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New York ComicCon
NYCC - A.D. Vision

by Mikhail Koulikov,
ADV's industry panel, the first anime industry panel of the inaugural New York ComicCon, was run by Matt Greenfield, with Greg Ayres and Mari Ijima in the audience. Talking about new properties, Matt announced one completely new license, This Ugly and Beautiful World, and another, the Area 88 OAV, that had previously been released in the US on video (and one episode on DVD). He also confirmed that Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days and Anne Freaks would be added to ADV's manga line-up. Regarding Prefectural Earth Defense Force, which will be released beginning the first week of April, he stated that it would be available in some stores, but that because of how niche a title it will most likely be, it would be sold on ADV.com at essentially the same price at which it would be offered to retailers.

The remainder of the panel was devoted to discussions of delivery methods and upcoming projects. The Anime Network is now available on Cablevision, Time Warner and DirectTV and reaches a total of 24 million households (digital) and 30 million (video-on-demand.) Close to one million househoulds have The Anime Network available 24/7 via linear. ADV is also negotiating to place more titles on Adult Swim, as well as Showtime Extreme and G4TV. Going beyond cable distribution, ADV is particularly interested in "third screen" technologies such as video delivery to cellphones and video available online. One problem that has to be worked around is the fact that in many cases, ADV only has a license to distribute content in a specific geographic region. Notwithstanding, ADV has partnered with Zoovision to distribute anime content over cellphones. A 30-day package currently costs $9.99 and features access to, among others, Evangelion and Mezzo TV. each episode will be broken down into several clips that can be downloaded individually. Currently, only Cingular subscribers can get access, but this service will be available to Sprint users in the near future.

ADV is essentially pessimistic about the UMD format, and there are no plans to release any anime for the PlayStation Portable. Regarding next-generation DVD formats, Matt stated that his preference is for "whichever [format] comes out first", with a caveat that in some cases, since the ultimate Japanese corporate parent of the license-holder has a stake in either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, ADV may be contractually obligated to release that particular title in one format or the other.

In an update on the perennial question of the current status of the Evangelion movie, he mentioned that he had visited WETA earlier in the year, and that pre-production work is still very much ongoing. ADV has narrowed the list of potential directors for this project down to three, all of whom are "A-list" names with very different visions, and is currently waiting for their schedules to open. Making an interesting point about casting difficulties, Matt stated that Hideaki Anno suggested Emma Watson for the role of Asuka, but by the time filming is likely to start, she will be far too old. Ultimately, whichever actors are picked to play the four pilots, they are currently very young, and most likely, not on the general radar. As for the Farscape anime, it appears that the next step in the franchise will be a theatrical feature, and the anime series is currently a low-priority project.

Finally, Matt stated that in his opinion, the future of the anime industry in North America lies in direct sales to the customer, bypassing store distribution channels. To take advantage of this, in the near future, the ADV website will be redesigned to be more customer-friendly.

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