Friday, October 29, 2010

Get An Exclusive Spice and Wolf Coin When You Pre-Order from RACS!

While supplies last, every pre-order for the upcoming Spice and Wolf Season 1 Complete Viridian Collection will include an exclusive Spice and Wolf coin!

We are also making this offer retroactive for everyone who has already placed a pre-order for this set.

Supplies are limited (we only have about 100 coins), so if you haven't ordered yet, get your pre-order in now before they are gone! :-)

And thanks very much to our brand manager at Funimation for hooking us up with this great promotion!

Funi Admits DragonBoxes are Limited Editions

After much speculation and rumor, Funi (through a contact at ANN) has confirmed that their release of the DragonBoxes, the latest full iteration of DBZ, was a 'limited edition' release only. This means that the current 4 boxed sets won't be repressed, and no further boxes are likely to be released. At least that's what I think.

The reality is that regardless of whether Funi originally intended these to be 'limited' or not, the Dragonboxes have just not sold well, and what I think Funi is probably doing is discontinuing the release in favor of a new version in BD format next year. We have put the current DragonBoxes on 'stock on hand' status, but will continue to keep the older (but complete) orange box version in stock as long as we can.

Is it Extortion? You bet it is.

I've been having a little customer service fun with a rather prickly customer over the past couple of days who placed an order for a few figures last week, and then waited a couple of days after we shipped it to write in and tell us he felt like we should have applied the Octoberfest 10% coupon to it because he feels he's been a good customer in the past. No mention of any discount was made on the order or via e-mail prior to us shipping it.

At the time he placed the order our Octoberfest offer had been over for more than a week. I mentioned that his order did qualify for his recurring customer coupon (which he didn't use), and went ahead and applied his 5% coupon, but we had to credit him for the amount since the order had already been shipped and closed. He then got REALLY MAD and said he was well aware of those coupons, but did not use it because he expected a larger discount. I looked up his customer history notes and showed he has done this two other times in the past. He threatened to return the order if we didn't grant him the 10% discount, which boils down to about $20 bucks over what we already credited him.

I told him to return it.

He said a lot more than that actually, most of it pretty nasty, but I'm not going to waste time posting it here. I gotta tell you folks I'm pretty easy going when it comes to these sorts of things and will pretty much bend over backwards for any of our customers, but as soon as you start calling me names it's all over.

So the only thing I'm going to say here is that placing an order, letting us fill it, and then holding it hostage threatening to return it or charge it back if we don't grant you a big discount (i.e. refund) after the fact in an amount that is not currently being offered to anyone else is, well, a good way to get banned from the store for life.

Ya got that - Jack?

Boy, I'm glad it's Friday. :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Funimation Licenses Kuragehime & Sora no Otoshimono: Forte

Funimation has announced that they have acquired the rights to Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) the 2nd season of Sora no Otoshimono (Heaven's Lost Property) which will be released under the name "Heaven's Lost Property Forte".

They will release both series on DVD in 2011.

Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish)
Amamizukan is an apartment complex where no boys are allowed. Kurashita Tsukimi, a girl who adores jellyfish, lives there happily with her friends who all have nerdy obsessions of their own. Their peaceful lives gradually start to change when a beautiful woman helps Tsukimi out of a pinch. She moves into the apartments -- but it turns out "she" is really a "he."

Sora no Otoshimono: Forte (Heaven's Lost Property Season 2)
Tomoki's peaceful life is far away in the past, now he has to deal with 2 angeloids Ikaros and Nymph along with his friends from school, each one of them very special on their own ways. Tomoki's dream about an angel warning him from the rage of heavens is getting very common at his sleep, then one day a new angel who has power up to the standard of Ikaros arrives Earth with the sole purpose of terminating Tomoki since his dream is starting to connect both realities, the Earth and the Synapses, a very powerful angel indeed.

Funimation's New Release Format

Funimation has decided to return to offering collector editions for anime titles starting in January, which will include a rigid box and a premium item. These premium editions will be available for the FIRST PRESSING ONLY and cost US$5 more than the regular editions that will be a plain cardstock box, slim case DVDs, and no premium item.

The first batch of premium first pressings include:

Black Butler Season 1 Part 1 DVD Collection (Eps #1-12)
Premium Item: TBA

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom DVD Collection #1 (Eps #1-13)
Premium Item: A bullet chain necklace

Sacred Blacksmith Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12)
Premium Item: 32-page art booklet with centerfold

The two editions will be created for complete 13-episode series releases and for the "Part 1" of two-part (24 or 26 episode) series releases.

We will be shipping the new premium sets to all customers who pre-order these titles, and then whatever we have leftover until they are sold out, at which time we will switch to the standard editions at the slightly lower price, but we won't be offering the standard editions for sale until the premium edition is sold out.

In addition to the new premium sets, Funi will launch a new line for its anime titles called "Anime Classics." This will become their other 'end of life' label and will take it's place beside their S.A.V.E. edition economy sets as the final and last stage release version of a series. The first title under this label will be the Gantz boxed set being released in January.

Evening Shopping in Akihabara

Evening Shopping in Akihabara at the Sato Musen electronics store:

Thanks to Sean for e-mailing!

Bandai Announces January 2011 Releases

Bandai has given us their January 2011 release schedule, and we now have it available on the store site for pre-order. Here's what's coming:

Hayate the Combat Butler DVD #8 (Eps #45-50)
Kurokami The Animation Part #5 DVD (BLURAY) (Eps #17-20) (English Dubbed)
My-Otome 0 ~S.fir~ DVD

Nothing new here except for the My Otome prequel, which I'm glad to finally see but think is priced a little steep for an 84 minute OVA (I had figured a $14.98 MSRP, not $24.98). Anyway, we priced it really low for you at RACS $16.98. It's strange to see Kurokami BD's still coming out, but that's due to the nature of the BD release having fewer eps per disk than the regular edition. Bandai never really had given us a satisfactory answer as to why the Japanese management made them release it this way (other than reimport paranoia), but we're not asking anymore either, are we? :-)

My-Otome 0 ~S.fir~
Years before the events of My-Otome, there was a secret princess that will one day become the queen of Windbloom. Because members of the royal Windbloom bloodline can unlock the hidden powers of the old technology, Sifr Fran is pursued by Aswad and Schwarz and even the Meister Otomes of Garderobe are under orders to kill her if she falls into enemy hands. Meister Otome Lena Sayers and her Otome friends must disobey orders if they are to save Sifr, but first Lena must release her true HiME powers with the help of the Blue Sky Saphire gem.

Hey, "you should know I'm an ally of justice!" :-) HEH.

TokyoPop Hires former CMX Exec

We all are aware of the declining fortunes of manga publisher TokyoPop. They have gone from a 40 issue a month company to a 10 issue a month company over the past 3 years, and have recently allowed much of their manga back catalog - even for ongoing series - to go out of print (to the consternation of fans and retailers alike). ICv2's Q3 2010 list of top selling manga properties show TokyoPop had only 2 out of the top 25 spots, with Alice in the Country of Hearts coming in at #11, and Fruits Basket at #15.

We'll, they have just announced that they have hired Asako Suzuki, who was formerly the Director of Manga for the now defunct CMX imprint, to be their Manga Line Editor. Suzuki will be handling most of the new Japanese licensing work at Tokyopop, including acquisitions. She will apparently also be involved in marketing as well, and will communicate with fans via Facebook and Twitter - you know, because there is no other freaking way to do it anymore. My suggestion is that she also talk to a retailer or two from time to time too, because up until now, TokyoPop has mostly ignores us - or at least tries to. Coming from working for a real company, hopefully she won't have too much trouble getting acclimatized to working for TokyoPop's schizophrenic culture and for DJ Milky (seen above) - who's ideas about manga (in spite of his massive ego) have always been well meaning but usually not well thought out.

WTF is up with your hair Stu? Dude...

So what does this all mean? How will things change at TokyoPop? When asked by ICv2 if TokyoPop might try to rescue some of CMX's unfinished properties, the answer didn't look good:

'Hopefully there’s something that will fit into Tokyopop’s line' Diaz-Przybyl said. 'We’ve had a very mixed track record with rescuing series, like the ADV titles we picked up: Tactics, Peace Maker Kurogane, Aria and Aqua. Fans loved it and we were really hoping to make some hay with them. They did fine, and there are different reasons why each performed a little differently. But those have not always been hugely successful.'

That's industry speak for 'no, re-releases don't sell well, so stop asking me...'

She also said something that I think sums up what TokyoPop is all about now:

'We need to pick the right titles at the right point in their life cycles.'

In other words, they will probably not pickup many new licenses in the future unless they think they will be big sellers. The days of a small percentage of hit titles subsidizing lots of marginal ones are over, and that's a real downer for fans who don't want to just read mainstream series like Fruits Basket.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Funimation Reduces the Price of the Basilisk Complete BluRay!

Funimation has reduced the MSRP today on the Basilisk Complete Boxed Set (BLURAY) from $69.98 to $44.98:

Basilisk Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (BLURAY)

We have lowered our regular price from $49.98 to just $29.98, and the set is in stock and shipping at the new price today!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cat Shit One - If RACS can't ship it, you should skip it!

Production company IDA Entertainment (another brilliantly run Japanese managed Anime firm) has announced that they intend to release Cat Shit One - at least the single episode that has actually been produced - on DVD and BD here in the US in December.

The big downer? It will only be available from Amazon. IDA says because they wanted to handle international distribution for this video on their own:

"that unfortunately means we are currently not interested in collaborating with other television, Internet distribution, DVD, or Blu-ray distribution related companies."

In other words, they're not really interested in market penetration, just turning a fast buck on the small amount of series content they've already produced.

Well IDA, for that (just like AniPlex) YOU CAN SUCK IT!

Actually, the problem with IDA's production of Cat Shit One seems to be a chronic lack of funding or investment interest in the project. It has taken them a year to produce one episode of the originally promised full TV series, and while they gave it away for free to Japanese audiences on YouTube, they initially blocked the video for viewing by North American fans - but will now be making it available (with the dub) in November. All hail IDA.

I suspect they are going through Amazon for distribution so they can utilize Amazon's 'press on demand' service, in which the DVD or BD is not actually produced until it's ordered. It's the ultimate poor mans video production service, but it would allow them to offer the existing episode on DVD without having to invest a lot of money in replication. If not, I bet the R1 version will be close the Japanese price, and if it is - well, epic fail.

IDA says they are still working towards a full 12-episode series, but considering their track record so far I'm not too hopeful they will be able to pull it off.

As for the 'Amazon only' DVD release? For this one, I recommend you catch it on YouTube and skip buying it on DVD until a complete series is produced. I think it's really time to stop rewarding companies for these stupid distribution decisions.

Hey, I just had a thought about what out new mantra should be:

If RACS can't ship it, you should skip it! :-)

HEH, I like that. Maybe we should start putting that in our advertising...

Media Blasters / Allegro Media Partnership

Media Blasters made the announcement this week that they have struck a deal with Allegro Media (a small entertainment media firm that hasn't updated the news section of their website since January) to handle sales and distribution of all Media Blasters Anime and movie labels starting in December. That includes everything published under the Anime Works, Tokyo Shock, and their other live action movie labels. Interestingly, Kitty (their adult Anime line and no doubt their most profitable) will remain in house and will not go out to Allegro.

Most of you guys probably don't know this, but Media Blasters closed up their New Jersey distribution warehouse over the summer (and sadly layed off all the staff there), and outsourced all of their retailer fulfillment to Brand X's wholesale warehousing and shipping service. That was shortly after they shut down their manga division. This transition has been one of the big causes of all the MB backorders and stockouts since July. Now, it seems, they will be moving their inventory again out to Allegro's warehouse over the next few weeks - all of this going on during the busiest selling season of the year. While MB was making a lot of promises to us back in September that weren't filled , I now expect the major stockouts and shortages to last well into January, which can't been good - especially over the holiday selling season.

Regarding the move, John Sirabella (President of Media Blasters) said that this arrangement:

"frees up Media Blasters to focus on localizing properties for the US market, developing new features and series, and producing the highest possible quality DVD, Blu-ray, and digitally distributed releases."

Really? And it has nothing to do with cost cutting due to declining revenue and market share? We'll, no one can ever say THAT publicly - except me - it seems. I've been around this business for a LONG time, and have seen a lot of Anime companies come and go. One thing I would make an observation about is that when a studio outsources their retailer fulfillment, it just means they are trying to cut costs, but when they outsource the outside sales function too, it usually means the company is either going down the tubes, or is no longer planning to pursue that aspect of the business. If you are interested in staying in the Anime business, you keep your sales function IN HOUSE. Period.

We were informed of Media Blasters deal with Allegro last Friday afternoon, before it went public on Monday. I was tempted to fire off a quick blog post to 'break' the news, but I decided to hold off for a few days - frankly because it was a little depressing and I just didn't feel like writing about it at the time. At the end of the day, I hope Media Blasters is not ending up just another casualty of the R1 downturn. Hopefully this is not the case.

Nowadays, MB is the only company left with the guts to license titles like Kanokon or Queens Blade. Come on John, stay with us man, the Anime community needs you.


I do have some comments to make on Media Blasters deal with Allegro Media, with the new regular/limited edition packaging for Funimation releases starting in January, and on a few other recent news events. Should have some posts up about them in the next couple of days.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Section 23 Announces January 2011 Releases

Section 23 has given us their January 2011 release schedule, and we now have it available on the store site for pre-order. Here's what's coming:

11 Eyes Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12)
Ghost Sweeper Mikami TV Series Collection #2 (Eps #13-23)
Kampfer Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12)
Koihime Muso Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-13)

All sexy Anime series that fall right into Section 23's niche. Note that there are no dubbed shows on the list, and Section 23 seems to have settled into a routine of about one release per week - of course, at 12 or 13 episodes of something per week, it's really quite a lot of content coming in small economical packages. After their experiment with dubs over the summer I think they have discovered that in the current environment it's really hard to recoup the cost to dub a show. They may dub more shows going forward, but I'm sure they will choose which titles very carefully.

11 Eyes
Raised in an orphanage after witnessing his sister's suicide, Satsuki Kakeru's life has already been dark and cruel enough. However, when he and his friend Yuka are thrown into a alternate dimension called the Red Night, it takes a gruesome turn from bad to horrific. Now, trapped flickering between our world and the Red, Kakeru quickly discovers that he and Yuka are not alone, and that, together with the other so-called "fragments," they must defeat the malevolent entities known as the Black Knights. Facing monsters from beyond imagination, at the center of a deadly hunt, Kakeru's only chance of saving their lives now hinges on finding the power buried within himself and unraveling the mystery of his own origins and family. If he can survive long enough to do it! The horrors of the Red Night are just the beginning of the nightmare as shocking truths are exhumed in 11 Eyes - The Complete Collection!

Waking up transformed into a beautiful girl might be the stuff of some guys' fantasies, but when the suddenly effeminatized Natsuru is informed by a stuffed tiger that he's now a Kämpfer, a mystical fighter who has to fight other Kämpfers in female form, his life becomes a living nightmare! Putting aside the obvious "plumbing" issues, Natusru's best childhood friend turns out to swing the other way and SHE has a crush on his new female body. Not complex enough? Natsuru's school has separate sections for boys and girls, so he and she are now double enrolled. The rumor-mill has it that he's dating herself. And there are other Kämpfers attending the school who want to take her out, and he's not sure which ones mean "on a date" and which ones mean "permanently." Oh, and did we mention that some Kämpfers use SWORDS and GUNS?! Hormones, fists and other body parts will fly as the daring, new gender-blender defender must become a contender or die in KÄMPFER! - The Complete Series!

Koihime Muso
Before Hua Mulan, before Wu Zetian, China bore another great hero, one whose true name was lost to history… until now. Swearing vengeance after bandits destroy her family and village, a girl named Aisha takes the name Kan'u and sets forth on a journey that will take her across the ruins of a great nation, living not as a woman "should," but by the strength of her own sword and the steel of her own will. And as she travels, her courage and example become a beacon to other kindred souls: women who dare to shatter the shackles of their own traditions and take up arms, to become a force for change. Now, as a new world begins to emerge from the embers of the old, the face of evil must confront its ultimate nemesis, a girl who has become the soul of a new people. An epic battle for the fate of a nation will be unleashed in the complete epic collection of Koihime†Mus?!


Via xkcd.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Funimation Announces January 2011 Releases

Funimation has given us their January 2011 release schedule, and we now have it available on the store site for pre-order. Here's what's coming:

Black Butler Season 1 Part 1 DVD Collection (Eps #1-12)
Disgaea Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26)
Gantz Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) (Classic Collection)
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom DVD Collection #1 (Eps #1-13)
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom DVD Collection #2 (Eps #14-26)
Sacred Blacksmith Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12)
Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE OVA Collection DVD
Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE OVA Collection DVD (BLURAY)

And, moved from December 21st to January 25th:

One Piece Season 3 Part 4 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #179-191)

This release schedule, if you'll notice, is significantly different than what we've been getting from Funi for the last few months. Gone are the dozens of recycled series reissues, reprices, and economy boxes and replacing them is a streamlined list that contains lots of actual new material. It's good to see.

Note: I always use the word 'release schedule' instead of 'slate'. Slate is something they use to make pool tables and expensive shingles. Only lifer industry mo-mo's use it to describe release schedules. Just a little pet peeve of mine... -_^

Black Butler
To what extent must a housekeeper do things to be acceptable? One of the noble families of England, Phantomhives butler Sebastian Michaels has got unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials, martial arts, et cetera: but is also able to serve a 12 year old master. Wearing a grey tailcoat, gracefully brewing the worlds strongest red tea, please read on to see how such a perfect butler copes with such a master...

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
A spate of mafia assasinations occurs in America, the work of the mysterious organization named Inferno."Phantom" is their most strongest and capable assassin, however a lone tourist witnesses Phantom's latest act of murder. He unwittingly exposes the top assassin's true identity, a young girl named Ein. Witnesses are usually killed, but the man is captured and taken to be brainwashed into "Zwei", Inferno's newest assassin, with no memory of who he is. From this point on, Zwei is drawn into a world of conspiracy, deceit and violence.

Sacred Blacksmith
As the newest head of the prestigious Campbell household, young Cecily Campbell is following family tradition by becoming a Knight Guard of the Independent Trade City of Housman and taking up the family sword. While being attacked by a crazed veteran knight, she was saved by Luke, the Sacred Blacksmith. Alongside Lisa, his assistant, Luke has the power to forge powerful swords capable of defeating the so feared demons. Demons which could once again bring the world close to an end.

Funimation Reduces the Price of the Negima Season 2 Box!

Funimation has reduced the MSRP today on the Negima Season 2 DVD Boxed Set from $69.98 to $49.98:

Negima Season 2 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) FN-07763

We lowered our regular price from $49.98 to just $34.98, and the set is in stock and shipping at the new price today!

Funimation Recalls Birdy the Mighty: Decode Part 1

Funimation, due to the wrong content being on one of the disks, hit us with a letter this afternoon announcing that they are recalling the new Birdy the Mighty: Decode Part 1 DVD Box (Eps #1-13) (Part # FN-06720) - you know, the one that just arrived a couple days ago. Ugggg.

Funi will be remaking a batch of new Birdy boxes, and they will ship them to us together with the 2nd half boxed set which is due to street on November 30th.

We have suspended all in process shipments of Birdy (they will automatically become pre-orders for the fixed box), and will be pulling our remaining inventory for return to Funi tomorrow. For you the folks that already have it, just e-mail us to request a replacement ticket. We will setup an automatic shipment to you for a fixed box once they arrive next month.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dragon Destiny 3 In Stock / DD Boxed Set Delayed

I have good news and bad news to report this morning!

First, the Ikki Tousen Dragon Destiny #3 DVD that has been delayed so many times in the past few months has arrived and is now IN STOCK and SHIPPING! We have plenty of copies everyone, so come and get them. YEAH!!!!!

On the heals of the arrival of Vol #3, Media Blasters informed us this morning that the Dragon Destiny Boxed set has now been delayed. It is being removed from the current release schedule and will reappear for release sometime next year. So for you folks that were holding out for the cheap boxed set, you'll need to buy the singles if you want to see the entire series this year.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Media Blasters Cancels Kanokon DVD #2 & #3

Ahhh shit.

Media Blasters, in a surprise announcement via their twitter account yesterday afternoon, said that they will not release DVD volumes 2 and 3 of Kanokon. They are now planning to release the series only as a complete boxed set, probably next March.

In the statement they said that the box set will be "priced low enough so not to punish folks who picked up V1." I would assume that means it will probably carry a $30 or $40 MSRP.

I'm not sure what's going on over at MB folks, but I'm pretty concerned. We've been waiting for restocks on Ah My Buddha boxes since July - they have been out of stock so long Amazon isn't even taking backorders for them anymore. What they are telling us, and what we see happening seem to be two different things.

Anyway, all pre-orders for Kanokon #2 and #3 will be canceled, and we'll put the box set up for pre-order whenever they put it on the release schedule.

Maybe you folks should be thinking about picking up any MB titles that you have been looking at but don't yet have. I'm not suggesting anything is going to happen, I'm just sayin - you know?...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anime Word of the Week - Mai Waifu

Waifu (Mai Waifu)

... is a popular catchphrase based on a scene from the anime Azumanga Daioh. While the term “Mai Waifu” (My Wife) is often used in Asian cultures as a casual reference to one’s spouse in conversations, it’s been also adopted by otaku circles and anime fans when discussing one’s favorite manga & anime character.

The term came into widespread use in the internet Otaku culture around 2006 (as shown by Google stats), but the colloquial usage of 'Waifu' in East Asian countries most likely precede its popular usage on the Internet. However, the term was first introduced to the English-speaking communities by a particular scene in Azumanga Daioh where Mr. Kimura, the perverted homeroom teacher, drops a photograph of a mysterious woman on the floor. When asked by his students about the person in the picture, Mr. Kimura simply replies “Mai Waifu.”

The term “Mai Waifu” is often used when speaking of a favorite female anime character (in either 2D on screen or 3D as in cos-play or for a live action character like a fans favorite female idol), either by genuine fans, or by forum trolls who are looking to anger others. However, usage of 'Mai Waifu' is not constricted solely to anime, as it has been seen accompanying pictures of other animated characters and photographs of real life celebrities.

Mai Waifu threads are very popular on sites like 4chan (a large Otaku based image forum and discussion group). On these forums, sometimes the original poster has a genuine otaku-like love for their “waifu” and is met with encouragement, but is sometimes met by those who are critical of the concept that a lonely person could feel fulfillment from a two-dimensional character. “Mai Waifu” threads seem to capture the interest of otakus, weaboos (to display their unhealthy attraction for fictional anime characters), and trolls (to display their scorn for the latter).

A 'weaboo' (a.k.a Wapanese) by the way, is a person (typically of non-Asian descent) who prefers Japan and all things in Japanese over one’s indigenous culture. It's is a derogatory slur referring to western Japanophiles with a strong bias towards Japanese cultural and tech imports. I know a few of these. :-)

And a 'troll', obviously, is an asshole who turns to stone at sunrise.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bandai Delays Hayate Vol #7 DVD

Bandai sent us a quick note today that they have delayed the release date for the Hayate the Combat Butler Vol #7 DVD, but it's not too big a deal.

The date has been bumped back two weeks from Nov 2nd to Nov 16th.

We will adjust all pre-orders accordingly. As always, if you have a pending order waiting for Hayate #7 and want to make a change, just drop us an e-mail.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hell Girl Fan

Gary's favorite series are Hell Girl, Hell Girl, and also Hell Girl:

Thanks Gary! :-)

AniPlex USA Comments?

Based on the number of e-mails that came in over the weekend, it seems that a lot of RACS customers are expecting me to say something regarding the way AniplexUSA has decided to approach the R1 market with their releases (specifically Durarara and R.O.D.) and, as one customer put it:

" ...the utter contempt they are showing for US Anime fans based on both their pricing and distribution policy..."

(not my words folks)

I do in fact have some 'thoughts' on the subject, but I'm not ready to make them public. Maybe in a few days...

Until then, please enjoy this movie clip that is totally and completely unrelated to the subject of this post:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Exchange Rate Blues

With the Dollar/Yen exchange rate hitting record lows as many first world currencies circle the drain, Steven Den Beste gripes that the new ¥8880 Asobi ni Iku Yo BD's that he ordered directly from Japan are costing him in excess of $100 each.

Hey, welcome to our world. It's not like there are enough problems in the industry right now, but the exchange rate is making us really take a look at the viability of the whole import business. Any Anime products that we offer for sale that are actually produced in Japan and not under license here (where the manufacture can be exported to Mexico (DVD's) or China (Character Merchandise) or Canada (Manga)) is getting priced right out of the North America market. Character figures (PVC's) are now averaging around $110-$120 (at least if we want to make any profit on them), and will be higher than that by next spring once our fall commitments are delivered. Typical Japanese music CD's now have to be sold for $45-$50. I'm still wavering on our offering 2011 Japanese calendars this year, even though I only have a few days to make up my mind. I just don't know if there will be much market for calendars we will have to sell for $30-$40 each. We probably will, but will just offer fewer choices this year.

Anyway, I digress. Since Steven is an engineer, and engineers (being practical thinkers that see the world in terms of what works and what doesn't) have a hard time getting their heads around irrational concepts like Socioeconomics, I have a macro economic thought for him that ties into his recent micro economic observations:

"There is no subtler, or surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debase the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which only one man in a million is able to diagnose."

-John Maynard Keynes

Don't forget folks, we're closed tomorrow for Columbus Day, so I won't be answering any e-mails until we come back. See you all Tuesday!

UPDATE: I'm of the FA Hayek school myself, but Keynes was certainly right about this.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Anime Word of the Week - Ketsueki-gata (血液型)

Ketsueki-gata (血液型)

... is an understanding of a person's character made by knowing his or her ABO blood type. Personal statistics for anime, manga, and video game characters will often include blood type as well as age, height, hair color, etc.

It is a popular belief in Japan that a person's blood type is predictive of his personality, temperament, and compatibility with others, and you'll often be asked by new Japanese friends, "What's your blood type?"

Ketsueki-gata blood type/personality traits:

Blood Type A - The Farmer

Speaking broadly, it is said that people with Type A Blood are calm, composed, and very level-headed and serious. They have a firm character, and are reliable and trustworthy (and hardheaded). They think things over and make plans deliberately, and they plug away at things steadily and assiduously. They try to make themselves more like their own ideal of what they should be. A Types may look aloof or distant to others. They try to suppress their own emotions, and because they have continual practice in doing this, this makes them appear strong. But, actually, they have a fragile, nervous side, as well. They tend to be hard on people who are not of the same type, and so they consequently tend to be surrounded with people of the same temperament.

Best traits: Earnest, creative, sensible, reserved, patient, responsible
Worst traits: Fastidious, overearnest, stubborn, tense, conservative

Some characters who are type A: Shinji Ikari & Misato Katsuragi (Evangelion), Aeka Jerai (Tenchi Muyo), Mamoru Chiba (Sailor Moon), Heero Yue (Gundam Wing),

Blood Type B - The Hunter

People with Type B Blood are curious about and interested in everything. That's may be good, but they also tend to have too many interests and hobbies, and they tend to get all excited about something suddenly and then later drop it again just as quickly. But they do manage to know which of their many interests or loved ones are the ones that are really important, the ones they should hold on to. B Types tend to excel in things rather than just be average. But they tend to be so involved in their own world or become so carried away with something that they neglect other things. They have the image of being bright and cheerful, full of energy and enthusiasm, but some people think that they are really quite different on the inside. And it can also be said about them that they don't really want to have much real contact with others.

Best traits: Wild, active, doer, creative, passionate, strong
Worst traits: Selfish, irresponsible, unforgiving, unpredictable

Some characters who are type B: Ritsuko Akagi (Evangelion), Minako Aino (Sailor Moon), Duo Maxwell (Gundam Wing),

Blood Type AB - The Humanist

People with Type AB Blood are said to have a delicate sensitivity. They are considerate of other people's feelings and deal with them with care and caution. On the other hand, though, they are strict with themselves and those close to them. They, therefore, seem to have two personalities: one for those "outside," and another for people on the "inside." They often become sentimental, and they tend to think too deeply about things. AB Types have a lot of friends, but they need time to be alone and think things through, as well.

Best traits: Cool, controlled, rational, sociable
Worst traits: Critical, indecisive, forgetful, irresponsible

Some characters who are type AB: Misa Hayase (Macross), Celvice Klein (Zone of the Enders), Rei Hino & Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Moon)

Blood Type Type O - The Warrior

Type O Blood people are said to set the mood for a group and to take on the role of creating harmony among its members. Their image is one of taking it easy, of being peaceful and carefree. They are also thought to be big-hearted and benevolent, and they tend to spend money on others generously. O Types are generally "loved by all." But, they also, surprisingly, have a stubborn and strong-willed side, as well, and tend to secretly have their own opinions on things. On the other hand, they have the flexible, adaptable side of readily accepting new things. They are easily influenced by other people or by what they see on TV. They seem to appear level-headed and trustworthy, but they often slip and make big blunders inadvertently. But that is also the point that makes O Types lovable.

Best traits: Agreeable, sociable, optimistic
Worst traits: Vain, rude

Some characters who are type O: Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop), Kaoru Kamiya (Rurouni Kenshin), Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon), Sasami Jurai (Tenchi Muyo), Gene Starwind (Outlaw Star), Asuka Langly Soryu (Evangelion)

Blood Type A is the most common Japanese blood type. In America, Blood Type O is by far the most prevalent. In Japan, schools carry out thorough physical exams, and so the majority of Japanese people find out their own blood types from the results of these exams. Many Japanese are amazed to learn that a large number of Americans don't know their own blood types. "What's your blood type?" is a question heard much more frequently in Japan than, say, "What's your zodiac sign?" is heard in America. It is sometimes even used in casual self-introductions in informal situations.

Of course, if you are a type AB or O you will probably dismiss all of this blood-analysis out of hand as New Age mumbo jumbo, but the more sensitive type A's or B's may want to discover more!

I'm an AB, which in Japan is generally considered the worst type. Oh well...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Bandai Announces December 2010 Releases

Bandai Entertainment has given us their December 2010 release schedule, and we now have it available on the store site for pre-order.

Ready? Here it is:

Gundam 00 Season 2, Vol #4 DVD (Eps #20-25)
Gundam 00 Season 2, Vol #4 DVD Special Edition (Eps #20-25)

Yep, that's it. Makes you wonder if Namco really wants a serious presence in the R1 Anime market anymore. Opps! There I go mouthing off again - I guess this post no longer qualifies as 'angst free'. Oh well.

While we're talking about Bandai, I wanted to give everyone an update on the 2nd Gurren Lagann movie. Bandai had given some direct retailers like us access to the GL movies over the summer. We got the first one, but they have since backpedaled on that arrangement and won't allow us to order them directly anymore. We can order them from the Bandai Store, but so far we haven't been able to get them to ship us any copies either directly or from the store site even though we've had orders in for them for weeks. Customer service at their direct store site is practically non-existent, so it been impossible for us to get an update on our orders there, and we've tried several times. I don't know when or if we'll have stock on these DVD's, and I thought I'd just let everyone know what's going on, and I apologize to everyone who has been waiting for them to ship.

Jenn, one of my folks over here, asked me in our product planning meeting today, why some of the studios "make doing business with them so hard, or even openly compete against us?" I only shrugged and said 'hell if I know - I guess they think they can do it better, but they never do."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Media Blasters Changes Queens Blade Dates... Again...

Well, no sooner had Media Blasters sent out their revised December schedule and assured us that their new dates were now good, they have sent us another sheet of revisions, this time in regards to Queens Blade.

First, Queens Blade volume #2 has been moved again, this time from Oct 26 to Dec 14:

Queen's Blade: Wandering Warrior, Vol #2, The Beaten Path DVD (Eps #5-8) - Moved from Oct 26 to Dec 14

Vol #3, and the regular and BD boxed sets have all been moved off the schedule and will now street sometime during the 1st quarter of 2011, so we're probably looking at late February or March:

Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin, Vol #3, Journey's End DVD (Eps #9-12) - Moved to 1st Quarter 2011
Queen's Blade Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12)
- Moved to 1st Quarter 2011
Queen's Blade Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) (BLURAY) - Moved to 1st Quarter 2011

In addition to the date change on the BLURAY set, Media Blasters has also changed the item number from AWBD-1050 to AWBD-1051, and has increased the MSRP from $49.98 to $59.98. This means we've had to increase our pre-order price by $5, and all existing pre-orders will be modified to reflect the new price and SKU #.

Sorry folks, I'm just the messenger.

UPDATE: From the comments: