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.

One Response to “Bye bye, Bandai”

  1. AniMatsuri:

    Bandai is yet another company that survived on only the strength of it’s titles instead of how to market and price things in the US. I’m sort of surprised they lasted this long.

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