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Anime Central 2008
Bandai Entertainment

by Jason Green,

Bandai Entertainment's Robert Napton opened what should have been a four-hour block of industry panels taking up the bulk of Anime Central's Saturday afternoon programming. Bandai did not have any new announcements to share, and took up most of the hour by screening trailers for upcoming shows to whet the appetite of the near-capacity room.

After breaking the crowd in with some scenes from the recently released Lucky Star, Bandai jumped to future releases with Ghost Slayers Ayashi (a.k.a. Ayakashi Ayashi), the first volume of which is scheduled for a September 2nd release. Two DVDs featuring the series' first 10 episodes will be released, both as individual volumes and as a two-in-one collector's edition. The collector's edition will feature a 16-page guidebook from the Japanese release and the first volume of the Ghost Slayers Ayashi manga, which Bandai is also releasing.

Big episode counts is the ongoing theme in the upcoming releases Bandai chose to push this weekend: Toward the Terra's first volume (due July 15) features eit episodes, Rocket Girls bows October 7 with all 13 episodes in one collection, and Gurren Lagann will see three nine-episode, sub-only sets released monthly beginning in July (with a hybrid version to follow early next year). The 4-episode My-Otome Zwei OAV series (due October 7) was previewed, as well as the Gundam Seed Destiny TV movies (due June 17th). Bandai was also proud to show off MS Gundam 00, which will be released toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2009. Bandai hinted there was a "very strong chance" the show will be broadcast on American television.

The company's biggest push over the coming months, however, would go toward The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which will get a limited theatrical release in both dubbed and subbed format. The theatrical version will roll out in New York and Los Angeles in June, followed by Seattle in August, and seven to 10 more theatres between then and the film's DVD release in November. A collector's edition release will feature a bonus disc of special features as well as a soundtrack CD.

Bandai Entertainment closed its presentation with discussion of the impending re-release of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which marks the company's first foray into the Blu-ray Disc format. The ensuing Q&A session included many questions regarding the new format, including what possible other titles may see a Blu-ray release. Bandai was careful not to prematurely announce any particular titles, but implied that some of the more popular older releases were the more likely candidates.

As mentioned previously, Bandai did not make any major announcements at the convention, and said instead that its previously planned announcement would have to be delayed. An off-hand mention during the Q&A session of an eventual Eureka 7 movie was enough to get the crowd excited, but it was as close to news as this particular panel got.

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