Sunday, December 16, 2007

Updates - December 14th, 2007

The holidays are upon us! We'll be working our butts off through the weekend to take care of all you last minute shoppers, and we're all looking forward to having a long four day weekend to spend with our families after next week. It's been a challenging year for both the Anime industry and the economy as a whole, but this is the time of year we are reminded about what really matters. The best thing about what we do is that we not only get to spend everyday working with what we love, but that we get to serve each other. What else could be more important...

It's crunch time for us, and the deadlines for online shopping are coming down to the wire. Christmas is now 9 days away, but the last day before we close up shop and take off for the long holiday weekend is only 5 days from now, so the holiday deadlines are closer than you think. The deadline for Economy shipping has passed, and you can use our holiday shipping schedule to see how you'll need to have your parcels sent to ensure they arrive on time. Noemi says we'll get your orders out, even if we have to stand on our heads to do it, you just make sure to choose the shipping method that meets your needs. :-)

Don't forget, if you can't decide what to get your favorite Otaku this Christmas try one of our gift certificates .They are a quick and easy fan favorite, and have been our number one selling item over the past 2 weeks!

ICv2 reported that the manga publishers plan to build upon their success this year by increasing the number of manga volumes released from 1,400 in 2007 to around 1,800 in 2008. I think it's great that manga is growing in popularity, but I also worry that the big two (Viz and TokyoPop) are going to be publishing so many new volumes next year that us fans will become overwhelmed with choices. Still, more diversity is good and as long as they continue to keep older volumes in print as the newer ones come out we'll continue to make room in the warehouse for all the new releases while we back stock all the original volumes. I figure by the end of this year we'll have about 42,000 manga volumes (that's books not series) in stock in the warehouse, and probably around 54,000 by the end of next year. Man, that's a lot of books, and a lot of manga love! :-)

A couple people have written in recently to ask why we are not carrying most of the new Funimation single DVD price downs, and the answer is simple - Boxed Sets. We're an independent store serving fans, and I don't believe we need to carry every single title released every single way a publisher sees fit. In the case of the single DVD repricing from Fun on titles like Alchemist, Trinity Blood, Basilisk, and Gunslinger Girl they are just trying to move excess copies of the original single DVD's at a lower price, but all of these titles have already been re-released as lower priced collections and we don't see the point in carrying the titles both ways. For instance, even though the MSRP for the single DVD's of Burst Angel has been reduced from $29.98 to $19.98, the MSRP on the Burst Angel premium boxed set is only $89.98, so why would people want to take a step backwards and buy the six single DVD's for $120 when the premium box is already available for $90? (I'm not using our regular discount price in this example, but it works out the same) The new Viridian boxed sets offer even more value over the single releases, so it's pretty clear to me that - as a 'thinking' Anime store manager - there is no need to carry these titles in multiple formats. That way fans can be assured that the products we do offer already carry the best value without having to wade through pages of different releases, just to find out later that something else was actually the better value. [steps off soap box] Nuff said.

Viz announced their release of the Buso Renkin Anime this week (for April), and interestingly they are going to do it like they did Prince of Tennis - as two collectors boxes rather than single DVD's. I like this methodology for these types of shows, and I give props to Viz for being forward thinking and offering fans extra value on these series right from the start.

Thanks to Tom for sending this hilarious video link to me this week. My only hope is that all Japanese don't learn English this way, but at least we know they will be prepared for their vacation here on the dangerous streets of the U.S.! I know I always wear a hanky on my head when I go out to rob unsuspecting Japanese tourists....with a nail file!!!???

The 2008 import calendars that arrived from Japan last week are proving to be one of the hottest selling categories over the past few days, and we've already sold out of a couple of styles. It's no wonder, as these are some of the best calendars I have seen in several years, so be sure to checkout our selection before they are all gone.

Our partner sale with JapanAnime (Adults only please!) continues this week on all of their Adult Anime DVD's, so you can still save at least 40% off retail on just about our entire stock of JA items.

There are only a few days left to save on our select list of holiday gift ideas that we've slashed up to 70% off the retail price. Several items have already gone beyond the qnty we had allocated for the sale and have been removed from the list (the Black Lagoon set for instance), and most of what is left is getting down to low stock and won't be available at these prices much longer.

I thought new arrivals would be really lite this week, but we ended up working it out with ADV to bring in the titles set to street the first week of January, so I'm VERY happy to report that we now have the first Kanon DVD in stock, along with the long awaited re-release of Nadesico that has been off the market for a couple of years. We also have our restocks of the hard to find Evangelion Perfect Collection Tins, and I think this will probably be the last of them we are able to get. We have another excellent new manga update for you, and several new figures in stock from Kotobukiya which currently produces some of the best values on the market for collectors. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

One more week to go. WooHoo!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Updates - November 30th, 2007

Well, the holiday shopping season is now in full swing, and we have started working late into the evening to keep up with order volume. This is our 10th holiday season supporting Anime fans, so we know what to do. :-)

We have been working through the typical new release delays and shipment SNAFU's that seem to always occur right around the Thanksgiving holiday. Many studios close that entire week, and problems tend to become 'acute' faster than during other times, but as of right now we're in great shape. We have most of the titles for the first half of December in stock now (though ADV's stuff came...ummm...all at once), and we're well stocked for the coming onslaught over the next two weeks.

Speaking of ADV, we did receive a limited number of the Evangelion and Nadia perfect collection tins, but not enough to fill pre-orders. They ended up getting allocated as there were not enough to go around, and ADV has promised us more around the middle of December, though they could not be more specific. We've kept both tins on pre-order and we'll be filling the rest of those orders once more stock arrives.

We had a little glitch on 'Cyber Monday' in that Yahoo's backend that supports the cart was overwhelmed with traffic and ended up going down for a few hours. We worked with their engineering dept pretty much all day to get the site back up and running, and since then they have added several new transaction servers to the store system to accommodate the extra traffic, and now everything seems to be running even better than before. I apologize if this caused you guys any problems, and I appreciate the patience everyone showed on Monday as we worked to get the checkout system back up.

If there wasn't enough new stuff for you to buy this week, Ron just shot me a message from the receiving area to let me know that three more new DVD's just hit the dock over there and are being unpacked now - Witchblade 3, Musashi 4, and Paprika (BlueRay).

We've noticed the usual increase in delivery days for mail parcels as holiday volume ramps up, so we changed the default shipping method from Economy (standard mail) to Priority Mail on the checkout pages, though all options are still available in the little pull down menu. It's getting closer to crunch time and we're encouraging customers to take the safe road on those gift orders and select a faster delivery option.... hint...hint... -_^ I see a lot of stores emphasizing 'free shipping' this year over 'total value', but guys don't be fooled by all the hype - the ketchup and mustard packets are built into the price of the hot dog, always have been, and always will be. Just a little 'food' for thought. :-)

Our Holiday Madness sale continues through midnight tonight, though I am sympathetic to all the folks that e-mailed in this week asking us to extend the sale into next week. I have not decided on that yet, and while I normally would be happy to honor those requests, next week is the absolute busiest week of the year for us and honestly I'm not sure that it's a good idea that we do much to encourage extra orders as we'll already have our hands full.

Oh to heck with it, you guys talked me into it - we'll extend the sale until Tuesday. I'm such a sucker for what you guys want! :-) Damn the torpedos - full speed ahead!

I wanted to mention that our 2008 domestic calendars are selling out quickly, but the first shipment of imports is due to arrive from Japan early next week. We'll post them to the calendar section as soon as they arrive.

We've teamed up with some of the major studios and created a select list of holiday gift ideas that we've slashed up to 70% off the retail price - in fact, we've priced some of these items way below our regular cost. The catch is that we only have a certain number of units of each featured item available at these prices, so grab them before they run out.

Our partner sale with Adult Source Media (Adults only please!) ends tonight at Midnight so this will be your last chance to save at least 40% off on all of their titles.

We have about a months worth of new arrivals for you this week, way too many to try to feature here. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday - Network Problems...Backup and Running!

As of approx 11:24am (EST) today we have lost cart and checkout functionality, so customers have been unable to place orders on the store site for around 5 hours now. We are aware of this and we are doing everything possible to get the site back up. This problem has not effected orders already placed - they are in our system and being processed now.

Our store is hosted on Yahoo's e-Commerce platform, and the problem is not on our end, but with their secure servers and is effecting about 45,000 other stores on the web. The problem is so widespread CNBC has picked it up as headline news.

We're working with their engineering team to solve the problem and at least get a simple secure checkout process up and running so that you can continue to place orders on the store until the main problem is fixed.

I really apologize for this, I know today is the day that many of you start ordering your holiday gifts and we want to get those orders processed as soon as possible. If you have been to the store today and have been unable to place an order please rest assured that we'll get the store back up and running as quickly as possible.

9:48PM (UPDATE): Backup and running. There may be some intermittent slowness until load balance is fully restored, but checkout should run as normal. We've been testing for about 90 minutes now and everything seems to be good to go!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Updates - November 16th, 2007

It's cold and windy today, and it certainly feels like fall! The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up next week, and that means good food and time with Family and friends.
This year has been a turbulent one in the Anime industry with many good companies vanishing from the scene, and many great people having to look for new jobs outside of the field they know and love. We'd like to take some time to send them all our best wishes and hopes for the future, and I'd like to personally thank each and every one of you for the continued support you've shown us this year. We come to work everyday to serve you, and it's only your support that makes what we do possible.

Thank you very much!

Couple more schedule changes in this week. Funimation has let us know that they have moved back the release of both the Gunslinger Girl and the new Spiral economy boxed sets from Nov 20th to Dec 13th. That means we now expect them to arrive around the first week of December.

Speaking of Gunslinger Girl, many of Funimation's second/third/fourth generation re-releases (and hence price downs) are being released under the name 'the Viridian Collection', and a lot of people are writing in wondering what that means, and if there is anything special about it. The answer is no, except that the marketing folks at Fun are very smart and came up with something that created a buzz. Viridian (other than being a shade of bright green) = Anime Legends = Signature Series = Essential Anime = etc.etc. They are just cool sounding buzz terms that indicate that this version is a re-re-re-re-re-released version of an older title at a lower MSRP. Actually, I think 'Viridian' has a rather nice ring to it myself - I always thought 'Essential Anime' was kinda 'cliche', especially when they stamp it on any old title whether it's essential or not... -_^

You'd be surprised how many fans are pretty disconnected from current events in the industry, and we are still fielding a couple dozen inquires a week from people wondering why 'X' Geneon title was canceled or is sold out. Since Geneon products are starting to become rather scarce (try finding a complete set of Fate/Stay), many of you have requested we post a list of Geneon titles. You can find that list here along with some of the items that are especially low stock and will be gone soon. If nothing else grab a set of Ergo Proxy (check out the ANN review) because it's one of those series that's you'll regret missing once the DVD's sell out.

The holidays are upon us, and next week we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with our families. This year the holidays fall a little earlier on the calendar, and you might not have as much time as you think to get those holiday gifts so we've posted our 2007 holiday shipping and delivery schedule to help guide you through the holiday shopping season and make sure your orders arrive on time (because hey, that's what we do!).

Another badly run Anime company bites the dust. This week the folks at Mythwear (the guys that make some of those logo bags and other merchandise) took down their website and disconnected their phones so they have effectively ceased to exist as an operating entity. I understand that they left our friends in Iowa holding the bag (no pun intended) on a lot of customer backorders that they had taken for products that they did not have in stock. We stopped doing business with Myth earlier this year when it become clear they were not delivering orders in a timely fashion, nor were they responsive to customer issues - especially issues of quality on some of the newer releases. So Mythwear fades into history and our stock on their stuff will be limited to whatever we have left on hand - and don't worry - we never take orders for things we don't actually keep in stock. -_^

I caught the first 4 eps of FLAG last weekend, and it's a really good series so far, though it's very different - sort of in the way that Kino's Journey was different from anything else on the scene at the time - and it's certainly not getting the recognition that it deserves. The folks at ANN offer this advice on Flag: "Jaded by all of the cookie-cutter anime series out there (yes)? Want something utterly different (definitely)? Check out this mature, politically charged series about a star photographer embedded in a front- line military unit in a strife- torn Asian country. (OK, I'm sold!)" I also finally got to watch the first DVD of Death Note and it's every bit as good as everyone says it is. It's brilliant, in fact, it may turn out to be one of the best Anime released this year!

After many requests we've extended our 'Gobble Up the Savings' promo for five more days, so you can continue to enjoy the coupon savings through Tuesday, November 20th. Be sure to checkout the coupon section on the stores front page..

Our early bird Figure and Toy sale continues. We've discounted almost every in stock item in the Figure and Toy section an additional 10% to ensure there is plenty of Anime goodness to go under the tree this year. Combine that discount with our current coupon savings and our economy shipping option and you've got your self a real deal. Trust me folks, this gets you down right around cost on many of these items! Quantities are limited to stock on hand, and we've already seen 32 figures disappear from the site in the past 7 days, so don't wait since many more will be going away in the next few days.

Our partner sale with Adult Source Media also continues, so you can still save up to 40% off on all of their titles. We've done a big buy in of extra stock for the sale so the low prices will only be valid while our extra sale stock lasts. Adults only please!

DVD boxed sets have been the name of the game this week. The big news is the excellent Git's 2nd GIG boxed set that we received early. It includes all 7 GITS 2nd GIG DVD's in a great looking art box (much nicer than the original GiTS box), and our pre-order customers are already enjoying their sets this weekend. We also received the 5th Naruto boxed set, which we're making available to fans about 3 weeks before it will be put out on store shelves. The LE version of the Naruto box (which includes the Gamabunta figure) arrived a couple hours ago and is still being checked in (along with Suzuka 5), so they are both available now though they won't be updated on the site until later today. You heard it here first!

The manga companies clearly won't be satisfied until we are reading manga 24 hours a day! :-) This is our third huge manga update in a row, and we're glad of it because this week we got several shipments from TokyoPop that included many much needed restocks. Some of the restocks like iDentity 10 and Rozen Maiden 6 took TokyoPop five full weeks to ship to us, but you all know about my angst with them, and I'm just glad they are here. In addition to 49 new manga arrivals we have more import Anime goodness in the form of new art collections and the latest round of Japanese magazines like Megami. We also have a few of the very scarce and massive Naruto Shadow Box collections which contains the first 27 volumes of Naruto in a special edition wooden collectors case and will be one of those items that don't last long this holiday season!

We did a huge and long overdue character merchandise update this week. We also have many new figures and few figure restocks in this week, but in very limited quantities (some of which have already sold out). There still a couple of the Masane Power Up figures left, and be sure to checkout the new and extremely cool Esther Blanchett figure - she's a keeper! Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting words for you this week are - Pretty In Pink!

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Updates - November 9th, 2007

Anime retailing is not always glitze and glitter, wild parties, and amazing paychecks like you probably think. :-) Sometimes the hardest part of our daily routine is not in keeping up with orders, or the new product arrivals, or the prebooks, or the customer inquiries - it's coming up with all these cute blurbs, one liners and holiday promo tie ins like 'Gobble Up the Savings' or 'Spooktacular Discounts'. Believe me it ain't easy being cheesy... -_^ ...but if it brightens your day a little then we consider it a job well done.

Monday is the Veterans day holiday here in the US. We'll be working that day, but all Government offices will be closed including the post office, so there won't be any postal deliveries made next week until Tuesday. UPS and FedEx deliveries will not be effected.

I have one date push to share this week. Bandai told us that they needed to bump Flag Vol #2 (DVD) from December 4th back to January 8th. I have been a little skeptical of this title after reading some of the online reviews, but Jerry (one of our highly respected Otaku friends) wrote in this week and highly recommends Flag. He characterizes it as a 'thinking mans Anime' and understands why some reviewers have had some trouble figuring it out. I often read bad reviews about an Anime that I end up really enjoying, and I think it's important that you take what other people say with a grain of salt (even pro critics like Chris Beverage misses the mark as often as not). We all have slightly different expectations for a series, and until you've tried one out for yourself, what do you really know - and then of course, it's too late and you might get hooked! So that's exactly what I'm going to do this weekend - because if Jerry says it's good then I have to see it!

Kerry Deacon, the CEO of Navarre, which is the company that owns Funimation (yes I know, it's a rich tapestry) said this week that the demise of Geneon will probably be good for Funimation's sales - as in fewer Anime DVD releases mean higher sell throughs for Funimation's existing titles - good for them, but not necessarily for us. He also 'eluded' to a couple of Geneon licenses like Black Lagoon and Hellsing as great licenses with uncertain futures. If you've seen the headlines and are reading that as "Funimation is interested in picking up former Geneon titles" - don't. As of the end of October any hopes for a quick fix distribution deal coming out of Geneon are over - there is simply no staff left there to support it. I'm sure the folks at Dentsu have been getting calls from the other US Anime studios like Fun, ADV, and Media Blasters trying to cherry pick Geneon's catalog of licenses, but as to any progress on that front - well that's something we probably won't know about for awhile.

One of the newest 'ultra fan service' shows to hit the scene in Japan is a 13 episode sports/comedy called Umisho, and here Darry gives us 60 reasons why we must watch it once it comes to R1. They all look reasonable to me.... Here's the OP.

After a better than usual October, sales continue to be brisk for us going into November. To be honest, after the Geneon debacle we didn't really know what to expect this holiday season, but it's pretty clear now that our order volumes will be as strong as ever, so I decided to move our 'Gobble Up the Savings' November promo up a week. Between Thanksgiving and about the second week of December we pretty much work around the clock, and after looking at the numbers from past years I felt that if we could encourage some of you to do your holiday shopping a little earlier this year it might help us a bit during the rush. We'll see how it turns out. :-)

In addition to the 'Gobble Up' coupon savings, we've discounted every in stock item in the Figure and Toy section an additional 10% to ensure there is plenty of Anime goodness to go under the tree this year. Combine that discount with our current coupon savings and our economy shipping option and you've got your self a real deal - and you didn't have to pay to join some loyalty club or wait for a particular brand to be put on sale. :-)

To save 3% off any in stock order over $99 use code: GOBBLEUP3
To save 5% off any in stock order over $199 use code: GOBBLEUP5
To save 7% off any in stock order over $299 use code: GOBBLEUP7

Coupons are valid ONLY for NEW orders and are good through Thursday, November 15th - so don't wait - shop early and save!

Our partner sale with Adult Source Media continues this week, so you can still save up to 40% off on all of their titles. We've done a big buy in of extra stock for the sale so the low prices will only be valid while our extra sale stock lasts. Adults only please!

It's been another big week for new arrivals, with Viz and Funimation putting more of their late November DVD releases into our hands early. In addition to DVD's we have another huge manga update with 46 new volumes from TokyoPop, Viz, and CMX. Be sure to checkout the excellent Azumanga Omnibus Edition which collects all 4 volumes of the series in gigantic hardcover edition.

This week the rest of our Saber Maid figures arrived, which features Saber in a skimpy black and white lace maid outfit. My personal figure of her had to come out of the second shipment, and I have to tell you the pictures do not do her justice - this is just a fantastic figure, for the way she has been sculpted down to the level of costume detail and paint work. PVC figures have been getting more expensive recently, but this one is definately worth the price. We also received the absolutely gorgeous Blanc Neige figure which not only is perfectly sculpted and highly detailed, but is also a great value. We have filled all of your pre-orders for these now, and only have a few left over in stock, so get em while they last! Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting words for you this week are - Ice Witch!

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Updates - November 2nd, 2007

Now that the Ghosts and Ghouls of Halloween have been put to bed for another year, we find that the holiday shopping season is upon us, so we know that crunch time is only a couple of weeks away (you can always tell what time of year it is by the amount of window dressing the other retailers are doing). This year will be different from previous years in that there will be a larger than usual amount of items that are being discontinued or will be harder to get, and to complicate matters the studios have made it clear that they will not be carrying large holiday inventories as they have in the past, so my advice is to shop early and get your holiday gift items ordered well before the crunch that occurs between Thanksgiving and about the second week of December. As always, we'll be stocking up and working overtime so that we can do the very best job possible for you.

This week we finally received confirmation of what we already knew - that Illumitoon is pretty much history (at least from doing anymore DVD releases), which leaves several rather lackluster series like BoBoBo, B'tX, and Beet the Vandel Buster incomplete on DVD. It also leaves the DVD release of AM Driver canceled altogether. I don't think that Illumitoons demise is a product of a weak market, I think it was a product of bad management. The company was fairly new, formed by a group of former Funimation execs who got some venture capital and tried to license and produce series that they thought would be mainstream hits, only to release those titles with a very poor marketing and distribution infrastructure. They did manage to get their titles picked up for cable TV, but they never put any weight behind the DVD releases which were actually produced on the cheap and poorly packaged - so they never developed a following and thus, they are now gone from the DVD scene. My feelings are with the fans that did start to collect their series, but at least we can take solace that their they only got one or two volumes of each series out and that fans have not made too large an investment in their products.

Bandai Entertainment and Kadokawa are leading us to believe that they will be releasing Lucky Star soon, which is quite exciting. Bandai has no comment on the show for now, but they have included a teaser trailer on the forth Haruhi DVD, and you can view that trailer here. Bandai will probably make a formal announcement once they have set a date for the release, and we'll be anxiously awaiting that!

The folks at Adult Source Media called us up and asked if we would like to run a sale on their items through some of November, and I thought it was a great idea, so you can now save up to 40% off on all of their titles. Adults only for a limited time!

All ASM Titles On Sale Up to 40% Off MSRP! Limited Time!

It's been a heck of a week in regards to new arrivals, with most of the studios pushing titles out to us deep into November's release schedule. I love it when we get stuff in before anyone else, especially when we are able to get a new release to you 2, 3 or maybe even 4 weeks before people can buy it at the store. This week we are shipping Death Note 1, the final volume of Haruhi, Witchblade 2, My-Otome 3 and tons of others way before fans going to place like Best Buy will ever see them. You can always count on us to have it first (shameless plug).

It's the first week of a new month, and as usual we received an absolutely HUGE new manga shipment on Wednesday that included great stuff like Claymore 10, Silver Rain 7, Shana 2 and several excellent new series such as Fall in Love Like a Comic and Yagyu Ninja Scrolls - 51 new manga in all! We also have another lavish new figure update, and I wanted to mention that - once again - the new Motoko figure has sold out within 24 hours of her arrival, just like the last one. Sorry if you missed her! I also want to mention that we have not yet received our entire shipment of the gorgeous Saber Maid figure, and what we do have is already spoken for, but the rest of her are in transit now and will be arriving mid-next week so get your orders in now before she sells out! Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting word for you this week is - CHI! That's it for this week.

Have a great week - and remember - ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Updates - October 26th, 2007

The wildfires out in Southern California went from mess to catastrophe this week, but the firefighters (who are doing an incredible job) out there did catch a break mid-week when the winds shifted and gave them the opportunity to try to get the fires under some level of control. On our end the postal service has issued a notice that several areas of Southern California will be out of service where the post offices have been closed:

Malibu, CA (90265), Dulzura (91917), Jamul (91935), Potrero (91963), Rancho Bernardo (92127/8), Escondido (92025), Fallbrook (92028), Palomar Mountain (92060) Pauma Valley (92061), Rancho Santa Fe (92067), San Marcos (92069), Santa Ysabel (92070), Valley Center (92082) and Warner Springs (92086), Blue Jay (92317), Cedar Glen (92321), Crestline (92325), Fawnskin (92333), Green Valley Lake (92341), Lake Arrowhead (92352), Rimforest (92378), Running Springs (92382), Skyforest (92385), Twin Peaks (92391)

The list gives you a good idea of how widespread the damage is. We will probably not be able to ship to these areas for some time so if you live in one of the effected areas and have anything on order with us please e-mail us at your convenience to make alternative delivery arrangements. Our thoughts are with everyone effected by this disaster, and we're here to serve you in any way we can.

Courtesy of Steven DB, here is a great blog entry from Jason that rounds up the new fall series in Japan including Gundam 00 and Clannad. Check it out as it gives us a taste of what we'll be seeing here in late 2008 or early 2009.

One show that you won't see featured is Romeo X Juliet which was released in Japan this past Spring and has been getting some incredible reviews in the fan community. As a fan of the Baz Luhrmann movie version of Romeo and Juliet (you know, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes), I can never get enough of the story and the Anime is something fantasy/romance genre fans can really look forward to. And I'm sure many of you have already read a lot about it as it's been a bit controversial. It was being heavily fansubbed shortly after it's Japanese TV debut (it's still in DVD release in Japan now), and Gonzo made the bold move of giving Funimation the rights to enforce their copyright here in the US before the series was officially licensed, and so Fun did sending out several cease and desist letters to fan sub sites earlier this year - a topic that's been highly debated in the fan community. You know there was actually a letter from the Japanese Government this week in that regards. Anyway, for those of us who wait for the officially licensed releases, here's the OP. :-)

We learned this week that fellow Anime fan Christian Neff was killed in action in Baghdad on September 19. The Savannah Morning News reported that a tree planted in his honor has been decorated by family members with an anime character figure at the United States Army's Fort Stewart in Georgia. Because Neff was an anime fan, his family hung one of his figures from the newly dedicated tree. Our thoughts and prayers go with his family.

Ron just shot me a text message and told me that two new titles from Funimation just hit the dock and are being unloaded as I write this: Witchblade 2 , and BECK 4. I haven't announced either on the site yet, but they are both being checked in now and will be shipping with orders today. You heard it here first!

This week we've had some excellent new DVD arrivals including the final volume of Haruhi (though just the single so far), Eureka Seven, and Guyver + the first volumes of the new series Venus Versus Virus and Simoun. ADV has told us that the pressing of Goddess 4 and Air 3 will be coming a little late, but we should get our copies in before the street dates. We also have some absolutely lavish new figure arrivals for you including lots of stuff from Tandem Twins and Queens Blade. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting word for you this week is - Baaaaaaaaa-d!

That's it for this now. Have a great week - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Updates - October 19th, 2007

So let's see, what going on? Hmmmm....

I have two minor date changes to report this week as Bandai Visual shuffles their release schedule around a bit. Super Robot Wars Devine Wars and Freedom 3 have been bumped from Nov 13th to Dec 11th. The good news is that we have completed distribution arrangements with Bandai Visual so that we will continue to receive their new titles. We will also be able to restock their existing titles, so you can now order them with confidence.

There have been two licensing announcements recently that I got really excited about. First ADV picked up Kanon, which is a fabulous Comedy/Drama that was originally an 18+ PC Game and has been way too long coming to the North American market. How do I know that Kanon is fabulous if it's not out yet? - don't ask questions grasshopper... 'some people' say Kanon is one of the best Anime ever made - here's a little taste...

Also, John Sirabella recently announced that Media Blasters has licensed Mahou Shoujo Tai Aris (Tweeny Witches), an Adventure/Comedy from Studio 4C. OP can be seen here.

Both titles should appear on DVD early next year.

It's been 3 weeks now - so what's going on with Geneon? In a word - 'nothing'. If they're working on something they are not giving any hint as to what it is. Despite our best efforts and a huge final reorder we did with them their titles have already started to stockout, and as our original inventory evaporates we've been forced to buy some of their items from middlemen at higher cost just to keep them in stock a little bit longer. I had hoped we could keep their items mostly in stock through the holidays, but instead of the 3x or 4x volume increase I had guessed, it has been something more like 20x so Geneon titles have literally vaporized out of our warehouse. For example, we shipped more volumes of Fate/Stay #6 in 24 hours than in seven weeks for volume #5. Still, we'll do our best to keep these items available as long as we can, even if we have to buy them at a higher wholesale cost. Right now the series that are in the most jeopardy of selling out are Shana, Fate/Stay, Ergo Proxy, Dears, and Girls Bravo. Unless we can find more re-supplies these series may be completely gone by the end of the month.

While I'm discussing industry stuff, I just want to take a bit of time and rant about a certain manga publisher. If you've read me for awhile you know it's no secret that I've had some angst in the past with the way TokyoPop handles their business, and recently has been no exception. Some times I want knock on some of these industry executives heads and ask "hello, is anybody home??!!" :-) I personally do not believe that a manga publisher should allow older volumes of a manga series to go out of print while new volumes are still being released. Economics be damned. Makes it impossible to offer customers value bundles, and also guarantees declining market share for longer running series as newer volumes are released. I also don't believe that a manga publisher should hold certain titles hostage to the marketplace by only making them available directly from the publishers web site. But these are not the only problems. Recently we've had supply issues with TokyoPop titles in that the initial pressings of their books seem to be way too small, so when demand exceeds initial expectations these issues are not readily available for re-order and then can take weeks to restock. Come on TP, you guys can do better for us than this. Nuf said.

Ron (direct from the warehouse) say's that Naruto 17 (Zero Hour) just hit the dock and is being unloaded now. It will be added to the other new arrivals that came in this week like Hell Girl, GSD 11, Flag, and of course, the 2nd volume of Karas. We're offering Karas at 40% off the MSRP to help everyone forget the long wait of nearly 2 years. We had a relatively light week for new manga and figure arrivals, but have started to catch up on new posts and managed to get about 20 new figures up for pre-order. Many more to come in the following days. Finally we posted some of the new music CD's that recently arrived from Tokyo, including the great single by Hikaru Utada from the new Evangelion movie. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting word for you this week is - Otaha!

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Updates - October 12th, 2007

Ahhhhh, Autumn is finally here! After more scorching hot weather this month the air has finally turned cooler, there is a gentle breeze in the air, and the leaves are starting to change colors. It even smells like fall! Jamie and I will be shopping this weekend for a good Halloween pumpkin to carve, and in that spirit we're going to build our first fire of the season and try out a few episodes of Pumpkin Scissors which I've heard good things about. We're also going to finish up Ergo Proxy (I absolutely love Re-L's character), and as I've gone out of my way not to read anything about the end make sure not to write in over the weekend and tell me about it! :-)

I've got two scheduling announcements for you this week. First, the on again/off again second Hare Guu OVA was pushed back by Funimation from Oct 30th to Nov 20th, but in the same breath they also announced that the Burst Angel OVA is back on the schedule and is now due out Nov 13th. We still have all your pre-orders for it on the books from when it had been set to street over the summer, so no need to reorder it if you already have. Two more CPM titles are off the radar - Angel Sanctuary and RG Veda. They will not be repressed, but we're pretty much assuming that none of CPM's titles will be repressed again once existing stocks are depleted.

Eiji Orii, the president of Geneon, issued a letter to fans a few days ago, that in typical Japanese fashion it said mostly nothing. On our end we received our huge - and final - factory restock from Geneon this week. So aside from a few remaining backorders and the handful of pre-order items still left to be released that's the last of what we will be getting from them. I've spent the last week filling holes in our Geneon inventory from anywhere we could find it, and going forward we will continue to cross buy Geneon products from middlemen and distributors (though many of the big ones have already been picked clean), and even other retailers if necessary in order to keep their titles in stock as long as possible and to make sure that any backorders we book for you will be filled. Once these titles run out and we can no longer obtain them from any other sources we'll begin the forlorn task of taking them down off the store site.

You know, Ocean studios had actually finished dubbing Black Lagoon Second Barrage - which is a bitter pill, but that also means it would probably be one of the first new releases should some miracle deal get done. Several people have written in asking how we are handling pre-orders for the post Nov 6th Geneon releases that have been canceled. As it stands now we're assuming those titles are not going to be produced (as Geneon has stated) and we've stopped accepting pre-orders for them, however, existing pre-orders will remain on our books through the middle of November 'just in case' there is some surprise announcement that somehow these titles will in fact be released - though that appears very unlikely in the short term.

For Bandai Visual titles, we're going to continue to post their new solicitations to the site for pre-order, though some of the nearer terms titles may still be delayed as they have yet to arrange new retail distribution for their DVD releases. It's going to be an interesting holiday season to say the least.

We've been so tied up dealing with the Geneon debacle over the last couple of weeks that a few scheduled updates had to slip, but now that we're getting caught up we'll be getting back on track. We have quite a few first quarter 2008 figures to get posted for pre-order, and we've just received another large shipment of import music CD's from Tokyo and have about 70 new ones to post to the site - including the excellent CD single from the new Evangelion movie. Look for those to start going up next week. I've also got a holiday gift guide in the works, and that should be going up sometime in early November - right around the time the 2008 import calendars begin to arrive. We will be bringing in a limited number of Japanese calendars this year, but after being burned in the previous years for quantities, we're not going to post them to the site until they actually arrive from Tokyo. The exchange rate is pretty fair right now, so we should be able to price them pretty good as well.

This week, as usual, we've got lots of new stuff (in all categories) already on the site for you guys and gals to peruse this weekend. In addition to new DVD titles we were restocked on both the Gits Solid State Society Limited Edition and the Gits SAC Season 1 DVD Boxed Set. We've got both priced at 40% off retail everyday, so don't be shy. Did I mention they would make great gifts? :-) We also have the Fate/Stay, Ergo Proxy, and Shana DVD bundles available again for a limited time. Several new manga series arrived this week including two excellent horror titles - Variante and Presents. If you have been reading me for awhile, you know that's right up my alley. The best selling manga from last week was by far Vol #17 of Ai Yori Aoshi - so much so that it completely sold out earlier this week (more copies are on the way). For you adult fans we restocked Pink Sniper this week which has been unavailable for months. And finally we have some excellent new figures in stock like the gorgeous Gothic Lolita Kanu-Unchou from Ikki Tousen and the Masane Power-Up figure from Witchblade - of which we only have a few. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting word for you this week is - Kos-Mos!

That's it for this week. Have a great day - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Updates - October 5th, 2007

This week has actually been a bit surreal. Not only has the weather been unseasonably warm (still feels like August), we have needed to drop all other plans for a few days to focus on Geneon's departure. Still, chaos is business as usual in the Anime industry, and we've been through stuff like this many times before. As we come up for air we find that time has crept up on us and the holiday shopping season is only a few weeks away, so it's time for us to start getting ready for that as well. Even with some of the Geneon stuff going away, there are still many great titles in the pipeline, and those are what we're going to be focusing on in the coming weeks.

So no news is good news, aye? Baka. -_^

There were a couple of delay announcements this week, all from Bandai:

Galaxy Angel AA, Vol #3 DVD Oct 3rd to Oct 23rd
Eureka Seven, Vol #10 DVD Nov 6th to Nov 13th
Eureka Seven, Vol #10 DVD Limited Edition
Nov 6th to Nov 13th

None of them are really a big deal and the delays look routine.

In store news we have finally let go of DHL as an international carrier, which has been a long time coming. I know that we still have a handful of customers who prefer them, but their service has been steadily deteriorating for the past couple of years while their delivery pricing has skyrocketed with higher rates, extra fees, and ridiculous fuel charges exceeding 30% to some destinations. FedEx has proven themselves to provide our customers better express service worldwide at lower shipping rates. And, of course, you will still be able to select regular Airmail or Express Mail services if you prefer economical delivery of your orders by the postal service.

Bosatsu has created another absolutely brilliant set of top banners for us featuring more of the Anime Corner girls engaged in various antics. Look for more of them to appear in our regular rotation over the next few weeks!

Bandai Visual, who sports several excellent (but overpriced) DVD releases, has yet to find a new distribution partner since dissolving their partnership with Geneon last week. So a couple of days ago they announced that their corporate website will become their 'interim' retail channel, meaning that they are self distributing directly to the public until they can find another suitable partner to keep their stuff in the stores. So for now they temporarily are without a warehouse operation and retailers cannot restock their product, at least not directly. This will also probably delay retailer availability of their upcoming titles in the next few weeks. I love most of what Bandai Visual publishes, but I like virtually nothing about the company itself (I've written about their pricing strategy before). From conversations with some high ups at other Anime companies I understand that their retailer and distribution agreement is difficult and highly unprofitable for the company handling their titles, which explains some of why they are looking for a third distribution partner in less than a year. My advice to them is to get a new distribution agreement in place ASAP. I like Tatsunori Konno (the head of BV) as he's a very smart guy, but his attempts to remake the US Anime market into a mirror image of Japan's has no future.

I finally spoke with Jim Yardley out at Geneon this week, and now I feel like I have a much clearer picture of what happened and where we are at going forward, but for now the situation has not changed. We have been absolutely swamped with orders for Geneon products over the past few days and I've been spending a lot of extra time personally arranging product and reviewing customer orders individually to decide what orders will be shipping immediately and which ones need to hold for incoming product so they can ship as complete as possible. A few titles have already stocked out, however, we have one very large final shipment in route from Geneon that is scheduled to arrive on Monday. In fact, we had originally planned to take Monday off (Columbus Day) but in the Anime business chaos reigns. So we'll be working on Monday to keep up with the increased order volume, and to ensure that when our final Geneon shipment arrives any orders we are holding for product will ship right away. If you currently have a Geneon order in with us that has not yet shipped we appreciate your patience, and I want you to know that we will ship your order as soon (and as complete) as possible.

New Arrival Alert! As usual, Ron just peeked in a told me that several new DVD titles just arrived a few minutes ago and are being checked in now, including:

Inu Yasha Movie Collection DVD Boxed Set Limited Edition
Kashimashi Girl Meets, Vol #3 DVD
Prince of Tennis Collection #3 DVD Boxed Set

They will be posted on the site later this evening but we'll be including it in outgoing orders today, as well as processing your pre-orders for them now. And as usual, we've got lots of new stuff (especially DVD's & Manga!) already on the site for you guys to peruse this weekend. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

Volume #17 of the Ai Yori Aoshi manga is now in stock and in it those two finally get it together - and I mean for REAL - so my parting words for you this week are - Kaoru-Sama (you're the man!) If this volume doesn't put a smile on your face, then nothing will! :-) A word of caution though, we haven't received all of our copies from TokyoPop yet, so there are only a few to go around until the next shipment arrives.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Friday, September 28, 2007

US Anime Biz Gets Nuked - But Still No News at Eleven...

Halo what? Halo III was setting records all over this week, and many of us Otaku hardly noticed...

So lets talk about Geneon, shall we?

Without a doubt, the thing that is on everyone's mind this week is the sudden announcement Tuesday from Geneon that they will cease DVD sales operations as today (Friday) at 5pm. This comes on the heels of last weeks revelation that their distribution deal with ADV had fallen apart, leaving them no viable distribution channel after the end of this month. While Geneon is exiting the DVD distribution business, they have not revealed any of their other plans going forward - which has created a lot of rampant speculation regarding the future availability of their existing catalog, titles in current release, and future licenses. Let's leave that discussion (and the idol panic) to the Anime forums and blogs and talk about what we do know as of right now:

1) All Geneon DVD's will no longer be available for us to order from them after today. This means that availability of ALL Geneon produced titles will be limited to what is currently in our warehouse and what we have on order or in transit from them as of today. This situation will require a massive update across our entire catalog, so please be patient with us as we update the store site on a daily basis.

2) All Geneon scheduled releases up to Nov 4th will still be pressed and released. That means we do expect to the be able to fill pre-order for these titles:

Tenjho Tenge Complete Collection DVD Set
Fate/Stay Night, Vol #6 DVD Limited Edition
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Christo Complete DVD Boxed Set
Hakkenden Legend of the Dog Warriors Vol #3 DVD
Hellsing Ultimate, Vol #3 DVD
Hellsing Ultimate, Vol #3 DVD Limited Edition
Kyo Kara Maoh Season 1 Complete Collection DVD Set
Rozen Maiden Traumend, Vol #1, Puppet Show DVD
Story of Saiunkoku, Vol #2 DVD
Zipang, Vol #7 DVD

We have plenty of copies of all of these titles already on advance order with Geneon, however, since we will not be able to go back to Geneon to restock these titles after our initial shipment we will be filling pre-order on a first come, first served basis so I suggest everyone get their orders in now for these titles.

3) We are assuming that all Geneon releases previously solicited for release after November 6th have effectively been canceled. This (unfortunately) will leave several current series unfinished including Hellsing Ultimate, Karin, Kyo Kara Maoh II, Story of Saiunkoku, When They Cry, Law of Ueki, Shonen Onmyoji, etc.

So we do not expect to be able to fill pre-orders for:

Karin, Vol #4 DVD
Karin, Vol #5 DVD
Kyo Kara Maoh!, Season 2, Vol #7 DVD
Kyo Kara Maoh!, Season 2, Vol #8 DVD
Shonen Onmyoji , Vol #3 DVD
Shonen Onmyoji , Vol #4 DVD
Black Lagoon The Second Barrage, Vol #1 DVD
Elemental Gelade Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Law of Ueki, Vol #10 DVD
Law of Ueki, Vol #11 DVD
Paradise Kiss Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set
Story of Saiunkoku, Vol #3 DVD
Story of Saiunkoku, Vol #4 DVD
When They Cry: Higurashi, Vol #4 DVD
Rozen Maiden Traumend, Vol #2, Revival DVD
Rozen Maiden Traumend, Vol 3, The Alice Game DVD

4) Most of Bandai Visual's releases were also distributed by Geneon, and they have announced that until they find another distribution partner they will only be able to sell their titles through their own web store. No shipments to retailers are currently happening. This is not that big a deal as they have very few new titles in the pipeline, so we should be able to get the supply situation on their products worked out with minimal delays. I've already talked to them, so that's my take on it for now.

As of Tuesday we were very well stocked on existing Geneon products, and we have made a huge capital commitment on their titles by placing several very large emergency orders with them prior to the deadline in hopes that we can stock their catalog very deep and keep their titles available at least through the end of the year. That said, we are currently experiencing a huge surge of orders for Geneon products that may require a few days for us to sort out, so please try to be patient with us in regards to this. Even if a title is out of stock we will work as hard as possible to fill your orders as soon as possible, and as completely as possible.

OK, so what are my thoughts? How will this effect us?

Personally, I've been loving Karin, Hellsing Ultimate, When They Cry, and especially Black Lagoon so the news that they will not be finished this year - well, it stinks. I share in every other fan's utter disappointment. Professionally there will certainly be a financial impact to the industry across the board. Geneon makes up a significant portion of retailers Anime sales (they are exactly 16% of ours - a big chunk), so this will certainly dampen our holiday expectations and will hamper our efforts to serve Anime fans with the broadest possible catalog of titles. I do feel that market distribution for Geneon's titles will, one way or another, eventually be worked out. Geneon is not going out of business, they are changing their business model, though the execution is extremely poor. Ultimately they want to become a licensing house and let other companies publish and distribute their titles. Geneon's business problems have been around for some time so this is not entirely a surprise - and they are problems the other studios like Funimation, ADV, Bandai, Viz, and Media Blasters do not have. While this will cause us all some short term pain we can take solace in that there are many other strong companies publishing great Anime titles that we will be able to enjoy going forward.

Until then we'll keep the faith and update you with any new news that comes along. I'm sure there will be plenty...

That's it for now. Have a great weekend everyone.

(10/1) UPDATE:

Dentsu to Post Y5 Billion Loss on Geneon's Downsizing

The Japanese advertising firm Dentsu Inc. announced on September 27 that it will post a 4.7-billion-yen (US$41 million) loss on a consolidated basis and 5.1-billion-yen (about US$44 million) loss on a non-consolidated basis due to the downsizing of its Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc. anime subsidiary's "scope of business." It will also post a 7.2-billion-yen (US$63 million) loss on its withdrawal from D&T, a joint sales partnership between Dentsu and Tohokushinsha Film Corporation for broadcasting rights in Japan to foreign movies and television programs. Both losses will be reflected in the financial results for the first half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

Loss due to business downsizing of Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc.
Dentsu's subsidiary, Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc., which undertakes animation related business in North America, has decided to downsize its scope of business and increase business efficiency. As a consequence, Dentsu will post extraordinary losses, etc. of 4.7 billion yen on a consolidated basis and 5.1 billion yen on a non-consolidated basis in its financial results for the first half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Updates - September 17th, 2007

Arisa joins us in this update as my 'image of the week'. If you think she's as beautiful as I do, you can pre-order her here.

We received word this week that the Spiral Economy Box has now been pushed back from Sept 18th to Oct 23rd. The only Sept 18th release that has not yet arrived (update - it did today) is the Limited version of Black Lagoon Vol #3. There was a delay in production, and Geneon has told us they will be shipping around the 14th (today), so it will be a last minute arrival. We received the regular Black Lagoon 3 DVD about 2 weeks ago, and even though we ordered quite a few copies it promptly sold out (more are coming) as people did not want to wait for the Limited version to ship and just bought the regular DVD instead. It's such a good series I can't say I blame them, I know I ran home that night to watch my copy!

Speaking of Geneon, the transfer of sales management to ADV continues and since all of the inside sales personnel at Geneon have already been let go there will be a sort of 'black hole' for a couple of weeks until ADV assumes full control of those functions starting Oct 1st. I was a little surprised that Geneon decided not to keep their marketing folks on for 3 more weeks until the handover was complete, but many of the things Geneon has done over the last couple of years have been a mystery to me. It was announced this week that Mitsubishi has completely divested itself of it's (large) 34% stake in Geneon leaving Dentsu as the sole Japanese owner, so perhaps I'm not the only one bewildered by how they ran their business. Now that's just water under the bridge. :-)

The folks at ASM and Critical Mass announced this week that they are teaming up to fight illegal download sites and services, with Shawne Klekner making this statement:

"...To add insult to injury, a number of the sites are selling the creative content they have illegally appropriated. The bottom line: When we're not being paid for our content, the Japanese companies and creative teams aren't being paid. In turn, it affects whether or not new anime even gets made... and the Japanese licensors are increasingly vocal about their concerns in this area. Sadly, these site owners are forcing us to go beyond issuing 'cease and desist' orders. They are placing us in a position where our only option is to hire attorneys and pursue legal remedies to this situation..."

That sounds great and we fully support their efforts, but my question is where have they been for the past 3 or 4 years? Cease and desist letters are meaningless without the teeth to resolve some sort of legal action down the road, and while I'm glad they are finally committing to take a stand, I think it would have been better if they had started much earlier with more than just letterhead. We've always taken a stand against bootlegs, illegal imports, and other pirate activity that hurts the otaku community, and we've been campaigning about it in public for years - including spending a lot of marketing dollars to raise fan awareness on these issues. So we'll say 'welcome aboard' to the new comers! -_^ I hope they show the financial resolve to finally get involved with this growing problem.

Witchblade is now in stock and she is ready to kick your ass! Don't believe me? Watch:

Trust me, get this series!

Our Fall Kickoff coupon sale has been extremely popular, and I've decided to extend it through Sept 28th, so you'll have two more weeks to take advantage of the coupon savings - and that means all the new stuff coming in this month is even more affordable!

To save 3% off any order over $67, use the following coupon code during checkout: FALLKICKOFFTAKE3

Or, to save 5% off any order over $167, use the following coupon code during checkout: FALLKICKOFFTAKE5

Or, to save 7% off any order over $367, use the following coupon code during checkout: FALLKICKOFFTAKE7

RED ALERT! As is becoming our usual Friday ritual, Ron just came in a told me that several new DVD titles just arrived a few minutes ago and are being checked in now, including:

Black Lagoon, Vol #3 DVD Limited Edition (Wasn't I just Talking About it?)
Eureka Seven, Vol #9 DVD
Eureka Seven, Vol #9 DVD Limited Edition
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol #3 DVD

They will be posted on the site later this afternoon (or Monday morning), but we'll be including it in outgoing orders today, as well as processing your pre-orders for them now. And as usual, we've got lots of new stuff (especially manga!) already on the site for you guys to peruse this weekend. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting words for you this week are - Masane Amaha!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Updates - September 7th, 2007

As we've been pretty busy this week taking care of your orders we've had to push a few things like posting December pre-order items, working up a new front page (and sleeping) into next week... In fact, I think one of my 'deal of the days' stayed up for 3 or 4 days in row there and became more of a 'deal of the week'. Well, at least it gave everyone a fair shot at it. :-) It certainly did not help matters that the 3rd DragonBall Z boxed set arrived early along with several other heavily pre-ordered DVD's and figures, but somehow we got all those pre-orders out within 24 hours of the product arrivals and hopefully many of you will have your stuff by today or tomorrow (a couple of weeks early!). We'll finally be completely caught up today processing all the orders from over the holiday weekend, and I appreciate everyones patience for letting us take Monday off and then giving us an extra day to get your order processed and shipped out. We'll sleep next week.

Folks have been jumping on anything produced by Central Park Media over the last couple of weeks (we finally sold out of both Lodoss War boxed sets for example, and can't seem to get anymore), and I know the rumor mills online have been grinding out reports of their imminent and final demise. I have no 'official' information in that regards, however, there have been no solicitations for anything new from CPM through their distribution partner WEA for a couple of months, and no new releases or re-releases in their electronic press kits since June. They have also disabled their internal secure online order site. We're not quite ready to 'call it' (time of death) but we're working their titles on an 'in stock' basis with WEA, which means once WEA runs out of something they print we're assuming it will no longer be available. So if there are any Central Park Media DVD or manga releases you've been eyeing up and they are still available, I'd recommend you prioritize them in your purchases accordingly as there is no telling how long they will continue to be available.

Only a couple of date updates I want to mention this week. First, the Deluxe wooden box edition of the Inu Yasha Movie Set has been bumped back to Oct 23rd. It's the one that includes all the soundtracks and will definitely be worth the wait. For those that can't, we have the regular movie box in stock now. The head guys down at Illumitoon are taking their time responding to our e-mails, so the fate of their handful of releases (like BoBoBo and BTX) is still hanging in the wind and I suspect they just don't have any information for us. In better news the guys at Imaginasian said that their 3 classic releases Orguss, Cats Eye, and Remi are going to be shipping next week, so after several delays we should have them in stock shortly.

Checkout some of these publicity photos for the upcoming Live Action Negima series beginning it's run in Japan in October. I like seeing all those pretty gals together! I hope this eventually gets released here in the states. (thanks to Steven DB for this).

The format battle continues over the next generation of DVD's, and just when you though Blue Ray was winning HDDVD is fighting back and studios are even more divided on the issue than ever before. I think this fight will be decided over the holiday season as we see if people buy more HDDVD or BluRay players - if they buy them at all...

Hello Kitty is going back to basics in Japan. I just wish I had been there to see the 'buyo' dance!

Our Fall Kickoff coupon sale continues this weekend and will run through next Thursday, so be sure to take advantage of the coupon savings while they last.

To save 3% off any order over $67, use the following coupon code during checkout:


Or, to save 5% off any order over $167, use the following coupon code during checkout:


Or, to save 7% off any order over $367, use the following coupon code during checkout:


Ron just peeked around the corner and told me that the Hare Guu DVD boxed sets just arrived from Funimation a few minutes ago and are being checked in now. Phew! - I was a little worried the date was going to get pushed again since the street date is next Tuesday. It will be posted on the site later this afternoon, but we'll be including it in outgoing orders today, as well as processing your pre-orders for them now. And as usual, we've got lots of new stuff already on the site for you guys to peruse this weekend. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting words for you this week are - RIDE em COWGIRL!

That's it for now. Have a great weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Updates - August 31st, 2007

Geneon officially announced this week that they are turning their distribution and marketing functions over to ADV. I wrote some of my thoughts on the deal over at the blog earlier this week, and I have since had a chance to talk about the move in depth with Mike Baliff down at ADV Films. The folks at ADV have been working on this deal for a couple of months and have taken great care in planning to see that the transition is as seamless as possible for retailers and transparent to fans. Geneon's entire catalog will remain available to fans through us, and Geneon's announced new release schedule will not be disturbed. In fact, we should continue to get their titles a couple of weeks prior to the street date just as we have in the past, and I think ADV will be able to clear up Geneon's inventory and delivery problems that we have experienced over the past few months.

We'll be working very closely with ADV on this over the coming weeks and I'll keep you all up to date regarding how things are progressing.

Thanks to Jerry for sending over this short YouTube clip that features some fans doing Transformers cos-play where their costumes actually transform while they are in them. One of them even did a Valkyrie from Robotech!

The studios continue to fill out their fall schedules and this week we've posted 22 new DVD releases for pre-order. I also just received Bandai's November list, and we'll be getting those up on the site shortly. We got most of ADV's Oct and Nov catalog up for order now including the next volumes of Ah! My Goddess TV Season 2 , Xenosaga , and Air plus ADV plans to re-release a few collections in Limited Tin Boxed sets for the Holidays like Evangelion and Magical Shopping Arcade. Don't have product deatils on those yet, but we should soon. The most exciting announcements this week are several boxed sets of series that had previously fallen out of print including:

Lost Universe Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Thin-Pak)

Nadia Secret of Blue Water DVD Perfect Collection Limited Tin Boxed Set

Princess Tutu DVD Collection (Thin-Pak)

Now if one of the studios will just re-release Nadesico all will be right with the world! -_^

The summer figure sale ends tonight at midnight, so you've only got a few more hours to take advantage of the savings there, but I'll let you in on a little secret - the fall kickoff coupon special overlaps the figures sale for the next 12 hours, so you can almost double your savings if you get your orders in before midnight and use one our fall kickoff coupons!

To save 3% off any order over $67, use the following coupon code during checkout:

Or, to save 5% off any order over $167, use the following coupon code during checkout:

Or, to save 7% off any order over $367, use the following coupon code during checkout:

Ron just peeked around the corner and told me a few more new titles just got unloaded and are now being checked in, including Black Lagoon Vol 3, Karin Vol 3, Full Moon Vol 6, and Shonen Onmyouji Vol 2. And I thought we were going to get out of here early! They'll be updated on the site later this afternoon, but we'll be including these in outgoing orders today, as well as processing your pre-orders for them now.

And as usual, we've got lots of new stuff already on the site for you guys to peruse this weekend. Check below for the scoop on everything that's come in, or check our updates page for the complete story!

My parting words for you this week are - Ekodona Black Armor!

That's it for now. Have a wonderful holiday weekend - and ENJOY your Anime! :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Geneon Taps Out

Anyone who follows Anime industry news has already read the press release from Friday about Geneon throwing in the towel and hiring ADV to do their retailer distribution and handle their sales channel.

...ADV will take over sales, marketing, and distribution functions for all Geneon titles effective October 1st. Geneon will continue to license and produce anime content for the North American market; the changes will affect only how the products reach the market. The notice that went out to retailers made the point. "This change will in no way impact the availability of current or future Geneon titles 'in the pipeline,'" it said.

We are still gathering information on the details. It appears a lot of the fine print has yet to be finalized, but that ADV is already starting to run the show behind the scenes. That's fine, since we have a great relationship with ADV, and they should be able to service the product very well.

ADV will benefit from this. In fact, they need the expanded sales opportunities Geneon's catalog will bring to the table to compete with Funimation. But, regardless of how the 'suits' try to spin this in the media (they will talk endlessly of BS Synergies and Strategics), it clearly does not bode well for Geneon. Outsourcing retailer distribution is not unusual in the Anime industry, but outsourcing control of your sales channel is something a company does as a last resort. It's what happens when you throw your hands up and decide that you no longer understand your market and want to wash your hands of the responsibility of making your company work within that market. Granted ADV will have much better resources for bringing Geneon's product to market. The real red flag is that they are doing this in the forth quarter before the holidays, which is generally a period (for better or worse) when you don't want to make any major changes that will disturb your sales channel - and that they are turning over control of their product line to a competitor. Remember a couple of years ago when Central Park Media, finding itself between a rock and hard place financially, did the same thing by outsourcing their sales channel and distribution to WEA (a 'music' distributor no less). I remember thinking that John O'Donnell must have been suffering from temporary insanity when he made that decision. Later, as CPM has virtually ceased to exist as an operating Anime Studio, we find out that he probably didn't have too much choice.

In the Anime world there is a very simple 3 step business plan that everyone follows:

1) Collect Underpants
2) ?
3) Profit

It's that pesky step #2 that seems to trip everyone up.

The truth (that no one in the biz seems to want to admit) is that the mass market portion of the Anime business that studios have developed over in the last 3-4 years and built a large part of their businesses around has been a disaster this year. Sales volumes are way off. Licensing and royalty fees from deals made in the go-go period of 2004-06 remain very high, forcing the studios to generate revenue from these titles any way possible. Fan's DVD & Manga shelves are getting full. Even with the cut backs in new releases over the last few months there are still too many titles (or should I say, 'too many marginal titles and re-releases') getting stuffed into the sales channel. Economic factors are creating more pricing pressures than ever before. Marginal fans have too many options for their limited entertainment budgets, and Anime is just not as 'cool' for them as it used to be. Many core Anime fans are turning back to downloads and fansubs more frequently to get access to the really good shows they want to see, but don't want to wait to be commercially released (if they ever are).

Mass market retail chains and book sellers are questioning shelf space allocations to Anime/Manga for the first time in years, causing the studios to make knee jerk reactions, like re-re-re-re-re-releasing old stale titles at rock bottom prices or quadrupling the number of serial manga issues released in a quarter in an attempt to spur interest and "keep up the appearance of demand". After all, if we stuff even more products into the sales channel, that will surely keep the home fires burning, right?

This year many of the older core fans have started to drift away from the genre, partly because there are far fewer quality releases to choose from than in the past, and partly because as they get older priorities begin to change. As these fans move away from the genre, they are replaced by younger fans that have been exposed to Anime in a totally different way than their predecessors, so many of them don't have the same enthusiasm for building huge (and expensive) video and book libraries, nor do they have the same sort of entertainment budgets that the older fans had.

Bottom line? Everyone is getting squeezed in one way or another.

Under all these conditions some consolidation will need to take place, both at the studio and retail levels. I feel like there are too many Anime retailers out there right now, and many are holding on by their fingernails either by subsidizing their margins with bootlegs or making the payroll this week by liquidating Anime at close to cost pricing just to keep the volumes up. Many retailers are relying more and more on sales gimmicks to keep customers coming back. The situation reminds me of the scene from 'A Bridge too Far' when, after holding the bridge at Arnhem by his fingernails for 9 days, British LC John Frost finally gets MG Roy Urquhart on the radio and asks when he can expect relief. Urquhart, taking terrible losses himself, tells him "I'm sorry Johnny, I'm not sure it's a matter of us coming for you, or you coming for us.", and then in classic British understatement Frost says "very well, we'll just wait for XXX Corps then." The last radio message broadcast from the bridge was - "out of ammo, God save the King".

Indeed (but I digress).

As one of the oldest US Anime companies, Geneon finds itself in the position of having as huge back catalog of titles to maintain in a sales environment increasingly dominated by new releases. Not quite knowing what to do with these, Geneon has had terrible problems in execution. I blame Geneon's Japanese management for that - they just don't seem to 'get' the US market, and in fact they have gradually become a rather unfriendly company for retailers to do business with since the change over from Pioneer.

Bad licensing decisions along with a bad marketing organization has caused Geneon to fall into a distant 3rd place in the US Anime industry. After years of maintaining excellent business relations with Pioneer USA, the management at Geneon has become increasingly out of touch with both the fan base and retailer channel, and I have frequently made mention of some of these problems in our weekly newsletters. Their distribution deal with Ditan earlier this year was an attempt to cut costs, and has been a disaster with them frequently having incorrect inventory numbers or not being able to fill re-orders for titles that have only been on the street for a few weeks. I remarked earlier this year to our inside rep at Geneon that it was getting harder and harder to maneuver the product line under these conditions, and whoever made the decision to hire Ditan to do their fulfillment should have been fired.

I now looks that will probably happen...

In the end, the move to ADV should be pretty good for us. One less vendor to work with, one less set of hassles to overcome. It may even cure a few headaches I've had to contend with. After all, it's all about the underpants - so we'll see how it pans out. -_^