Manga Entertainment and Animatsu Merging Operations

posted on by Andrew Osmond
UK companies sharing office space, 'in growth mode'

Jerome Mazandarani, the former CEO of Manga UK and the current CEO of Animatsu, has confirmed that Manga UK and Animatsu are working together and are in the process of merging operations.

Anime News Network's Answerman column by Justin Sevakis has run the second part of an article on Manga Entertainment, including information that has just been made public by Mazandarani. From the Answerman column:

Animatsu needed a distributor, and Manga UK was an ideal one. Manga UK, having lost Jerome (Mazandarani), didn't have much new anime in the pipeline, and without Andrew (Hewson) they had no one to market them. So Animatsu started licensing and marketing on behalf of Manga UK. While they're still separate companies on paper, the two now share office space and are in the process of merging operations. Right now they're in growth mode, working on a bunch of new and renewing licenses, and beefing up their marketing team to four people.

Jerome intends to release most shows as Manga Entertainment, but keep the Animatsu brand alive as a special division for things that aren't simple UK license deals. He has plans for development, and hopes to get into co-production and global rights and cooperative deals with anime producers. The end goal is to make new shows that have appeal beyond just core anime fans.

The Answerman column also reports that in February 2015, the entire UK business of Anchor Bay/Manga UK was bought by Colin Lomax, its managing director, from Starz, which had owned it for the last decade. The business is now independent, and has exclusive rights to all Manga Entertainment branding and show catalogue within the United Kingdom and Ireland. Anchor Bay has been renamed Platform Entertainment.

According to the column, the reason why Mazandarani had left Manga in 2014 to set up Animatsu had been because of issues relating to Starz's ownership. From the column:

As digital distribution became a more and more significant part of an anime release, Starz insisted on managing any digital rights through their New York City office. This meant that Manga UK would get the rights to something, then have to give the online rights to Starz' New York office, who would then immediately turn around and sell those rights to iTunes UK and NetflixUK. Disconnected from both the licensing and the UK fan base, it was very difficult for the New York office to know what those shows were worth.

Mazandarani also comments on the limits of 'purely Japanese content' and his hopes for Japanese/Western creative collaborations.

"The niche is not enough to maintain a streaming platform," Jerome says. "The valuation of a company like that is based on how many subscribers they'll have, and there's a ceiling we can't go beyond if we only act as a portal for purely Japanese content." Many previous US/Japan co-productions, he says, are examples of times where the Japanese crew just wasn't all that into it, and the end result suffered. He sees a future where in order to grow beyond core anime fans, Japanese and Western companies will have to come together to find stories that production teams can be excited about.

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