New York Comic Con is going on this weekend, and Bandai has really come through on a few rather ground shaking announcements.
1) First, they have announced that they have licensed both Hiroyuki Imaishi and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. That's right, Gurren Lagann! Unlike ADV had originally announced, Bandai plans to release the series subtitled only (no Dub), and I would speculate that since they could not have acquired the license over a few weeks ago the sub-only release is an effort to get the title released as early as possible. The first DVD is due out in July, and had they dubbed it it might have needed to get pushed way back into the fall schedule.
There is also a lot of speculation around the web that ADV simply lost the R1 license and Bandai then jumped on it. This is certainly plausible, however, I would forward another theory. Perhaps ADV sold the license to Bandai in order to raise much needed capital. ADV was in quite a pinch financially back in February, and Gurren Lagann was arguably one of their most valuable unreleased properties. In business when you need to raise money fast in tough times, sometimes you have to sell off your highest quality assets because it's all your competitors will buy quickly and pay up for. I would also speculate that by selling the license to Bandai it would have kept it out of Funimations or Viz's hands. Funimation is the absolute dominant player in the market now and they have the big corporate backing of Navarre Corp., and Viz has been extremely successful with the titles that are popular across large demographic segments like Inu Yasha, Naruto, and lately Buso Renkin. Between the two of them they have, frankly, been eating ADV's lunch.
We in the biz (you know, out here in the ragged edge) have been speculating endlessly on how ADV came up with the Angel capital to survive the recent licensing fiasco, and who it came from. Perhaps we know a little more about that now.
2) Bandai will continue to bring the Gundam franchise to North American fans with the 25 episode Gundam 00.
3) Now check this out, Bandai Entertainment (NOT Bandai Visual) will be re-releasing the Ghost in the Shell: Innocence movie on BluRay! It will be their first BluRay release, and it won't be $150 like everything coming out of the 'other' Bandai. That's excellent news in itself, but even better is that they are going to dub it. Previously, only the European release had an English track, and there are many R1 dub fans that will be very pleased by this. Personally, I can't wait to see it in HD!
We'll get all these posted for pre-order as soon as we get the date and product info from Bandai.
Let the good news keep on rolling in! :-)
UPDATE: Just for clarification, Bandai plans to release the sub only Gurren Lagann release on three DVD's in July, August, and September. They are 'planning' a bilingual release for 2009, and the subtitled release is intended to get the title out this year since they will not be using ADV's original dub. I did not originally mention the bilingual release because in the Anime industry these days you can assume that all plans are soft until 30 minutes prior... :-)