Thursday, March 31, 2011

Funimation Confirms Shiki - For Spring of 2012

The most important business consideration these days for a US Anime studio is to pace itself and not release too much stuff too fast. Funimation proves that today by announcing their plans to release Shiki on both DVD and Blu-ray - in spring of 2012.

Hopefully it won't come out before Rosario. -_^ HEH.

Synopsis: Sotobamura is a small village with around 1300 residents; so small the village isn't even connected to a single highway. An isolated village in which old customs, such as the burial of the dead, are still practiced. One day, the bodies of three people are found dead. Although Ozaki Toshio, the village's lone doctor, feels uncertain, he treats the deaths as a normal occurrence. However, in the days following, the villagers start to die one after the other.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sentai Licenses Angel Beats! Anime

We've had a lot going on over the last few days, but I did want to make a post that Sentai Filmworks (Section 23) announced a couple days ago that they acquired the 2010 television anime series Angel Beats! Sentai says they will dub the series into English and release it on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but did not say when. The dub will also premiere at this year's Anime Boston con (April 22 to 24).

You hear that Judy!? :-)

Synopsis:  There is a world after death and before reincarnation. There, youth, whose lives were stolen from them before death, defy cruel fate, and their futures. Yuri, the leader of the Shinda Sekai Sensen, leads the rebellion against the god who destined them to have unreasonable lives. On the other hand, Angel, the chairperson of the Student Council for the world after death, (and the Agent for the god?), battles against the SSS members. In a seemingly normal High School, SSS members, armed to the teeth battle it out against Angel and her supernatural powers."

Let Me Be Clear - All Our Japanese Imported Products Are Perfectly Safe

Considering that we have gotten at least four dozen inquires over the last few days about the safety of Japanese products, I feel like I need to make a public post to address the issue. I want to assure everyone who has any possible concern that there is absolutely no danger regarding radiation levels from anything we import from Japan, and I just want to make a couple of points about that:

1) Anything that we currently have in our warehouse was either already here or was in transit via ocean freight before the crisis in Japan occurred. This will be the case for anything new arriving here through at least mid-April.

2) Due to the odd nature of the Japanese Anime industry, almost none of the products we carry are actually made in or originate from Japan. For example: all domestic DVD's and Manga are obviously made in North America.  Most US Anime character merchandise is made under license by subcontractors in China and exported directly to the US. And since we deal directly with the big character figure firms in Japan (like Max Factory and Good Smile), and only import what they authorize for sale outside Japan, just about all our figures and toys ship directly to the US from the subcontractors in China (usually via Hong Kong) where they are produced and never see mainland Japan. The Japanese moved character item manufacturing to China a long time ago.

3) The only items that we get regularly from Tokyo are R2 DVD/BD's, Music CD's, and imported books like Magazines and Illustration collections. There are also a few character items that may pass through Japan on it's way to us. Any shipments of these items made after March 16th (to make everyone feel better) will be double checked on our dock with a digital meter (yes, oddly enough, we do have one) prior to going into stock here at our warehouse.

Frankly, I feel a little silly to even make this post, but too many people are writing in about it. There is clearly a lot of underlying concern, and I hope this helps put every one's mind at ease. Nuff said.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Couple More Delays from Media Blasters

Media Blasters just sent over an e-mail to let us know that they are delaying a couple more new releases. Surprise! -_^

Here's the changes:

Loveless Vocal Collection DVD Boxed Set (Bilingual) - Mar 29 to Apr 26
Moribito Collection #2 Boxed Set (Eps #14-26) (BLURAY) - Apr 12 to May 17

I only have a couple of comments on these. First, I'm glad MB even bothered to let us know ahead of time, but I'm getting REALLY tired of fighting with them over delivery dates. I know they are trying to get back on track, but they have been telling us that since last summer. Seriously, I'd rather sit through a root canal than go through what we just went through just to get our copies of Kanokon and Queens Blade (the BD), and we still have no idea when the regular version of Queens Blade is going to ship. So what I do know is this - Media Baster's process is broken, and they need to get it fixed now. Until that happens, I don't think we can give a shread of credibility to anything they announce or any date they set for any title.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bandai Skips May, Announces June 2011 Releases

Skipping the month of May entirely this year, Bandai has just given us their June 2011 release schedule, and we now have them available on the store site for pre-order.

Here's what's coming:

Girl Who Leapt Through Space Part#2 DVD - Jun 7th
Gundam Unicorn , Part #1 DVD (Eps #1-4) - Jun 7th
Tales of the Abyss , Part #1 DVD (Eps #1-6) - Jun 7th
Tales of the Abyss , Part #1 Limited Edition DVD (Eps #1-6) - Jun 7th
K-On! Vol #2 DVD - Jun 14
K-On! Vol #2 (BLURAY) -Jun 14

In addition to these new releases, Bandai has also pushed back the Girl Who leapt Through Time (BLURAY) a couple of weeks from Apr 12 to Apr 26.

Just a couple of comments. As far as skipping the month of May, maybe they know something we don't - as in maybe some of those April releases will ultimately end up in May. Oh no! -_^ As I'm sure you are, I am hoping they will get K-On out on time and not stick to their history of bumping the date of almost every new release at least once. It's good to see an affordable version of Gundam Unicorn coming on regular DVD, but if you are holding out for the cheaper US BD release don't - the region free Japanese release that we have been carrying will be the only BD version made available. Tales of the Abyss will sadly be subtitled only.

Finally, as long as we're talking about Bandai, if anyone is wondering where the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Anime Legends) is, I'm not sure either. It was delayed from early Feb to Mar 22, but still didn't arrive on time and we've been so busy with Kanokon this week I have not had a minute to call up there and find out what's going on with CG. Maybe tomorrow. :-)

Tales of the Abyss

On the planet Audlant, global war is imminent between the Kingdom of Kimlasca and the Malkuth Empire. Their conflict had been prophesied in the Scores, a complete history of this world from its creation to its destruction once written on the mysterious stones. It also predicts the appearance of a new savior-hero, who is a red-haired male child with the name of “the Light of the Sacred Flame”. Luke fon Fabre, a son of the noble family who has been confined in his father’s palace for years, feels impatient and defiant like any teenage boy. When a beautiful young lady named Tear suddenly intrudes into his training session and attacks General Van, who he respects as master swordsman, the spoiled kid is spirited away and forced into a series of great adventures through this alternate-reality world of swords and sorcery.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My World - Reset

Sometimes, you have to realign your perceptions.

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." -Tyler Durden

I am Jack's raging Anime dealer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Funimation Pushes Rosario Yet Again - Now to December

Funi just sent over a note letting us know that they have pushed Rosario - again - now to December. All things considered, I'm really not sure what the point of even giving it a date at all. Perhaps they should just list it as TBD until they workout whatever the issue is that's holding it up.

Rosario+Vampire Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-13) - Sep 27 to Dec 20
Rosario+Vampire Capu2 (Season 2) Complete DVD Boxed Set (Eps #14-26)
 - Sep 27 to Dec 20

I was told a while back that the Rosario delays were unique and were being caused by a materials issue, which would makes sense if it was delayed a couple three month, but this is something else. I wonder if they are having an issue with a license approval or some other legal requirement? These delays feel contractual in nature...

Anyway, sorry folks, I'm just the messenger.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Status of the Fukushima Reactor Accidents

Herschel Smith over at the Captains Journal is posting some excellent updates on the current status and progress of the containment efforts being made at the Fukushima Reactor plant. He is doing a much better job than the main stream media at assessing the situation given the available information.

As he points out: "The Japanese are performing heroically, and the main stream media will catch up in several days (or weeks). The current efforts are focused on radiological source term and thus dose mitigation, not the prevention of core melt events."

UPDATE: A great chart that brings radiation exposure into context.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Questions from Kayla & Japanese Quake Relief Donations

Kayla from Texas sent these questions over today, and I decided to answer it here. I don't have that much time today, but I'm going to bang out a few things so hopefully this will help collectively answer some of the questions folks have been sending in over the last few days.

"hello, this is Kayla again. Just placed an order for Working, and looking forward to it. I know you sometimes place customer emails and topics in your blog, and I wanted to pose a question to you.

"As a longtime RACS customer, I first wanted to say thank you for the continued superior service. Your customer service, along with your all your multiple offerings make me return to your store instead of others over and over again. The recent events have caused me not only to send multiple emails to friends still living in Japan, but also started a strong desire to purchase more anime and Japanese goods during the last week."

Anyone who really wants to offer immediate help to the people in Japan effected by the recent crisis should give a generous donation to the Red Cross or another disaster relief agency directly involved with the relief efforts. Aside form the Nuclear plant problems that are getting 24/7 coverage on the news, there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Japan that desperately need food, water, medical supplies and other basic needs items like blankets and fuel for heating and emergency transportation.

Aid agencies, in conjunction with the Japanese government are in the best position to help deliver these supplies quickly. I suggest that people take a step back from their weekly Anime purchases and instead make a generous donation to a relief agency like the Red Cross - we have.

 Here are more agencies directly involved with relief efforts that need our help:

Red Cross - Text REDCROSS or 90999 to make $10 donation.

Save the Children - Toll free: 800-728-3843 or just text JAPAN to 20222 to donate.

Salvation Army -  Toll free: 800-SAL-ARMY or text QUAKE or 80888 to donate $10

International Medical Corps - Text MED or 80888 to donate $10

Doctors Without Borders

Global Giving - Text JAPAN or 50555 to donate $10

World Vision - Toll Free: 888-56-CHILD or text 4JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10

"Items that I've been putting off for a better paycheck seem more scarce to me now. While I've heard from some sellers that business in unaffected areas is doing its best to try to carry on as business as usual, I can't help to believe that certain Japanese goods, figures, and foods that I used to order from online might become scarce as Japan tries to focus on rebuilding, or if the nuclear crisis escalates even further to a level I'm too afraid to write about. I've already read online that some scheduled anime blu-ray releases (in Japan) have been understandably delayed to dates TBD. I keep reading about the mass Exodus from Tokyo and international residents leaving the country for home, even if they don't live in the affected areas."

I don't think anyone knows how this crisis will affect industry and business in Japan yet. Most Anime good created and sold in Japan are not produced in Japan, but are shipped in from factories in China. At this time all available resources of the country, including shipping, ports, and air fireght should be dedicated to relief efforts and not manufactured collectables.

Also, no one should be the least bit concerned about anything like BD delays, or when more episodes of their current Anime shows will be available. These folks out on the Anime forums bitching about the blackout in new episodes and fan subs going up on torrents and talking about how 'they are victims too' should have their heads examined. What a ridiculous thing to care about at a time like this.

"I read that you've made contact with friends and suppliers in Japan since these terrible events. Have you heard more news in the past week that reflect these fears??"

We have and we have put together a couple of air shipments of items specifically requested by some of our friends in Tokyo which we hope will get through OK. There is great concern in Tokyo over the current situation at the Nuclear plant, but there is also great concern over how this disaster will effect the country long term. The Japanese have one of the most cohesive societies on earth, but they are still very worried. I don't think the conflicting info they are getting from the government and the various news sources is helping the situation any. I mean the emperor addressed the nation yesterday - that's a huge big deal and should reveal a great deal about the current level of concern.

"Have you found that sales at RACS have significantly increased or decreased since recent events??"

So far things here continue as normal. We've been very busy this week, but I don't think it has anything to do with what's going on in Japan. Our markets are almost completely disconnected from the Japanese market other than suppliers for certain specific classes of items. We've had the NHK news feed up on the monitor here at the office constantly since Friday, and I think we have all found it very hard to work this week while watching this tragedy unfold.

"While I doubt US releases will be affected much, at least for the time being, I wonder about figures you receive directly from Japan."

US releases should not be effected at all, in fact, almost every US studio has shamelessly put out their June schedules this week, seemingly oblivious of events in Japan and the suffering of the Japanese people. The show must go on I suppose. The US studios supply of material has a very long tail, and they probably already have enough material in the pipeline to publish for a year without any new material being produced in Japan, so as you can see the two markets are almost completely disconnected.

For Japanese import goods like figures, the answer is interesting. There are two kinds of US dealers for Japanese figures. Businesses like us source only materials licensed for export by the Japanese producers, and order them directly from the producers to be imported through an authorized US distributor (AAA is one of the big ones, and so is Yamato USA and a couple others). The other kind of businesses are the ones that use the wholesale depts. at Japanese hobby shops (like HLJ or HS) to source their figures. These folks are sorta 'grey' marketers who end run any export restrictions or license obligations by buying (at a small discount) directly from Japanese retailers instead of wholesalers or producers.

Our figure business likely won't be affected at all. Almost all Anime figures are produced in China, and when we order them from the producers they usually ship to the US directly from the factories in China (generally through Hong Kong) and never see mainland Japan. The folks that source from stores directly in Japan may have months of supply headaches ahead of them, but I think our supply chain is fine.

The other thing about our supply chain is that it has a very long tail. We order figures 6-8 months in advance of delivery. At the time of the disaster in Japan, our next shipment was already in CA clearing customs, the one behind that is currently on a container ship crossing the Pacific, and the one behind that is being collected at an export warehouse in Hong Kong for Max Factory or Good Smile. Most likely the folks that source directly from Japanese retailers encounter the bulk of the supply problems for new products like these.

One last business point. We fix our pricing several months in advance of delivery to protect ourselves from currency fluctuations. Folks that pay in Yen as they go and don't have price protections in place are going to get creamed while the Japanese repatriate Yen for relief efforts making the Dollar/Yen exchange rate deteriorate even further. You see the Yen get down to around 75 to the dollar and you'll see a lot of smaller US based Japanese goods businesses checking out of this market because the goods (whatever they are) will just become too expensive. I guarantee we won't be in a position to place any significant orders for import good like CD's or Japanese BD releases until the exchange rate improves, but fortunately this is only a tiny portion of put overall business.

"I also wonder about how much effort will be vested in making new anime down the line as the country tries to put things back together?? Any thoughts??"

That will depend entirely on the Japanese economy and how quickly they recover from this disaster. Anime demand in Japan will likely be suppressed for some time to come as a large portion of the country focuses on buying basic needs. The Japanese economy may even also face another recession, and many of the Anime producers in Japan are not in strong financial positions as it is. But Anime will be solely dependant on the Japanese market as to what happens. We'll have to wait and see, but no one should be focusing on this sorta thing at this point anyway. If it was CA, and LA was effected, the last thing on anyone’s mind should be how soon Hollywood will be making movies again.

I'll make some more comments when I have more time. In the mean time, please think about those donation links I posted.

Funimation's June Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get their new schedules out this week, so when it rains it pours! We've also laid our hands on Funimation's June release schedule, and we now have them up on the store site for pre-order.

Here's what's coming:

Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 5 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #53-65) - Jun 7th
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 5 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #53-65) (BLURAY) - Jun 7th
Tenchi Muyo Ryo Ohki Complete DVD Boxed Set (Classic Collection)- Jun 7th
TO (Tou) Anime Movie DVD/BLURAY Combo Pack- Jun 7th
Tsubasa Season 1 Collection DVD Box Set (Eps #1-26) (S.A.V.E. Edition) - Jun 7th
Tsubasa Season 1 Collection DVD Box Set (BLURAY) (S.A.V.E. Edition) - Jun 7th
Dance in the Vampire Bund Complete Collection DVD/BLURAY Combo Set (Limited Edition) - Jun 14th
Fruits Basket Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Collectors Edition) - Jun 14th
Last Exile Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Classic Collection) - Jun 14th
Blue Gender Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set + Movie (Classic Collection) - Jun 21st
Baka and Test Complete Collection DVD/BLURAY Combo Set (Eps #1-13) (Limited Edition) - Jun 28th
Gungrave Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Classic Collection) - Jun 28th
Gungrave Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (BLURAY) (Classic Collection) - Jun 28th
Rideback Complete Collection DVD/BLURAY Combo Set (Eps #-1-13) (Limited First Pressing) - Jun 28th
Sgt Frog (Keroro Gunso) Season 3 Part 1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #52-64) - Jun 28th

So, a few notes and observations:

1) The original release of Rideback set for April 12th has been scrubbed and a new DVD/BLURAY combo set put in it's place, new streeting on Jun 28th. The price is the same, so all existing pre-orders for the old version will automatically be upgraded to the new version scheduled for Jun.

2) We will only be offering the Limited First Pressing version of both Dance in the Vampire Bund and Baka and Test for pre-order. As always, we are pricing this version at the same price at the regular edition which we will not offer until the limited version is sold out.

3) Funimation is showing some 'corporate' level decision making (i.e. not smart) to re-release the Tsubasa S.A.V.E. edition as separate seasons when they have already released a 'complete' collection of the series. I think the nice 'Collected Memories' edition still offers the best value, and we will keep this version in stock as long as possible. I recommend you pass on the upcoming S.A.V.E. version unless you absolutely don't care about anything except 'cheap'.

4) Funi has added a BD version of Gungrave to the schedule along side the prevously delayed DVD re-release. Both of these are being re-streeted under the 'Classics' label, as are Last Exile and Tenchi Ryo-Ohki

5) I'm not sure what the Fruits Basket 'Collectors' edition is going to entail yet, but we should find out in the next couple of days. All we know right now is that it will be released at a higher price than the previous Viridian edition, so hopefully the contents of this version will justify that.

6) Glad to see the DVD/BD 'combo packs' taking hold.

7) All you loli fans out there can rejoice - Dance in the Vampire Bund will be 100% UNCUT.


The year 2068. Human kind has established a moon colony with a vast population of 300,000 inhabitants. They need supplies and the easiest way to send them is via the Moonlight Bazooka, a gas propelled launcher that shots the containers to the moon orbit. Then one day the 078962-EK ship, best known as the ghost ship Flying Dutchman docks after a 15 year travel carrying the most precious energy resource known by humanity. Space travel is cruel since the travelers only age 2 years while the rest of humanity ages 15 in the process. The second OVA takes place around 100 years later, humanity now is trying to establish colonies around other stellar systems, but still they don't travel as one and carry their national identities and the seed of war. The planet where they find the most suitable colonization terrains soon shows them that living as separate beings in the universe is not a good way to survive.

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Mina Tepes, the Princess of the ancient covenant and ruler of all vampires, wants her race to stop hiding from the humans. Using her vast wealth, she has paid off Japan's entire national debt and by doing so, gained the right to create a district off Japan's coast that is to become the future haven to vampires worldwide. But when she finally attempts to make public the existence of vampires to the world some politicians, terrorists and rival factions are plotting to assassinate Mina before she has a chance to get Japan's and International recognition for the Vampire Bund. Now she must rely on her strength, cruelty and those closest to her, while trying to make a normal life.

Baka and Test

Advanced placement into a school of higher grade proof-reading is determined by the results of the Promotion Test strictly for class type. Ranging from A class with the best facilities anyone can offer all the way down to F Class which is composed of low dining tables, rotten tatami mats and other worn out facilities. Students can change classes by competing using the Examination Summons Battle system or ESB. Students summon characters with their equivalent test mark scores and use them to compete with other classes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Section 23 June Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

We've gotten Section 23's June release schedule, and it's an outstanding list! We now have these up on the store site for pre-order - here's what's coming:

Maid Sama (Kaichô wa Maid-sama!) Collection #1 DVD (Eps #1-13) - June 7th
Demon King Daimao Complete Collection DVD (Eps #1-12) - June 14th
Demon King Daimao Complete Collection (BLURAY) (Eps #1-12) - June 14th
You're Under Arrest Full Throttle Complete Collection DVD (Eps #1-24) - June 21st
High School of the Dead Complete Collection DVD (Eps #1-12) - June 28th
High School of the Dead Complete Collection (BLURAY) (Eps #1-12) - June 28th

Maid Sama

Getting sent to Seika High School is scary enough if you're a guy, but now that the notorious former boys' school has gone coed, the unfortunate girls who've been enrolled there have only one goal - getting through each day as it comes. But into this untamed and testosterone-filled wilderness comes a girl on a mission; a girl who's not afraid of any male and is willing to take them on in that most deadly of all arenas: the Student Council! As Seika's first ever female president, Misaki Ayuzawa talks the talk and walks the walk, but after school hours she morphs into something rather different… a waitress at a maid café! So when cool, aloof and handsome Usui Takumi discovers Misaki's secret, things are going to get VERY interesting, very quickly! The blackboard jungle's about to bloom with some decidedly feminine touches, because sometimes it takes a maid to maintain order!

Demon King Daimao

After enrolling at the Constant Magic Academy, Akuto Sai discovers he's not just a gifted student with magical powers, he's destined to become the Demon King. And though he's not that crazy about the idea, it drives the girls wild! From the sexy school girls in his class to the skin-obsessed android who's programmed to seduce him, Akuto has no shortage of wacky girl trouble. How much temptation can a demon king take? How much naughty anime antics can you handle? Find out in Demon King Daimao!

High School of the Dead

It began without warning. It continues without mercy. Now a band of high schoolers join forces with guns, swords, baseball bats and anything else they can get their hands on to battle a bloodthirsty, flesh-hungry zombie apocalypse. Slashing action, stunning animation, and jawdropping excitement make HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD the most hotly anticipated adventures of the year. For horror fans and animation addicts alike, nothing offers the high-energy adrenaline of HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Media Blasters June Releases - Now Available for Pre-Order!

We've posted Media Blasters June releases, and we now have these releases up on the store site for pre-order. Sorry it took a few days, we've been a bit distracted since Friday. Anyway, here's what's coming:

Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox OVA DVD - June 21st
Magical Witch Punie-Chan OVA (Special Edition) DVD - June 28th

The Magical Witch 'Special Edition' does not include any extra content, but will be getting a dub so this edition is more correctly the 'biligual' release of the OVA. They did also solicit the Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) (Lite Box) (AWDVD-0939), however, this item was previously released and has never 'not' been available (we have them in stock), so I didn't include it on the list.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Funimation Delays Dragon Ball Z Kai Vol #5 DVD & BD

Funimation has pushed back the date for the 5th volume of the Dragon Ball Z Kai DVD and BD - from May 3rd to June 17th. I think this probably has something to do with the little Toei 'music' copyright violation thing that cropped up recently. :-)

We have updated the release date on the store site.

Japanese Earthquakes

As you probably already know, there was a terrible earthquake in Japan over night our time this morning, and I've been pretty much glued to the news this morning and exchanging e-mails with some of our friends and business associates in Tokyo, so this weeks newsletter is going to be a little short. If you have been following the situation and want to help, please make a donation to the Red Cross. You can follow the situation in real time on the Red Cross's facebook page here. Our thoughts and prayers will be going out to everyone effected by this terrible disaster. Some folks are saying this may be the worst earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and they are going to need all the help they can get.

In the mean time, take a look at this short video of the skyscrapers in Tokyo swaying (as they are designed to) during the earthquake. Kudo's to Japanese engineering, is it any wonder that commercial space in Toyko is so expensive to build!?

Even the giant 60 foot Gundam in Tokyo didn't make it:

UPDATE: Live feed from NHK World News.

UPDATE 2: The situation at the Fukushima Nuclear plant seems to be deteriorating. This is really bad.

UPDATE 3: We've been glued to NHK World news live feed all weekend. It's hard to really comment on this. The level of damage and devestation is just staggering. Some of those areas hit hardest by the Tsunami look like an atomic bomb went off. Total devestation. I can't begin to comprehend how many people in Japan have probably lost their lives, and how many survivors have lost everything. Our hearts go out to everyone in Japan who is suffering through this terrible catastrophe.

UPDATE 4: This is a thing of beauty:

UPDATE 5: Staggering before and after photographs. More here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hey Nice Package! - DBZ Kai Part 4 & Black Butler S1 Part 2

The folks at Funi finally got around to putting together a preview of the new DBZ Kai Vol #4 and the 2nd Half of Black Butler:

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

My World - Expectations

Back in 2005-2006, even I started to think this thing might end up bigger than all of us. That was when we were sinking loads of money into building out our infrastructure.

I was wrong too.

A Good Start

Gigafrosty displays his Anime collection.

It's a good start. :-)

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Editions - Finally Coming to BLURAY!

I've been meaning to make a post about this for a few days, but I haven't had a chance until now. Just a heads up to everyone who has been WAITING and WAITING and WAITING that New Line has finally announced the The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy EXTENDED EDITION (Limited) BluRay Boxed Set!

If you're like me, you've been waiting forever for the extended editions of LOTR to come out on BluRay, and you've been pretty put out that New Line tried to milk everyone again by releasing only the theatrical versions on BD back in April of last year. Hopefully everyone skipped that release and waited for this set.

Specs for Limitd Edition BD set currently are listing all 3 movies on BD (1080p) + Digital copies. Aspect Ratio is listed at 2.35:1 (as it should be) with DTS 6.1 ES sound. The set will include the same extended edition footage and commentaries as the extended edition DVD sets, and will also have the same documentaries.

This version is being promoted as a 'limited edition', but really (just like an Anime release) it's probably only 'limited' to the amount they can sell. Release date is still listed as TBA, and my guess is that it won't street until the 4th quarter (probably October or November of this year) but we can finally pre-order it now. Outstanding! If I had to pick only one live action title to have on BD, this would be the one. I'm such a geek! :-)

Borders Troubles Hit TokyoPop Hard

I've been talking about this a lot recently in our newsletter and blog posts, and have been doing a lot of speculation as to how the Borders failure would effect the US Manga industry (i.e. how hard the publishers would be hit). I think this is a bigger deal than most people realize, but now I'm wondering if perhaps I've been under estimating the impact.

Today Stuart Levy, the CEO of TokyoPop, made this statement to ICv2:

“The facts are simple. Borders—our biggest customer—went bankrupt, owed us a lot money, which they didn’t pay us, and as a result we are in a very challenging situation, and have had to react quickly to the situation. We did need to let a few people go—and it’s horrible for everyone involved to ever have to let people go. We will continue to do everything we can to evolve the manga business and we very much appreciate the support of our fans, our partners, our creators, and out retail customers.”

Borders, believe it or not, once represented about 40% of total US manga sales, but that share has fallen to around 20% last year. Shojo was one of key demographics that helped move the manga market along in recent years at the bookstore level, but this audience is now aging, and many former shojo fans are not graduating to josei (comics for older women), instead seeking out other forms of entertainment. Also, over the last couple of years, new series have failed to replicate the success of older shounen titles such as Naruto and Bleach.

It looks like several of the key people TokyoPop picked up last summer when CMX closed down have now lost their jobs again, plus a few others. The most disconcerting thing in DJ Milky's statement is "we are in a very challenging situation". That's CEO speak for "things are looking pretty bad". TokyoPop is already having enough problems keeping their back catalog in print as well as keeping their front end output up. Actually, that's an understatement, as they have 'already' pretty much given up keeping their back catalog in print. I imagine they are in a situation that will require further cuts to their current release schedule of only 10-12 new issues a month.

Former powerhouses CMX and Del Rey are now gone from the manga market. Dark Horse has already seriously curtailed their manga genre output, which is down to only 1-2 volumes per month now. They are focusing on more US based series now. And Viz will ultimately find themselves in the same position of having to eliminate any 'marginal' series (that they already haven't) from their release schedule and only focus on the things that are the most profitable. This would explain their sudden cancellation of Inubaka, which has left fans of the series (like me) scratching their heads as to why they would do away with a series only 5 volumes short of the end (not to mention that it sets such a bad precedent). I hope this sudden change in the market does not persuade Kodansha to change their plans about their summer release ramp up either, as they are the only hope for the continuation of many of those former Del Rey licenses that dropped out of print last year.

The reality of Border's troubles is that there will probably be more such cancellations in the coming months as the publishers try to reorientate their business models to adjust to a 20% smaller distribution network. US Manga output has already fallen from 1513 in 2007, to 1115 in 2009, to about 850 last year. The worst part of all this is that we will never know about the great licenses that now get passed on that might have been picked up in a better market. And given the current environment, we might end up down in the range of 500-600 new issues this year. At that rate there will be many more weeks that go by with few or no new manga arrivals here at RACS. That hasn't been the case for at least 8 or 9 years. ~sigh~

Friday, March 04, 2011

Viz Media Put's the Ki·bosh on Inubaka Crazy for Dogs (いぬばか) at Vol #17

Just FYI everyone. Viz Media has confirmed on that Yukiya Sakuragi's manga Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is currently on hiatus in North America and that Vol #18 (which was set to release this month) has been canceled.

According to a statement from a Viz Media representative, no new volumes are currently on the company's release schedule. The manga ended in Japan last April, and the 22nd and final volume shipped there last May.

Man, only 5 volumes short of the end too. Screwed again! And how sad, I really loved this series! Damn.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Funimation Drops the Price on DBZ Kai and the Clamp Double Feature

Funimation dropped the price today on both the regular and BD versions of DBZ Kai Vol #1-4, and also the Clamp Double Feature BD. I had mentioned in our newsletter a couple weeks ago after Funi solicited the 5th volume of DBZ Kai for pre-order at a reduced price that they would shortly be following up by dropping the price on Vol #1-4 to match:

Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-13)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 2 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #14-26)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 3 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #27-39)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 4 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #40-52)

Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-13) (BLURAY)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 2 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #14-26) (BLURAY)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 3 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #27-39) (BLURAY)
Dragonball Z Kai Season 1 Part 4 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #40-52) (BLURAY)

You can now purchase all the DBZ Kai regular DVD volumes at RACS for $19.98, and the BD volumes for $22.98 regular price. You can also now purchase the BD version of Clamp Double feature for $14.98:

CLAMP Movie Double Feature: Tsubasa Chronicles and xxxHOLic BLURAY

These DVD's are in stock and available at the new prices now.

High Gas Prices By County

While one would think gas prices have nothing to do with Anime, I can assure you that they are actually quite important - at least if you are sitting on our side of the computer screen.

If anyone is interested, here is a neat zoomable tool that shows average gas prices nationwide by county. Not that it will do us much good to know what gas is selling for two states over, but it might help give us all a little solidarity that we are not the only ones feeling the pain at the pump.

And of it's any consolation, some of our customers in Britain are reporting gas prices around £1.30 a litre, which in our terms would come in at something like $9.50 a gallon.


NIS America Offer Replacements for Fox Deity #2 Box Art

NIS America announced a replacement program today for the less than perfect box art that came on the 2nd Our Home's Fox Deity (Wagaya no Oinarisama) Premium DVD box (NIS-011134). They blamed a 'manufacturing error' for the less than pristine box art image quality on the premium collectors box. The box contents and DVD's themselves (nothing wrong with the actual DVD's) are not effected by this, only the box art.

If you have purchased this set and would like a reprinted art box at no cost, just fill out NIS's replacement form here. NIS says the reprinted boxes will be available to ship to customers who want them in about 4-6 weeks.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

My World - Simplicity

One of the primary concepts behind the design of the RACS store site:

After 12 years I'm still not sure if that's right.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

GiTS Solid State, Laughing Man, and Individual 11 Coming to BluRay

Manga Video has put the word out that the three GiTS one offs will finally be coming to BD in June:

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society (BLURAY)
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex The Laughing Man (BLURAY)
Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG Individual 11 (BLURAY)

These are the three that were rumored to be released on BD last fall, but never did actually get on their formal release schedule. All 3 are set to street on June 21st - just remember that with Manga Video, all dates are soft until 30 minutes prior.. -_^