A day later than usual for the MCM London Expo, today saw representatives from MVM Entertainment, Kaze UK / Anime on Demand and Manga Entertainment line-up to give their thoughts on the anime industry as well as showing off their latest wares and announcements to the gathered crowd.
Starting with new license announcements, MVM Entertainment were first out of the bag, as they confirmed that they will be bringing Welcome to the NHK to the UK on January 9th 2012. Alongside this, the company has also relicensed two of its older titles to release for the first time in box set form - the first of these is Fruits Basket, which will appear on February 6th, followed by a box set of Kiddy Grade on March 5th. The distributor also noted their interest in the third season of Ikki Tousen (with season two, Dragon Destiny, released next month), although they're currently waiting on the production of an English dub before they will pursue this further.
MVM Entertainment also confirmed a number of live-action release dates, but did note that they have licensed the two Crow movies directed by Takashi Miike for release later next year.
Moving on to Kaze UK, the company confirmed that they also now hold physical release rights for three of their current streaming offerings, those being Persona 4, Mirai Nikki and UN-GO. All of these shows will be slated for release once English dubs and the like are completed. The company also hopes to have something to announce regarding Makoto Shinkai's latest work, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, in the near future.
In terms of release dates, Kaze confirmed that Samurai Girls UK release will be delayed until next January, meaning that it will now be released on both DVD and Blu-Ray simultaneously. Trigun: Badlands Rumble and Mardock Scramble: The First Compression are both slated for a release in the first quarter of 2012, with the latter movie landing in the UK in early March on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Princess Jellyfish is currently slated for release in the second quarter of the year.
Kaze UK are also currently looking at a couple of spring 2011 season anime series which proved to be more popular than expected - in response to a specific question from an attendee, Moshidora is one title that has been looked at but all involved admitted it would be a hard sell to the UK given its baseball theme and subject matter.
Moving on to Manga Entertainment, it was noted that we can expect to see a lot more titles released with both Manga Entertainment and Kaze logos on them as the two companies work together - 2012 may see this co-operation extended further to include offers for Anime on Demand subscribers, more streaming offerings of Manga Entertainment series and so on.
In terms of new releases, Manga Entertainment typically had a few things to reveal, with their new announcement highlights proving to be Shiki, Strike Witches 2 and the Tales of Vesperia animated movie. The company has plenty of other new licenses in the pipeline, none of which were quite ready to be unveiled today, so we can expect to hear more as the year closes out. Amongst the slew of release dates mentioned, stand-out items include the second Gantz live-action movie, Perfect Answer, on 7th February, a release date which it shares with Tekken: Blood Vengeance on DVD.
Also noted were releases of both Bleach and Naruto Shippuden movies - the release of Bleach: Fade to Black on DVD and Blu-Ray has been delayed until around May 2012 due to a subtitling issue, while the second Naruto Shippuden movie will get a release on both formats next year, which may also see the release of both the first and second Shippuden films in a Blu-Ray only box set.
With a broader regard to release dates, Manga Entertainment were keen to note that they are part of a chain which begins with the creation of an English dub by Sentai Filmworks, Viz Media, FUNimation Entertainment et al, before moving on to Madman in Australia for PAL mastering before a UK release can appear, typically four weeks after the Australian release.
After all of these announcements, there was also plenty of time to discuss other matters of interest to UK anime fans. First up for discussion was the landscape in terms of online versus brick and mortar store sales, with MVM Entertainment noting that Amazon has recently overtaken HMV as their biggest customer while Manga Entertainment still see HMV as their biggest customer. Kaze UK posited the possible "demise" of bricks and mortar retail as a place to sell anime beyond some niche markets, with Manga noting that physical sales are particularly important to under-18 customers without credit cards.
MVM Entertainment also discussed the sale of live-action titles in supermarkets - something which has brought them success in terms of sales figures, offset against low profit margins and the need to create large inventories to satisfy the supermarkets. Discussing their own online store, MVM noted that they have a customer base of 12,000 users, while Manga Entertainment noted their online store and in particular its smartphone compatibility.
Naturally, the subject of anime on Blu-Ray was also brought up, with Manga Entertainment confirming that they've sold 12,000 copies of AKIRA to date on the form as opposed to just 350 copies for other outings like the first half of Xam'd: Lost Memories. Of particular interest to the company was the results of their recent survey, which saw 85% of respondents confirm that they own a PlayStation 3 while only 8-9% of those who took the survey confirming that they buy anime on Blu-Ray.
Anime on British television was also discussed, with Andrew Partridge of Kaze pointing out that there's no advertising money to be had from screening anime, although he did confirm that a representative of Kaze Europe in France would be looking to discuss broadcasting anime on UK television with relevant parties next year. MVM Entertainment noted that they had also recently discussed the possibility of anime on terrestrial television in this country, markedly reporting that the response to such queries from those stations was "worse than negative". The possible audience for anime on TV was given a physical form via Manga Entertainment, who noted that their HD screening of AKIRA on the SyFy channel had netted 53,000 viewers, with another 30,000 watching it via the channel's catch-up service.
In response to a question regarding the Sony DADC warehouse fire which badly affected Beez Entertainment earlier this year, Andrew Partridge noted the huge cash commitment required to reprint stock, causing the company some real cash flow issues when couple with the difficulties of recouping all experienced losses via insurance.
Finally, on a brighter note Anime on Demand will be showing off their new-look version 1.0 interface and look for the site very, very soon online - of course, we'll be letting you know about that as soon as we can!
That's about it from our industry panel coverage for this MCM London Expo - are there any license announcements or topics which caught your eye? Let us know in the comments section!