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NYAF 2007: ADV Films Panel Report

The ADV Films panel at the New York Anime Festival was packed with trailers and news about newly released DVDs and upcoming titles and projects coming in 2008. The panel was hosted by Chris Oarr (sales and marketing) and Mike Bailiff (senior vice-president of sales and marketing), the latter of whom was also revealed as the inventor of the thinpack for anime.

The best of several rotten pictures of Mike Bailiff (L) and Chris Oarr (R)During the panel, one of the most significant statements made concerned the relative lack of extras on newer ADV DVD releases, especially on the first-round discs. Oarr stated that time was one reason for the reduced number of special features. However, he added that despite the negative reviews that many ADV discs got for poor or missing special features, market surveys revealed that this wasn’t a major factor in people’s DVD purchasing habits. Faced with the choice of allocating resources to add extras to their DVDs and getting more anime, ADV has made the strategic decision to concentrate on bringing more anime out. He did add that extras will be on discs for big releases or cases where great material is available from Japan.

Oarr began the panel stating that they were looking for lots of anime features, some of which were recently released but got short shrift due to the holidays. He began the panel with a look at Jing: King of Bandits 7th Heaven, poking fun at the negative review given to the DVD by Anime News Network. The original series will be released in thinpack on January 1. The second preview was Blade of the Phantom Master (Shin Angyo Onshi), based on a Korean folktale.

One of Oarr’s personal favorites was the action-packed series Venus Versus Virus, whose first volume was released last last month. Volume 2 coming will be coming on January 15, 2008, with a collector’s box edition as well. The last volume of the 3-volume series will be released on March 18. The artbox would have no extras (though Oarr admitted he’d like to have a pack-in eyepatch), but the box was meant to be more durable and higher-quality than older ones.

Another recent debut is Magikano, about 3 witch sisters and their clueless brother, battling a fourth witch who appears and tries to break her family curse. The new series, which was released on December 4, is from Studio Gonzo and panties seem to feature very prominently as plot elements.

Described as “The Best Anime You’ve Never Heard Of,” Oarr then introduced Tokyo Majin, saying that it had everything ADV looks for in an anime series. Oarr made a point of saying that it was such a beautifully animated action show, with really fluid and astonishing fight sequences that looked lifted from a Jackie Chan movie. The 26-episode series will be released in 6 volumes, starting on December 11, 2007. Future volumes will come out every 6 weeks, with a collector’s box coming with volume 2. Oarr also mentioned that another series coming on December 11, 2007 was Air the movie.

Next was the very different romantic comedy Wallflower, based on one of Del Rey Manga’s best selling series. The series was described as anime Pygmalion, except that it features 4 bishonen (beautiful boys) trying to do a fashion makeover of their landlady’s niece, “a complete fashion disaster.” Oarr felt it was going to be the biggest release of the 4th quarter, and would be released on December 18, 2007. The entire series will be 6 volumes.

Moving into the future, Oarr showed several more trailers, including one for the 2007 romantic comedy/drama Kanon (described as, “one guy, a lot of cute girls” in a story of a boy losing more and more of his memory), which will be released on January 1, 2008; Project Blue Earth SOS, a “love letter to the Thunderbirds and other shows that are retro near-future sci-fi,” coming on February 12; and the first of three volumes of Moonlight Mile, which follows a moon mining team and will be coming some time in February. Oarr joked about the last title that, “I can confirm that there is space sex in this series.” In response to a question during the Q&A, Oarr noted that Kanon was just announced to air on the Anime Network across all platforms, and to expect to see lot of ADV’s new series coming up on the Anime Network as well.

The trailer for the new series Gurren Lagann drew massive applause from the audience. Oarr joked that, “You’ve seen this on YouTube, but you’ll have some trouble finding it on YouTube in about a week’s time.” The action-packed series will consist of 27 episodes on 6 volumes, with the first DVD coming out on February 26, 2008. Oarr hinted that fans should keep an eye out on-line in about 2 weeks, cryptically saying, “People have said that all these fansubs and illegal things serve a purpose and we’re fools to ignore that. Well, we listened. Maybe we’ll have a little Gurren Lagann to share with you soon. That’s all we’ll say about that.” During the Q&A session, Oarr also added Gurren Lagann would be getting a big PR push that would involve something never done before in the North American market, but wouldn’t say what it was yet.

Oarr also previewed 5 Centimeters per Second, which was going to be screened at NYAF, but was pulled because it had been selected to screen at 2 film festivals in March: a program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the New York Children’s Film Festival. The movie will be a romantic love story directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also directed Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. It will be Shinkai’s longest effort to date, weighing in at 60 minutes.

The last preview of the panel was the much-anticipated Devil May Cry animated series. Based on the popular video game series, Devil May Cry will shed some light on the game hero Dante’s past life. ADV teamed with Capcom on the show floor to let fans try out the new video game, and the collector’s edition of the game will also include the complete volume 1 of the animated series on DVD. In response to complaints from anime fans, Oarr added that there will be a redemption program via the ADV website to get a standard box for the DVD plus $5 off volume 2. This DVD would be packed with extras, some of which were filmed by IGN in Tokyo with the producers of the show and creator of the original Devil May Cry video game. Bailiff commented that it was a real nail-biter to land the license for Devil May Cry, but that he felt it would be a perfect way to expand the overall audience for anime into video gamers who are either not current anime fans or lapsed anime fans.

During the Q&A session, ADV was not able to comment on when they would be able to bring their content to high-definition DVD, or which format they would be supporting. They also said that they haven’t secured any titles from the now-defunct Geneon, but added that this doesn’t mean that they won’t. They also stated that they couldn’t comment on the status of negotiations for the new Evangelion movie, but that they were just as excited about the prospect of bringing it to the US as the fans were. They also asked fans to hang tough for Sgt. Frog news, and that there would be an announcement soon about that title.

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