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! :-)