Hosted by Animatsu COO Jerome Mazandarani and marketing manager Andrew Hewson, Jerome explained that the dual nature of the panel was that Manga (who he had worked for up until last year) were Animatsu’s UK distributor for titles. At the same time he still maintains Manga’s title acquisition and relationships with companies outside the UK.
The first title announcement was for Knights of Sidonia, planned to release on DVD and Blu-ray in August with hopes of a first-edition only Collector’s Edition. Jerome confirmed that all the extras found on Sentai’s US release of the title would be found on the UK release. This was followed by Dead Rising: Watchtower, a spin-off of the Capcom game series due for release 27th July as both a limited edition steelbook and a standard Blu-ray/DVD combi release.
Many in the audience reacted positively to the announcement of a UK release for the first and second Madoka Magica movies in July on both Blu-ray and DVD, the former as a complete collector’s edition and the latter as individual releases. This was followed by the surprise announcement that the license also includes the third movie, due for release on 28th September.
At this point the Animatsu team opted to introduce new recruit Fraser. They revealed he had a love for puzzles and games and thus the next title would be revealed by the panel holding up a set of clue cards. An attendee correctly guessed A Certain Scientific Railgun. Planned for release on both formats this summer, the license also includes sibling series A Certain Magical Index.
Concerning Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of F, Jerome promised the UK release won’t be far behind the US one and asked fans to stay tuned for further announcements. This was followed by Parasyte: The Maxim, for which Animatsu is working with Sentai in hopes of releasing the title before the end of 2015.
The final announcements, revealed via a combined slide, were Triage X, Black Bullet and Golden Time. Jerome, long known as the patron saint of fanservice in the UK anime industry, admitted a preference for Triage X.
The Q&A portion opened by asking the panel what they felt were the necessary elements for a strong anime dub. Jerome feels a good dub should be authentic and respectful to the source material but still work well in the English language so as to make new people fans. He clarified that although the dubs seen on UK releases are produced in America without UK input he believes the companies producing said dubs do good work, with an aim to constantly improve. The next question continued this theme by asking about the rise of anime titles on UK Netflix. Jerome revealed the company has an interest in putting anime on their service, though prefer to acquire dubbed releases over subbed ones. This in turn led to a by-hand vote from the audience regarding which legal streaming services they used and if those who stream anime also purchase disc releases.
Asked if the rise of 4K meant DVDs would be phased out and Blu-rays as the only option, Andrew was doubtful as a significant portion of their customers purchase the DVD version releases. Jerome added that in general they now try to put out both Blu-ray and DVD versions for titles, with the exception of long running shonen shows such as One Piece and Bleach. As proof of this the next question concerned if Free! would be released in the UK. Jerome asked if the show was being released on Blu-ray in America and was informed it would be DVD only. As the UK rights are being handled by the same people as the US ones he was disappointed as they had hoped to do a Blu-ray release for the UK. He summed up that they were looking into it and would hopefully have an answer in time for the next London Comic Con in October.
Asked about releases of Rooster Teeth’s Red vs Blue, although the UK releases are currently trying to catch up with other territories discussions are underway with Rooster Teeth to hopefully have future seasons released as close as possible in sync with America and Australia. Sports anime show strong numbers on Crunchyroll so those are being looked into for physical release, with the caveat that an American release would increase the chances much as it does with anime title due to the costs and logistics of producing disc releases. A related question asked what decides which series they licensed and if it comes down to their personal tastes. Jerome responded that they try to avoid doing so as their personal tastes and confirmed streaming figures/fan interest are often too vastly different things.
Most of the major companies are interested in releasing Sailor Moon given its recent surge in popularity, with Manga a likely frontrunner as they currently release Toei titles in the UK market. Asked about future UK releases for High School DxD, Jerome clarified that FUNimation holds the UK rights and this is true for many other recent announcements. He is confident that FUNimation will ensure DxD and said other titles receive UK releases. Related to this a release for Evangelion 3.33 is soon to come, with the delays thus far mainly being down to the approvals process being scrutinised by Hideaki Anno.
Concerning Toriko and if it will see a UK release, Jerome explained that he’d actually passed on the title after it had performed badly in both America and Australia. Regarding release plans for the announced Index and Railgun, complete season DVD and Blu-ray boxsets with hopefully NTSC format for the DVDs and use of FUNimation’s masters for both formats. No news on Future Diary at the time of the panel but hopes of an announcement soon.
Asked about the ever popular JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the decision is still in the hands of the Warner Brothers production committee in Japan but with a US release planned it is now looking more hopeful. Queried as to what made them license Golden Time, Jerome doubled back slightly on a previous answer by admitting they snagged it when Fraser recommended it upon seeing it listed on a series of potential licenses from a US partner. No specific announcements for Psycho Pass but as a FUNimation title it is very likely.
For series that they would love to license but are felt to be too niche to succeed, Fraser responded he’d love to see a continued license for Gintama. Jerome added that the series does very well in streaming and with the licensors being very interested to sell it to other territories he floated the idea of looking into it. No concrete plans for the Steins;Gate movie but it is being dubbed currently and the show did very well for Manga. Kadokawa are currently reviewing offers put forward by potential licensors.
Yu Yu Hakusho has been discussed with Japanese licensors but no plans at this time. Re-releases of Ghost in the Shell are possible, potentially in advance of the live action movie as a tie in. The new Ghost in the Shell: Arise movie is also quite likely to see a UK release. Concerning the ever elusive Macross franchise, the answer remained the minefield of legal difficulties licensing it outside of Japan.
With questions over, the panel took the time to briefly highlight their range of branded Animatsu merchandise which was available for sale at the convention. One lucky attendee (picked by means of golden ticket hidden beneath their seat) also won a prize pack.