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TZ at SakuraCon: ADV Sales Rise as Shelf Space Shrinks

ADV Films has completed work on the second volume of Princess Tutu and will be screening proof copies at upcoming conventions, company representative D. L. Williams told attendees at SakuraCon last week. Williams eschewed a formal presentation in favor of taking questions directly from the audience.

Williams reported that anime sales on the whole leveled off in 2004 after the huge boom of the past few years, but he added that early 2005 has seen an uptick in ADV’s sales. Retailers, however, have reached the limits of their shelf space, and so ADV will probably be cutting back on the number of titles it releases. Short shelf-space has also, in part, spurred the company’s move into net-only sales. But the anime boom has allowed for more variety in domestic anime releases, he noted, particularly in the shoujo arena, where DNAngel and Pretear have been selling quite well. Retailers are tepid about old-school magical girl series (though Wedding Peach has done well for ADV), and so ADV will release similar titles only slowly.

With regard to particular titles, Williams revealed that Bubblegum Crisis 2041 is in “development hell” and will not turn up in the near future. The second season of Kleidostar is also on hold. But Mutineer’s Moon is in production, and ADR will start soon under the direction of Matt Greenfield.

Meanwhile, the second season of Super Gals has not been licensed by ADV, and it is unclear when or if the company will win a license for that season. ADV is also working on the info for its theatrical release of Makoto Shinkai’s Beyond the Clouds, but Williams could neither confirm nor deny that ADV has won the DVD rights to the title. He also explained that Geneon was able to snag the license to the later Saiyuki series because that company co-produced them.

Williams responded to complaints about the low episode count on the Gantz DVD releases by saying that ADV is trying to cope with fan gripes about $30 retail prices, and that the company is testing the new pricing/episode count strategy on a popular rather than a low-profile series so that it can judge the potential success of such a strategy. He said that the series is selling solidly, but that ADV has yet to make a decision on whether to try this release method with future shows.

ADV’s Monster Island Studios has been closed due the completion of its backlog, but the company will try to bring back those VAs should there ever be a sequel. A number of those VAs are still working with ADV through its Houston division.

In business news, Williams said that the On-Demand Anime Network is doing well for ADV, and that the company is using its talks with major satellite companies as a way of pressuring cable companies into carrying a linear network. Also, Sony has contacted ADV about making content for its PSP, but the company is waiting to see how well the PSP and UMDs sell first, as such releases may require ADV to get fresh licenses from the Japanese producers.

Williams also explained the lack of sign subtitles on ADV shows airing on television. The company makes its master tapes with DVDs in mind; there, subtitles aren’t hard encoded on to the tape. As the tapes they use for broadcast are simply copies of those DVD master tapes, they don’t have hard sign subtitles on them. And Williams said that ADV decides which titles are put into Perfect Collections on the basis of length, age, sales and general popularity. He said that future Perfect Collections will likely be stripped down and contain only the show itself with no extras.

Finally, he guessed that Super Milk-Chan is doing relatively well for Cartoon Network, as it has not been pulled it by this point.

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