Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jun Planning - Packing Up and Going Home

I got word yesterday that Jun Planning, who is a fair sized producer of Japanese Anime figures, is packing up their US operations and will also be 'reorganizing' their Japanese business. This will put a chunk of upcoming toy and figure releases in jeopardy of not being made/exported, and I've thrown together a quick list of what I can think of off the top of my head:

Black Lagoon Second Barrage: Revy 1/8 Scale Figure Girls Collection
Familiar of Zero: Nekomimi Louise 1/8 Scale Figure
Death Note: Action Figures Series 1 Assortment (Set of 6)
Death Note: Craft Label Misa Amane Figure
Death Note: Final Scene Series Light Yagami Statue
Death Note: Final Scene Series Misa Amane Statue
Death Note: Final Scene Series Rem Statue
Death Note: Final Scene Series Ryuk Statue
Death Note: Vol. 01 Mini Trading Figure (Set of 3)
Death Note: Vol. 02 Mini Trading Figure (Set of 3)

They also made some "Nightmare Before Christmas" stuff, but we don't carry those. The dates on a lot of the Death Note items had already been put on 'TBA' status, so we didn't post any of them for pre-order - because I hate taking pre-orders for releases that appear to be 'iffy'.

Anyway, it's not clear to me yet if they are actually going out of business entirely ('reorganization' can mean anything coming from the Japanese), but they are definitely pulling out of the US figure market for now. We do have significant pre-orders booked for both the Revy and Louise figures shown above, so we're waiting for the final word from Jun Planning regarding the disposition of these figures. We need to know if they intend to fill orders already booked. Right now I don't know, so please don't write in and ask me if they will still be released or not -_^ Hopefully production of these will still go through. I'll post an update as soon as we get the final word.

Funimations July Releases Now Available for Pre-Order

We got Funi's July release schedule last night, and we've now finished adding them to the site for pre-order. Here's what it looks like:

Case Closed Season #1 DVD Box Set (Eps #1-26) (Uncut & Unedited) (Viridian Collection)
Claymore, Vol #6, The Awakening DVD
Gungrave Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Kyo Kara Maoh!, Season 2, Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Paradise Kiss Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Viridian Collection)
Rozen Maiden Traumend Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Suzuka Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Viridian Collection)
XXXHolic TV Series Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set

In addition to these Funi has back filled some of the release slots with re-prices of existing items:

Baki the Grappler Season 1 & 2 DVD Complete Collection (Viridian Collection) - Re-Price down to $49.98 MSRP from $69.98 MSRP
DragonBall Z Season 4 (Eps #108-139) (Re-Mastered) - Re-Price down to $34.98 MSRP from $49.98 MSRP
Elemental Gelade Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Thin-Pak) - Re-Price down to $49.98 MSRP from $69.98 MSRP
Galaxy Railways Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Viridian Collection) - Re-Price down to $39.98 MSRP from $49.98 MSRP

Summer (especially July) is traditionally a very slow period for home video sales, but with all the new licence announcements that Funi made back in January I was hoping we'd be getting a little more new content on DVD in a months time than just the last 4 episodes of Claymore. We'll take what we can get though. Also, Funi's June schedule was quite aggressive with 21 new SKU's being released, and they are still adjusting to Best Buy's recent decision not to carry (at any stores) nearly half of their June releases, so they are clearly waiting to release some of those new 'A' titles this fall when the market will be more conducive to their success.

My problem is that I just hate to wait... :-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Late Afternoon Arrivals

Typically, when we get a Friday shipment I'm able to get the list of new arrivals in the 'Hot Off the Truck' section of the weekly e-newsletter, but today they snuck in a shipment way too late in the afternoon for us to get the word out before close of business.

Never the less, the following items arrived late in the day today and are now in stock:

Case Closed Season #5 DVD Box Set (Eps #105-128) (Uncut & Unedited)
Gurren Lagann, Part #3 DVD Bundle (Eps #19-27) (Bilingual Version)
Heroic Age Collection DVD Boxed Set #1 (Eps #1-13)
Murder Princess DVD Complete Collection Boxed Set

We also received two new manga issues several of you have been asking about:

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya , Vol #2, Graphic Novel
When They Cry , Vol #2, Graphic Novel

These will begin shipping first thing Monday morning. Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Congress Finally Going After Online Shoppers In Earnest

Internet sales tax is coming. After several years of talk, it looks like Congress is finally setup to start going after online shoppers to pay sales tax on purchases.

JammieWearingFool says:

The government's insatiable thirst for tax revenue is about to hit online shoppers, who've largely managed to escape onerous state taxes by shopping at sites such as [and The Anime Corner Store]. So if you've been wondering what to do with that $13-a-week windfall from King Obama, just forward it to your state government.

The big question for us evey time this comes up is how are they going to administer collection of the taxes. Right now, most people are supposed to claim their out of state purchases on their state income tax return and pay 'use tax' on them, but few people actually do and this system is basically unenforceable, so the government wants to shift the burden for collecting online sales taxes onto the businesses that sell on the net. Oh Fun!

But there is huge problem with that. We already collect and distribute sales tax for orders shipped to customers in Virginia (because our warehouse is located in Virginia), of which there is a lot of paperwork, time, and expense involved. How can a business like us possibly hope to collect and distribute tax payments to 50 different state governments with different rules and tax rates. On top of that, many states even have local sales taxes broken down by city or county that have to be collected individually, so there are really maybe 1,000 different jurisdictions across the US that have different sales tax rates and rules. Pretty much impossible for us to do without some sort of centralized system, and that too is a quandary because the Federal Government has no authority to collect taxes for state governments.

To be honest, the libertarian part of me views online purchases as an exercise in civil disobedience to protest already ridiculously high taxation across the broad spectrum of federal, state, and local governments. Of course, most people would never think of it that way, and shop online instead for the deals and/or convenience. But retailer associations that have large brick and mortar memberships have been steadily lobbying for tax parity on online purchases. And of course, states are seeing declining real estate tax revenue and you KNOW they just can't cut spending accordingly, so they are looking to makup the difference anyway possible.

I would prefer to see them leave the system as it is and have each state deal with enforcing their own existing tax laws on their own citizens. That way citizens of each state can deal with the elected officials in their state and local governments directly, just as it's supposed to be. But now that the era of gargantuan federal government is upon us, I'm sure those concerns will eventually be thrown to the wind and we'll all end up paying more. A national online sales tax system is coming, like it or not.

As JammieWearingFool says:

In case you're wondering, and I know you are, this isn't just another Democrat tax scheme. It's bi-partisan confiscation of your money.

Yep, that's about right.

New Character for Evangelion 2.0 - Makinami Mari Illustrious

EVA-EXTRA01 reports that Maaya Sakamoto will play the much speculated on new character Makinami Mari Illustrious in the Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance film. Like previous Evangelion character names, both "Illustrious" and "Makinami" (with different kanji characters) happen to be names of World War II naval ships.

It was also confirmed that Yuko Miyamura will reprise the Asuka role, although the character has been renamed Shikinami Asuka Langley. The project's official website and the second film's teaser, which was shown with the first film, promised the fan-favorite character Asuka, the EVA-02 through -06 units with new designs for many of them, a new eyeglasses-wearing brunette girl character, more fan "service-service", "a shocking new story, and new visuals." Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance will open in Japan on June 27.

Via ANN.

Funimation Discontinued Titles

Funimation sent us over a discontinued DVD yesterday, which along with several 4-Kid's properties like Cabbage Patch Kids and Ninja Turtles, they have also discontinued Spiral and Yu-Gi-Oh - effective April 14th.

We'll be putting both of those titles on 'Stock on Hand' status, so get em while they last!

In better news, they have also dropped the MSRP on the Season 2 and 3 DBZ Remastered sets from $49.98 to $34.98, and we've re-priced them both accordingly down to $24.98 each.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Strike Witches Coming to America - Oh My!

Funimation announced this week that they have acquired the license for the loli pantsu anime Strike Witches, so a US release is now on the horizon.

The question is, how will Funi approach marketing an anime in the US whose primary appeal consists of the suspiciously pantsu-resembling trousers of its rather young cast, and which in Japanese DVD format tastefully lavished attention on the breasts of 12 year old girls... it should be interesting to see how much 'editing' the release will have to get to make it sellable here in the states.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Media Blasters Delays and Date Changes

No sooner did we finish digesting the list of Bandai changes when Media Blasters shot us a list of date changes. Here's what is being rescheduled from the Anime Works and Kitty lines:

1) The Bible Black New Testament, Vol #3, Second Scripture DVD (Adult) has been pushed up three months from April 28th to July 28th. Uggg, that's not going to make anyone happy.

2) The Voltron: Defender of the Universe DVD Collection #8 Box Set has been pushed nearly three months from Apri 28th to July 21st. It's worth noting that this is the 2nd time this has been bumped, I think it was originally scheduled for release in January way back when.

3) Just as we started getting excited about it, both versions of Genshiken 2 - The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, Vol #1, Full Circle which were originally scheduled for June 30th have been delayed with a new release date TBA. We've moved it onto our 'unknown' date list until MB updates it.

4) The Twelve Kingdoms Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-45) also originally scheduled for June 30th has been delayed with a new release date TBA. We've moved it onto our 'unknown' date list as well.

It's been a long day, so I'm posting these without comment for now, except maybe for a ~sigh~...

More Delays and Cancelations from Bandai

The folks at Bandai broad sided me this morning with a surprise batch of date changes and cancellations which we just finished updating on the store site:

1) The Wolf's Rain Perfect Collection DVD Boxed Set (Anime Legends) has been bumped from April 7th to May 5th.

2) The Gundam Seed Destiny DVD Collection #2 Boxed Set (Anime Legends) has been bumped from April 21st to May 19th.

3) Both versions of the first bundle of the Gundam 00 (Eps #1-9) have been pushed from May 19th to June 16th.

4) The Flag Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Anime Legends) and the Zegapain Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Anime Legends) which were both scheduled for May 5th have been CANCELED.

Certain volumes of Flag and Zegapain have been out of stock and unavailable from Bandai for awhile now, and we've had all the old volumes left in stock on closeout for a couple months as Bandai told us they did not intend to reprint them. With the AL sets canceled, that leaves the future availability of these titles hanging, and I'm going to try to get some clarification on this today. You know, are they REALLY canceled, or just delayed or will the original volumes be repressed now or should we just forget the whole thing. I'll post an update here if I get anymore info.

UPDATE: For the time being we are going to go ahead and try to restock all the single DVD's in both Zegapain and Flag until such time that Bandai decides what they are going to do with these series. They will be back up on the store site shortly.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pricing Philosophy / Price Reduction on Kitty / Price Parity on Viz

You guys know that, when I put my business hat on, I don't like gimmicky sales, savings clubs, buyers points, bargain bins, and other bait and switch techniques many retailers use to get your attention and money. Our philosophy has always been to have fair pricing everyday (for everyone) backed up by good service, which is why we only run 3 or 4 sales a year and are very deliberate with our pricing policies. In order to provide good service and keep enough inventory to fill most orders next business day, we need to keep things at a certain pricing level. Also, from a business perspective, I have no desire to participate in the recession generated 'race to the bottom' that some other retailers seem to want to engage in. We'd like to be around and continuing to serve Anime fans for years to come, and selling things at a loss to attract customers is definitely not the way to run a business for the long term.

All that said, we've always had a policy to pass on any major pricing agreements we are able to negotiate with a studio or vendor direct to you. While the wholesale level pricing for most Anime products has been pretty much fixed for the last couple of years (or tied to the exchange rate in the case of imports), we've encountered two pricing events recently that are worth mentioning:

1) It's amazing what you can accomplish with a rock hammer and twenty years. We have finally been able to bring you a better deal on Kitty titles (Media Blasters Adult line), and as a result we've reduced the price on ALL Kitty Adult DVD titles across the store by 8%. This is not a sale or other gimmick or temporary promotion, but a permanent price reduction, so no need to miss the rent next month to load up, the new lower prices will be there whenever you need them.

2) Viz has moved their wholesale DVD distribution from Simon & Shuster over to Warner Entertainment in an attempt to get their titles better penetration among big box retailers. While the wisdom of this move is debatable, it's done and Warner started shipping Viz DVD back lists and new releases to retailers today. When the move was first announced we knew there would be trouble because, frankly, Warner doesn't like to do direct business with retailers that won't buy a couple million bucks annually, and while we do a good volume of Viz, it's impossible to come close to those levels on one Anime line. Anyway, we worked on them for two months and got them to authorize us for a direct account anyway, which gives us the best wholesale pricing level available on Viz products. The problem is that Warner has a really bizarre pricing schedule based on the retail price column a particular product falls into. It varies from item to item and even the best column is not as good as the former pricing we received through Simon and Shuster, so in essence the move to Warner equates to a pretty big wholesale price increase on Viz products for all retails. We've pained over it for awhile and decided NOT to raise our prices to you but instead maintain the same price structure we've always applied to Viz's DVD releases.

Good news on pricing comes in different packages.

And there is another caveat with the Warner deal. Warner makes all retailers sign an agreement not to ship ship titles to customers prior to the street date. Now you know how we feel about that, so we're going to play that one by ear for awhile, if you know what I mean. -_^

Moribito DVD #3 In Stock - At Last!

For those of you who have been enduring the painfully long wait for Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit DVD Volume #3, I am happy to report that our copies finally arrived from Media Blasters earlier today. All pre-orders for it that did not have payment processing problems shipped out today, so most of you should have it in hand by this weekend. All in all it was about 6 weeks late getting released, so no one is happier than me that it's finally in stock. :-)

And since a lot of people have asked, Vol #3 and #4 do come in the unique clear 'door tray' type case that matches Vol #1 & 2, so if you want to complete your art box set you can either purchase volume #3 now, and Vol #4 in June, or you can wait for the Vol #3-4 bundle in June. Either way, everything will match up.

Moribito DVD Vol #3 Synopsis: Balsa decides the best way to hide from the empire's Hunters is in plain sight. She creates a simple home for herself and Chagum in an old mill, and hopes to live with him in peace. The boy prince must learn to live among the commoners, but intelligence and sense of justice make him stand out. Balsa's new start is halted when she asks a local sword smith to fix her damaged spear. He knows who she is, and the emperor's Hunters are also his clients. Balsa and Chagum are locked in a back room as the smith meets with the Hunters just a few feet away.