Monday, November 30, 2009

Anime Workers in Japan Struggling to Stay Afloat in a Declining Industry

Yuka Hayashi at the Wall Street Journal is reporting about "Anime Workers" in Japan that are Struggling to Stay Afloat in a Declining Industry. We could have some fun with that headline by inserting 'R1 Anime Retailers in America' in place of 'Anime Workers in Japan'. -_^ Hey, we've been toughing out this recession now for going on 2 years while the whole biz in North America has been busy resetting itself to the place it was maybe 7 or 8 years ago (i.e. - a LOT smaller) - and if we want to stay, there is nothing that we can do except ride the wave. Kowabunga.

Many of us who have been around in the scene for longer than 3 or 4 years can't help but notice the decline in the quality of Anime productions in recent years. I probably don't need to say more. While there are still good shows coming out of Japan, the creative well seems to be running dry more often than not. In the WSJ article Koji Takeuchi, who is the president of Telecom Animation, says about the state of the anime world:

"The industry has become decadent and fatigued - so many pieces are dark
and oppressive, and the message of hope and fun is no longer there."
Indeed, the magic is certainly harder to find in the newer material. Maybe I'm just getting older. I'll be 40 in January, and I find myself becoming more and more reflective these days, especially as the holidays approach. I look ahead, and I'm having a harder time seeing where the future will be in this, what form it will take, and what our role will/should be. But we'll figure it out, one way or another. :-)

And you know, this is second Anime article I've seen in the WSJ this month -the first being the one by Sarah Needlemen on Nov 3rd who interviewed Adam Sheehan (who is an events manager and producer for Funimation). Hey Adam, why are we ALL losing our hair!?? I think when someone at the Journal starts paying attention to the Anime biz, it's a sign we've probably come full circle...

Posted by a very tired Robert signing off at the end of a 19 hour Cyber Monday...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funimation Gets Both Sekirei and Tetsuwan Birdy Decode

Funimation has announced the acquisition of the rights to the 12-episode Sekirei series and the 26-episode Tetsuwan Birdy Decode series from Aniplex.

In addition Funimation has also acquired to the original Full Metal Panic series and the 12-episode Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu from Kadokawa Pictures, which were both previously published in North America by ADV Films.

Series Info

Sekirei is a science fiction series about a hapless hero who has failed his college entrance exams twice. After he meets a beautiful buxom girl who literally falls from the sky, he learns he can be an Ashikabi and bond with the girl who is a Sekirei, one of the 108 humanoid creatures manufactured by the mysterious MBI corporation in order to stage gladiatorial-type conflicts. A second season of the Sekirei anime series is slated to air in Japan in the winter of 2010.

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode
The sexy heroine of the series is Birdy Cephon Altera, a cosmic police officer who heads to earth to apprehend alien criminals. On one of her forays she accidentally kills an innocent earth boy and has to fuse with him in order to allow him to keep living until his body is rebuilt. When trouble happens however she has to revert to her shapely crime-fighting form.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two #@$%$ing Figure Cancelations from Amiami

Amiami told us today that they have had to cancel the international releases of two of their figures due to licensing issues:

Strike Witches: Yoshika Miyafuji <br>1/8 Scale PVC Figure <br>[PRE ORDER] Gurren Lagann: Yoko <br>Swimsuit Version <br>1/7 Scale PVC Figure <br>[PRE ORDER]

All pre-orders for these figures will automatically be canceled, and any refunds will be made as needed. Damn, I really wanted both of these too...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Funi Reduces MSRP on LineBarrels of Iron by 16%!

Funimation announced today that they have reduced the MSRP by 16% on the upcoming Linebarrels of Iron Collection #1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) from $59.98 to $49.98.

We have reduced our regular discounted pre-order price accordingly from $44.98 to $36.98, and all existing pre-orders will automatically be adjusted to the new lower price. Release date is still set for January 19th.

Synopsis: Kouichi dreams of being a hero, but in reality he's a punching bag for every bully on the block. His life flatlines when the mysteriously naked Emi crash lands on his pitiful existence, thrusting Kouichi into the middle of an intergalactic showdown between rival races of self-regenerating Machinas. Through his death-bed partnership with the Linebarrel mecha, Kouichi gains the strength to stand up to his tormentors and crush the alien invasion force that's determined to conquer Earth. There's just one problem: all this newfound power and special attention from nearly naked babes is turning Kouichi into a jerk. His friends can't stand him, he makes his dream girl sick, and those aliens want to kill him extra dead! Kouichi may have the mechanized muscle to save the world, but he has much to learn about being a true "Hero of Justice."

Veterans Day - Remember

Remember Them
If you are able,
save for them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.
And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.

by Major Michael O'Donnell: MIA 24 March 1970, Cambodia
Declared dead after missing: 7 February 1978
Remains repatriated: 12 April 1995
Remains identified: 20 June 2001

Remember our men and women fighting in Iraq and Afganistan today.
Give them what they need to win, so that they may come home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

UPS vs. FedEx

We've used both UPS and FedEx for years and understand the ups and down, ins and out of both pretty well. We give several thousand pieces a year to both carriers on the ground side, but we now use FedEx exclusively for domestic air express and as our premier option for international delivery. There is a good reason for this - FedEx provides a better service, over all, at a lower cost - and thus helps keep our shipping rates down - a savings that is passed on to you. FedEx is also far more responsive to our needs and business concerns than UPS, an opinion I've developed over a period of several years dealing with each company. Of course, the local FedEx office is 2 blocks away from our warehouse... but hey, I'm just sayin...

Recently, a UPS driver dropped off a letter from UPS's union asking me, as a business owner, to support unionization efforts at FedEx. The letter said it was for the benefit of FedEx's employees, but the only benefit that I saw would be for UPS, who clearly needs to try to bring FedEx's labor costs into parity with their own. If this happened, it would of course, increase our shipping rates. See, not only does FedEx offer us better rates because they have lower costs, those lower rates prevent UPS from implementing bigger rate increases on their end and forces them to be more competitive when negotiating a rate contract with a small business. Higher rates, in any form, would be bad for us, so I was a little mystified as to why he thought I would support anything that would increase our shipping costs. Anyway, here's an interesting video that I came across today that fits the narrative...

Bandai February 2010 Releases Now Available for Pre-Order:

We have received the February 2010 release schedule from Bandai, and we now have those releases posted to the store site for pre-order along with a few date changes as well:

Eureka Seven ~ Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers ~ Movie DVD
Eureka Seven ~ Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers ~ Movie DVD (BLURAY)
Kurokami The Animation Part #1 DVD (Eps #1-6)
Kurokami The Animation Part #1 DVD (BLURAY) (Eps #1-4)

I want to note about the Kurokami release that it is now different from the original solicitation that was canceled last summer. Instead of 8 episodes, the new version will have 6 eps but will also be $10 cheaper in price. Also, Bandai has decided to publish the series in BluRay as well (and at a lower MSRP to the regular DVD), but the first BD volume will only include 4 episodes instead of 6. Also, the BD release will be Dubbed only and will not include the Japanese Langauge track. It's a rich tapestry.

We have canceled all previous pre-orders for Kurokami, so you'll need to place a new order to pre-order the new version.

In addition to the pre-releases, Bandai has also bumped the dates on the following releases (again, please don't blame me, I'm just the messenger):

Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #3 - Dec 1 to Jan 19 2010
Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #3 (Limited Edition)
- Dec 1 to Jan 19 2010
Hayate the Combat Butler DVD Bundle #3 (2 Disks) (Eps #15-21)
- Nov 17 to Dec 1 2009
Hayate the Combat Butler DVD Bundle #4 (2 Disks) (Eps #22-26) - Jan 5 to Feb 9 2010

Friday, November 06, 2009

Media Blasters Gets Both Queen's Blade and Ikkitousen Great Guardians

Media Blasters announced yesterday that they have acquired both Queen's Blade and Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians for North America.

Each will "get a dub," and both Queen's Blade seasons are scheduled for release before next summer.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Funimation Now Pretty Much Owns the R1 Anime Market

From ICV2:

"In a conference call discussing his company's latest quarterly financial results Cary L. Deacon the CEO of Funimation parent Navarre told industry analysts that Funimation has 'a first look at all opportunities in terms of licenses. We’re seeing them all, we have an opportunity to bid on them all.'Deacon noted that currently Funimation was being “pretty selective” in choosing which anime to license, but he reiterated Navarre’s optimism regarding the future of Funimation in spite of the fact that 'the overall DVD market continues to be somewhat soft.' Navarre reported a 26% decline Q2 sales for its publishing division, which includes Funimation, thanks to the shutting down of Navarre’s BCI unit, and a softer schedule of anime titles from Funimation.

According to Deacon in spite of the soft schedule, Funimation had 'a solid quarter and met its internal sales targets.' Deacon said that he remains 'buoyant' about 'the opportunities that Funimation’s anime market dominance will provide in the future.' In response to an analyst’s question Deacon estimated Funimation's share of the U.S. anime market at about 56% to 60%."

Our DVD sales numbers corroborate those market share figures. That means that just about all the Anime now licensed for R1 that's published by any of the other companies will be something that Funi passes on. Think about that. But it's not surprising, Funi has always taken care of us (as an Anime retailer) the best of all the other R1 companies, some of which (not naming any names) have done things in the past that are actually openly hostile to their retailer partners. From where we sit, Funi has definitely earned the top spot.