End of an Era: Bandai to cease new releases
By Charles On 3 Jan, 2012 At 05:36 PM | Categorized As Animation, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIt all started with a single announcement: Bandai Entertainment, one of the three remaining “big” distributors in the anime industry, shutting down new releases. What this means in the short term is that Bandai will no longer offer manga, Blu-Ray discs or standard DVD formats, but will still offer is extensive back catalogue to retailers in need of resupply.

This was yesterday. And the resulting debate via online outlets was rather expected. Between heartbreak for those looking to purchase some of their upcoming announced releases (Turn A Gundam, GoSick, Nichijo) to those fiery orators and laymen calling for more sanctions against piracy online, the “shutdown” of Bandai is just another nail in the proverbial coffin in a rampantly changing industry.

The past few years have seen their own share of turnover: the shutdown of Geneon, the restructuring of ADV into Sentai Filmworks, the cessation of US operations for Tokyopop. Bandai managed to skirt these through it’s old standard of single release DVDs and licensing of the popular Gundam franchise, practices that worked in the past. But some of the recent debates online have cited these methods, along with slow releases of digital product, with dragging the company down. Are those advocating this line of thought correct? Did Bandai “do themselves in” by sticking to “obsolete” practices? Are the pirates at fault?

I don’t want to get into the piracy discussion right now, because everyone has an opinion on that. I also don’t want to criticize the business practices of one of the most influential production companies in the scene. What this shutdown is, in the end, is the loss of yet another avenue by which anime can be released and consumed by the fans. Inklings of this have been in the works for a few months: late last year Bandai shut down their online store, and vendors like Anime Pavilion began to hear rumblings of future changes in the already volatile US anime industry. As a country which receives this popular medium secondhand, disruptions in the flow have repercussions down the line, as when series end prematurely, or when anticipated new releases are suddenly no longer an option.

For the time being, Bandai will keep with its release calendar for January and February 2012, including several recent Gundam series box sets, yet another rerelease of the landmark film Akira, and sets for Star Driver and Code Geass R2. After that, it will seek licensors for some of it’s franchises. Beyond that, only time will tell how this will further impact the industry in the US. ADV became Sentai, so there is always hope, but personally, I expect a further shift towards digital distribution through outlets like Hulu.

About - Charles has written for ROG since 2010. An anthropologist and culture lecturer, he has previously been a featured panelist at Anime Boston and Otakon, the first educational guest at Anime USA, and frequently speaks at cons up and down the East Coast. He received his MA in cultural anthropology in 2011, and currently writes on convention culture, sacred culture in media, otaku identity and mythology.

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