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Otakon 2009
Bandai Entertainment

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Robert Napton, Bandai Entertainment's director of sales and marketing, was the host of his company's Otakon 2009 panel, scheduled for 9pm on the convention's first day. At the podium, he was joined by Ken Iyadomi, the company's president, Loy Fuel, in charge of the Honneamise label, and producer Toshifumi Yoshida. The day before, Bandai made an announcement that may very well radically redefine how anime is sold in the North American market, and so, despite the relatively late time, the panel was definitely well-attended.

Napton opened the panel by again talking about Bandai's new partnership with the Japanese music company Lantis, which will see a number of J-pop songs, many of them anime-related, placed for purchase on iTunes. He then moved on to highlight the company's release plans for various upcoming series. One of these, Kurokami, which is currently available for viewing online on the Bandai YouTube channel (as well as other streaming sites), will receive both a standard DVD release, and a Blu-Ray release. It is also notable for being the first anime that Bandai released almost simultaneously in three different markets – Japan, the U.S., and Korea. The panelists called the arduous release a “great experience”, but not one they would want to repeat soon, just because of the amount of work involved.

The rest of the panel was devoted to Bandai's newest high-profile series, Kannagi. As announced yesterday, with its release, for the first time ever, there is effectively no window whatsoever between when a new title is announced as being licensed, and when it can be bought. Subtitled-only DVD's with the first seven episodes can already be ordered online and purchased in the Otakon dealer's room, while the first two episodes are streaming on ANN and on the series' official site. To promote it further, Bandai then introduced Kannagi's director, Yutaka Yamamoto, to answer several fan questions about his prevous work. Yamamoto then turned the table by inviting audience members to confess their darkest personal secrets to the room, with the volunteers being well-rewarded for their honesty.

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