Article Quick Information
|Title:||2005: Words from the UK anime industry|
|Category:||End of year review|
|Published:||Sun, 1 Jan 2006|
How did 2005 go for the UK anime industry?
Hugh David of ADV UK: It would be very hard to match the runaway success of our first two years as a DVD label, but 2005 has been a superb year. On the convention front, this was easily our busiest year, directly attending 6 events, while screening in 4 prestigious film festivals and also providing all anime content for the 63rd Annual WorldCon in Glasgow.
We released over 70 DVDs to the market, covering a range of genres unmatched in the UK, and we're particularly proud of certain titles: Azumanga Daioh, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Kino's Journey, Last Exile, Evangelion Platinum, Chrono Crusade, New Fist of the North Star, Puni Puni Poemy UNCUT, Mezzo, surprise critical hit Gravion, and the awesome Peacemaker. Our Complete Collections continue to sell out on release, and we produced a superb UK-Exclusive commentary for the UK Special Edition of Spriggan. In short, it was immensely busy and hugely tiring, but we managed to cram in a little fun along the way.
Andrew Partridge of Beez: I’d say that 2005 has been a pretty bumpy year for us – but we’ve now made solid movements into the UK market, which is as much as I could hope for in the space of time I’ve been in the job for thus far! Personally, I’m particularly proud of “Wolf’s Rain”’s UK release in the last month or two though, not only is it a gorgeous release that we all put care and attention but it’s also on TV now too.
Jerome Mazandarani of Manga UK: It's been a great year for Manga. It's all been about Ghost In The Shell. The Stand Alone Complex series has been a huge hit on DVD and continues to do the business. GITS:SAC was also voted the Best Anime Series of 2005 by the readers of Neo, which we are very happy about. Another highlight in the Manga 2005 calendar had to be the massive turn out at the London Expo events in May and October. Keeping with the GITS theme, we acquired the UK rights for the long awaited sequel to Mamoru Oshii's breakthrough film, Ghost In The Shell. GITS2: Innocence opened in cinemas across the UK at the end of October to much critical praise and a strong box office. Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, Street Fighter Alpha Generations, Robotech, Casshan: Robot Hunter, Neon Genesis Evangelion and more. It's been a good year.
Tony Allen of MVM: Extremely tumultuous. The fire at VDC cast a major cloud of despair and the effects will haunt us for months to come. But on the upside we were pleased to introduce some exceptional titles to the UK which were well received and culminated in our award for Best Distributor. The high quality titles in our 2005 schedule were further augmented by our new partnership with Studio Gonzo.
The last quarter saw MVM shift up a gear with the appointment of Elevation Sales as our sales and marketing force. In tandem with our earlier appointment of The Associates to handle PR, this will give a welcome boost and professionalism not just to our own titles but to the anime genre in general, placing it on the main stage in terms of retail campaigns and quality press. The exciting launch of Rapture TV with the flagship title of Fullmetal Alchemist takes us another step in seeing anime placed firmly in the public perception as an exciting and variable visual entertainment and more than just a cult genre.
The UK Anime Club administered by MVM has also expanded dramatically this year. With the club magazine, club website and forums now all run entirely by the members themselves, it's an absolute pleasure to see such a vibrant community of fans connected nationally.
Stu Taylor of NEO magazine: It was our first full year in publication and honestly could not have gone much better. We knew there was a market for a mag like NEO, but we really did not know for sure that it would work. Considering that we've just received confirmation that the first week sales for NEO 14 are continuing on a steady upward path - registering as the highest we've ever had - it looks like we're on the right track.
The main aims for NEO during '05 was to get out there, stay out there, provide a diversity of content not found in similar themed magazines abroad, and build a strong enough foundation for us to grow on.
It hasn't always been easy - we are an independent publisher that has defined our own path and attempted to provide something new and different, as well as being a commercial success. This has proved to be an issue for some, who expected us to follow the same model set by publishers abroad - hopefully we've proved that things are done differently in the UK, and what might work in the US or Japan does not necessarily carry weight, or is even remotely relevant, over here.
Magazine publishing is a cut-throat world, particularly with a niche title like NEO. The hard work of all our writers and designers wouldn't have meant a thing if we folded within a few issues.
Thankfully we had the support of some visionary publishers and distributors who supported us from day one - I cannot emphasise this enough; if the likes of Manga Entertainment, MVM, Optimum, Tartan and Capcom hadn't supported us with lifeblood advertising revenue from the first issue, we wouldn't be here today. Thankfully, we have had many reputable companies sign up with their support since, ensuring that NEO will continue to be around for a long while to come.
What plans and expectations do you have for 2006?
Hugh David of ADV UK: We have a new title launched every month for the first half of the year, as well as several more planned in the second half, and they're ALL gold! Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU, Elfen lied, MADLAX, Cromartie High School and Gilgamesh should keep everyone busy in that first half! Some choice one-offs (Parasite Dolls, The Place Promised In Our Early Days) will be complimented by a further selection of Complete Collections designed exclusively for the UK.
The convention scene in the UK grows, so we will be more selective about where we attend, but we will make an effort to be at the largest ones, while our film festival presence will continue to grow. Finally, the UK website will also expand, with the addition of a photo album section, a shop facility, and greater use made of the fledgling ADVocates programme, which I apologise for as it has been a little slow to get going, due to a number of internal issues. In short, we are expecting to be even busier and more tired, but it will be worth it for the UK fans.
Andrew Partridge of Beez: With so many new releases coming out I’m hoping people don’t feel spoilt for choice! Personally I’m looking forward to several of our new titles – especially the epic Crest of the Stars series – given it’s the first series out of 4 so far I’m really hoping others like it too so we can bring more of them to the UK! We’re looking at releasing a good number of new licences in 2006 too so there should be enough to keep everybody happy!
Apart from that we’re looking forward to attending at least 3 of the major anime conventions/events and meeting more fans from the UK. So whichever you find us attending please do come along and stop for a chat!
Jerome Mazandarani of Manga UK: We're kicking off 2006 in style with some massive new releases. The big news is that for the first quarter manga will be launching the brand new MGITS:SAC series, 2ND GIG on 23rd January. Then on 27th February we will be releasing the biggest anime DVD film release of 2006, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence - the penultimate version including a brand new English dub starring Richard Epcar and the GITS:SAC American voice cast, brand new extras, original Japanese artwork, and the original Japanese to English sub. There will be more Robotech and some exciting new Geneon titles including Submarine 707R, Heat Guy J and Tokyo Undeground, and Karas in April.
2006 is going to be a vintage year for Manga. We have more new releases than ever before. The hardcore fans will not be disappointed and neither will the new generation of UK anime fans. In addition I am confident that Manga has such a diverse roster of titles coming through in 06 that we will welcome aboard many new fans and help to grow the anime market considerably.
Tony Allen of MVM Films: We have a treasure trove of new acquisitions to present. We'll be introducing one new title per month and kick off the first quarter with Burst Angel, Samurai 7 and Gunslinger Girl. Each month will see at least 4 other mid series releases as we complete the many and varied titles introduced in 2005. MVM now has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, catalogue of anime on offer. Gone are the days of the UK seeing only tired old releases. The fan scene grows as shown by bigger and better conventions. The public perception grows with TV exposure and professional organised events like London Expo. I've been in this business for longer than most and have seen a lot of ups and downs and can safely say 2006 will be a big up for anime.
Stu Taylor of NEO magazine: I would expect the market for Asian-themed entertainment to continue to grow. Handled and marketed correctly, the likes of Tom Yum Goong, Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG and the latest releases from TOKYOPOP and Gollancz Manga should introduce more people to this wonderful brand of pop culture.
As for the magazine, we are nearing completion on a deal that will see NEO increase to 100 pages to accommodate the return of the manga previews. The latter will be two-three part serialisations of new series, offering readers a meatier preview to get their teeth into (around 22 strip pages per issue on average).
We'll also continue to be involved with shows like the London Expo. Personally, I'd also like to look into growing NEO's connection with the Asian film market, at least to be on a par with the fantastic working relationships that we currently share with the manga, games and anime publishers.
After the success of our initial entry, the NEO Reader Awards will return in '06, as well as our NEO Manga competition too. There are other plans to announce but they'll have to wait until the time is right.
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