Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bandai Announces July 2011 Releases / Date Pushes

Bandai has given us their July 2011 release schedule, and we now have it available on the store site for pre-order. Here's what's coming:

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie (A Wakening of the Trailblazer) DVD - Jul 6
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie (A Wakening of the Trailblazer) BLURAY - Jul 6

In addition to these new releases, Bandai has bumped almost their entire June slate into July, including K-On and Tales of the Abyss. Here's the date changes:

Gundam Unicorn , Part #1 DVD (Eps #1-4) - Jun 7 to Jun 23
Tales of the Abyss , Part #1 DVD (Eps #1-6) - Jun 7 to Jul 5
Tales of the Abyss , Part #1 Limited Edition DVD (Eps #1-6) - Jun 7 to Jul 5
K-On! Vol #2 DVD - Jun 14 to Jul 5
K-On! Vol #2 (BLURAY) - Jun 14 to Jul 5

Considering almost the entire June schedule went to July 5th, I give only about 50/50 odds the new Gundam 00 movie will street at that time too. Am I being too generous with those odds? :-)

Economics 301 - Keynes vs. Hayek Rap - Part 2

As many you know, when it comes to economics I've always been a Hayek guy, so here's the next brilliant installment in the Keynes vs. Hayek Rap. Watch it, and learn:

Because you can't really learn economics from a college course. And for those of you that might have missed it, Part #1.

Guest Post - Why Sports Anime Isn't More Popular With R1 Audiences

Recently we were talking on the RACS facebook page about why sports Anime doesn't get much attention here in R1, and how series like Dan Doh, Joe vs. Joe, Eyeshield 21, Slam Dunk, Big Windup, Prince of Tennis, and even Taishi Girls are usually never more than marginal sellers in the North American market.

Jerry thinks he knows why...


Sports anime, as a whole, has failed to take off on this side of the pond due to the very different views our two cultures have, regarding sports.

Here, in sports (even team sports), while teams are lauded or reviled by their performances, the spotlight is ever tightly focused on Star Performers on the team. You never hear an announcer praising the Offensive Line for its protective coverage of the QB in a touchdown play; it's all about the QB, or, more often, the work of the Receiver.

Same goes for baseball. Post-game interviews aren't aimed at the whole team. The newsies want to speak with the Pitcher and whoever belted one out of the park.

That's just the way we always have been, in the States. Sure, teamwork is important and we give lip service to it, but it's the "Dramatic Individual" who OWNS our historical legends...and our sports.

Japan? Pretty much a 180 in perception. The Star, or the "Dramatic Individual" might get a nod for doing something exceptional, but the focus, especially in the field of sports, is "Teamwork! Harmony! Pull Together!" You oughta remember that a phrase kids in Japan hear over & over is: "The nail that sticks up, gets pounded down".

That being said, nearly all the Sports anime I've watched (and sports manga I've read), pushes that same theme, regardless of the sport.

So, the loud, brash, plucky-but-untrained Underdogs band together at some young age and form a Team. Their hearts are pure, but, because their personalities aren't in harmony, they can only try-yet-fail. Finally, through sacrificial pursuit of individual excellence (though only for the greater glory of The Team, and The Sport as a whole), team harmony is achieved. The various oddball-types either slink off in disgrace, or they finally see the light, stuff their egos deep inside somewhere, and decide to give 174% to THE TEAM.

They go on to win!

Or, if it's a girl's team playing a Boys-Only sport, at least put up a respectable showing. Can't have GIRLS crossing the line now, can we?

This sort of set-form schmaltz just doesn't play here, where suppression of Self just isn't really promoted or celebrated (Charlie Sheen, anyone?)

Worst, still, is that 99.999% of sports anime/manga have the same cookie-cutter characters, in the same stock roles. Only the uniforms and gear change.

The one exception that I've had the joy of both reading and watching is "Cross Game", by Adachi Mitsuru. It, too, has a lot of the stock elements in it. Still, the characters are very "human", not just stamped out, and the story uses sports as a backdrop for several parallel tales, rather than making Love of the Game the focus. With it, you get individuals that you actually wind up caring about what happens to them, as individuals, rather than "Oh, dear! How's the Team gonna fare?!"

If Japan can produce more character-driven Sports Anime/Manga, then I think the market would decidedly open up, over here.

-Jerry Campbell, Kirkland, WA

UPDATE: Tatsu writes: I believe your argument is very well-founded. There has been that culture of finding beauty in self-sacrifice for the sake of your team, company, country and even going back to the samurai days, for your clan and warlord. Not glorifying yourself, but bringing glory to your clan. Also, the team-sports theme anime has been deeply instilled in the culture for well over several generations. People basically grow up watching it. For me, I grew up watching Kyojin-no-Hoshi, Captain Tsubasa, Ashita-no-Joe, etc. I think people watch these because anime is pretty much the only media-form that people have had access to that depict these sports-theme stories. In the US, the film industry has been very advanced for very long time. Sports films like the Natural, Hoosiers, Raging Bull, Rocky, and more recently Rudy, Major League, A League of Their Own, Remember the Titans, etc that beautifully depict scripts via live actors have been making it an uphill battle for anime to find a place in the main stream. But perhaps we are at a “been there, done that” point in the film industry where anime will be getting much bigger interests from the viewers as far as sports-themed films go.

Funimation Did Get Some Downloader Settlements

From ICv2 this morning:

"FUNimation pressured some defendants in its One Piece downloading case to settle before the cases were tossed or dropped.

FUNimation's attorney in the case used a controversial technique to file 49 subpoenas with ISPs without the benefit of a judge, according to the report, and some complied by providing the identities of the downloaders. The downloaders were then contacted (the original suit was filed against 'John Does') and $1500 settlements demanded."

So Funi did go after a few specific downloaders who paid a settlement to Funi up to $1,500 each in order for them to drop the case. Hmmm....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sony Admits Total PSN Security Breach - Hackers Have User Info

If you are like me, you have not been able to log onto the PlayStation Network since the middle of last week. What you might still not know is why - it's because the PSN got hacked, and it looks like it might be one of the largest single consumer security breaches in history.

Sony finally came clean today about the "external intrusion" that took PSN down, and admitted that all 69 Million PSN user accounts have probably been compromised. Here is the data that Sony is SURE has been compromised if you have a PlayStation Network Account:

-Your name
-Your address (city, state, and zip)
-E-mail address
-PSN password and login name

Sony says it is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained,". While the company claims that there is "no evidence" that credit card information has been compromised, it won't rule out the possibility.

Best bet is to assume that the hackers have your credit card information too and cancel the card you use for that account. If you stored your debit card information on PSN - well, shame on you - you should DEFINITELY cancel it and get a new one.

Even Sony said:

"If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained."

Sony really is VERY sorry about all this, and they do apologize for the inconvenience.

Yet another reason why we DO NOT allow customer accounts on the RACS store site, nor do we allow you to store your personal and/or payment information on the site. Sure that makes it easier to shop and checkout, but if PSN can get hacked, anyone can. Best way for us to secure your personal information is not to store it at all.

UPDATE: Sony released an FAQ blog post that said credit card data was encrypted and separate from the other data, which was not encrypted but was "behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack."

UPDATE 2: 2.2 Million Credit Card Numbers From PlayStation Network May Be Up for Sale

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt [ OP & ED +]

Funimation recently licensed Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Here's a little teaser...

Goddamnit, if I could just stop seeing Invader Zim girls I could almost like this... -_^


This is great!

Hat tip to Sean for sending over!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New License Announcements / Release Updates

There were a couple of new license announcements that came out of Anime Boston and Sakura-Con over the weekend. Here's the roundup:

Sentai Filmworks (Section 23) announced that it acquired the Senkō no Night Raid (Night Raid 1931) anime series, and plan to release it on DVD and BD in August

Bandai announced that it has acquired the Star Driver Kagayaki no Takuto television anime series. This series premiered in Japan last October, and just ended on April 3, so they did not give any time frame for a release. Star Driver is an interesting series because it's impossible to categorize into any single genre, and probably can equally fall under action, comedy, drama, psychological, romance, science fiction, & supernatural.

Funimation announced at Sakura-con that it licensed the first 48 episodes of the Fairy Tail anime series and The Treasure Hunter (Ci Ling) live-action film. Funimation has already started dubbing Fairy Tails and said they indend to release the first 48 episodes on DVD and BD later this year. Funimation also announced that it will simulcast Aria the Scarlet Ammo starting April 26. Justin Rojas of Funimation said that the company is only announcing the simulcasting rights at this time, so it's unclear if they are going to do a DVD/BD release of this series in the future. Funi likes to keep little tid bits like that a secret, even from us.

And finally, Bandai announced over the weekend via their twitter account that the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie will be released this summer on both DVD & BD! Dubbing is currently underway, and the official street date and release details will be announced soon.

Senkō no Night Raid (Night Raid 1931)
The story is set in Shanghai in 1931, when the Imperial Japanese Army has been dispatched to mainland China due to the relatively recent First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. In this cosmopolitan city of intrigue, there is a special military spy organization called "Sakurai Kikan" that has since been buried in history.

Star Driver Kagayaki no Takuto
On the remote Southern Cross island, a secret organization named The Glittering Crux plans to reactivate giant mobile suits that have been sealed for ages. Known as cybodies, they can only be controlled by pilots known as star drivers. To unleash their full power, the mysterious group must brake the seals of the four shrine maidens that reside in the isle. Recently arrived outsider, Takuto Tsunashi, vows to stop the Glittering Crux in order to protect Wako Agemaki, girl who saved his life and one of the four maidens. Wako is a lively young lady who has already been betrothed to Sugata Shindou, a rich and talented childhood friend. Despite being very close to Agemaki, Sugata quietly disapproves this engagement since it was forced on to them due to a family tradition. The melancholic couple becomes a radiant trio as Takuto becomes not only their friend, but protector of the seals since he is none other than the Galactic Pretty Boy, gifted star driver of Tauburn, the 22nd cybody.

Fairy Tail
Lucy is a 17-year-old girl, who wants to be a full-fledged mage. One day when visiting Harujion Town, she meets Natsu, a young man who gets sick easily by any type of transportation. But Natsu isnt just any ordinary kid, he's a member of one of the world's most infamous mage guilds: Fairy Tail.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wagnaria!! Premium Ed Final Pressing Now in Progress - Restocks Due May 11th

NIS informed us today that the next pressing of the Wagnaria!! (Working!!) Premium Complete DVD Boxed (Eps #1-13), which has been pretty much sold out everywhere since late March, will be shipping to retailers on May 11th. This will be the final printing of the premium edition, and NIS closed up the re-order period to retailers today and fixed our qnties.

This means that our next shipment will be the last batch of these produced, and they are already selling out quickly. RACS will be getting 156 more sets, of which about half are already spoken for. If you want one of these, and at the current price of $44.98, go ahead and get your order in now to reserve your place in line.

Don't forget, Toradora is already sold out at wholesale, and we are down to about the last 20 or so sets of each. Once they are gone, that will be it. Just FYI.

My World - Conflicts of Interest

The deeper you dig, the more dirt you find - and it can be a dirty business.

Conflicts of interest are everywhere in the Anime industry. Publishers who want you to sell their product also have their own stores and sell them directly, often below your cost. Marketers put advertisements right in the products they give you to sell gathering data on your customers. Content sites that want you to pay them to advertise your product also give those products away for free to generate extra traffic so they can charge you more for advertising. Studios let your direct competitors handle the wholesale distribution of their product, allowing them access to all your buying and sales data. Marketplace sites that you pay to sell on will use your sales data to decide of they should carry an obscure product directly and undercut you. Loyalty between business partners doesn't exist except to sales numbers.

This is the environment we do business in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NIS America's July Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

NIS America has announced two new releases for July this year, and this time around instead of just premium editions they are making them DVD/BD combo pack premium sets.

We now have these up on the store site for pre-order:

Arakawa Under the Bridge Season 1 Complete Collection Premium Edition DVD/BD Combo Set (Eps #1-13) - Jul 6

Katanagatari Box Set 1 Premium Edition DVD/BD Combo Set (Eps #1-6) - Jul 6

Arakawa Under the Bridge (Eps #1-13)
Ko Ichinomiya's family motto is "Never be indebted to anyone," but after losing his pants and falling into the Arakawa River, he quickly finds himself in debt to his savior, the cutely insane Nino who happens to live under the bridge. To repay her, he vows to help her with her desire to "experience love." Along the way he'll meet the river's other residents, including a hot-blooded kappa, a Sister in drag, and a literal rock star.

This premium edition DVD/BD combo set includes a full-color, 32-page hardcover art book featuring character art, descriptions, and commentary, interviews with the staff, and special episode information!

Katanagatari (Eps #1-6)
Legend has it the unrivaled blacksmith Shikizaki Kiki's masterpieces, the 12 Klesha Bringers, led the Sengoku Period of Japan. The "Land of the Rising Sun" was unified as one nation under one man. However, this man, the Old Shogun, feared a rebellion and enacted a notorious policy known as Katana Hunting, collecting 988 of the 1,000 katanas Shikizaki forged. Despite the policy, 12 of his true mastercrafts were left uncollected. The other 988 were merely experiments created for the sake of perfecting these 12, known as Klesha Bringers. Yasuri Shichika, the seventh generation master of the sword art Kyoto Ryu, and his older sister Nanami live on the isolated Fusho Island. One day, Togame, a Shogunate official dispatched to collect the Klesha Bringers, pays a visit to the island...

This premium edition DVD/BD combo set includes a full-color, 32-page hardcover art book featuring vivid, unique art work that conveys a story by itself, quest guides, including character information, and song lyrics from quests 1 through 6. A detailed glossary provides a deeper understanding of Japanese history and the traditional terminology used throughout the show.

Section 23 July Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

We've gotten ahold of Section 23's July release schedule, and now have them up on the store site for pre-order.

Here's what's coming:

Orphen Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Re-Re-Release) - Jul 5
Allison and Lillia Generation 2 Collection DVD (Eps #14-26) - Jul 12
Hidamari Sketch (Season 3) X Hoshimittsu Complete DVD Box (14 eps) - Jul 19
Angel Beats Complete Collection DVD (Eps #1-13) - Jul 26
Angel Beats Complete Collection BLURAY (Eps #1-13) - Jul 26

Angel Beats
It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you're caught between the living and the dead-where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you're this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats!

Hidamari Sketch (Season 3) X Hoshimittsu
The continuing stories of the daily life of the students of the Hidamari Apartments at Yamabuki High School. This time, a year has passed since the first season. Yuno and Miyako are second years, Sae and Hiro are third years, and two new students, Nori and Nazuna, move into the Hidamari Apartments.

Funimation's July Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

Funimation has sent over their July release schedule, and we now have it up on the store site for pre-order. Here's what's coming:

Dragon Ball Z Dragonbox DVD Set #6 - Jul 6
Noir Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Classic Collection) - Jul 19
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Part 5 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #53-64) - Jul 26
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Part 5 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #53-64) (BLURAY) - Jul 26
One Piece Season 1 Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) (Uncut) - Jul 26
Peach Girl Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (S.A.V.E Edition) - Jul 26
Shin-Chan (Crayon Shinchan) Season 3 Part #1 DVD Collection (Eps #52-64) - Jul 26
Soul Eater Collection Season 2 Complete DVD Box (Eps #27-52) - Jul 26
Soul Eater Collection Season 2 Complete DVD Box (Eps #27-52) (BLURAY) - Jul 26
Strike Witches TV Series Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) - Jul 26
Yu Yu Hakusho Season 2 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #29-56) (BLURAY) (Classic Collection) - Jul 26

So nothing new for July, just re-releases or continuations. It seems odd that for the all important month of July, Funi barely scheduled a release for the first 3 weeks of the month - especially since studios usually try to bring out an important release or two to coincide with Anime Expo. Perhaps this reflects part of their post sale transition period. ~shrugs~ One final note - the Strike Witches box was originally supposed to be a BD/DVD combo pack, but that got changed. Funi has dropped the BD release and the new box will be a regular DVD re-release only, which I also thought was a little odd.

Friday, April 15, 2011

TokyoPop Shutting Down All North American Publishing Operations

Here, sadly, is a big one today from the Anime Economatrix, posted a couple hours ago:

Tokyopop Senior Vice President Mike Kiley has confirmed that the company will shutter its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations on May 31.

In a post on the website for Tokyopop's America's Greatest Otaku reality web series, the company's CEO, Stu Levy, announced that he will spend the next year in the Japanese prefecture of Miyagi, making a documentary about the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake disaster of March 11. The proceeds of the documentary will go to support the victims. He also posted a farewell message on the official Tokyopop website.

The company's film and European operations will be unaffected by this closure, and its office in Hamburg, Germany will continue to handle global rights sales for the company.

May 31 is less than three weeks after the first major feature film based on a Tokyopop property, Priest, will open in American theaters.

Last month, Levy commented that the February bankruptcy of the Borders bookstore chain had played a significant role in its decision to lay off a number of the company's employees.

The bankruptcy of Borders, a key retailer of manga, and the associated disruption of cash flow and likely losses, was undoubtedly a final nail in the company's coffin.

Not much I can say here. So that's the end of TokyoPop manga (and BLU). It's not like we didn't know it was coming, and I think making movies is a much better endeavour for Stu than publishing manga. He's a creative person but he never really did know what he was doing in the manga business. His business ideas for Digital? DOA. Print on demand? DOA. Concentrating on bookstore channels and alienating your directs? DOA. Selling direct from TP's website and alienating ALL your channels? DOA. On and on and on. From what we've seen going on in the supply chain for over a year, we're surprised they lasted this long. Stu "fought the good fight", but in the end, he lost - and now so do we.

So I'm sure everyone will be wondering what will happen to TP's licenses and what previously announced upcoming manga will be published and won't be published. Don't know yet, but I'm sure there won't be much good news if any - only 2,000 headaches. I'll post more info when we have it.

UPDATE: Well, it's official. All TokyoPop and BLU titles scheduled for release after May 4, 2011 will be canceled and not published. We'll begin removing these books from the site shortly, and all pre-orders for them will automatically be canceled. Sorry folks, I'm just the messenger.

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Drive Through Fukushima

A drive through Fukushima:

Just FYI, the reading they take of 112 microsieverts is roughly 350 times normal background radiation. I'm pretty sure that's still under the current (twice upgraded) legal limit. Still, I'm not sure anyone would want to live in those areas. Wow.

UPDATE: The published IAEA limit is 5,700 nanoSieverts/hour. 112 microSieverts/hour = 112,000 nanoSieverts/hour, but that reading is coming from only 1.5 km from the plant.

UPDATE 2: Japanese risk radiation to rescue stranded dogs.

Sound of the Sky (Sora no Woto) Opening

Sora no Woto OP:

Because it's cool! Hat tip to Sean from sending over.

The 'Anti-Sale' Promotion - HEH

We make a few mistakes on the store site from time to time - and fans NEVER fail to immediately call us out on them, so when I saw this from Mr. Perfect's site circulating around the Anime webs, I thought it was funny. Seems Brand X was recently having an 'Anti-Sale' on Gilgamesh boxes:

Damn, you can't even get an affiliate commission or club discount on that one. Looks like they are returning to their old pricing strategy. HEH. -_^

Thursday, April 07, 2011

TV Tokyo and NAS Force 4Kids To File For Bankruptcy Protection

More news this morning from the Anime Economatrix:

The master licensing and dubbing company 4Kids Entertainment, best known for bringing Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! to the US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (along with 11 affiliated companies) in federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday. The company listed assets of $23,372,000 and liabilities of $16,526,000 and indicated that it expected to have money to disburse to its unsecured creditors.

The company had warned last week that it might have to file Chapter 11 if it was not able to settle litigation with TV Tokyo and NAS, which terminated 4Kids’ rights to Yu-Gi-Oh! and alleged that 4Kids had secretly hidden moneys on which it should have paid the rightsholders royalties. On March 29, 2011 TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems sued 4Kids Entertainment, alleging that the company entered into illegal agreements with other companies, including Funimation Entertainment and Majesco Entertainment, regarding the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise. TV Tokyo claimed that those agreements allowed 4Kids to collect royalties without paying a portion of those royalties to TV Tokyo, which violates their original agreement. The companies are seeking almost $5 million in "underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations." As part of the suit, the companies terminated the Yu-Gi-Oh! license from 4Kids.

On March 31, 4Kids Entertainment filed a shareholder report stating that on March 27 they had informed the licensors that their termination letter was "wrongful and devoid of any factual and legal basis," and that they had not given 4Kids 10 days notice as required. 4Kids further revealed that they had made a good-faith payment and agreed to a March 18 meeting in lieu of a lawsuit, which TV Tokyo and NAS nevertheless decided to go ahead with. 4Kids also stated that even if the termination is found to be valid, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to stay in business, and have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as of April 6, 2011.

In the bankruptcy filing, 4Kids listed its debts in the filing. The Pokemon Company International was the largest creditr, with $4.7 million owed. Second was Asatsu-DK (parent of NAS), with $4,221,626 owed. Third was CW network, home of 4Kids’ Toonzai programming block on Saturday mornings, with $1,987,000 owed.

4Kids has been loosing money for several years and the New York Stock Exchange delisted 4Kids (NYSE: KDE) stock in June of last year because they could not maintain the minimum capital requirements to trade on the exchange.

Some background on 4Kids controversial 'localization' practices:

The management of 4Kids Entertainment has stated that it seeks to "localize anime so children in English-speaking countries will understand it...", judging that localization is necessary in order for these titles to be profitable. For most titles, the editing 4Kids performs falls into a few broad categories – 4Kids may seek to "Americanize" a program by changing character names, dialog, music, food, or stereotypes which would be unfamiliar or even offensive to an American audience, as in the series, Pokémon, where rice balls are changed into American food such as jelly doughnuts or submarine sandwiches. The company also may remove some materially suggestive objects such as cigarettes or guns with lollipops, water guns, crosses, or content deemed too violent or suggestive for American children. In an interview with Al Kahn, CEO of 4Kids, when asked how the company decides what properties or anime to acquire, his reply was "..if [anime fans] want this programming to come to the United States then they're going to have to accept the fact that it's going to be available in two styles." A March 2006 study by the Parents Television Council on violence in children's television programs said that the 4Kids dub of Shaman King was still too violent for children. L. Brent Bozell also pointed out the 4Kids-dubbed Shaman King in one of his weekly column as an example of children's media he perceived as having undue "cultural landmines".

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

My World - Overconfidence

Something to be avoided at all costs...

...though it doesn't seem to stop others.

Funimation Lowers the Price of DB S2 and the School Rumble Complete Box

Today Funimation has reduced the MSRP on the Dragonball S2 box and the School Rumble Complete Box:

Dragon Ball Season 2 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #32-62) (Uncut) - Now $34.98 MSRP
School Rumble Season 1 & 2 + OVA Most Awesomest Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-52) - Now $49.98 MSRP

We have lowered our regular price for these to $24.98 and $34.98 respectively. They are both in stock and shipping at the new prices today!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sentai Licenses Maria Holic Alive!

Sentai Filmworks just announced today that they have acquired the Maria Holic Alive! series, which is the follow up Maria Holic. The series will not even begin broadcast in Japan until April 7th, and while they did not say when it might be released in R1, it will almost certainly be a 2012 title.

Synopsis: Some things never change: Ame no Kisaki, that famous and extraordinarily exclusive boarding school, STILL doesn’t accept boys. And Kanako, Kisaki’s most romantically unfortunate student, STILL doesn’t accept them either. They give her the hives. Literally. Sadly, that means that Kanako’s STILL trying to connect with ANYONE of the same sex, and having the usual horrid luck; STILL being in imminent peril of dying from the constant nosebleeds she gets from being over stimulated by the presence of her fellow classmates; and STILL being forced to endure the tragedy of sharing a room with the school’s most beautiful girl, who is, of course, STILL a guy in drag. Poor Kanako! She came to school to major in loving women, and instead she’s STILL failing relationships in Maria Holic Alive!

Gen Fukunaga and Investor Group Buys Back Funimation - for Just $24 Million

HEH. I had noticed that there seemed to be a lot of selling of NAVR stock over the last few days, because something was driving the price down, and now I'm reading this from the Anime Economatrix over my coffee this morning:

The media distributor Navarre Corporation announced on Monday that it has sold its anime company Funimation to a group of investors that includes Gen Fukunaga, who is also Funimation's chief executive officer. The price of the all-cash transaction is US$24 million. Navarre will continue to serve as Funimation's exclusive distributor in the United States, as well as its logistics and fulfillment services provider. The investment group also includes John A. Kuelbs "who was then instrumental in selecting Darwin and Doug Deason to join the team," according to Funimation.

Gen Fukunaga gave this statement:

"We have a great history with Navarre and we thank everyone there for their longstanding support throughout the last five years. It is due to Navarre's logistical expertise and wide distribution network that we were able to grow our company into the Anime industry's market share leader. Though it will no longer be our parent company, Navarre will continue to distribute our product and we look forward to working with them for years to come. We are very excited about our new partners all of whom understand our vision and will help us develop our initiatives in physical product, digital entertainment and other growth areas."

In January 2005, Navarre Corporation announced plans to acquire from a group of private owners that included Fukunaga and the Cocanaour family . The acquisition was completed in May that year. Navarre initially offered $127 million dollars for Funimation ($100.5 million in cash and $26.5 million in Navarre common stock) and $17 million in performance based earnouts, for a total of $142 million. Adjustments to the value of the Navarre stock and cancellation of the earnout payments brought the total price for Funimation down to $114 million, $90 million more than today's announced sale price.

Funimation's 2004 net sales totalled US$72 million, with pre-tax income of US$29.8 million. Earlier this year business reporter Eric Wieffering estimated Funimation's 2010 net sales at US $35 million and pre-tax income at US $10 million (Funimation's 2010 financial year ended on March 31, 2011).

Last year, Navarre announced that it was considering selling Funimation. In September, the company stated that it had six potential buyers, but announced in January that it had received no adequate offer and was considering halting the sales process.

Gen really is the smartest guy in the room in the R1 Anime biz, and is one of the few people who has actually gotten rich from it. He put together this little Anime company with the help of a some private investment money, built it up with the help of his family connections in Japan, and sells it a few years later at the top of the market to Navarre for $142 Million, and then (with the help of a little more private investment money) buy's it back from the same now debt laden company six years later for $24 Million - 17 cents on the dollar - and got to run the thing the whole time. Unreal. In the end, Gen had to round up a group of investors who could easily afford to loose a few million.

So there is really nothing happening here except that Gen is getting richer and Navarre shareholders take a bath. After all, shareholders usually do - it's always those big money private equity guys that come out roses.

Update: Reid Porter, the COO of Navarre says: "This transaction ends a comprehensive sales process undertaken over the last year. As previously discussed, FUNimation's future strategies and associated risks to execute them are not in line with Navarre's strategic direction." In other words, we no longer have to risk loosing more money in a declining R1 Anime industry.

Cary Deacon, and CEO of Navarre says: "Navarre will be able to deploy the funds generated from the sale of FUNimation to build or acquire new businesses and services to diversify our revenue streams that will support our long-term objectives." Cary, it seems, thinks there are better places to deploy their capitol than in the Anime industry.

The folks at Navarre seem to be pretty happy about getting Funi off their books. NAVR shareholders seem less enthused. Stock is trading flat on the announcement. Looks like all the folks 'in the know' got out already over the past few weeks.

UPDATE 2 (Apr 6): Cary Deacon, the CEO of Navarre was fired today by the board of directors. I guess some of the larger shareholders have had enough.

Monday, April 04, 2011

K-On Finished DVD & BD Art

Bandai has posted pictures of the actual finished K-On Vol #1 DVD and BD:

Could this mean they will actually ship K-On Vol #1 on time? No delays or date pushes? Keeping figures crossed... :-)

Funimation Picks Up the Tales of Vesperia Movie, Fractale, and Freezing

Funimation announced at its Anime Detour convention panel on Saturday that it has picked up the Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ Movie. Funimation has also acquired additional rights for both Fractale and Freezing - including the home entertainment, broadcast, digital, mobile and merchandise rights for Fractale, and it has the home entertainment, broadcast, theatrical, digital, and merchandising rights for Freezing.

Funimation plans to release the Vesperia Movie, Fractale, and Freezing on DVD and BD next year.

Tales of Vesperia The First Strike Movie

Synopsis: A long time has passed since the end of a massive war between humans and monsters. A new type of energy named "aer" was discovered. When crystallized, this substance became the energy source for "blastia", an ancient civilization's technology that provided a wide array of essential abilities for humanity. Despite it's manipulation, mankind still has little knowledge of what exactly is "aer". On a mission to eradicate a horde of monsters near the town of Shizotania, a group of knights comes across a strange surge of "aer". Yuri Lowell and Flynn Scifo are two new members fresh out of the academy of this knight division. Both are childhood friends who went separate ways, but ended up meeting each other once again while enlisting to serve the Empire.


Synopsis: In a far distant future, humanity has embraced the Fractale system as the ultimate path towards utopia. Comprised of several trillion networked computers, Fractale was created in the 22nd century to promote a peaceful lifestyle for the entire world in exchange of a periodic recovery of personal data from individuals through terminals located within their bodies. Living in a rocky coast region, Clain is a young boy fascinated by old technology. After helping a girl named Phryne, she gives him a pendant before disappearing by the next morning. Accessing the data from the peculiar gift, Clain ends up summoning a girl-shaped avatar named Nessa. Together they start a journey as they discover the truth behind the Fractale system.


Synopsis: Set in a slightly futuristic world where Earth has been invaded and is at war with aliens from another dimension called the Nova, the story follows the adventures of a Japanese boy named Kazuya Aoi who enrolls for training at a special school for genetically modified girls called Pandoras who battle the aliens, and their male partners, called Limiters, who use a special power called "freezing" to limit their opponent's mobility. The protagonist makes the acquaintance of an unusual older girl named Bridgette L. Satellizer who appears to be the most powerful Pandora in her class, but has not yet chosen a male partner to be her Limiter, and in spite of the warnings of all his friends, he decides to be her Limiter.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dance In The Vampire Bund OP

HD OP for Dance in the Vampire Bund.

Because it's awesome. :-)

Media Blasters Discontinues a Few Titles

Media Blasters sent us a big list of discontinued and out of stock items earlier today, and while most of them are older stuff versions of more recent issues that have been out of stock for awhile anyway, there were a few notable end of life versions that I wanted to mention.

We will no longer be able to restock:

Iria: Zeiram the Animation DVD
eX-Driver, Perfect Collection DVD Set
Figure 17 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
If I See You In My Dreams Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Jewel Hunter Lime BEM DVD
Babel II DVD Collectors Box Set

All of these titles have been placed on 'limited to stock on hand' status. In addition to these, they also listed:

Voltron: Fleet of Doom Movie(BLURAY)
Dairugger DVD Collection 3 (Eps #37-52)

So I think it's safe to assume they have just put the Kibosh on the BD version of Fleet of Doom. Dairugger 3, on the other hand, actually shipped recently and we should be getting a few copies shortly. It seems that they are letting us know that whatever has already shipped to us is all we're going to get and that they are not going to press any more copies.