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New York Anime Festival 2008
Bandai Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

No matter the time of the year it's scheduled for, the New York Anime Fest has been cursed with far-from-ideal weather. It's either freezing or snowing, and if it's not freezing or snowing, it's hours on end of dreary rain. None of which stopped fans from trekking out to the Javits Center Friday morning, from lining outside the convention's dealer's room, and from filling the 1:30 p.m. Bandai Entertainment panel, the convention's first.

The trio of Ken Iyadomi, Robert Napton, and Loy Fruel once again ran the session, as they have at the other Bandai panels of the past summer. Fuel, who handles Bandai's Honneamise label (the former Bandai Visual USA), opened with an unusual announcement. Because of a licensing issue, True Tears and sola, which BVUSA had licensed, would not be released in America. (This announcement was retracted later in the panel.)

Napton then talked about Code Geass, which Bandai is continuing to place on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The second half of the series will begin airing on Adult Swim starting next month. Bandai's other series that is already getting major television exposure is Gurren Lagann. The entire series is now available in subtitled-only format. The first of the eventual three regular-edition sets, including both an English dub and subtitles, will be released in November. Individual single-volume DVDs will also be sold. Gurren Lagann is airing on Sci Fi Channel; later in the fall, that network will also be adding Bandai's Gundam 00 to its schedule.

The next release of Bandai's Lucky Star will be Volume 4. Its limited edition version will be packaged with a Miyauki character CD with alternate cover and a summer school uniform t-shirt. The remaining two volumes' t-shirts will be a boy's uniform, and the cheerleader uniform from Lucky Star's opening sequence. Ayakashi Ayashi, with a street date of January 6 (delayed from earlier announcements). As with Code Geass, on that date, Bandai will put out both two single-DVD five-episode volumes, a 10-episode collector's set, and a 10-episode limited edition, including the first volume of the Ayakashi Ayashi manga, and a limited-edition informational booklet. It will also be screened on the Imaginasian cable television network. On the other hand, Rocket Girls is getting a sub-only release, with all twelve episodes packaged together into one volume.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time's DVD release is due on November 18. The two-disc collector's artbox, priced at 49.98, will have extras including an interview with the director and original Japanese commercials. The final Gundam Seed Destiny TV movie is also on track for a November release, with the fourth one to follow at an undetermined later date.

Turning to anime movies, the second Silent Möbius film is set for November, to be followed on January 20 by Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, in Blu-Ray and standard and limited-edition DVDs. Studio Bones' Sword of the Stranger is also coming to high-definition. Here, a Blu-ray limited-edition box, including the original soundtrack, will be created, along with a special-edition regular DVD set as well as both Blu-ray and DVD singles. Neither of the two most recent anime announced by Bandai (Hayate the Combat Butler and the .hack//G.U. Trilogy) got any additional information regarding release dates beyond the simple fact that Bandai is still working on producing their English-language versions.

The Honneamise label is greating up for the Blu-ray box release of Freedom, which will contain both the episodes that had already been brought out in English by Bandai Visual and Episode 7, which had not. Interesting, it will be dubbed in both English and French. $139.99 will be the price point, compared to 20,000 yen in Japan, and the DVD box is in the works on track for early next year. Honneamise is also bringing out the Gattai Gunbuster vs. Die Buster compilation movie as well as the individual Gunbuster and Die Buster movies that retell the stories of each of the two related sci-fi series. And, in a new announcement, Honneamise is proud to announce that on February 24, Bandai Entertainment will ship a Blu-Ray edition of one of the most iconic and influential anime of all time - Akira. This will be priced at US$49.98, compared to the 8,190-yen price of the Japanese release that same week. At this point, it was also mentioned that sola and True Tears, which were "unanounced" at the beginning of the panel, will in fact be brought out as full-set boxes in the general Bandai line.

Finally, Bandai's growing manga publishing arm, which is now composed of Eureka 7, Witchblade Takeru and Gurren Lagann, is also being expanded. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the Lucky Star manga had been announced previously; to these is now added the two-volume manga adaptation of Gurren Lagann.

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