Toonzone @ MCM London Comic Con May 2014: Aniplex Panel
Hosted by Yosuke Kodaka, Aniplex US’ Licensing Manager, the panel began with a brief video montage of popular titles that Aniplex were involved with including Kill La Kill. Stating that it was the companies first time hosting a UK panel, he asked for a show of hands to gauge awareness of the company over here and received a considerable response. Yosuke elaborated that Aniplex was a significant player within the Japanese animation industry, constantly involved with the production and release of new titles.
The first title spotlighted was Blue Exorcist: The Movie, to which Yosuke highlighted that director Atsushi Takahashi and producer Takamitsu Inoue were also attending the convention and sat in the front row of the panel, which earned a round of applause from the audience. A dubbed trailer for the movie was then shown, with the title itself now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.
Although Aniplex have sublicensed certain titles for release through established UK companies such as Manga Entertainment, Anime Limited and MVM, certain titles will be released directly through their website for UK import. One such title is Persona3 The Movie, available in a choice of standard and collector edition. A newly developing branch of the site will allow similar import for various character figurines, Yosuke highlighting the availability of characters from Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero.
The next trailer was for the forthcoming Sword Art Online II, the eagerly awaited sequel as was proven by another vote of hands. The series will see a UK simulcast via Crunchyroll and Daisuki, with further details to be posted at the official international website.
With the end of announcements the floor was opened to Q&A, with each fan who got a chance at the mic receiving a free goody to take home. Asked if Aniplex would consider adopting Anime Limited’s successful tactic of fan funded Kickstarter releases, Yosuke responded that at this time it wasn’t a necessary financial step for Aniplex as a company. Regarding the chances of an English dub of Kill La Kill, they are hopeful they’ll be able to make an announcement very soon.
Returning to Sword Art Online II, many wanted to know what characters and concepts (if any) would be returning for the sequel. Yosuke was coy, commenting that protagonist Kirito would be returning and that II is based on the sequel novel Gun Gale Online. Beyond that he asked fans to patiently await the premiere and to keep checking the official site.
With Aniplex delegating so many titles to established UK anime companies, the question was raised of the chances of Aniplex establishing their own European branch. No plans currently but Yosuke was open to the idea of moving to London. A tech savvy audience member then enquired about the anime industry making the leap from 1080/2K to the recently developed 4K, with the response that most titles will continue to be produced in the current standard of HD as it works well and most seem content with it.
Asked about the chances of a European release for Madoka Magica: Rebellion (the third movie, which has new story/visual content), negotiations are underway for one. Questioned on the chances of a second season for Angel Beats, Yosuke commented he had little information on the possibility of one but encouraged the use of social media to make interest and popularity known, as it’s an easy and clear way for those in the industry to gauge if a title is potentially popular enough to warrant a continuation.
Regarding a Blu-ray release of Kill La Kill, the series has been licensed to Anime Limited and a presumably positive announcement should be forthcoming. Queried as to why certain titles make it to the US but not the UK (the asker commenting that a series that does poorly in the US might actually do better in the UK), the response was that it was connected to the majority of translations and dubs being produced within the US. This in turn prompted Yosuke to ask the audience if they preferred subtitles or dubs, with the former winning out to his surprise.
An eager fan asked about the chances of iDOLM@STER seeing a UK release. It’s seen as a niche title for international release but the interest would be noted and passed on. Decisions regarding how lavish a release a title receives and/or if it is sublicensed to a UK company are made by the producers in Japan, with Aniplex wanting to make the extensive collector editions seen in the country more easily available to foreign fans.
Interest was shown for Silver Spoon, with negotiations currently ongoing and an announcement to hopefully soon follow. An advanced question concerned the issue of subtitles taking non-Japanese speaker’s attention from the actual visual art of anime production itself. Thus, it was asked, is there a better alternative to broaching the language barrier? Mildly bewildered, Yosuke jovially suggested asking his boss.
Language questions continued with the possibility of holding UK auditions for future dubs. Again, this would require the establishment of a local Aniplex branch, but another informal vote was held for US dubs vs UK dubs, with UK winning out. On seeing a release of the remaining Kara no Kyōkai (Garden of Sinners) film, an announcement would have to be made by MVM as they hold the UK rights. Finishing up, the last question was about the chances of Nisekoi seeing a UK release. Yosuke mentioned that they had licensed the title to Viz Europe and were releasing it themselves in the US, so asked attendees to look out for a future announcement.