Anime Vice News

And Bandai's announcement is...Kurokami!

After all the waiting, it's finally here!

I dunno about you, but I've been excited for this announcement. Now it's finally here and I feel strangely calm.

The license is Kurokami, an upcoming Sunrise adaptation of the manga (licensed by Yen Press), published in Japanese but created by Korean team Dall-Young Lim and Sung-Woo Park. It's going to be released simultaneously (give or take 8 hours) in Japan, South Korea, and the United States. In the US it'll air on ImaginAsian TV, dubbed in English, starting January 8. I have no idea how the heck they're going to get that done so quick, but it sure makes some of the industry's slower DVD releases seem a 

There's no word yet on how those of us who don't get ImaginAsian are going to be able to catch the show, but hopefully more details will eventually be divulged...

Thanks to all of you who kept me company on the Bandai Announcement Live Party Thread! Click here for the full press release.

giaon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:13 p.m.
*aheh-ahem* FIRST. =P
IcyStormon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:22 p.m.
... lame announcement? I wanted Macross Frontier :[
Kirielsonon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:23 p.m.
Third.  :D 
Kiriskaon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:27 p.m.
According to ANN, they've dubbed off pencil footage in order to get it done faster. Wow.
thescott18on Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:30 p.m.
I just wanted to say that I think my prediction was pretty much right on the money. ;-

However, BEI is seriously shooting themselves in the foot by not releasing it online, so I hope they do remedy that problem first.

I mean, if you doing all this "simultaneous release" work to combat the effects of piracy and fan subbing, then what's the point of if it you put it on a network that is not widely available over here?
Void_Wizardon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:37 p.m.
Interesting but I know nothing of Kurokami and was hoping for other titles.
giaon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:45 p.m.
Congrats, thescott18. :) The possibility occurred to me, but I was taken in by the thought that BEI wouldn't draw this much buzz only to have it be a title most people haven't heard of yet.

That said-- it's tough to convince Japanese companies to make something that widely accessible simultaneously. They fear-- rightly --that it will cause people in Japan to skip out on the broadcasts and DVD purchases there. There's a significant amount of re-importation that happens in the anime world because DVDs are so much cheaper in the US; I don't think it's hard for JP companies to guess that Japanese TV watchers would happily bypass the TV in favor of watching an Internet release for the US.
MorpheusDreamweaveron Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:46 p.m.
Meh... I'd be excited if it meant something to me. When/if they announce something of interest to those of us who don't get ImaginAsian TV, I'll try to muster a little more enthusiasm.
joshsanimeblogon Dec. 14, 2008 at 4:59 p.m.
gia - well, the Japanese companies better decide what they want.  If they do something like this, but then don't make it actually available to people, my attitude is just kind of like "why go through the bother" and lot of other people are going to go ahead and download fansubs of it anyway, because they don't get iATV, so what's the point?

Maybe if they put it online dubbed, they could mitigate some of the online reimportation issues.
Agent_Loston Dec. 14, 2008 at 5:37 p.m.
wow, dubbed I'm amazed,  if it was sub then I can understand.
Jarmelon Dec. 14, 2008 at 6:35 p.m.
The ideal solution is to air it on something like Adult Swim simultaneously then have it on the internet with HD quality for 3 to 4 days.  This along with quick DVD releases would in my opinion cut down on pirating to a very large extent.  Then the problem with the Japanese buying US dvds, well nothing can really be done about that except have the US companies give some sort of royalty the the Japanese or have stricter import laws.  Their first priority though is to get rid of the pirating, which hurts their sales and advertising alot more then say a few hundred Japanese buying US Dvds(I don't know exact number).

Besides it's not as if the current distribution model has been a raging success.
giaon Dec. 14, 2008 at 6:44 p.m.
Jarmel: The ideal solution for us, or the ideal solution for the companies involved?

It all really comes down to money in the end. For example, adult swim: can potentially shoot a series into the Hot Topic-level mainstream (FMA, Death Note, etc), but anime companies actually pay money to get their shows on [as]-- NOT the other way around. Airing anime on TV is effectively advertising for the DVDs, manga, etc. and it's not easy to get anime on the air.

This would depend on the specific contracts for specific titles between specific companies, but I'm willing to bet that the Japanese companies already get a royalty off of the US DVDs; I doubt there'd be a reasonable way to track re-importation to increase that royalty.

So I'm guessing that in order to get a simultaneous Internet-streaming deal-- or ANY Internet streaming deal --is for the US anime company to basically offer up a high enough up-front licensing fee and/or royalties deal to make it outweigh what the Japanese company perceives as the probable loss.

Now, I should note that I have never seen one of these deals or been involved in making one-- but this is my guess. And keep in mind that there's more than just one company involved in this stuff; you've also got to deal with all the voice actors, sound studio, assistant companies, etc. I've heard it said that you can easily have 20-40 different companies involved in a single show.

All of which is food for thought. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice for there to be a streaming option (and perhaps there still will be), but I think that if fans really thought about all the angles a US licensor has to work from, they'd realize that it's not as easy and obvious as it sometimes seems ^^;
Jarmelon Dec. 14, 2008 at 7:24 p.m.
Does it really matter?  We are the customers therefore the ideal solution for us is the ideal solution for them.  However for shows like FMA it probably is not that hard.  Yes contracting issues are contracting issues but nothing overtly dfficult especially since Adult Swim now has competition from Sci-fi channel, so they can't be as demanding. Besides the priority would be online streaming in HD moreso than airing it on TV.

I'm also sure that the Japanese get a minor royalty but if they are going to complain bout the reimportation issue then there are three solutions, one is to raise US DVD prices(horrible idea as the low US sales would drop even further), give better deals in their home country, or not let the US have any anime at all.  Since the Japanese already have a copy on their harddrives to fansubs, it doesn't really bother them to wait.  Besides we have no clue how rampant re-importation is so it could just be a minor loss and the anime companies are blaming their failure to sell DVDs on us.

I would not recommend the streaming for all animes because as you said, they have to pay upfront.  This would be an effective strategy though for popular series such as Gundam, FMA, or Macross that they know they will make money off of.  The Japanese companies as you said are already expecting a loss so it's either pay up now or pay up later.  Simultaneous streaming would be near impossible for all anime or probably even a majority but do it to three or four shows a season and we are getting somewhere.

I'm not saying it's easy but at this point what other options do they have with pirating being such an issue, sue people?  Look where that got the music industry, they eventually had to adapt kicking and screaming to what WE wanted because it was in their best interest.
giaon Dec. 14, 2008 at 8:39 p.m.
Jarmel, usually the ideal solution for the companies is actually more of a compromise-- it's always the ideal balance of cost to them vs how much we'll pay (or how much they can get someone else to pay for advertising, or whatever).

Adult Swim can still be pretty demanding...they have a very limited number of slots open for content, and the evidence would suggest that their original programming (Robot Chicken, Venture Bros., etc) bring in bigger crowds/higher-priced advertising. They know that the Sci-Fi Channel doesn't draw in the same viewership that they do, even if it is still surely significantly larger than ImaginAsian's.

By your own argument about three ways to deal with reimportation, none of them make any sense from a business perspective-- Bandai Visual USA proved that the US won't pay Japanese prices for DVDs, they're not about to go drop prices in Japan to try and do better business here, and of course if there's a market here they want to tap into it. So instead, they're going for a compromise: delay the DVD releases as much as possible.

As for this show...look at the response people have given about the show itself (regardless of the deal): generally, "huh?" So it's pretty clear

Yes, the options are sue people, or provide the product better and faster and in a way that brings in some income. Yes, the second option makes way more sense...but it's hard for the Japanese companies to want to put all their eggs in that basket still. They've been notoriously slow at it. Hopefully this deal and CrunchyRoll and Xam'd are starting to show them the light. :)
Jarmelon Dec. 14, 2008 at 9:41 p.m.
However the anime companies so far have been very rarely negotiating.  They have been using the same ideas in a failing market in a failing economy and thus it shows why some many US distributers have been crashing.  This is the right idea, just they need to make it more accessible.

I'm sure they are trying to be but with all the different distribution methods, not to mention pirating, Adult Swim really is not needed anymore.  Well actually they get more money of their own stuff due to contracts and other reasons like that, I don't think it has to do with audiences as usually Bleach and Geass pulled in pretty good numbers.  Sci-fi right now is not pulling in their numbers but they probably are starting to consider Sci-fi as a threat along with Xbox Live and Hulu and stuff like that.

There really isn't any way to deal with reimportation, thats my whole point.  Delaying the DVD releases really doesn't do much except help English fansubbers as fans who want high quality will go for the online releases instead of the DVDs are possibly forgotten about the show by the time the DVDs come out.  While the Japanese who are reimporting already have it on high quality due to pirating so they can wait.  So it makes no sense to delay the DVD releases as it just helps fansubbers, which at this point is the main enemy of the companies.  This is of course all guesswork without knowing how severe reimporting is, although I would think it's not that big of a deal.

Well this show is kinda interesting, I have no clue why they picked this show to try this, either they think it's going to be a huge hit or the license was cheap.  It seems like it's going to be semi-popular and does have the possibility to be a hit but who knows.

I also agree that they have been getting better, although Xam'd, pretty good anime as it is, is a failure for other reasons(mostly regarding prices and renting issues).  I would like to see other companies(looking at Funimation since they have the money) take risks like this and try to develop another business strategy.
Xephon225on Dec. 15, 2008 at 12:59 a.m.
Personally, I'm looking forward to this anime as I have read the volumes currently released in English. I must admit though that it appears to be a rather obscure title here in America.

 I can understand Bandai's desire to get the series out early in an effort to combat piracy, though I cannot understand why they chose a dubbed version. From what I have heard there will be no subbed version which automatically turns me off. The sub/dub debate aside, it seems like it would take much less effort to do a sub and they could even do both if they wanted to. The current example is Xam'd as someone else mentioned. Sony is releasing a subbed version on the PSN network the same day it airs in Japan. The problem with Xam'd however is that is cost 3.99 to rent an HD version (2.99 for SD) which can only be viewed for a 24 hour period after the first viewing. Despite that, I have been following Xam'd but I would be much more willing to buy an episode ( as apposed to renting) for that price since 4$ an episode at four to five a disc is almost equivalent to current blue ray dvd prices minus the actual dvd and packaging (at least I think it is).

That whole ordeal aside, the anime looks to be very faithful to the manga in terms of charater design and story. It is one of several that I am looking forward too this next season.
Zeouterlimitson Dec. 15, 2008 at 2:05 a.m.
  I'm glad that a worldwide (wait, what about us? >_>) simultaneous release is being attempted,
but the build up wasn't what it should have been. Oh well.
(*is just mopey because it's not getting an EU release & it's not Eva 1.0)
Bertmastaon Dec. 15, 2008 at 4:41 a.m.
looks like the dubs are starting to coincide the release of the original japenese, are things changing?
giaon Dec. 15, 2008 at 7:54 a.m.
Jarmel: "However the anime companies so far have been very rarely negotiating." At risk of sounding do you know what the companies are negotiating? We only see what comes to fruition; we have no idea what they try to work out unless it happens. And again, I've seen no evidence that Adult Swim really gives a damn about other channels airing anime in competition with theirs, really...the [as] block draws in a really significant amount of viewers for its timeslots in general, most other channels just can't compare in those time slots. And [as] doesn't care what other channels are doing in time slots it doesn't compete in. And for the ones it does? Let's take Gurren Lagann, which aired at 11pm on Sci-Fi on Mondays. At the same time on Adult Swim? Family Guy reruns. I'm guessing they still drew in more viewers.

Xephon, almost every title is obscure in America until it actually gets aired and people in the US get exposed to it-- there are occasionally exceptions when the manga's released here first, but even then, it has to be a pretty popular manga (like, say, Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC). ;)

Bertmasta: Hard to say...I think people have always kind of operated under the assumption that people who really really prefer dubs *tend* to be the people who are less concerned at getting anime lickity-split like this. But maybe that's not really the case! This experiment may tell us. ;)
Jarmelon Dec. 15, 2008 at 8:19 a.m.
Well what have they tried, have they ever tried to get together a bunch of the fansubbers and ask why they are doing what they do and how to fix the problem?  I've also seen evidence that Adult Swim doesn't care about anime as well.  Code Geass and Moribito deathslots anyone?   Supposedly they are trying to cut anime out of their schedule overall for their own brand shows.  What I am saying though is that it is not in the 1990s where the main source for getting a show out there was tv.  Thanks to the world wide web TV is almost obsolete, however it is nice and I'm sure some people prefer TV over the internet.  It's just that AS doesn't have a monopoly over this anymore. Of course Family Guy gets more viewers and so do Robot Chicken. What I am saying though is that tv is now not the only medium and AS does realize that as they stream their shows.  Funimation airs episodes over their website and places like Live or the PSN.  If the prices get too high to air on AS, they always have alternatives.

 It still makes no sense to delay the DVDs as long as possible as noone knows how big the reimportation problem is.  If it's production problems and crap like that, then it's fine but the Japanese holding on to the license so they can sell DVDs makes no sense.

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