Anime World Order Show # 103 – Bandai Died, HELP COMPUTER

We recorded this two weeks ago, with the idea being to get it out fast on account that it was time-sensitive. That obviously did not happen. Here it is regardless: Bandai Entertainment is ceasing all new releases. We’re joined by professional anime translator Neil Nadelman (who’s done many Bandai translations) and professional Patrick Warburton impersonator (also, Anime News Network columnist) Mike Toole to discuss what led up to this and what lies ahead.

After this recording, Mike created this drunken, Plinkett-esque tribute to Bandai Entertainment:

Darkside Blues sighting at 1:40 mark! No doubt acquired during Right Stuf’s holiday sale along with Golgo 13. Hmm, we never reviewed Darkside Blues…

Here is an animated GIF Daryl made of Golgo 13. Who cares not if you “deal with it.”

29 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 103 – Bandai Died, HELP COMPUTER”

  1. There is nothing in that Forbes article that was a surprise to me. A couple of points that might not be generally known.

    1. Best Buy have aggressively been slashing physical media since 2005. They have decreased their DVD SKUs by roughly 80% since that time. Word on the “street” is they want, NEED to be out of physical media ASAP,: original target 2012, but likely pushed back just like the phase-out of VHS was behind plan by a year or two. No word on online sales of DVD, BD and CDs.

    2. They do not buy DVDs direct. They buy thru a jobber, a middleman. For niche product like anime they use different one-stops to supply. All of this makes no sense whatsoever since the core reason they bought up Musicland Group in 1999 was that, in addition to removing the competition, Best Buy coveted Musicland’s warehouses, distribution and buying contacts/relationships.

    3. They do not service their own DVD/CD area. All that is outsourced to a company called Mosaic which handles racking, pricing and pulling stock. Which means, of course, nobody who actually works in the store has a clue what’s in stock, when something is coming out, or anything without a trip to the store Intranet.

    4. Mike needs to go to more cons, and get more human contact. That video is sad. 🙂

  2. What Turn A Gundam figure is that? Master Grade or Robot Damashii? Tell me! [Given that this comment is with regards to the Youtube video and not anything we said, you would have better luck at receiving an answer if you commented on the Youtube video itself. –Daryl]

  3. As an addendum, Section 23’s elaborate debt-shirking shenanigans absolutely did catch up with them as they and all of John Ledford’s shell operations recently got slapped with a lawsuit from none other than Funimation, who is now essentially entrusted with collecting what’s owed to Sojitz/ARM Corporation (Funimation picked up the majority of the titles that were lost when ADV had its falling out w/ Sojitz).

    While crackpot forum poster theories already abound about how this is all a SLAPP suit by Gen Fukunaga to stifle the competition and HELP KILL ANIME, I’m not exactly sure how Ledford intended to avoid paying that $8 million without declaring bankruptcy (which, as I understand, ADV never did, even though the “rebranding” musical chairs act came off the way a Chapter 11 reorganization would). Unfortunately not even releasing Golgo 13 TV in its entirety in the U.S. can absolve you of that. Of course, I’m not a legal scholar, so I could be completely wrong. Nevertheless, Section23 doesn’t need to lose the suit to be ruined–debt-collection cases are notoriously long and torturous, and “ramping up” as they’ve been, can they really afford to keep up legal fees on this case AND that suit against GAINAX that I assume is still dragging on?

  4. The title would be a lot more clever if it were phrased, “Konno lied, Bandai died”. 🙂 Also, [Redacted; stop being “surprised” that I don’t spoil the climax/endings of things in my reviews. –Daryl]

  5. Because I care about Andrew’s sanity, I’ll clue you in– the Turn A figure is this guy.

    It’s the New Material Model, made with REAL TITANIUM but sadly, no Gundanium. Vexingly, the shoulder panel broke off within days of purchase. They don’t make ’em like they used to.

  6. No Daryl, if you link it in the show notes then you have to talk about it on the show blog post. It is the law of the land.

    Anyways, as an amateur robot game researcher I would have to say that Gundam is actually pretty good on licensed video games. Maybe the ratio is more 69-21 with good to bad so I can understand Neil’s frustration. It’s stuff like that and cases like Journey to Jaburo, which was a good game after they remade it into Lost War Chronicles. Same thing happened with the PS3 game. I also found that the popular gaming rags of the day (who are all dead now) were very hostile to Gundam games even when they were fun and enjoyable. There were also issues with presentation, as I found myself as a young weeaboo with a mod chip being confused as to why Gundam the Battle Master 2 was rewritten as a game starring Heero as he mission completed his way through UC characters who weren’t in the original Japanese version of the game. It was a weird change that only served to befuddle the young kids who probably would have preferred a remake of Gundam Wing Endless Duel cuz a lot of them were playing it on ZSNES anyways. In the end some of the best games were unfortunately on go nowhere systems like the Sega Saturn.

    Votoms and Macross also had their fair share of great Playstation and Sega system action games. Like you guys said, licensing in the US was a huge issue. For those who don’t know, Macross VFX-2 was going to be released in America and even had a playable demo included with the August 1999 issue of the Official Playstation Magazine. In the end it was Armored Core, an original property with designs by Shoji Kawamori, that was able to avoid any legal entanglements and make a splash in America.

    I can sorta understand Takara’s reluctance to market Votoms merchandise in America as at the time, Votoms wasn’t a major concern for them. Ironically the one property they are more dedicated to, Transformers, is the one that dominates the western market at the expense of everything else. I do agree that even if they were reluctant to let someone else make Pewter figures of the ATs, they had plenty of their own war game scale Votoms toys that could be used instead. I’m not sure what their relationship with Tsukada who made of a lot of 80’s table top robot games (including Votoms) but they might have been able to provide a readily available game. I’ve heard some of those old war games even had English instructions. Oddly enough the Dougram games did have small diecast minatures but the Votoms games had simple cardboard tokens.

    If anything it might have assisted Armored Core in overthrowing the corpulent overheating tyranny of Battletech :3

  7. Maybe I’m an outlier but I actually like having the hard copy of a show. Having the digital files makes me a little nervous and relying on a stream that could disappear at any time makes me even more nervous. One release I’m definitely keeping an eye on is the Galaxy Express 999 series… It’s my favorite anime of all time and I’m praying that it comes out in an affordable brick instead of a series of unaffordable discs.

    Thanks for the link back to the Astro Boy series. I’m actually watching that right now and I’m enjoying it, so thank you for letting me know why I shouldn’t be enjoying it ^_~

  8. Since I’m both poor and a procrastinator, I’m now going through and picking up Bandai DVDs that I’ve been meaning to for a while. My question to all involved in the podcast is what Bandai DVDs should people pick up now before they may go out of print, or get really expensive?

    1. Well, apparently, you should look into Gundam: War in the Pocket, aka the best one ever according to Justin Sevakis and Jerry Chu. As for me, I finally got Jubei-chan The Ninja Girl and Silent Mobius TV. You probably should get Wolf’s Rain if you really need emo furry fiction from the Bebop crew, if only because it’s already OOP and hard to find. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is a nice edition of that film, too. Oh, and of course, Akira.

  9. Funny that Mike brought up Tokimeki Tonight. I just recently discovered that show by accident when looking at random crap on Youtube.

    Maybe someone will license it since it has vampires, werewolves, and romance. It perfectly fits the modern zeitgeist!

    1. We all hope (assuming how these things even happen).

      I felt pretty down about the possibility of not seeing any ‘general interest’ stuff getting released here in the future. That’s the stuff I would be more for anyway.

  10. I remember when “Rental Pricing” was the norm in the 1980’s the way I saw what sold for big bucks in a VHS catalog my mom had then. Certainly what the Japanese did.

  11. Finally got the time to listen and man, I am so very frustrated. I’ve talked about everything mentioned for years, guys. All the planning to fail that went on, all the way back to Animevillage. An added coda, Bandai America (toys) had pimped Zeta Gundam as “soon running on Cartoon Network” at the NY Toy Fair, then whoomp, suddenly it was “we never said that”. That Zeta Gundam DVD box was how the show was supposed to air.

    And guys, did I miss the mention that fear of reverse importation was one of the driving forces behind many self-sabotage events? [It would appear so; I mentioned it! –Daryl] I mean, Tomino doesn’t really give jack-s**t about the ‘island’ episode of Gundam, he (and Bandai) just know that no Japanese fan would waste money importing a ‘crippled’ release and missing an episode surely qualifies as crippled.

    (and let’s not forget that Tomino was saying not that long ago that “America can’t understand Gundam”)

    And there’s a link that suddenly makes so much clear. Over at Topless Robot the site owner had his own rant about the death of Bandai Entertainment:

    Now put that together with the recent revelations regarding ADV and Sojitz, how the Japanese investor took over and imposed massive crap (on top of existing crap of course). I suspect the same went for Pioneer/Geneon, where the Japanese parent imposed crazy-ass crap.

    I swear, I’m going to go get some big ‘whiteboards’ and start my own ‘murder board’ of all the links, causes, effects and players.

    As to why Bandai thought they were going to make millions selling plastic kits (and DVDs), that unrealistic expectation is rooted in ourselves, in fandom, in past time. I’m working up a huge boring essay on that for my blog.

    (short form? SDCC, early ’80s, Bandai execs tour the ‘little Tokyo’ block of dealers via their then-key ‘gray market’ toy/kit importer, a person/company who was a key mid-level distro in Japan and thus had ‘face’.)

    1. Steve: It’s one episode, and it’s not even one of the better ones. And the dub’s all right enough to watch that show for free online legally. But you’re still getting a frickin’ good deal for 0079, when people had to pay that much American money for all of Dirty Pair and the last third of Utena. What rubs *me* the wrong way is that we didn’t get ZZ, even though it was pretty obvious Sunrise was interested in bringing it over. I do agree with you, though, that dumping no doubt contributed to the bust of the anime bubble.

      No one in America likes moe, outside of hardcore importers. And yet we keep being forced to watch it, even though it’s unprofitable for JP companies outside of Akihabara. Meanwhile, the anime which could have benefited from more exposure get underpromoted. Why the fuck weren’t Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Redline submitted for Best Animated Film?! And while I’m at it, why do we still have to settle for Tekkon Kinkreet and Onigamiden/Legend of the Millennium Dragon over Mindgame, Sony?! People did pay for a legal fucking screening of it in L.A. They are willing to own it.

      Meanwhile, the anime which should have an immediate American audience is stuck on G4 or Amazon streaming, instead of being released on R1 DVD/BD. But hey, everyone totally wants more Starship Troopers from a guy who’s only known in America for HALO, instead of Wolverine or Blade, because the former was a huge hit when it came out, am I right?!

      1. Yes, it’s one episode. But it’s still missing, and while there’s nothing really critical to the overall story of Gundam, it does matter. Well, not critical unless you want to count “humanizing the enemy” as important. Maybe one of the fears was that it was thematically similar to one of the 0083 episodes.

        I’ve not seen any reviews for the new release of Original Gundam. Not one word. Nothing on if OP and ED credits and original music have been restored, nothing on the quality of translation, not one thing. Makes me think people are buying it because they feel they have to. I didn’t do that with the crippled release(s) Zeta Gundam so I see no need to do that with Original Gundam.

        Daryl, I did speak too soon, I heard you toss the “fear of reverse importation” out there just after I hit post. It kinda sounded like it was added in post and not part of the original discussion, but maybe that’s just my hearing going bad. [Your hearing’s not going bad. It wasn’t added in post, but there are a few bits where what I said required some additional noise removal filtering than the rest. You’re hearing the difference. It doesn’t tend to jump out as much unless you listen with headphones. I still say that 0079 episode was cut just so Japan could always have the “best” release, as with the Sailor Moon example I used. –Daryl]

  12. Oh, I figured out why TMS has no knowledge of the ‘JAL’ dub of Mystery of Mamo, and the clue came from our Patrick Macias. All the info is in the hands of Toho, who had distro rights. Toho made the dub.

    Of course TMS *should* know that. *sigh*

    1. Mr. Ohtsuka was at first unaware of it when I met him in 1987 (I actually sent him a copy, together with the film-print subtitled version of Cagliostro–you know, the one with Fujiko called “Rosarie” instead of “Margot” and oddly, “Ed Cott” instead of Mamo’s “Ed Scott”). But I believe he retired a while ago, and it may be that no one at TMS knew about it after him–and to be fair, I’m sure they’re more concerned with today’s projects, than those from the 1970s. When the U.C. Theater in Berkeley would show the original Mamo dub in the 1980s, as far as I know, they were renting the reels directly from Toho’s office in Los Angeles.

  13. Hey AWO, Kosse (“Koh-say”) here. That was a very interesting episode on Bandai Entertainment. Listening to your podcast has become kind of an addicting thing for me. I even went back to listen to episodes from more than 3 years ago. Even though they’re old reviews, you guys have reviewed so many older anime that I have never heard of.

    Recently I dabbled in watching Demon City Shinjuku, Wicked City, Robot Carnival, and Wings of Honneamise (I absolutely loved this work). I wanted to make a request on an anime for you guys to review. This title came out about four years ago and would definitely do well with fans of Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop. This title is called Michiko to Hatchin. The director is a woman named Sayo Yamamoto, and Shinichiro Watanabe produced the music. Michiko to Hatchin takes place within Brazil, which brings a fresh feel to a typical anime; the art, music, and characters are definitely something that is not so much seen nowadays in anime. That’s it for now, take care you guys and gal.

    [It’s something I often mention as nearing the top of my “why wasn’t this ever licensed” list. I also still use it during my “Anime You Should Watch” panels at conventions. I haven’t reviewed it here yet though; I’d have to rewatch it since it’s been years at this point, and it gets pretty heavy. –Daryl]

  14. Just bothered listening to the old ANNCast where they talked to someone who worked for Geneon a decade ago and continued realizing how horrid anime fandom is in this country, oh well.

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