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Anime Central 2003
Friday Industry Panels

Company Representative: Sakurai Susumu, editor

Mr. Sakurai Susumu of Raijin Comics held the first Industry panel at Anime Central.

Having only premiered their weekly manga publication earlier this year, Raijin had no new licenses to announce. Mr. Susumu did ask what kind of titles the audience would like to see published in the future. Mr. Susumu mentioned that a number of manga artists are now drawing political stories in the same vein as First President of Japan.

It was explained that Raijin Games and Anime, or "Fujin" was folded into Raijin not because of poor sales but because printing costs were too high and the staff resources can be best managed with one publication.

Coming out in Japan soon is Shin Hokuto no Ken, a "total remake" of Fist of the North Star, according to Mr. Susumu. It features an intro song by Gackt, who is also one of the voice actors. This is Gackt's first time as a voice actor, although Gackt has already acted in the live action movie Moonchild.

Upcoming graphic novels:
June: First of the Blue Sky, City Hunter, Slam Dunk, The First President of Japan
July: Grappler Baki

Raijin graphic novels will be released at prices "comparable to other US releases."

Studio Representative: Stephen Tang

Pioneer's Panel at Anime Central was slightely delayed as singer Yoko Ishida's concert ran late. While waiting for Ms. Ishida, Mr. Tang held a Q&A session.

Once fully underway, the panel had one major announcement, Pioneer had licensed all 12 episodes of the Someday's Dreamer's TV series that aired in Japan this winter. At this time there is no release date announced, although a 2004 release is probable.

With regards to the Mahoromatic year end specials, Pioneer is currently negotiating for the right to release them. The two year end specials feature a look back at the season, using footage from the season but featuring new vocal material.

Pioneer's upcoming release of Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo has been remastered with a 5.1 audio track and will feature re-mastered video. The DVD will be anamorphic. It was also explained that some of the edits to the TV series occurred because there had already been a lawsuit in Europe regarding some of the trademarks used in the series.

All Pioneer slipcase boxes for future titles will be limited edition boxes. This contrasts the corporate philosophy of other companies such as ADV Films' (below).

Pioneer intends whenever possible to release DVDs in cases that look as close as possible to the original Japanese release. A copy of the first volume of Haibane Renmei was shown alongside the first Japanese volume to illustrate this point.

The Sakura Taisen movie will see release in September 2003. Two versions of the DVD will be released. One will contain only the movie, while the other will include a limited edition pencil board.

Following this, Mr. Tang re-iterated a number of upcoming releases:

Heat Guy J will be released over 7 volumes, with 4 episodes per volume. The first volume will be released in two formats, the regular edition with the DVD only for $29.98, and the boxed version that includes the series artbox, the first DVD and the extras disc. Both will be released on July 29th.

Haibane Renmei will also come out in 2 versions, the standard release will feature the DVD and a mini pencil board for $29.98. The boxed version will include the DVD, a Slipcase the mini pencil board and another extra pencil board.

Master Keaton will be released over 8 vols with 5 eps per vol except for the last DVD, which will have 4 episodes. Volume 1 comes out on June 6th.

Studio Representative: Saki Yamashita

Synch-Point reiterated their licenses of the DigiCharat Movie and the Leave it to Piyoko! OAVs, originally announced at Anime Boston. Synch-Point hinted that Aquarian Age may be optioned, but that they currently have "no plans" regarding this or any other title.

The second volume of I'm Gonna Be An Angel will be released late this summer. The first volume was released on DVD in April, 2002. Synch-Point will be doing away with the two dubtitle tracks on I'm Gonna Be An Angel, volume two will only have the "fan-friendly" track that includes honorifics.

The Pillows music video will be included on the 3rd volume of FLCL, due out on July 22nd.

Explaining Synch-Point's slow DVD release schedule, Ms. Yamashita stated that the delays were due in part to their limited production staff, but also because of their rigorous quality checking process. To their credit, to date, there have been no complaints of any defects on any of the Synch-Point DVD releases.

Synch-Point/Anime Gamers! will have a joint booth with Gainax at Fanime next month. They will be selling exclusive Gainax merchandise, as well as FLCL 3 and box a month before it's general release date.

Studio Representative: Keith Burgess

Manga Entertainment had no licensing announcements to make, but Manga does hold the option to Read or Dream. According to Burgess, "We would be kinda stupid if we didn't [license it].”

The 10th Anniversary release of Ninja Scroll is due out on June 24th. It will be released on two DVDs, the first with the original version, and the second with the newly remastered version and "lots of extras." Although they had previously discussed a theatrical release, there are no theatrical releases currently planned.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 starts production in early September. Manga hopes to include a featurette about the CG production of SFA2 on the DVD when it is released in North America.

Gunbuster will be released on DVD in late October either on a DVD-10 (Double sided, single layer) or on 2 discs. They have no plans to dub Gunbuster because they don't feel that it needs a dub and they do not want to risk the possibility of a bad dub on such a classic.

On the other hand, if they re-do Dangaioh they would like to produce a new dub and a new subtitle track. Same goes for Macross Plus, they would like to re-master and re-dub them, but Burgess stated that doing so might spark a whole “Harmony Gold thing,” referring to the continued threat from Harmony Gold that they will sue anyone who releases or imports anything related to Macross. Nonetheless, Manga would love to license Macross 7, but it, like Memories, remains significantly too expensive for any North American Anime studio to license.

Mr. Burgess noted that the 10th anniversary of Ghost in the Shell is quickly approaching, but did not mention any preparations yet for the film's anniversary.

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