MCM London Anime Industry Panel
The MCM Expo’s industry panel saw representatives Tony Allen, Andrew Partridge, and Jerome Mazandarani of MVM, BeeZ and Manga UK respectively.
The panel started with new licenses, summarised below.
1) House of the Five Leaves – Masterless Samurai Akitsu Masonosuke is a skilled swordsman, however he’s released from the servitude of the lords that employ him due to his naive and timid nature. On his way to Edo, Masanosuke is asked to become the bodyguard of play boy Yuichi who he meets on the road. Yuichi turns out to be the leader of a group of bandits named “The Five Leaves”. Yuichi wants Masonosuke to join the group, and despite his initial reluctance, Masonosuke grows closer to the eccentric band, and soon finds himself relating to the group and growing as a person in the process.
2) The Tatami Galaxy – A second year student from the Kyoto University finds himself entrapped amid a plethora of unsatisfying possibilities to change his life. Accompanied by Ozu, his mischievous best friend, and Akashi, a stern engineering student, the nameless protagonist trudges through each path as he tries to grab the opportunity that seems to dangle right in front of his eyes. When a college dropout stops for a late night bite at a mysterious ramen stand, he crosses paths with a self-proclaimed deity of matrimony. This bizarre meeting sends the young man hurtling through a horrifying flashback to his not-so-glorious college days when the influence of a cruel new friend turned him from a hopeless romantic into a mischievous “black cupid.” (Synopsis from ANN ).
1)The Tower of Druaga – The Summer of “Anu”: In a summer once every five years, demons in the mysterious Tower of Druaga lose their powers due to the magic spell cast by a god named “Anu”. King Gilgamesh, ruler of the kingdom Uruk, uses the appearance of demons as an excuse to invade the tower and find out the construct’s secrets. As 80 years passed, the Uruk army managed to fight back the demons and built a fortress city and safe haven on the very first floor of Druaga – Metz Kier. Thus begins the story of a warrior named Jil who, finding companions along the way, embarks on a quest for the fabled Blue Crystal Rod, a powerful artifact rumored to be in the highest floor of Druaga. However, other competitors, including the kingdom of Uruk itself, want the treasure, all for their own reasons. (Synopsis from ANN)
MVM also announced that they were extending their licenses on older shows such as Trigun and Samurai Champloo to ensure their availability to fans.
Manga UK Licenses
Manga have arguably had the most exciting licenses to talk about over the last year, and there were no changes after their announcements. With a number of exciting new captures, and some upcoming releases, Jerome Mazandarani certainly had the most to say during the first half of the panel.
1)The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 & The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya – After BeeZ passed on licensing the second season, Manga have picked up the license for popular Haruhi, in a deal which includes the movie ‘The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya”, and the “Haruhi-chan” episodes. Jerome stated that Manga intended to release season 2 combined with Haruhi-chan, but may be obliged to have a seperate release of Haruhi-chan aswell. He announced that the intentions were to use the Bandai dub for Season 2, however Haruhi-chan will remain sub only.
2)K-On! – After much anticipation, and competition between Manga and BeeZ over the license, Jerome was finally able to announce that Manga UK had won the battle, as Andrew Partridge pulled a face and the two exchanged banter over their competition.
K-On! is the story of musical novice Yui Hirasawa, as she enters high school, with the intention to change her lazy ways, and join a club for the first time. Presented with her limited skills, she finds very few clubs that appeal to her, but signs up to the “Light Music Club” with the intention of playing the castanets. In the previous weeks, keen drummer Ritsu Tainaka joins the Light Music Club (because of her desire to start a band), only to find all of its members have graduated. Needing to find at least 4 members to avoid the club being disbanded, she press gangs best friend, and bass player, Mio Akiyama into joining the club with her, and declares herself the president. Ritsu and Mio aquire the interest of Tsumugi Kotobuki, because of their quirky relationship, leaving them only one more member to find.
3)Birdy: The Mighty Decode – Federation investigator Birdy chases the space criminal Geega through space to Earth, where he hides in the entertainment industry under a human disguise. Birdy goes undercover herself, posing as famous model “Arita Shion” that often uses a ‘space girl’ look. A male student, Senkawa, stumbles upon a fight between the two one night in an abandoned building only to be severed in half as he is used as a shield by Geega against Birdy. Birdy heals him from imminent death in some fashion- but Senkawas body, and life, are now changed and permanently linked to Birdy. (Synopsis from ANN)
Jerome went on to mention his delight at the success of Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, which has shipped to all major retailers, except Sainsbury’s. He also mentioned his surprise at the strength of Naruto, whose sales were looking as strong as when they picked it up in 2006.
He went on to mention his excitement over a number of upcoming releases, specifically that of Hetalia: Axis of Power. He commented on the number of cosplayers he’d seen, saying: “I’m not sure how I feel about seeing so many kids dressed as Nazis…But you know…It’s better than a hoodie!”.
Other upcoming releases were mentioned, such as the hugely anticipated Redline (“Like Wacky Races on speed”), Vampire Knight and Summer Wars. There was also talk of the release of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” on Blu-ray, which appears to have been slowed by the fear of the Japanese licensor of reverse imports, despite the fact that the disk would be region locked anyway. As such, the release will be a “Vanilla disk”, containing no special features. There was mention of the acquisition of “2001 Nights”, a set of 4 OVAs cut into a movie, however was unsure whether the release would contain the four original OVAs aswell.
To conclude, Jerome said that he had hoped to announce a number of other new licenses at MCM, but was unable to as he hadn’t had confirmation from FUNimation. He explained the partnership between Manga UK and FUNimation, and suggested that by watching FUNimation’s releases, it would be fairly easy to establish what Manga may be obtaining the license for next.
After this conclusion, voice actor and director Michael Sinterniklaas was introduced to the panel, for a different view on the effects of the recession on the anime industry.
After reaching the conclusion that modernisation was the key, Andrew Partridge announced that as of Monday 1st November (today), he would no longer be employed by BeeZ entertainment, but instead he would be joining european distributor Kaze, who are making a new quest into the UK market.
The floor was opened to questions, and the issue of legal video streaming was raised. Jerome stated that most Manga released content was available on youtube through FUNimation’s channel, but mentioned that availability varied. Andrew responded, saying that the question should be raised again come the MCM Expo in may, where he would have an announcement to make under his new role at Kaze.