Anime Central 2001
ACen 2001: Media Blasters
by George Phillips,
Media Blasters has rapidly expanded from anime into the horror market. Their four tape lines are "Anime Works", "Kitty Films", "Tokyo Shock" and the latest line, "Shriek Show".
Anime Works is MB's primary anime line. Kitty is devoted to hentai and other mature anime releases. Tokyo Shock is for real-life Japanese film releases, and the new Shriek Show line is devoted to European Horror.
Magic Users Club (Mahou Tsukai Tai!) is doing very well for MB, and so they have acquired the rights to do the television series. The TV series picks up right where the OVA series left off.
Their other major title, Mezzo Forte, is slated for the end of the year. Mezzo Forte is drawn the same company that created Kite.
Speaking of Kite, the less-edited "Directors Cut" of Kite will be available on DVD in the future. A sequel, Kite 2, may be produced, too.
One of MB's earlier acquisitions, Geo Hunter Lime Bem is due out late this year or possibly next year. There isn't a rush to release this title as Magic Users Club and Kenshin are both doing very well in sales.
A recent acquisition, Space Traveler: The Animation, is due out this fall. It has been said to look like Battle of the Planets.
During the panel, John Sirabella discussed how they acquire titles, now that anime has become well established in America. Early on, Media Blasters acquired knowledge about possible licenses through fan subtitled tapes, word of mouth and instinctive reasoning. Nowadays, the company receives screeners and storyboards directly from Japanese companies, often for titles that have only just been released in Japan, or are still in production.
John also explained the reason for the lack of an English opening on the Kenshin DVDs. It appears that Sony gave permission early on to include the English version of the Judy and Mary song while they sought final confirmation from another segment of the company. It was removed from the DVD when Sony informed MB that they didn't want an English version of their song to be on the release. Future opening songs will not have accompanying English tracks.
When asked about anime on television, John told a tale of what "may have been" with Magic Knight Rayearth: Back during the days before Toonami on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon began seeking anime titles for a block similar to Toonami, but with a more kid-friendly leaning. Nickelodeon wanted to acquire Magic Knight Rayearth for this block, but wasn't happy with the dramatic nature of the series. Nick asked MB to make the show more comedic, and MB refused. "Everyone wants the next Digimon," John said. As Toonami gained a foothold on Cartoon Network, Nick abandoned its plans for an anime block and instead went to its own studios to produce animated titles more in-line with its audiences' expectations.
Finally, John wished Viz good luck with Inu Yasha, although the Viz panel would reveal no verification as to the status of this title.