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NYAF 2007: Bandai Panel Report

The Bandai Entertainment panel at the New York Anime Festival was hosted by Robert Place Napton and Ken Iyadomi, and kicked off quickly with information about the much-anticipated Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. After a brief preview, Iyadomi stated that it will be coming soon in 2008, and will be broadcast on Adult Swim. There will be three manga series for Code Geass to go along with the anime and the novels. The website should be active tomorrow: http://www.code-geass.bandai-ent.com/. During the Q&A, Iyadomi only said that the second season of the show was announced in Japan, but they had no information about importing it to the US at this time.

The panel itself was dominated by extended previews of many Bandai titles, although the first trailer shown was actually a quick look at Haruhi Suzumiya outtakes of ad-libbed lines or flubs in the recording booth. Trailers were seen for the following Bandai properties:

  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which is now complete in 4 volumes with a boxed set
  • The political thriller FLAG, with volume 1 released and volume 2 coming in January 2008
  • Zegapain, from the famed Sunrise Animation Studio, with volumes 1 and 2 out now and volume 3 coming soon in the beginning of 2008
  • Gundam SEED Destiny, with volume 12 coming in January and the OVAs coming in 2008, although an exact release schedule is not available yet.
  • CLAMP School, which will be released for the first time in English on DVD in Region 1. The 26 episode series will be released under the Anime Legends label, although an exact date is still to be determined.
  • Two AIKa series: the original AIKa (originally available from Central Park Media) and the first of the new OVA prequels AIKa R-16. The trailer seemed to alternate between pretty girls kicking each other in the face and panty shots. Mostly panty shots.
  • Lucky Star, whose trailer drew big laughs from the audience, which is coming “soon.” Bandai also announced the English dub voice cast, which will include Wendee Lee, Kari Wahlgren, and Michelle Ruff.
  • Ayakashi Ayashi, a beautifully animated samurai drama series that proved to be unusually difficult to translate. No release date was given for this title.
  • Toward the Terra (known as To Terra in the English manga translation from Vertical), a science fiction title that will be released in 2008 about a group of former Earth residents who have left the planet and now wish to return.
  • Two Galaxy Angel releases: the 2-episode Galaxy Angel S and the 26 episode Galaxy Angel X, which are both “coming soon.”
  • The classic anime sci-fi/horror movie Silent Möbius, which will be coming out next year.

Easily the biggest news at the panel was the upcoming release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Produced by the Madhouse animation studio and distributed by Kadokawa, the movie focuses on the consequences when a young girl discovers she can jump back in time to re-do some of her actions. The movie will get a limited theatrical release in 2008 before it is released on DVD, and the first screening locations will probably be in Los Angeles and New York. Exact dates will be announced shortly. Bandai stated that the release in theaters may be dubbed or subtitled, depending on the location, but that no dub cast was announced yet.

The remainder of the panel was an extended Q&A session. When asked how they select a studio to dub an series, Napton and Iyadomi stated that it changed from series to series. There are times when the licensor wants to use a particular studio, or makes recommendations. They used the Gundam series to point out that they opted for a Canadian studio because of the series’ popularity in Canada.

While on the topic of Gundam, Iyadomi stated that they are negotiating for the rights to bring Gundam 00 to the US, but they don’t have the rights yet at this time. They also said that Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam would be released under the Anime Legends label next year.

Like many of the other anime companies, Bandai did not have anything to announce about acquisitions from Geneon.

One fan asked whether they felt that the current anime fandom meant there was less of incentive to do a good dub today, but received a negative response. Napton said that they always try to to the best possible dub tracks, and that the producers who oversee the schedule are all fans and care to do the best with all of them. Iyadomi added that sometimes, limits are imposed by budget and schedule, but that they do their best with what they can within that schedule.

Two separate questions about newer technologies both received negative responses. Bandai stated that they had done some digital downloading of their programs in thepast, but at the moment, the financial results weren’t very impressive. They still offer downloads through Amazon’s Unbox service, however. They also said that they were still negotiating strategies on how to release their material on Blu-ray or HD DVD with their licensors.

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