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! :-)