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Anime Expo 2008
Bandai Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Robert Napton and Ken Iyadomi were the Bandai Entertainment representatives at their company's Friday afternoon panel at Anime Expo. While mentioning that Bandai was ready to announce several new licenses, they opened the hour with a review of recent and immediately forthcoming releases.

As Bandai announced already, the DVD release of Code Geass will come in three separate parts, starting in August. On August 5, the Code Geass volume 1 limited edition package will hit the streets, priced at US$74.99. It will contain two DVDs with the first nine episodes of the series, the first volume of the Code Geass manga, a soundtrack CD, and uniquely, the Code Geass Sound Episode CD dubbed into English by the voice actors from the show's main cast. Fans who for whatever reason are not interested in this package will be able to acquire either the "Season 1, Part 1" box, collectign the first nine episodes without the manga and CDs, or either of two standard DVDs of five and four episodes each. In the fall, and then once again in the first months of 2009, the same release pattern will be used to bring out the remaining episodes of Code Geass' first season.

A similar pattern is also set for Ghost Slayers Ayashi. The limited edition collector's box will be packaged with the first volume of the manga as well as an exclusive art book. Previously reported at 16 pages, it will actually be significantly longer. The Ghost Slayers Ayashi trailer screened

In general, Bandai is moving away from single-DVD releases, and beginning to embrace release patterns that bring out standard 26-episode series in two to three individual sets.

Other anime on the Bandai release calendar for the remainer of the year include the Toward the Terra television series, My-Otome Zwei (the limited edition of which will contain a t-shirt and a pencil board), the Tamagochi and Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Agent Aika, the remaining three Gundam Seed Destiny Movie volumes, and Gundam 00. On November 17, Gundam 00 will begin broadcasting on the Sci Fi Channel's AniMonday block. Two episodes will be screened per week, for a total of thirteen weeks.

At this April's New York Comic-Con, Bandai became one of the companies to plan releasing a series that was previously licensed for North American distribution by ADV. The subtitle-only version of the first nine episodes is currently available, the dub is set to being airing on AniMonday later in the month, and the first standard DVD, containing both the original Japanese audio track and the English dub is on track for the beginning of next year.

Like other film distributors, Bandai is beginning to make its first tentative steps into Blu-Ray. In addition to the two anime now confirmed for Blu-Ray release under the Honneamise label. Blu-Ray versions of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and Sword of the Stranger are now in production. The latter movie is also getting a theatrical release, starting on July 18 in the ImaginAsian Theater in Los Angeles and New York, expanding to 40-45 venues around the country.

As the panel wound down, Napton made two new title announcements, one each for manga and anime. To supplement the theatrical and DVD release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Bandai has acquired the rights to Ranmaru Kotone's manga based on the film. Bandai is also pleased to announce the acquisition of the 52-episode anime series Hayate the Combat Butler.

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