Hot on the heels of Anime Limited revealing both their Weathering With You home video releases and their completion of Makoto Shinkai’s back catalogue, we took the time to sit down with Anime Limited’s Marketing Manager, Andy Hanley, to learn more about what the company has been up to recently, and to ask him some of the questions our community has posed since the initial announcement.
The following interview was conducted via email, and is reproduced as-is.
What has been the Anime Limited team’s favourite part about working on Weathering With You?
Honestly, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind from the day we acquired the license onwards! Needless to say, Mr. Shinkai taking the time to visit the UK to speak to the press was a real pleasure and honour for all involved, but ultimately I think nothing beats that opening night of theatrical screenings, and getting to hear people’s thoughts and reactions as they leave cinemas. Seeing the payoff of so many people getting to enjoy such a stunning film and being moved or inspired by it is genuinely priceless.
Then again, seeing so much excitement over our Deluxe Edition release of the film has been a real joy as well – we’re so happy to see this much enthusiasm for it!
Weathering With You‘s Deluxe Edition is the first anime released in 4K in the United Kingdom. For those of us new to the format, what are the advantages of 4K Blu-ray over regular Blu-ray or DVD releases?
Provided you have the right playback equipment (a 4K HDR capable television and UHD Blu-ray player – including recent Xbox models and the forthcoming PlayStation 5), you’ll see two big benefits from a 4K UHD Blu-ray. Firstly, the film is presented in 4K resolution, which is around twice the fidelity of a standard 1080P Blu-ray. More important though for Weathering With You is HDR – or High Dynamic Range – which is a technology which expands the range of contrast and colour in the picture significantly and provides a more accurate, vibrant image. For a visually beautiful film that makes a lot of use of colour and lighting, there’s a massive benefit to be had from the HDR presentation in particular, and in our mind it’s the definitive way to watch the film if you’re able to do so!
Plus, if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, why not future proof yourself and enjoy the film again when you upgrade in the future?
How much extra does it cost to produce a 4K Blu-Ray compared to a standard BD release?
Purely in terms of production costs, 4K UHD Blu-ray costs significantly more per unit than a standard Blu-ray. Those of you who remember the early days of Blu-ray will doubtless recall the decisions that anime distributors were having to make over when and how titles were released on the format, as there wasn’t a critical mass of customers with playback capability, and production costs were high, particularly for the smaller print runs that make sense for an anime title. UHD Blu-ray is still in its infancy relative to older formats, so the same issues need to be considered again, with higher production and authoring costs and a higher manufacturing cost per disc, so it takes a very particular project in the anime space that allows us to mitigate those factors to make it possible.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re glad to finally see a 4K anime release in the UK! What factors made Anime Limited decide that now is the right time for their first 4K set?
First and foremost, Weathering With You is a popular film that performed well at the box office, and as a new release that has a 4K master available where we can offer UHD Blu-ray as an option from day one it made sense in those simple terms. We’ve also been able to work together with partners in other territories outside of Japan, which helps to negate authoring and production costs to more manageable levels for this particular project.
Last but certainly not least, Weathering With You is a visual tour de force that we want people to enjoy in the highest fidelity possible, and so a 4K UHD release is a great way of offering that!
Are there any more 4K releases in the pipeline you might be able to tease?
We don’t have any other 4K Blu-ray plans in our pipeline currently – of course we’re constantly evaluating and discussing our strategy, but we don’t have any plans on the horizon.
Are there any plans to go back and re-release any existing Anime Limited licenses in 4K, such as Your Name?
Not at this time – the cost of releasing the film in 4K offset against the likely audience for it given the length of time it’s been available means that it isn’t really feasible right now. Of course, it’s something we’ll be revisiting and keeping tabs on over time, but it certainly isn’t in our plans at this precise moment.
Who is handling the disc authoring and compression/encoding of the discs?
We’re working with our friends at GKIDS on authoring for the 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD, so they’re handling that element of the project.
Is the same 4K master being used for this release as that used for the Japanese release?
Needless to say, all of the materials for this release – including those for the UHD Blu-ray – are being provided by the Japanese licensor, but I don’t have any specific information beyond that at this time.
You mention an exclusive disc with bonus features on it to the Deluxe edition. The Japanese 4K box set had 3 discs full of exclusive extras. Will some of those extras be ported over with English translations added, and how will our selection compare to international releases such as the French release? Is there anything exclusive to the UK release?
This is a good question, so worth digging into and clarifying! The Deluxe Edition exclusive bonus disc will be the home to an English subtitled 90-minute “Making of” documentary for the film, while the main Blu-ray disc (across all editions) will contain other extras including interviews, trailers and the like. So, you’ll be getting a traditional selection of bonus content with each edition, but the Deluxe Edition – as you might expect – is the definitive one with that additional documentary.
Are any of the materials from the Deluxe edition 104 page booklet ported over from the booklet in the Japanese 4K box set?
We’re still in the process of finalising approvals, but yes, the Deluxe Edition’s 104-page hardback book will feature an English translated version of much of the content from the Japanese Collector’s set.
Only having 1000 units available for the Deluxe Edition has raised concerns that it could be susceptible to supply issues or maybe even scalpers. How are Anime Limited working with Zavvi to tackle this issue?
1000 units is our standard print run for a Collector’s Edition, and Zavvi is the UK’s most knowledgeable and passionate retailer when it comes to both Steelbook and 4K releases. They’re well-versed in handling this kind of product so we don’t have any undue concerns on that front.
Some in our community have expressed concerns about the quality of Zavvi’s shipping and handling. Can you share anything about how they plan to ensure that all the sets are delivered safely, and what plans exist to rectify any issues that occur?
For our part, we always try to ensure that a small stock reserve is available to replace damaged items, as we fully understand that some copies will be damaged in transit no matter how hard you try to protect them. Beyond that, we’ll certainly pass on any specific concerns from fans to Zavvi, but as a regular partner of ours and a retailer that deals with plenty of fragile items, we’re confident they’ll do their utmost to ensure this release is shipped safely.
Can you give us any hints as to any new Anime Limited releases being announced soon?
Over the next couple of months, we certainly have some big titles that we’ll be revealing our plans for, and the remainder of 2020 is currently packed in terms of everything we’re working on – some things you know about, but maybe a surprise or two as well…
I also suspect some people might have missed it in the midst of all of the Weathering With You home video release excitement, but as you’ve covered on your site we’re really thrilled to be able to confirm that we’ve now brought the remaining films in the Makoto Shinkai theatrical catalogue to Anime Limited, meaning that we’ll be releasing both 5 Centimetres per Second and Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below on Blu-ray in the relatively near future. We don’t have any precise plans to announce for these films just yet, but we’re excited to be able to build a full collection of all of Mr. Shinkai’s work for fans to own and enjoy, so watch this space!
That aside, we’re still working hard on titles that we announced some time ago, such as Tamako Market, Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory, Violet Evergarden and Cyber City Oedo 808 – these are all licenses that we know fans have been looking forward to for a while, and we’ve been beavering away to ensure they’re all worth the wait… and boy will they all be worth it! We also have some cool films coming to home video soon, including my personal favourite Ride Your Wave, and there’s always more Mobile Suit Gundam just around the corner.
Oh, and did we mention we’re releasing Neon Genesis Evangelion on Blu-ray in 2021? We’ll no doubt be talking more about that as the year progresses.
Finally: Mitsuha or Hina?
Can’t we just enjoy them both? Although with that said, Hina’s abilities are much needed in Glasgow presently…