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New York Comic Con
Bandai Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Bandai Entertainment's Robert Napton was the sole company representative at his company's Saturday afternoon New York Comic Con panel, and devoted a significant portion of it to screening trailers for various upcoming Bandai releases. These included Gurren Lagann, the third volume of which, including both subtitles and an English dub, is due out in March. A limited edition collector's package will also contain the initial volume of the Gurren Lagann manga, which will also retail as a stand-alone book.

Current plans are to begin the DVD release of Gundam 00 sometime in the summer, though no specific date for the first volume has been set yet. In July, Bandai will begin releasing Hayate the Combat Butler. Because the possibility of ever getting this series to screen on an American television channel is very low, a dub is highly unlikely. The same month will also see the release of the .hack//G.U. Trilogy movie, sola, and True Tears. Both of these will be brought out as complete-series packs under the Anime Legends line.

Turning to high-definition, Blu-Ray releases, Akira's is set for later this month. The first printing that Bandai did has all shipped out to retailers, and since Bandai is actually producing the DVD's in Japan, it will be at least two months before any re-orders can be placed. Sword of the Stranger, which recently screened in over 350 movie theaters, is also getting a Blu-Ray release in addition to the standard DVD. This will take place at some point in the summer as well.

Although known primarily as an anime licensor and distributor, Bandai has been increasing its manga publishing activities as well. In addition to Gurren Lagann, they are putting out three separate Code Geass manga, all of which are independent from one another, and do not even require a familiarity with the anime series they are based on. Bandai is also going ahead with a manga adaptation of their The Girl Who Leapt Through Time movie (due out in April), the Lucky Star manga (May), and, announced for the first time, both the main Gundam 00 manga series and the Gundam 00 F side story, as well as the Gundam 00 light novels. And, going back to one of Bandai's first manga, while the individual volumes of Eureka Seven will be going out of print, this title will instead return as a pair of three-volume compilations.

And in a final announcement, Bandai is launching a dedicated YouTube channel to provide digital distribution options for its anime. The first five episodes of Code Geass are already being streamed, the rest will be added in the near future, and Gundam 00 is the next series slated for the channel. At this point, plans are to offer dubs only, not subtitles, but Napton emphasized that this represents only the beginning of Bandai's initiative for online distribution.

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