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Sakuracon 2005
Sakuracon - A.D. Vision

by Kyle Pope,
This year's panel was conducted by David Williams however like the other industry panels he had no new titles to announce. He did have much to report on the state of ADV and the anime industry in general though. As things are right now the anime market is leveling out. There has been no significant sales growth over the past year as there was in previous years. Currently retailers have no plans on increasing their shelf space devoted to anime so competition among companies and titles for access to that space is heavy. This has caused ADV to make some of their titles available only on-line through their web site or through anime specialty shops as big retailers are only interested in titles guaranteed to sell well. It will also slow the rate at which new titles are released in the coming months. ADV is exploring other ways of distributing its content through downloads, on-line streaming or Pay-Per-View. The company itself is still doing well and its titles are selling. They have met or exceeded sales goals for the past three months. However the market is getting saturated so the future of the anime industry looks to be very interesting at the moment.

The Anime Network VOD channel is doing extremely well for ADV but they are having difficulty convincing cable providers of the viability of the linear channel. Many providers still aren't convinced that there's sufficient demand for a 24/7 anime channel. The linear channel is doing well in those markets where it has been tried though. ADV is negotiating with satellite providers to carry the linear channel. ADV has expreience the problem of large cable providers starting their own VOD anime service in competition with The Anime Network.

As to ADV's anime titles they are exploring the concept of Perfect Collection releases where older titles can be acquired without extras for a lower price point. This is still in the study phase so no titles are planned for such a release as yet. Princess Tutu volume #2 is complete but there is no announced release date for it. Princess Tutu is a show David Williams is very fond of (as am I) and he will be conducting a campaign pushing it at future conventions. Princess Tutu has the problem that it is a very difficult show to classify. Hopefully greater exposure among the fans will prompt ADV to give it a more timely release schedule. Kaleido Star: New Wings is also on hiatus due to other commitments by the director. No date was given as to when work would resume on the title and when we can expect to start seeing it in the stores. Magical Girl shows are a difficult sell to retailers right now and Princess Tutu definitely falls into that category and Kaleido Star: New Wings has the characteristics of a Magical Girl show to those uninitiated to the differences.

ADV has gotten strong negative reaction to the marketing of Gantz but nonetheless the title is selling well. Gantz is an experiment in how to lower the price of an individual DVD as ADV was receiving complaints that for a lot of people ~$30.00 per DVD can be expensive. Gantz was chosen as the experiment because ADV wanted a title that was well known and highly anticipated. Had they chosen a lesser title it might have been argued that sales were low because the title wasn't that hot. With Gantz they would know that low sales were due to the episode count. Personally I would prefer a higher episode count per DVD if for no other reason than storage.

ADV's experiments with Old School anime and shoujo titles are a mixed bag. Because of the phenominal growth of anime in prior years ADV was free to experiment with titles not in keeping with the mainstream of titles being released. ADV released older classic titles like Aura Battler Dunbine as well as shoujo titles like Prétear and D.N.Angel. Prétear was a good seller for ADV though not spectacular while D.N.Angel is doing very well. However the both the shoujo and the Old School are now difficult to push to retailers in the currently static anime market. Regrettable since a lot of shoujo titles are some of the best shows out there and Fruits Basket confirmed the sizable female demographic out buying anime that appeals to them. Despite this ADV does not have the rights to the remainder of Super GALS!.

We got to meet the Suck Bunny. For those not familiar the Suck Bunny is a Happy Tree Friends plushie. A smiling bunny with "You suck Big Time" written on its chest. This bunny used to grace the recording studios at ADV and was used to "inspire" actors having difficulty getting a line right. Now Suck Bunny makes the rounds at cons and now has a con badge produced for it by Robert Dejesus.

ADV has theatrical rights to Makoto Shinkai's (Hoshi no Koe aka Voice of a Distant Star) new anime movie Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho. However David Williams can neither confirm nor deny acquisition of the DVD rights. I'd be very surprised if ADV didn't get them. ADV's proposed project of a sequel to BGC 2040, titled BGC 2041, probably isn't going to happen though.

Non-anime related, ADV's live action line is doing very well for it. Particularly the Korean features. Mutineer's Moon has now entered the production phase. Live action Eva is in production but no updates as to where in the process it stands.

ADV also announced that they had been approached by Sony to produce content for the PSP. This strongly suggests that Sony is interested in securing anime content for the device and is approaching other companies as well. ADV is considering it but wants to see how well the PSP does in the market before commiting to such a project.

While I would have liked to have heard some new announcements the news from ADV is largely good. While the anime industry is as subject to business cycles as any other business they are not suffering. Things look like they will calm down in the anime realm for a while but we will still be getting our fill of titles for the time being.

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