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New York Anime Festival 2008
Preview - Industry Panels

by Mikhail Koulikov,

This summer has been a relatively quiet one as far as new announcements of anime and manga acquisitions are concerned. But NYAF is probably companies' biggest chance to make a splash and unveil a big new title for at least several months. Though, of course, they may also use the time to simply reflect on the kinds of market forces - or fate - that can leave a new fan who is just now starting to buy anime asking "uh, what's Geneon?"

Friday, September 26

1:30 p.m.
Bandai Entertainment
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

Gundam, Gundam, more Gundam, some more Gundam...and a whole bunch of other shows is what Bandai Entertainment is known for. For them, the summer has been marked by successfully putting the Code Geass anime series on television - only to then see it exiled to a "beyond the point of no return" 5:00 timeslot, finally clearing up the Bandai Entertainment/Bandai Visual USA confusion, and getting several hundred fans to simultaneously put on Lucky Star t-shirts at their Otakon panel. As we gear up for 2009, Bandai shows no indication of slowing down, and fans should never quite know what to expect.

2:45 p.m.
FUNimation Entertainment
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

With a share of almost a third of the market for Japanese animation in the U.S. (and potentially, even more), there is no doubt about it - Funimation is the current leader in the U.S. anime industry. Despite all the talk of a slow-down, this year so far, there have been more than 30 new license announcements that have come out of their office. It would be a surprise indeed if that number is not higher still by the end of the weekend.

4 p.m.
FUNimation Channel
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

As the number of anime episodes aired on cable television steadily declines, the FUNimation Channel is becoming a more and more important way for anime fans around the country to get access to brand-new and classic titles from various distributors.

6:45 p.m.
Vertical, Inc.
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

Despite a relatively quiet year, New York City-based Vertical has proven that they are a growing force in manga publishing, with a catalog that skews heavily to the literary side, with books that you would not ever be ashamed to be caught reading. Vertical just launched the first volume of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, one of Japan's most beloved manga. How they can top this will be an intriguing question indeed.

Saturday, September 27

12:15 p.m.
Media Blasters
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

Quiet, steady, and entirely unpredictable, Media Blasters disdains a lot of the flash of other anime companies, while continuing to put out some of the most unusual series currently available. Their recent Tweeny Witches is a breath of fresh air amid a sea of interchangeable high school comedies about bumbling Japanese teens, so finding out what else they can decide to drop on unsuspecting American audiences' heads should be interesting.

1:30 p.m.
Robotech/Harmony Gold
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

Between last year's announcement that a live-action movie based on Robotech is currently in development, and Harmony Gold's own plans for a sequel to their Robotech: Shadow Chronicles, this classic property has not been as hot in years. Hopefully, this panel will shed some light on both of these developments.

1:45 p.m.
Del Rey Manga
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

Having established a solid reputation as a "pure" manga publisher, Del Rey is beginning to branch out into original works based on established Western properties. The most exciting of these will be two separate manga-style series in the X-Men universe, both currently on track for next year. After this kind of announcement, it is again hard to predict what else these guys will come up with - but it may quite possibly be mind-blowing.

Sunday, September 28

11:15 a.m.
State of the Manga Industry
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

Manga is continuing to sell well in the U.S. - but how much longer will this last. How can manga publishers keep entertaining current customers, bring in new readers, and continue to thrive, especially amidst all the talk of an economic downturn in America and manga creators in Japan running out of truly interesting ideas. These are the questions that publishing senior executives have to involve themselves with on a daily basis. Do they have the answers? There is only one way to find out.

12:15 p.m.
State of the Anime Industry
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

All doom and gloom in 2008, or glimmers of hope? Are anime companies finally figuring out how to beat fansubbers at their own game, or do we still have a long way to go? Was the anime industry just too big, too careless? And what does the future hold, for licensees, distributors, and most importantly, for American anime fans.

12:30 p.m.
Yen Press
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

With the launch of their monthly manga anthology magazine Yen Plus, Yen is betting that the format most manga first see the light of day in Japan can be replicated in the U.S. by a company that is not Viz. Three volumes are out so far; this will be the time and place to find out what else Yen has in store for the magazine, when the manga previewed there, such as Soul Eater and Nabari no Ō, will be available as single volumes, and what else one of American's newest manga publishers is planning to unleash on bookstore shelves everywhere.

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