Central Park Media News

Central Park Media is a anime/manga company
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M.D. Geist was a gory action OAV series animated by Studio Wave and Zero G-Room in 1986. Production on the OAV was a mess with much of the direction for the anime done by a then young and inexperienced director named Koichi Ohata and a disorganized animation team, which led to the anime’s producers to have to recruit the more experienced Hayato Ikeda for occasional consulting.

 Geist donning the logo of U.S. Manga Corps
 Geist donning the logo of U.S. Manga Corps

The anime was picked up for North American VHS distribution in the early 1990s by Central Park Media who used the main character of Geist as the logo for their anime label, U.S. Manga Corps. M.D. Geist winded up being one of the distributor’s best-selling titles at the time and decided to collaborate with Ikeda to release a Director’s Cut edition of the OAV which extended the anime by five minutes and cleaned up many of the animation and transition errors from the original release. Manga Corps also helped provide support for Ikeda in creating the title’s anime sequel, Death Forces, and a comic book adaptation called Ground Zero.

Manga Corps would later distribute a DVD release of both OAVs to M.D. Geist in 2002 up to when Central Park Media declared bankruptcy in early 2009. ADV Films winded up license rescuing both OAVs later in the year and releasing them to DVD on the same disc. Manga Entertainment has streaming rights to the anime as it can be viewed legally online via Hulu.

If you want a fun read about M.D. Geist, check out this Buried Garbage article from Anime News Network several years back from the site’s media director, Justin Sevakis, as he recalls his painful experience putting up with the huge love that his former boss, CPM founder John O’Donnell, had for the anime during his work for the distributor.

The Premise

Geist was part of a group of superhuman soldiers called Most Dangerous Soldiers (MDS) created by the Regular Army to fight against the Nexrum Army in a bloody war on

 Guess what I just lost?
 Guess what I just lost?

the planet Jerra. Unfortunately, the MDS units had no regard for whom they fought as they would attack both ally and foe. This led to the Regular Army to make countermeasures against the MDS units as they forced Geist into cryogenic sleep and launched him into space by satellite. Years later, the satellite crashes back onto the surface of Jerra and Geist is awakened from his sleep. After encountering a group of bandits, Geist is reunited with the Regular Army as he becomes tasked with trying to save the planet from a doomsday weapon called Death Force set to annihilate all life on Jerra.

Notable Characters (from left to right)





-Geist- The main protagonist of the series. A member of the MDS units with a strong love of battling who has no regard for whomever gets in his way.

-Vaiya- A female member of the group of bandits that encounter Geist after he awakens from his cryogenic sleep. Greedy for money and admiring Geist for his strength, Vaiya makes several attempts at trying to bring the MDS to her side throughout the OAV to no avail.

-Colonel Krutes- Leader of the Regular Army soldiers and Geist’s former superior whom Geist assists in the mission to stop Death Force.

Why It Sucks

With the messy background on M.D. Geist’s production that I brought up above, it’s no wonder that it is well-known as one of anime’s infamous duds. The title has a nice number of sloppy transitions where changes between camera shots and scenes look badly edited. The animation quality isn’t much better as it has not aged too well and is noticeably low quality compared to other anime titles released in the mid-80s having a decent number of animation errors and resorting to enough animation shortcuts as the liberal use of speed stripes and still frames of characters meshed together are fairly common in the title.

 Your face has been squished for gory goodness.
 Your face has been squished for gory goodness.

The plot to M.D. Geist is very barebones, mostly just being an excuse for Geist’s gory fights against anything that comes his way. The series attempts a twist ending for its finale, but this lacks any kind of impact due to the lack of depth on elements of the title’s plot.

The characters in the series are not much better off either as they are quite one-dimensional in depth and have very little diversity in their personality. For the lead character of the series, Geist comes across as a stereotypical action movie hero, only having much less personality and too consumed with the desire of wanting to engage in battles for one to even care for the guy.

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(crossposted from NikoScream)

Yesterday, ANN announced the liquidation of Central Park Media anime licenses. Central Park Media was one of the oldest anime licensing companies in the States until declaring chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year. That’s the kind of bankruptcy you don’t come back from.

As such, I decided to list my top 5 CPM titles I would like to see saved. These titles range from mecha to shonen action to romantic comedy to, well, some stuff not for polite society. Some titles have already been saved and don’t need mentioning, like Slayers by FUNimation and Grave of the Fireflies from ADV (oops, mentioned them). I picked these based on already existing fan bases and importance to the fandom at large. These titles are not in order of importance. They’re in reverse alphabetical order because the last one works out well that way. Anyway, here we go.

Now here’s YuYu Hakusho the Movie: Poltergeist Report, where Yusuke and friends fight off forces from the neatherworld to protect the human and spirit worlds. Earlier this year, FUNimation finished releasing the YuYu Hakusho TV series in four box sets. Now would be a good time for FUNi to grab the movie and add it to their collection of YuYu titles. Maybe even replace the movie dub with the (in my opinion) superior TV dub cast.

Here we have Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer. The pervert Ataru and hot alien Lum and friends go through a trippy adventure that could only be brought to us by the likes of Mamoru Oshii, who wrote and directed the flick after simply directing the series and first film. Being the only Urusei Yatsura movie not licensed by AnimEigo (even though they did a lot of the work), this might be something for them to jump on.

Photon: The Idiot Adventures is a hilarious little six-episode OVA originally created by Masaki Kajishima, the creator of Tenchi Muyo, and features staff from several Tenchi projects.  It’s a wacky space comedy about the impossibly-strong-yet-simple-minded-boy Photon Earth who accidentally marries a space pilot. This show is not related to the Tenchi franchise, but really, who isn’t related to Tenchi these days?

Do you like giant robots? Do you like cop dramas? Well then, Patlabor The Mobile Police is for you. In a not-so-futuristic Japan (in the year 1999), where mechs called labors are used for a variety of tasks from construction and law enforcement, the crew of the Second Special Vehicles Division use their patlabors to keep the peace. CMP had the licenses to the OVA and TV series, whereas Bandai Entertainment (via their merger with Bandai Visual USA) has the movies. Back on the theme of completing franchises, perhaps this is a good chance of bringing together the franchise.

And for last…

Yes, La Blue Girl. Bible Black may have dethroned this title as the most currently notable hentai State side, but La Blue Girl is still one of the necessary titles one must see before claiming to have any knowledge about hentai or tentacle porn. Then there’s the live-action movie, which takes campy porn to a whole new level. Media Blasters still has its Kitty Media hentai line. This may be a perfect fit.

And now 5 notable mentions I’d like to see saved mostly because I haven’t seen enough of them:

  • Armored Troopers VOTOMS
  • Cyber City Oedo 808
  • Project A-Ko
  • Record of Loddess War
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena

That’s not everything I’d like, but they all top the list. What titles do you want to see saved?

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As an Anime fan, I've enjoyed a great many series that were originally licensed by CPM, but I can't feel quite so melancholic about their demise, at least not in the same way.

CPM is the 3rd of a series of major US anime licensors (sp) that have had to do major cut-backs, if not close their doors entirely (the other two being ADV - which is still around but had to do layoffs and sign distribution deals with some of their licenses, and Geneon USA which basically is no more than a holding company - which once again sub-licensed many of their shows to Funimation).

I was one of the ones who said good riddance - but not because I feel they were out-dated in their business practices, but for a different reason - Central Park Media had a boatload of really good films and movies, including Grave of the Fireflies, a film that is considered one of the greatest animated films in the history of cinema. Not just Japanese animation, but of all the films, live action and animated, in the entire world. That's an view held by not only me, and other anime fans, but by people like Roger Ebert, who is considered the best and most knowledgeable film critic alive today. I stress that because Grave of the Fireflies was out of print. If you wanted to get it, you had to get it used. I could go on about the truly classic anime they had licensed, but I already have - I've reviewed a lot of them for Bureau42 - but to get them I had to get them through Netflix.

 Grave of the Fireflies used is reasonably priced, about $20. Getting a copy that's unopened or advertised as in mint condition (so you don't have to worry about scratches) - runs $50, for 2 disks. It's about the same for the Record of Lodoss War OVA. I was lucky and managed to pick up a copy when it was still in print for $25 at Fry's.

I'm listing all these prices because that's money that Central Park Media could have made a chunk of. All they needed to do was a few things. If they weren't able to get DVDs in print, either set up sub-licensing deals like ADV and Geneon did, to get some additional capital to stay afloat and keep their titles in print - or set up streaming deals with sites like Crunchyroll and Hulu, getting the subtitled versions (CPM's dubs leaned a bit toward the iffy), allowing CPM to get some money from them, again, allowing them to stay afloat.

And that is what I wanted them to do. I wanted CPM to live. I wanted to see the Anime Industry in the US to be healthy again, perhaps leaner than it was before, but still alive. It tried to keep itself on life support by putting some of their titles available for streaming through NetFlix, and for sale through iTunes, but it was dubs only, and not the big titles - not Lodoss, not Patlabor, not Grave of the Fireflies. I kept wanting them to hold on though. As I became a staff writer for Bureau42.com, I started reviewing some of their shows, and other older anime series that had been reccomended to me, or I felt needed some more exposure. Among them was Record of Lodoss War, the entire Project A-Ko franchise, and at the time of this writing, the Patlabor Franchise.

However, as of a few weeks ago, I hit my breaking point. Over the past few months, I'd been singing the praises of Patlabor, of Project A-Ko, of Record of Lodoss War to high heaven. However, as I reccomended each show - I got asked one question I dreaded, and the one question I had to expect to be asked (and, if my efforts were to be successful, the person I was reccomending the show to had to ask), "Where can I find it?"

From there, the only answers I could give were - eBay, the Library, Pawn Shops, you can get it used on Amazon.com. I never reccomended Bittorrent, though I started considering it towards the end. I found myself needing to make a choice - do I keep quietly wishing CPM well, hoping it returns to health, or do I wish it ill, wish that it folds, so that it would be forced to liquidate it's licenses, thus allowing other companies to pick them up (or in the worst case scenario, making them available for fansubbing again). To help me decide, and because I'd been reviewing Patlabor for Bureau42, I decided to contact CPM and ask about the status of their licences, in part because I was uncertain if some of the shows I was hoping would be re-licenced were still licenced by them. I sent them an E-mail and waited, and recieved no reply. So, then I tried calling them on the telephone. This is significant because I live in Oregon, they're in New York, so it would have to be a long-distance call, unless I could find a working toll-free number.

I couldn't. So, I looked for a non-toll free number and found several, and of all the numbers I tried, all were disconnected, save one - and that one was busy. As I'd gotten up early  because of the time difference, and because I thought they were in an important meeting, I decided to call back in an hour. It was still busy. It was busy when I called an hour later, and then another hour after that. I spent an entire business day on the phone, trying to reach someone from Central Park Media, and had nothing to show for it.

For me, that was my turning point. Through their silence, through un-bounced and un-responded E-Mails, through the repeated tone of a busy signal, Central Park Media had painted a very vivid picture of their operation. It was most likely entirely inaccurate, but it was vivid nonetheless. The vision was of Central Park Media staff coming in for work, taking their phone of the hook, going into the break room, with a tape or DVD from the back catalog, and watching it, and then when that ended, moving on to another show. All day long.

They say to never attribute to malice what can be justified by incompetiance, but that day, in my mind's eye, the two possiblities intercected into an most annoying picture, and I came to the conclusion that even if the image that was so firmly entrenched in my head was entirely false, that the shows and films that CPM had licenced that I so loved would never see print again, as long as they were in the hands of CPM.

I have to take one little aside for a moment to explain a little piece of personal philosophy, that will explain my next steps. There are some people that believe that information should be free - as in beer, as they say in the open-source community - that information should be made freely available to anyone and everyone who wants it at no cost and no strings attached. I am not one of those people. However, I do believe that information, in the form of books, movies, music, that which is the stones on what defines one's culture, one's era to future generations, should be available. If there is something I feel is important to me personally, to the history of of professional wrestling (the status of much of ECW's tape library lead to me holding this opinion), to the status of anime fandom, it needs to stay in print. We know where we are going by the path that we left behind us, and we as anime fans better understand the path our hobby will take, and the titles that will come to our shores in the future, by the titles that were licenced in the past - from knowing how anime fandom moves in waves by genre, while certain things ("shonen series based on stuff from Shonen Jump" will generally stay popular), as an entry point to new fans and as junk food entertainment to older fans, or because it's just that good. Consequently, the series, the music, the films, the books, the manga, needs to be available, in some form or another. I don't need to be able to get it for free, I just need to be able to get it.

Thus, upon realizing that if CPM stuck around as it has done for much of this new millennium, quiet, waiting, sitting on it's catalog and not doing much with it - eventually, I and other people who want to be able to see these shows wouldn't be able to get them anymore. The disks would scratch, formats would change, and eventually, if we were lucky, all that would remain would be bittorrent. If we were unlucky, we wouldn't even have that. So - if CPM died, there was a chance that those series that they still held might stand a chance at life, with a different company, with fansubbers, or through Crunchyroll and YouTube.

So, in the course of my reviews on Bureau42, posts on the RPG.net forums, and on my audio feedback to, particularly, the Otaku Generation podcast, I begain bad mouthing CPM. Ultimately saying, on Otaku Generation, that CPM didn't have the common decency to file for bankruptcy so someone else could buy-up the licenses for the shows they currently held and bring them back to print.

This leads us to the death of Central Park Media.

I do not claim credit. It is highly improbable that I was responsible. Even if, by some freak of statistics, I was responsible, I do not want the credit anyway. I'm not particualrly proud for saying what I did, however, I feel that it needed to be said. Now, from here, it is up to the US anime industry and anime fandom - the industry to license the shows that merit saving, and anime fans to contact them and point out the shows worth saving to them (which I will be doing) - as well as, if necessary, fansubbing the shows that slip through the cracks.
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US anime distributor Central Park Media filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to ANN and Crain's New York Business. CMP owes around $1.2 million to creditors and hasn't released anything in 12 months.

CMP, and its divisions like US Manga Corps and Anime 18, have released prominent titles in the US in the past. This includes Grave of the Fireflies, Utena, Patlabor, Record of Lodoss War, Slayers, Project A-Ko and La Blue Girl.

Chapter 7 means that the company has closed down and faces liquidation, as opposed to allowing to restructure. The future of its currently-own titles is unknown. Who wants to bet FUNi saves some?
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