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! :-)