Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Anime Expo Tease
I want it now!
by: Allen Divers (boxie at animenewsnetwork.com)
Anime conventions tend to be the ultimate tease for most fans. We are bombarded with images and sounds that won't make their way to television or store release for at least another 6 months. For a lot of fans, this is where they first encounter many of the current titles airing in Japan. For others, this is a time to collect memorabilia from the shows they've only heard about.
Not to be out done by shear word of mouth is the tease of company's acquisition announcements. Rumors and speculation run rampant before any major show with a slew of titles that everyone knows will be announced. Some companies are right up front and spill the beans right at the beginning of the panel. Others wait until the end of the panel to share the wealth. There is also the occasional slip of the tongue when a company announces that they are currently pursuing a property. Manga Entertainment became this year's foot in month recepiant with a side comment about pursuing the Patlabor WXIII license. The next day, at the Pioneer panel, Patlabor WXIII rounded out a set of clips shown to the public. Pioneer also did things a bit different by showing a video of clips for upcoming properties. Mixed in with known properties, were a slew of new titles. Everyone expected Vandread Second Stage and Lupin the 3rd TV, but it was quite a surprise to see such titles as Sugar, Chobits and Mahoromatic in the line up as well.
What's always amazing is the number of titles not announced as acquired. With the embarrassment of a company saying they are after a particular title then not getting it, many companies remain quiet about the really popular titles. No one has laid claim to Tenchi Muyo GXP, with many companies declining to comment on what they would do should Pioneer be passed up for the series. Other notables that came up, but weren't announced as acquired were Onegai, Teacher and Tokyo Underground. With the animation director, Hiroaki Gōda, Onegai Teacher was definitely on the minds of many convention goers, especially with his constant joking with the Read or Die creative team.
Other companies take this time to announce the current status of many of their popular titles. Viz mentioned that Inu-yasha is set for release in November. They also mentioned that a deal with Cartoon Network is nearly complete for Inu-yasha to appear on the Adult Swim block. This is good news for fans, as the show will see little cut from this popular series. TOKYOPOP reminded fans that they are seeking to have Initial D shown on air as well. It was also mentioned that many changes made to character names of the show were done to make it more marketable.
Next up on any true Anime fan's list are the screenings. Read or Die got a lot of screen time in the viewing rooms, with Hellsing and Tsukikage Ran being talked about quite often. Some companies were screening upcoming shows at their booths, such as Strawberry Eggs at the Pioneer booth and Evangelion: Death & Rebirth at the Manga booth. Bandai went that extra step by handing out a sampler DVD with a set of trailers for upcoming shows as well as the complete first episode of Arjuna. Shōji Kawamori quick to promote his latest work provided a lot of insight into the creation of the series. The basic premise is about a young girl that dies, and then comes back to life understanding that the Earth is dying. It is now her mission to try and save the world from the pollution and other environmental disasters that are occurring. Having the complete first episode on a disk will definitely give the fans a chance to decide whether they will rush out to buy the series.
Not to be outdone, Columbia/Tristar provided a 35mm version of the upcoming Cowboy Bebop movie. This version was the subtitled version, so rumors still abound whether or not the original English cast is involved with the movie. Despite equipment problems, the movie looked gorgeous. Fans were on their feet as the familiar faces of the Bebop as well as many of the show's standard side characters worked their way through this new adventure. For the purists out there, don't fear, as the movie doesn't appear to have been through any unusual editing for the overly sensitive political correct police.
Overall, the Anime Expo did not disappoint. Many fan favorites have found homes with many North American distributors, and should be making their way to stores in the next year. Other lesser-known shows caught everyone's attention and should make their way on the acquisitions scene soon. For those who want it now, there was little to do but sit back and wait. Companies did their best to assure the fans that fan favorite titles would be in their hands shortly. Others were able to satisfy their desires with the screenings, while others were satisfied with the purchase of original un-translated Japanese Manga.
So now it's a waiting game as a whole new set of titles fill my "I want it now" list!