Anime Expo 2008
by Evan Miller,
Panelists: Calene Chun, Michael Huh
ImaginAsian's Michael Huh started the panel, one of the last industry sessions of the 2008 Anime Expo, by announcing that Charter, Time Warner, Champion and Cox cable are all offering the network in the LA Area, but unfortunately the channel is not available on Dish Network or DirecTV yet. He mentioned that Dallas, Houston, Hawaii, New Jersey, and the San Francisco Bay Area have cable companies that carry the channel. IATV is continuously looking to improve coverage, so ppotential viewers who want to receive the channel are being asked to contact either their local cable operator or ImaginAsian itself to request coverage in their area.
In terms of content, the network offers variety shows, movies and other Asia-focused content, including anime. Programs are, on the whole, shown in their original language and subtitled in English. Huh stressed the mission of the network, saying that, “the network represents Asians, but it is not exclusively for them – it's for anyone with an interest in the culture and to appreciate the influence of Asia.”
The network is planning to launch a show called Popper, a program on game shows, the game show format, and what you should and should not watch. It is also working on original programming, especially in the Los Angeles area. Huh mentioned that there will be open auditions for these programs announced in the future. Another Imaginasian offering is an online radio channel that highlights Asian artists.
Currently, ImaginAsian operates two theaters: one in downtown LA between 2nd and 3rd street, and one in midtown Manhattan. The venues are not only places to showcase culture, but also serve as venues for meetings and events. In addition to screening already released Asian films, ImaginAsian is also beginning to develop its own original movies.
A promo reel for the channel was shown, including the reality show Finding My America, the comedies Uncle Morty's Dub Shack and Comedy Zen, the mixed martial arts (MMA) program Pancrase, and Pulse, a music video program. The reel also highlighted iaTV's home on the web, iaTV.tv. Distribution and promotion of Asian films via the ImaginAsian Pictures line was showcased as well.
Next, Huh and Chun talked about the film Canary, which is based on the events surrounding the apocalyptic Aum Shinrikyo cult's 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. The film opens at the ImaginAsian theaters on July 25 in NY and August 8 in LA.
For anime-related programming, Huh mentioned that the network still has the content from Geneon and TMS. Thanks to a new partnership with Bandai Entertainment, the channel will begin a block of Bandai programming on Wednesdays starting August 6 called The Block - Fueled by Bandai. The block features both anime and live-action dramas. The programs included in the block are My-HiME, Scrapped Princess, Planetes, and Ghost Slayers Ayashi. The block will also feature the live action series Bloodhound and The Great Horror Family. In the future, other live-action and anime titles will be featured in the block, including Rocket Girls, My-Otome, Mars Daybreak, and Toward the Terra.
The promo reel for the block also included clips from the Cowboy Bebop television series and movie and Final Fantasy: Advent Children. No air dates for either of the three have been set. According to Huh, all of the anime that will run in the block will be screened with the original Japanese voice track and English subtitles. Imaginasion now also has the rights to rebroadcast the classic dubbed live-action series Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, which originally aired in Japan during the 1967-1968 season as Giant Robo, the basis for the retro anime of the same title.
As the panel opened for audience questions, one attendee asked about the availability of TMS Classics releases. Huh stressed that although the Titlematch format for distributing the DVDs has failed, the company is looking for a way to provide an alternative means of delivery. Huh said that he hopes to show more classic anime on the network, and that they are in negotiations with “smaller companies” for titles.