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NYAF2009: The Bandai Panel Report

There isn’t a whole lot of new news to report from the Bandai panel at the New York Anime Festival 2009, which was hosted by Bandai’s Robert Place Napton and Ken Iyadomi and assisted by Anthony Foronda (I think). The first indication that this would be true was the fact that the slide show at the start was dated “Summer 2009,” and the only changes required were that most of the DVDs or manga listed as “Coming Soon” have already been released. In fact, other than the announcement of the new Eureka Seven movie on DVD and Blu-ray, most of the panel felt recycled even from the February 2009 Bandai panel from New York Comic Con. Nearly everything else either couldn’t be discussed or had more information coming soon.

One of the new announcements was for Lantis music, a new acquisition of the parent company which will be bring anime soundtracks to the United States via iTunes. The label just had a launch party in Japan, and has about 40 different bands represented in its initial offerings.

Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens is one of the newest shows that Bandai has licensed, with volume 2 of the DVD available now (and coming with an exclusive T-shirt for a limited time) and free episodes streaming on the Anime News Network website. Another new show is Kurokami, which is available on Bandai’s YouTube channel; during the Q&A, the two said that doing the simultaneous release in Japan, Korea, and North America was very, very difficult, but worked out pretty well and definitely answered the demand for more simultaneous releases. News for the DVD release is forthcoming.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 is now complete on DVD, and Napton had to report that “this is the end of the Code Geass storyline for now,” but told audience members to stay tuned, since there might be more news for the title soon. Other titles highlighted in the panel included Gundam 00 (now airing on SyFy’s Ani-Monday’s block), Gurren Lagann (now complete on DVD), the Lucky Star OVA, Sword of the Stranger on DVD and Blu-ray, Hayate Combat Butler, the .hack//G.U. Trilogy movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and the True Tears and Sola collections on the Anime Legends label. Napton also pointed out that the first volume of Freedom was out on DVD now, and recommended it as an underrated anime series worth checking out (and I agree with him). Finally, the pair concluded the anime portion of the panel by noting that Escaflowne the movie would be coming out on Blu-ray disc next quarter.

Not much new was reported in the manga section of the presentation, other than the Harvey Award nomination for the Witchblade Takeru reprints and and newly released manga volumes in the Code Geass, Lucky Star, and Gundam 00 lines.

At that point, the audience question-and-answer began. Highlights include:

  • There are no plans for art boxes for any upcoming DVD releases, since the marketplace seems to have lost its taste for them.
  • They have nothing to announce about any older catalog titles coming out on Blu-ray. Iyadomi noted that they are working on ways to make Blu-ray releases easier and more cost-effective to do, such as sharing authoring costs with Bandai in Japan (currently, the two author Blu-ray discs entirely separately).
  • While there are plans to do other anime screening events in movie theaters with Fathom Events, there are no real plans to do extended runs with Fathom or do short arthouse runs of other anime films, largely for cost vs. potential reasons.
  • Regarding the DVD release schedule slippages that occurred this past summer, Napton stated that he couldn’t go into details on any individual slippage, but that they were as frustrated by schedule slips as we are and are trying hard to make sure they don’t happen again.
  • Sorry fans: no news to report on season 2 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, any new Gundam movies, or any other licenses, although they did say that new Haruhi information was “classified,” so read into that whatever you will.
  • There was a surprising interest in older anime, such as Heavy Metal L-GAIM and a few other Gundam-related titles. Napton took note of this as unusual, although there’s no telling what will come of it.

Return to New York Anime Festival 2009 Round-up

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