MCM London Expo May 2011 – Anime Industry Panel!

A quick recap to the anime industry panel at the MCM Expo, on 28th May, where Andrew Partridge, of Kaze Entertainment, Jerome Mazandarani, of Manga UK, and Tony Allen, of MVM fed back to the audience their highlights of the year, future plans, and some upcoming releases to look out for!

It was Andrew Partridge who got the ball rolling, with his announcement of the launch of UK based anime streaming website anime-on-demand. The website offers users a chance to legally stream anime, by paying for a “season pass” (of 3 months), or an annual membership. When questioned by an audience member what the benefit was, compared to US based crunchyroll, Andrew stated that Anime-On-Demand (much like the FUNimation YouTube channel) is directly linked to the anime industry, and the statistics would be used to help determine the nature of future DVD releases. He maintained that whilst the website is still in its early stages, it will be expanding its content and functionality, and asked fans to bear with the progress. Andrew mentioned that Tiger & Bunny had been the biggest success of the website, but mentioned his surprise in the success of [C] and Deadman Wonderland

Next, Tony Allen of MVM took his turn to state that MVM are still “doing anime”. The announcement comes after a noticeable slump in the company’s anime licenses in recent years. He went on to state that they would continue to look for new acquisitions, however would not “churn out as much as before, as the UK market can’t bare it.” He continued by sharing that MVM had taken the viewpoint that “single volume releases are dead”, and were looking to release most future titles into box sets.

(Although this statement was not backed up by Andrew, who believed “straight to boxset [releases] might be a misnoma”, stating that individual releases may still have a way in the market by allowing early releases/special gifts. Jerome also added that sometimes Japanese/US publishers stipulate that the series must be released in single volumes as part of their licensing agreement.)

Tony later added that Samurai Champloo remained MVM’s biggest seller, however they had also been pleased with the performance of the recently released “Tower of Druarga”.

Finally, when asked what the biggest change in the industry in the last 12 months had been, Jerome of Manga UK responded that it was almost certainly the Japan earthquake. He mentioned the problems it had not only caused the industry, but Japan itself and took time to share some of the fundraising activities that Manga UK had been involved in, including “We Love japan”, a fundraising night that featured, what Jerome called: “The most random thing in anime this year!” – headline act Adam Ant. He mentioned that there had been some questions on how money donated to certain Earthquake relief charities was being distributed, and urged philanthropists to donate to The Japan Society . However, that was not all Manga UK had to offer, as Jerome announced that they were intending to give Akira an anniversary cinema release, in which 20% of ticket revenue would be donated to The Japan Society’s relief fund.

Manga’s biggest seller remains Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, however sales of Summer Wars, Bleach and Naruto had all been healthy, with Naruto box 5 making a cameo appearance in the anime top 200 DVDs during May. (Around 2000 copies).

There was more discussion over digitizing the anime industry, before the climax: Future releases.

MVM announced a string of asian cinema releases, and shared the observation that Britain loves ninjas. It was also announced that they will be releasing Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny Season 2, and are working on a number of other releases.

Manga UK began by apologising for the halt in the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood Blu-Ray releases, but made it clear that they were looking at a solution to the problem, that may involve a boxset release. Jerome spoke of his hatred of Blu-ray, due to it’s high production cost, and shared that it would cost a 5-figure sum to complete the Full Metal Alchemist series on Blu-ray, which wasn’t viable in the previous release format.

Having gotten the bad news out of the way, Jerome pressed onwards to an eclectic array of releases and new licences:

– K-on! Volume 1, was announced as due for release in August, alongside High School of the Dead (although Highschool of the Dead does not include the OVA as it is not yet ready for release). The much anticipated Black Butler will also be released in August.

– Freedom, a, 7 episode post-apocalypic space series (from the creator of Akira) originally released by BeeZ. It will be available as a single disk blu-ray or double disk DVD.

– Strike Witches Season 1 is scheduled for an October release, with Season 2 to follow next year.

– Kaze have the license to release Tiger & Bunny on DVD, however it is in its early stages, Andrew mentioned that further news would come through Manga UK (who will be distributing it for them).

Further announcements included licenses for King of Thorn, Requiem for a Phantom, and will also be distributing Jellyfish Princess (aka. Kuragehime) on behalf of Kaze.

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