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Fans Confront Bandai Visual About Pricing

posted on by Christopher Macdonald
Sakura-Con attendees politely confronted Bandai Visual USA CEO Tatsunori Konno about its releases

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During Bandai Visual's Saturday panel at Sakura-Con, which was hosted by Tatsunori Konno, CEO of Bandai Visual USA, a number of fans confronted Konno about Bandai Visual's R1 DVD releases.

Bandai Visual's upcoming releases are priced at $39.99 ($49.99 for Galaxy Angel Rune) for 2 episodes of content (at 25 to 50 minutes per episode depending on the title) without English language audio (Japanese audio and English subtitles only). Most other North American anime licensee's typically distribute DVDs with 3 to 5 episodes for $19.99 to $29.99, including English audio and subtitles.

At the end of a presentation detailing Bandai Visual's past and its upcoming plans, Konno had intended to proceed to a number of trailers, however he was interrupted by an audience member who politely brought up what he, and many other audience members, perceived to be problems with Bandai Visual's release plans.

The individual, Jesse Betteridge, webmaster of Zannen.ca, stated, "As for the perspective of fans right now, your current pricing and release strategy is nothing short of tyrannical. I don't think that there is a single person in this room who will disagree with the fact that Galaxy Angel Rune, released across 4 discs at $49.99 each with 4 7-minute episodes that are subtitled only, is not acceptable in region 1. I really think that Bandai Visual needs to find a new basis for the way they market their titles in North America."

Stating that he agreed, partially, Konno expressed Bandai Visual's position that the cost of producing anime was increasing in Japan and that Bandai Visual has decided to distribute its programs simultaneously in North America and other countries. "In former days, probably now the same thing, the licensees who are getting the American distribution rights from Japanese licensers can do that because the Japanese licensor is thinking the American market is just a secondary market. But we changed our outlook, we are thinking that the American market is the primary market along with Japan. So we are thinking that you guys should get the same products as Japan at the same time, so the price will be the same."*

Other (unidentified) audience members expressed agreement with the opinion's expressed by Betteridge. Other points brought up by audience members pointed to the fact that North American fans are accustomed to significantly lower priced anime DVDs, and that many fans will not purchase DVDs that do not have English audio. It was also pointed out that leading anime broadcasters, such as Cartoon Network and YTV, rarely broadcast subtitled anime. Some audience members also stated that they would be willing to wait for a North American style release, which would be preferable to them in comparison to an earlier Japanese style and priced release.

Kyle Pope, who covered the event for Anime News Network said, "No one there was ever rude to Konno-san. However it was clear from Konno-san's expression and gestures that he was quite surprised by the intensity of feeling towards Bandai Visual's marketing decisions."

* The quotes of Mr. Konno are not verbatim, the grammar and some words have been corrected to be more natural in English. His exact words can be heard in the attached recording.

Errata: In a previous version of this article it was stated that Tatsunori Konno was president of Bandai Visual Japan. He is in fact CEO of Bandai Visual USA. ANN apologizes for this error.

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