The Cash Cow Says "Moo"

While Akihabara Renditions has been busy echoing and commenting on the news of classic anime of the day, another piece of news has come across the wire that seems to have fans in an uproar. As reported by Anime News Network and Anime on DVD on May 17, ADV Films is releasing yet another Neon Genesis Evangelion 『新世紀エヴァンゲリオン』 TV Series set. Hot on the heels of their latest set, Platinum, the new box is to commemorate Evangelion's Tenth Anniversary and is supposed to be coming with a plethora of extras, some not even mentioned yet at this moment.

I am not one to advocate companies produce series at a loss; asking them to do as such would mean financial ruin for those involved in the process, especially to do it in a legal manner. But here we have a title from ADV, and probably their highest selling title (though I'd be surprised if that weren't the case). In fact, this will be their fourth Eva TV series box set in four years. It seems to me that Eva is getting some manner of special treatment.

I suppose this wouldn't be so bad as it might be. After all, Eva has just completed a run on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, which was bound to pick up a few new fans, though with the TV series being on a lot of people's "must see" lists for years now, I think there is only a small portion of people who are not exposed to anime that have either never seen it before or have not had it recommended before. And why not lure those fans into a brand-spankin' new DVD box set that has an MSRP of $249.99?

But, in my opinion, it is as bad as I suggested. I mentioned above that this is the fourth Eva boxset in four years. ADV is pimping this title just as much as the fanbase is. Yet, ADV has also complained to fans in panels that older titles and classics like Aura Battler Dunbine 『望戦士ダンバイン』 have not sold well and that fans don't want classic anime, despite Dunbine's DVDs being of very nice quality. As has been discussed in some forums over the subject, it seems to be the opinions of many fans, as well as myself, that if ADV had spent half as much of an effort on pimping Dunbine to consumers as they did Eva, they would have had a higher seller. Right now, I would wager that the majority of Dunbine new sales come from references of other Dunbine fans. ADV, to my knowledge, has only dropped the price and offered limited ultra-cheap sales for the series. One wonders how well their Science Ninja Team Gatchaman 『科学忍者隊ガッチャマン』 and Dirty Pair 『ダーテイーペアー』 TV series are doing? Much like Dunbine I had no idea these were even produced; Dirty Pair because I'd heard nothing after it was licensed and only ran across it in a store; Gatchaman when I'd seen it on a table at AWA last year. Yet, the new Eva set won't be out until late this summer (22 August is reported street date) and it's causing as much ripples as some of the fan backlash.

C'mon ADV, Eva will sell itself; it doesn't need extra help from you and another box set. New fans can buy the Platinums if they really want DVDs. Please don't compare poor sales of something like Dunbine, which has pretty much been dead in the water since it was released from your marketing department, to something like Eva when you seem to be slobbering over it as much as the fanboys. Let's compare Apples to Apples.

Or... steal a page from AnimEigo's book -

AnimEigo announced a special collector's edition of their old Oh! My Goddess 『ああっ!女神さまっ』OAVs on 2 May. AnimEigo is also doing a promotion until June 5th that if you send them both of the old discs, the cover art from the DVD cases, and a money order for $15.00 ($20.00 for single disc) they will send you a brand new copy of the OAV Collector's Edition. If you're a fan of Oh! My Goddess already, I highly suggest checking them out for a short afternoon viewing enjoyment. Not to mention, it is my personal opinion, the music is so much better than that of the new TV series and follows a more solid plotline than the movie.

So, ADV, how about it? I think an Eva buy-back program would be great, unless that might ruin the prospects of continuing to release a new box-set every year.

Blitz 2: The Beauty of the Internet and Con Season 下巻

One more beauty of the internet when it comes to con season aside from reporting just the news, you can report events. In fact, with a good enough venue, one might even be able to report directly from an event at a con. Sort of our own "live on the scene" version for the blogosphere. I've also, always enjoyed AWA since I started going way back at AWA 4 in 1998. I've yet to miss a year. However, since I come from one of those "Education First" families, I've not taken the chances to explore many other conventions. In fact, for the longest time, AWA was the only vacation I took during the year. As school winds down in the next couple of years, I plan on making some more con excursions, especially to some of the others here in the Southeast.

A good friend of mine, Matt Nicholson, does amateur photography. He's pretty good at it, despite my personal heckling of it. He does portraits and glamour shots, but he's also very handy at conventions; he's got nice equipment, he's a quick shot, and it's an excuse for a mini-vacation. He went to AWA last year as a freelance photographer from Kennesaw State University's newspaper, the Sentinel. Matt has graciously allowed me post some of his photos from AWA 11 last year that didn't make the cut this time around and we're working to qualify for press at AWA 12 this fall.

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This is me, relaxing from a hard day of Con activities; I'll be you're MC, Drew "I'm not as drunk as Dave Merrill" Sutton.

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The Con was held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and a portion of the Cobb Galleria Convention Center. What is especially good about the Ren Waverly is the lobby; while check-in may be a small issue because of smaller counters, the lobby is huge and spacious, which makes it a great place to chill, grab a drink and meet your friends. Here's another of the lobby:

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There's an annex hallway that goes from the hotel to the Galleria, making your trek to the dealers room away from the main events relatively comfortable. The con staff is also good about making sure to keep the walkways clean and un-cluttered from people taking photos and cosplay, instead opting to have people move out to places like where this photo was taken.

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Capitalism in Action is my glorious name for it, but most people just call it "The Dealer's Room". To each their own, I suppose.

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The two photos above were for AWA's showing of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children 『ファイナルファンタジーVIIアドベントチルドレン』, a beautifully CGI animated movie sequel to Squaresoft's (now Square/Enix) marvelous PlayStation RPG. While originally scheduled for one airing on Friday night, due to popular fan demand, two more showings on Saturday night were added for the folks who wanted to see the film but couldn't fit into the theater-sized room. I was in the room at AWA 10 for their premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam F-91 『機動戦士ガンダムF-91』 and that room is about the size of your standard movie house at the multiplex. To think that room was filled to, if not over, capacity for three solid shows and still had fans who didn't get a chance to see it is amazing. Also, the AWA Staff received many well deserved Kudos for adding more shows for the film the following day at their "Tell us what we did right or tell us what we did wrong" session during Closing Ceremonies on Sunday evening.

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But what is one to do when not in a viewing room watching anime or AMVs? Not in the dealers room exercising Capitalistic Might? Tired of just lounging around? GO TO A PANEL like these guys! Trust me, AWA is chock full of panels that are educational and interesting, even their industry panels (but hey, then again, I write this blog, too). While numerous con programs host panels for industry guests, advisement on model kits, talking about living and working in Japan - all things most anime fans are interested, AWA has pioneered panels of a more entertaining nature. Two of the more directly related to anime are Dubs That Time Forgot and Totally Lame Anime. These panels (Dubs was created by Mike "Anime Jump" Toole and TLA by Neil Nadelman) show some of the darker and more historical side of Japanese animation in the United States. While you may happen upon your new favorite title in the video room, TLA has provided more entertaining jokes for my entire circle of friends in the past year than anything else. Two other panels, Panel of DOOM (Created and hosted by Daryl Stuart) and Japanese Animation Hell created and hosted by Dave Merrill. Don't let the name fool you, Anime Hell usually has nothing to do with anime. Both of these panels are an obscure AV geeks wet dream come true. While some anime is featured, most of it is silly, goofy, live action stuff and just gives you some good laughs with good friends and fellow con-goers.

All in all, AWA is a great weekend mini-get-away that lets you meet your old friends, make some new ones (as I did with Moot and some of the 4Chan posse) and just, as the AWA motto goes, "For Beautiful Convention Life".

**EDIT - 2006.6.12 - Thanks to Dave Merrill for correcting me on panel creation and hosting, per the below comments. He also informed me that he doesn't drink as much anymore.



Blitz 1: The Beauty of the Internet and Con Season 上巻

The beauty of the internet is now that there are multiple anime news services and blogs that can be updated at a moment's notice and their information disseminated to anyone with net access. Surely, this is a vast improvement over the old timey news services with their two print editions per day, but definitely over the old timey print fanzine - which was only available if you knew where to find them and there was someone making them. Certainly now, with a little Google searching and proper citation, one doesn't need to attend every con in the country to get the hot news (though, it sure is much better to not have to rely on everyone else for your news). Thank you, Internet.

As the con season is beginning to get into full swing, I'll be looking for more Con Reports and hopefully begin to compile a "State of Classic Anime in the US" thesis. This week's batch of reporting comes from Anime Central 2006, held in Chicago from 5-7 May, 2006.

In a report filed by Anime on DVD 's Justin Richardson here [animeondvd.com] the biggest news for classical anime is a new DVD releases from Manga Entertainment. The first being Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro 『ルパン三世 カリオストロの城』 features a new 5.1 audio track, a new digital transfer, and interviews with the head animation director (I presume Otsuka Yasuo) and creator Monkey Punch! The other is a new release of Street Fighter 2 in a new Uncut Edition. While Cagliostro is an improvement on a previous decent release, SF 2 seems like an apology to a more hardcore fanbase for a previous, and in my opinion, shitty release.

The Street Fighter 2 Uncut release was aimed more directly at a video game fanbase that at the time wasn't as connected to anime as it seems to be now. This, is about the only train of logic I can follow as to why SF 2 received a release from Manga similar to that of the Hokutou no Ken 『北斗の拳』 TV series release (of which Manga lost the license to a couple of months ago). SF 2's original uncut release had altered dialogue, such as more profanity to make it seem more adult as well as an altered musical score (featuring Western Metal music) , to name a few changes. While the new release from Manga will include the old, butchered "uncut" version, it will also include a faithfully translated and correct (in this fan's eyes) Japanese track. While most hardcore purists may not consider this a full correction (such as receiving a new dub track with all of the same faithfulness as the Japanese track), Manga is making an effort, albeit a half-assed one.

Being an anime based off of a video game, I can't honestly say this is on my priorities list, which could be why I'm giving Manga what seems like a pass on this. I don't mean to treat this like I'm not impartial on this, I think that all companies when they produce a bad release should be scolded and when they produce a good release, they should be praised. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, how Manga is treating SF 2 now is how they've operated business as normal for anime that aren't Cagliostro or Evangelion.

Though, Castle of Cagliostro, while being one of the better Manga releases, might be getting a new facelift for the new edition. Mr. Richardson also points out that Manga is in talks right now for some new boxart that will "make you think of this movie itself instead of just another Lupin film."; though, I'm not sure this is really needed. Already, there are two separate fansbases who would show interest in the film (aside from those who've seen it already): fans of Lupin III and fans of Miyazaki Hayao. Though most of Miyazaki's fanbase are most intrigued by his work after forming Studio Ghibli, Cagliostro is arguably his best non-Ghibli work and I would say one of the top features in his entire filmography. As far as comparing to other works in the Lupin III franchise, easily this is the best film and really brings the characters of Lupin III to a broader, family audience but also retains many of the endearing traits of the characters. I would say that Cagliostro is a huge part of why Lupin III remains a large part of the Japanese anime industry and pop culture psyche.

Manga Entertainment seems to be the most popular industry panel present at A-Cen as ANN's [animenewsnetwork.com] report by Mikhail Koulikov centers on the panel as well. In Koulikov's report he adds some information more important to fans of classic anime - some good and some bad.

The good news is that Manga still retains licenses for the Neon Genesis Evangelion 『新世紀エヴァンゲッリオン』 films, Death and Rebirth and AIR (The End of Evangelion), and with their Tenth Anniversary coming up, if new material becomes available, they hope to plan a re-release in North America as well.

The bad news is that Manga, for retaining some of their intellectual properties, seem to have another round of losses. On the chopping block are three of their OAV properties:

Angel Cop 『エンジェルコップ』
Devilman 『デビルマン』
Orguss 02 『時空世紀オーガス02』

So far, Manga has lost the anime licenses for Wings of Honneamise 『王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼』 (Royal Space Troop Wings of Oneamis), Bio-Booster Armor Guyver 『強殖装甲ガイバー』, Aim for the Top! Gunbuster 『トップをねらえ!ガンバスター』, Hokutou no Ken TV 『北斗の拳』, and the first two Mobile Police Patlabor movies 『機動警察パトレバー』.

There is a part of me that is now hopeful, with the recent release of Armored Trooper VOTOMS 『装甲騎兵ボトムズ』 , the announcements of numerous classical mecha mecha within the first quarter of 2006, and the ever present fan popularity of the original Macross that both the Orguss TV series will be licensed soon and the OAVs will be re-licensed to accompany them. One can always hope.

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