The only anime to sell mainstream numbers is the Ghibli stuff from Disney, FFVII Advent Children and Pokémon. I might be missing a few, but that's pretty much it.


I think your missing Naruto, DBZ, and Afro Samuri, right? I was under the impression they were still printing money for these companies. Like a lot of money. Pokemon while always on the top ten selling anime in the U.S. lists I see, seems to be lower then these three at least.
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CareyGrant



Joined: 18 Nov 2009
Posts: 453
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:55 pm Reply with quote
Great Interview! Indeed, one of the most informative to date; Chad Kime was very engaging and knowledgeable. I could, like others, have listened to more. Indeed, I found myself wanting to hear more (and economics usually bores me to tears). It was just so... fascinating.

And I can't help but be stunned by the self-sabotage and self-defeating attitudes, practices, and the lack of proper support within the industry; definitely a "lost in translation" between the Japanese and American business model, or it would seem, even common business sense.

One can't help but wonder about how a Superpower like Disney will effect the anime industry and relations between East and West, what with their broadcasting Shippuden on DisneyXD. I mean, in the game of who's got the bigger stick, Disney's got Japan beat. It isn't like dealing with Funi or ADV, etc. etc.

Most Satisfactory.

And Baccano... yeah, the beginning madness really shot itself in the foot for me. A good show, and better than what's come recently, but poor marks for execution and stumbling out of the gates. That and once the story is further flushed out, it sounds very much like treading on old ground.

Personally, I'd love to know how Beebop (my personal favorite) sold, as well.
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luffypirate



Joined: 06 Oct 2006
Posts: 3172
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:48 pm Reply with quote
Charred Knight wrote:
CCSYueh wrote:
Charred Knight wrote:

I am sorry, I am not rich, if I did win the lottery than I am sure to buy it.


It's not a matter of being rich. I never understood people who say they'd rather buy one title because it's cheap vs splurging for what they want. If I want Super Robot Wars, why would I buy Gundam just because it's cheaper? In the end, I'll be unhappy with the settle & I'll probably go out & buy the one I want. I mean, if I want chinese, mexican will still fill me, but I'll still be wanting chinese until I get around to buying it. Why settle?

I have about 500 Geneon dvds. Not sure how many different titles that translates to. I have Cybuster, Rumiko Takahashi Anthology. They had some great horror (Hellsing, Requiem From the Darkness)


I don't have 400+ dollars lying around to support such a ridiculous price, not when I don't have a job, and can barely buy any luxury item like anime. I can only afford anime on sale, and most of my purchases go to manga such as Negima, and FMA.


I should point out that they did say that Ikkitousen made money which supports my belief that fanservice doesn't harm sales like a lot of people think.


Its not as ridiculous as you think. I'm not rich either. It wont cost you $400+ to complete Super Robot Wars. Maybe around $320 or $350 with the OVA. I would recommend starting now though before all the reasonably priced copies have vanished from the net. Spend $35 a month and you will have everything by September. I've been obsessed with SRX for about 10 years so I definitely would have imported the R2s if I had to. Thank god BV was nice enough to give it a R1 release before they took off.
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mglittlerobin



Joined: 28 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:53 pm Reply with quote
Nice to know what happened to Geneon. Bad marketing decisions shot a good company into the toilet.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:12 pm Reply with quote
rinmackie wrote:
Thank you Mohawk, for pointing out what I've often mentioned in the past. The fact that the anime industry doesn't even try to reach out to the mainstream is to me, at least, the real reason the industry struggles so much.

I think the industry is in trouble for exactly the OPPOSITE reason. If the companies had seen what their audience was and kept things on an appropriate scale, most of the companies would have rode it out and had significant money to be ok during this period. Instead, they saw big dollar signs and thought they COULD sell "to the mainstream".

A big portions of anime (Pokemon (the big success story), Naruto, Sailor Moon, etc.) is targeted to KIDS in Japan. It may have better and more engaging stories than shows targeted to kids here, but it's the equivalent of Transformers and GI Joe. And for each "Transformers" (which was popular) there was a "Go Bots" (which wasn't) as well as plenty of "Rambo & the Force of Freedom". It's no simple thing to say "promote animated show to 'mainstream' and 'mainstream' will love show". Heck, even shows like "ER" which ARE loved by the "mainstream" can fall out of favor. How many new TV shows survive each year? Now extrapolate that percentage to anime and drop it a few notches because a segment of the population will be put off simply because it is animated. (just like a segment of the population will never buy graphic novels because "comic books are for kids")

You can change the "it's for kids" perception, but that takes a LONG time, and you're better served developing and growing your consumer BASE rather than assuming your product will live past "fad" status with the mainstream.
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KanjiiZ



Joined: 28 Jun 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Central Coast
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:15 pm Reply with quote
I feel like ANNCast screwed themselves by making this podcast episode. This podcast was so great, but it's going to be hard to make an episode as great as this one. I seriously did not skip over anything at all. You guys need more guests like this, keep it up.
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rinmackie



Joined: 05 Aug 2006
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Location: in a van! down by the river!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:34 pm Reply with quote
I'm not sure that's true Heero. For the past few years it seems to me that the anime companies have been catering heavily to the hard core crowd and I don't see where it's done that much good. Especially since a lot of otaku having been getting their anime fix from illegal fansubs and bitch and moan about the poor quality of official, legal releases. Not to mention having to pay for a dub which they consider an unnecessary extra.

I'm more of a casual anime fan but I've been into it since the late 90's but nowadays I buy more manga than anime. There just doesn't seem to be that much anime out nowadays that interest me. But I still like to buy anime (and I'm not burned out yet) but most marketing nowadays is targeted toward internet savvy teens who already deep into the fandom.

Of course, I realize the other part of the problem is the Western mindset towards animation. That needs to change and we should find ways to do that. Until then, maybe the best we can hope for is for those of my generation and younger to get in positions of power in the entertainment industry.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:02 pm Reply with quote
rinmackie wrote:
I'm not sure that's true Heero. For the past few years it seems to me that the anime companies have been catering heavily to the hard core crowd and I don't see where it's done that much good. Especially since a lot of otaku having been getting their anime fix from illegal fansubs and bitch and moan about the poor quality of official, legal releases. Not to mention having to pay for a dub which they consider an unnecessary extra.

In Japan, anime is increasingly bought buy the "hardcore" fans. Part of the RESULT of this is that a big chunk of new anime is CREATED for the "hardcore" fans. Switch to US for a second, let's assume the cost of a dub is 5 times the cost of a sub (may be more, may be less, I don't know, but a sub only needs one person (extra) whereas a dub needs separate actors for various roles plus a director, etc. (both need a translator and some other jobs))

So, assuming an anime costs 5 times more to dub you need to sell more (not necessarily proportionally considering licensing costs) to break even. Let's say you need to sell twice the volume to break even, so if you cut the dub, you can sell half as many, and break even. If your sales were 90% of the break even (with a dub) if you lose less than half your buyers on a "sub-only" you've now broken even (or maybe even made money) on what would have been a loser.

This is what companies are doing now that they should have done all along, looking at titles and saying "only hardcore fans are gonna buy this, so we're not going to waste money for 100 extra sales when we need 10,000 extra sales to justify the expense". If people will watch it online then they WILL watch a sub. So the question becomes "will they BUY a dub but not BUY a sub"? There are a LOT of people that will watch online (for "free") and not buy either one. That's just a reality, and if you kill yourself chasing the pot of gold at the end of THAT rainbow, you're going to be Geneon (or more likely, ADV).

But the idea that "English dub" = "mainstream acceptance" is a ridiculous mirage. Yes, an English dub makes a show more accessible, no argument, BUT companies need to look critically at their shows because shows aren't going to sell simply by being "accessible" anymore (assuming they ever did, even during the boom).

So, either you go with a "sell to the hardcores, and give them what they want" OR you go back to the anime industry roots and "pick out the FEW gems from the large pile and ignore the rest" like way back when they started. Because otherwise, you're losing money hand over fist trying to sell "random crap title" to Joe in Spokane who'd rather spend his money on the latest movie blockbuster DVD (which he can ALSO download online) or the newest shiniest video game or five other things that are now more popular (or becoming so) than anime fandom.
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Top Gun



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:26 pm Reply with quote
I think everything I would have wanted to say has been mentioned already, but I just wanted to chime in and thank Justin and Zac for putting together such a fantastic episode, with special thanks to Chad for taking the time to sit down and reveal all of this information. This was easily my favorite ANNCast episode so far; I spent whole stretches listening with my eyes closed, completely engrossed by what was going said. I think I could have easily listened to a whole additional hour of Chad relating the various horror stories that formed the rise and fall of Geneon. There were some truly shocking revelations in there; the self-reinforcing downward spiral the company found itself in was beyond anything I'd ever imagined. I was incredibly impressed by Chad's ability to dredge up the sales numbers and relative performances of all of those titles off the top of his head like that, though I guess that's why he had the job he did. Again, thanks, guys, for putting out such an invaluable information deluge. Smile
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Mohawk52



Joined: 16 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:58 am Reply with quote
Most of you are still talking braodcasting the programmes. I'm refering to just advertising their existance. and where the DVD's could be bought. Yes anime and mangsa is available in video, and book shops, but in my experience when I rediscovered anime and later manga I had to seek it out my self. I rediscovered it simply by chance, channel surfing back in 1999. All during my experience I have hunted in various shops only to find it on obscure shelves in back corners and not once, even now, has any been in the shop windows. Always hiden away. Manga Entertainment had the only TV advert for their titles that I have ever seen, and it was on most of the channels that have ads. (BBC is government supported so therefore has no ads.) Not sure how successful it was, but it made the hairs on the back of neck stand up seeing it for the first time, and it can't have hurt sales, only helped. Being so clandestine is so unnecessary.
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:39 am Reply with quote
Mohawk52 wrote:
Most of you are still talking braodcasting the programmes. I'm refering to just advertising their existance. and where the DVD's could be bought. Yes anime and mangsa is available in video, and book shops, but in my experience when I rediscovered anime and later manga I had to seek it out my self. I rediscovered it simply by chance, channel surfing back in 1999. All during my experience I have hunted in various shops only to find it on obscure shelves in back corners and not once, even now, has any been in the shop windows. Always hiden away. Manga Entertainment had the only TV advert for their titles that I have ever seen, and it was on most of the channels that have ads. (BBC is government supported so therefore has no ads.) Not sure how successful it was, but it made the hairs on the back of neck stand up seeing it for the first time, and it can't have hurt sales, only helped. Being so clandestine is so unnecessary.


Demonstrate to me how the cost of TV advertising could actually be justified in terms of increased sales.

If, according to the podcast, the actual TV _broadcast_ (which I would consider quite an excellent for of advertising) only increased sales of say, Samurai Champloo by 10%, then how could an expense of 10K for a TV spot ever increase sales enough to justify the cost for any particular show?

Perhaps a sustained, general marketing campaign for an entire brand would be great for overall growth, but it seems like a long shot at this juncture.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:50 pm Reply with quote
Mohawk52 wrote:
All during my experience I have hunted in various shops only to find it on obscure shelves in back corners and not once, even now, has any been in the shop windows. Always hiden away.

I don't know how it is in the UK, but Best Buy is a very large chain in the US and (until just recently) anime held a very visible and LARGE position in their stores. But ignoring that, the world of 2009 is very different from the world of 1999, and one can easily get anime (and other things) on Amazon. But ignoring THAT, (again, dunno about UK, but...) here in the US, you can find anime DVDs in Walmart. Considering that, I'm sorry, but if you don't know where to find your anime DVDs, then you don't know where to buy DVDs PERIOD. I simply CAN'T believe that more than 5-10% of US sales are lost due to "can't FIND the DVDs". Heck, if that was the one thing, we have anime CONVENTIONS in pretty much every state now, and there's always at LEAST one dealer selling anime DVDs at those.
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 1:34 pm Reply with quote
CareyGrant wrote:
And Baccano... yeah, the beginning madness really shot itself in the foot for me. A good show, and better than what's come recently, but poor marks for execution and stumbling out of the gates. That and once the story is further flushed out, it sounds very much like treading on old ground.


One of the things I'd always admired about Baccano! was that in its first episode it let you know exactly what were you were getting: a story that eschewed the whole idea of traditional narrative in favor of one that embraced the idea that everyone has their own story, and that eventually there can be no true beginnings or endings to a story since things continue on and on. If you think this is "stumbling out of the gates," well, I disagree. I think it was right on target from the outset. The first episode or two can be confusing, but for me the vibrant characters it created were enough to tide me over until it began to all start making sense. The second time through I appreciated the oddness of the first episode even more.

Nor do I think this was "old ground." Baccano! is pretty delightfully original in its quirkiness, which is tied tightly to its irreverent nose-thumbing at what we think stories are "supposed" to be. It took a big risk and managed to pull off the tenuous balance that running three simultaneous story lines entails. I've been reading the books online (which I hate doing, would somebody please license them?), and if you want a slightly more conventional style of the same stories, you can read those. But even there it jumps around from character to character and uses achronic leaps to build up humor and suspense.

If all this turns you off from the get go, Baccano! is probably not for you. Rent the first DVD, watch it, and you should pretty much know if you'll like the rest.

I do kind of wish they'd done a 5-4-4-3 release, though, and given the OVAs their own DVD. They're a separate "epilogue," with the main three threads resolving in episode 13 and 14-16 introducing new characters and a short story to give a little more closure to some of the story threads - though not complete closure, because a person's story only ends when they die and that's not an option for much of Baccano!'s cast.

(I've got this sucker pre-ordered in its box set for Xmas. Hopefully most Baccano! fans who were hesitant to buy singles will do the same. Funimation deserves support for having licensed something as unconventional as this.)
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