A few days ago while writing the Twelve Kingdoms Blu-ray review I was again troubled by one of the hardest questions anime fans and anime production companies all face. That question being: how come modern anime series never become big hits in the West? The Twelve Kingdoms, for example, is remarkably similar to the Games of Thrones TV series. So how come one slipped completely under the mainstream radar while the other took mainstream viewers by storm?
Let’s use these two series as representatives of their respective mediums and inspect what holds back anime from becoming a consistent blockbuster on American soil. Continue reading
As you may have heard according to Robert’s Anime Corner, Media Blasters will not be publishing the 2nd volume of Bakuman on DVD and the Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians Complete DVD Boxed Set. This announcement, coupled with Media Blaster’s decision to lay off 60% of its staff in January, poses real questions regarding the sustainability of the company. You needn’t be a Bakuman or an Ikki Tousen fan to understand why these are bad news, very bad news. 2012 already saw the closure of Bandai USA, and although it was a hushed closure with seemingly little ripples (caused mainly by fans of ongoing/newly licensed series which were suddenly dropped) it will prove to be a huge loss when Bandai’s back catalog runs dry. Suddenly all those series you’ve “saved for later” will go OOP. This is the tough reality behind Bandai USA’s closure and, although I hope I’ll be proven wrong, Media Blasters seems to be heading down this rocky road as well.
Media Blaster has been keeping a low profile for the last couple of years. It abstained from fighting over new licenses, rearing its head once in a while to release a new volume of the The Twelve Kingdoms, a new Queen’s Blade bundle or another “remastered” version of Magic Knight Rayearth (seriously, there are about five different DVD bundles of this thing and none of them are genuinely remastered). So one wouldn’t have been surprised if Media Blasters decided to phase out old licenses or fail to acquire hot upcoming titles. However, cutting series after a single DVD (in the case of Bakuman) or failing to release them completely (Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians) is baffling. These are both short series that could have easily made a quick buck for Media Blasters. Failing to monetize these titles can be a big mistake.
I’ve read a lot of opinions from laid back people, people who believe that even if Media Blasters closes down it won’t be that bad of a thing. These people cling to bigger companies like VIZ and FUNimation for salvation, firmly believing that those companies will rescue everything Media Blasters throws their way or discontinue. Well, I beg to differ. Sure, FUNimation rescued a lot of series following the bursting of the anime bubble, but that was back when things sounded nice and easy. Now FUNimation is caught up in a lawsuit pertaining…yep, you guessed it – FUNimation’s decision to rescue series from the late Geneon. Moreover, FUNimation has in fact yet to release most of these titles from lack of materials. Does this sound to you like a company with the money and time in its hands to rescue yet another batch of series? And VIZ? Are you sure you want a company that is infamous for dropping series halfway to rescue your beloved series?
The bottom line of all this talk is – if you like a title, support it by buying it now or when it’s available. Fantasizing about some almighty company coming to the rescue when the forsaken fans need it to isn’t going to help sustain our beloved anime industry. Media Blasters isn’t going anywhere just yet. As of this time, Media Blasters hasn’t even officially confirmed the information regarding the infinite delays of the Bakuman DVDs or Ikki Tousen. Maybe it is us, the worried fans, who came up with the crazy idea that Media Blasters is having some unknown monetary problems. I would love to still be able to purchase the Bakuman BD set come May, even if the DVDs are discontinued. Media Blasters might not be at its peak as a company, but its loss will be bitter nonetheless. Try not to actively bring about this loss.