Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008
by Patrick Jefferson,
Having nearly exhausted its list of upcoming releases and new licensure at previous conventions, Bandai used its industry panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008 mostly as a recap and summary of other summer announcements, save for a few additional details about specific distribution plans. Toshifumi Yoshida led the slide presentation in Robert Napton's unexpected absence, due to a personal commitment.
The session was sparsely populated and rather intimate, especially compared to the attendance at Bandai's Otakon 2008. It featured roughly 45 minutes of announcements and was followed by a brief question and answer session for the remainder of the session. A theatrical trailer accompanied each announcement.
Bandai plans to continue along general industry shifts towards television and digital distribution in response to changing fan preferences and demands. Yoshida noted that the final episodes of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are set to air this weekend, with Gundam 00 scheduled to fill its soon-to-be vacant time slot immediately after. Fans of both series can anticipate their full availability for download through iTunes in the near future.
Several target release dates were confirmed for previously announced titles. Volume four of Lucky Star will be available sometime in November, along with a special edition that will boast extras including a uniform t-shirt. Both the special and regular versions of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will be released on November 11, 2008; the special will be packaged with a soundtrack and extras like storyboards and a director interview. The fourth and final Gundam Seed Destiny TV movie will be released November 8, 2008. Finally, following a nationwide string of theatrical screenings, a DVD release of The Sword of the Stranger will hit the shelves next February.
Another upcoming show is Ayakashi Ayashi, billed jokingly as a retro version of Cowboy Bebop set in historical Japan. Spanning 30 episodes (25 for the main television series and five for the OVA), geared for staggered release dates in January, March and May of next year. And while no set date has been picked for when Bandai will start bringing out Hayate the Combat Butler, based on fans' preference, there will be a total of four separate audio tracks created for this series: the original Japanese version, the “censored” Japanese, with references to other anime bleeped out, the same treatment for the English dub, and a clear uncensored English track.
As the panel came to a close, Yoshida offered free t-shirts and soundtracks to the attendees who had asked questions and thanked the audience for bearing with his lack of marketing and presentation experience.
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