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Anime Central 2004
Anime Central: Geneon Entertainment

by Christopher Macdonald & Mikhail Koulikov,
Studio Representative: Kevin Chu
Animation Producer

Mr. Chu started the Geneon Entertainment panel with, as he put it, "why you're here." He then announced the following four new acquisitions:

- Burn Up! Scramble
- Cybuster
- Saiyuki Reload
- Lunar Legend: Tsukihime

Because of contractual obligations and other factors, Geneon will not be using the voice actors from the original Saiyuki series, currently being released by ADV Films.

Tsukihime will be released on three DVDs, with the first coming out in October. The release of Burn Up!: Scramble will also span three volumes, with the first due out in November. The release of Cybuster will consist of approximately six volumes and should also be out in November. A volume 1 plus collector's box package will also be made available for each title. All these release plans are tentative.

Soundtrack licenses

New soundtracks set to be released in the next several months include Refrain of Evangelion, and Evangelion - Day of Second Impact; R.O.D -The TV- OST Volume 2, Abenobashi Magical Shopping District Volume 1 and others. As first implied at Anime Boston, whenever a CD that is being released includes a drama track, they will try to make a translation available in the booklet or on the Geneon website.

Regarding the lengths of anime titles announced earlier in the year:

Demon Lord Dante: 4 volumes
Dokkoider: 4 volumes
Fighting Spirit: "quite a few" volumes, each containing four or five episodes
Gungrave: 7 volumes
Ikkitosen: 4 volumes
Requiem from the Darkness: 4 volumes
Stellvia: 8 volumes
Fushigi Yuugi: 8 volumes, six or seven episodes per volume, $24.95 MSRP
R.O.D -The TV-: 7 volumes
Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~ 3 volumes
Gad Guard: 7 volumes

The first volumes of Ikki Tousen and Stellvia will also be made available with collector's box sets. In the case of Stellvia, the box will be metal, while the box for Ikki Tousen will include a sports towel and a bead earring.

Each volume of Read or Die will contain a mini-pencilboard, using artwork from the limited-edition cards included in the Japanese release.

While answering questions from the audience, Mr. Chu discussed a number of topics related to Geneon as a company.

Regarding the possibility of Geneon publishing translated manga, he remarked that while this has been given general consideration, no progress is expected, as Geneon seeks to concentrate on developing existing anime and music properties.

As for the Ani-Mayhem card game, it is not something that Geneon expects to continue. Licensing for the different properties was too complicated.

Geneon previously released, in Anime Insider Magazine, a promotional DVD with one sample episode from various series. Based on its effectiveness, further production and distribution of sampler disks containing single episodes of several series may be considered. However, some titles may not be available due to contracts with Japanese production companies that specifically prohibit such bundling.

Art Boxes are not profitable for the company. Echoing what has already been said by other companies, he said that Geneon produces the boxes as a service for consumers. But it is their hope that it will benefit the company indirectly by encouraging people to buy the entire series.

Given the generally favorable reception of DVD boxes, Geneon has considered producing CD boxes for titles that it has released multiple soundtracks for. CD releases in general are not yet sufficiently profitable to justify producing boxes. Licenses for anime soundtracks Pioneer released in the late 1990's and early 2000's have since been lost.

Regarding bootlegs and piracy, Mr Chu remarked that Japanese companies are beginning to recognize the negative impact pirated anime and soundtracks are having on anime sales in the U.S.

Geneon Signature Series will receive a couple more titles, the success of the current and upcoming series will determine whether or not Geneon will continue the imprint.

Regarding the change of ownership, it was explained that Pioneer, being a hardware company originally, wanted to return to its hardware roots and so sold its entertainment arm to Dentsu. Although it appears too early to be certain, Mr. Chu is hopeful that the change will create an environment that will allow them to license and release more titles. More details about this and the new name can be found in previous articles here.

Geneon is looking into methods to lower the price at which its DVDs are sold at the retail level. Although Geneon titles have similar MSRP prices as other distributors, the sales prices tend to be higher. Geneon is working to lower MSRP price, with several titles already at $24.98. He stated, "We are looking for way to bring price down and keep quality up and make enough profit to bring in new titles, whose prices keep going up."

He referred to acquiring titles during the early production as risky. Sometimes they are let down by the quality of the final product. He also explained that early hype can also be harmful if people set their expectations too high.

Anything produced in anamorphic widescreen will be released in anamorphic widescreen if possible, all dependent on what Geneon can acquire from Japan.

Regarding the reason most anime DVDs do not have commentary tracks, Mr. Chu pointed out that it is a cost issue. It is expensive and time consuming, both on the production and the DVD authoring levels, to produce the tracks. However Geneon is looking into more commentary tracks (there will be one on each volume of R.O.D -The TV-) for future releases.

This article has been verified by Mr. Chu for its accuracy.

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