Archive for January, 2012

Bye bye, Bandai

January 2nd, 2012

2011 was the Year of Too Many Goodbyes, embodied in a post that I’m still working on (hey, transcribing an hour-long conversation, as those of you who may have transcribed hour-long conversations can attest, takes foreeeeever). 2012? It’s only two days in, and we’re already outpacing the number of goodbyes we were in the midst of saying at the same time last year. 2011 had the Suncoast Video store at Pearlridge Center; in 2012, there’s Suncoast at Windward Mall, Sam Goody at Ala Moana … and now, Anime News Network is reporting that after a run that began in 1999 for the anime division and 2004 for the manga division, Bandai Entertainment is taking down its U.S. publishing tent. This comes just a few days after the company shut down its online store, featuring a closeout sale during which I scrambled to pick up Hayate the Combat Butler and the first half of K-ON! on Blu-ray to fill some holes in my collection.

This doesn’t mean that everything the company sold in the U.S. will disappear — they’ll still sell that. Bandai’s also not disappearing from the U.S. market completely, as they’ll still license series to the remaining U.S. publishers. But it does mean that there won’t be anything new sold under the Bandai banner going forward. It also means a whole slew of canceled upcoming releases — fans of Gosick, Nichijo and Turn A Gundam, you’ll have to hope someone else picks up those anime.¬†Manga fans can also stop waiting for Code Geass: Shikkoku no Renya, Lucky Star Boo Boo Kagaboo, Mobile Suit Gundam 001 and Tales of the Abyss: Jade’s Secret. And, as often happens when manga publishers disappear, fans of some series will be left in the lurch — sorry, Gurren Lagann and Kannagi readers, your series are now over.

Bandai’s success in the manga field was dubious at best, what with many of their properties being either decent tie-ins to better anime (Code Geass, Lucky Star, Ghost Slayers, Gurren Lagann, Mobile Suit Gundam 00/ooF) or stuff that, I’m sorry, you could never convince me to ever touch (Tomb Raider? Witchblade? Seriously, now?)¬†

But anime? There were piles of hits that they sold over the years — the Gundam, Galaxy Angel and .hack franchises, the Kyoto Animation triple threat (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star and K-ON!), Cowboy Bebop, Eureka Seven, Outlaw Star, Vision of Escaflowne, Blue Submarine No. 6, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Code Geass and Gurren Lagann come to mind. (The ANN Encyclopedia has a more complete list.)

One also wonders about where this leaves Bang Zoom! Entertainment, the dubbing studio in Burbank, Calif., that worked on many of Bandai’s releases over the years but now has only (decidedly niche) Aniplex of America and (wildly inconsistent) Media Blasters as its remaining anime industry clients. In any case, it looks like we’re seeing yet another sign of industry consolidation, where the distribution model gradually shifts from physical to digital media. Sad for those of us who collect those discs, to be sure, but probably inevitable.

Moon prism transformation!

January 1st, 2012

In the closing days of 2011, I was working on three possible candidates for the final Otaku Ohana post of the year. “This will be great,” I thought. “Wrap up 2011 on a strong note, maybe build some writing momentum going into 2012 … Yeah! Let’s DO THIS!”

… aaaaaand then work got busy. Again. Sigh.

So here we are in the first hours of 2012 — happy new year! — and the post that emerged as the leading candidate to end 2011, has become the first post of 2012. It’s actually good that things turned out this way, all things considered, because the Star-Advertiser’s blog about anime and manga culture will now kick off the year … with an actual post featuring anime- and manga-related content. Shock and awe!

Today’s discussion is part of the December Manga Movable Feast, hosted by Sean Gaffney over on his corner of the ever-expanding, Voltron-esque manga blogging entity that Manga Bookshelf has become. (Hey, they even picked up Brigid Alverson’s Mangablog. That is one impressive collection of talent they have there, made even better now.)

The topic: Sailor Moon. But it’s not a straight review of the series — I’ve only had a chance to dip into a few chapters of Codename: Sailor V (quick initial impressions: it feels like the Sailor Moon beta version that it is, what with the similar concepts of a talking cat, a talisman that enables a transformation, a sinister stealth organization that’s infiltrated the world, and a lead character whose grades aren’t exactly befitting of a world savior). I’ve also looked at a few chapters of the refreshed Kodansha USA translation, in which — when slavishly comparing it panel-by-panel to the original Mixx/Tokyopop translation — I discovered this little Mixx quirk:

In the Kodansha translation, Usagi’s homeroom teacher has her original name back, Haruna Sakurada. That little bubble also doesn’t exist there. So what’s up with the Mixx translation? Maybe “Patricia Olsen” was a reference to some in-house joke lost in the 13 years between Sailor Moon editions, never archived in the vast reaches of the Internet. (Yes, I have tried Googling the name. Yes, I have seen the references to a Pat Olsen who wrote two Ranma 1/2 fanfics, one crossing over with Saber Marionette J, the other crossing over into several universes including Sailor Moon. Yet I find it hard to believe that that’s the gal we’re looking for … the dates simply don’t add up.)

So this isn’t a review. It’s more a quick chronicle of my history with the series, a three-part evolution that’s played out over … oh, I’d say the past 15 years or so.