Updated: Dec 21, 2021
R.I.P Geneon Anime
Our Thoughts on Geneon Anime
I knew the Geneon/ADV deal was bad medicine when it was first announced in September.
When Geneon laid off some employees a short time after the announcement, I wasn’t surprised, nor was I too taken aback by the two anime distribution companies’ decision not to merge.
When it was announced that Geneon was no longer distributing DVDs, it was a confirmation of that initial bad feeling I had. I had no idea what was going on behind Geneon’s closed doors to lead up to this series of events, but like a divorce or break-up that seems to come outta nowhere, this sad event probably was some time in the making.
As for Geneon, they are definitely out of the DVD business.
However, it really depends on what Dentsu wants to do with Geneon USA.
They will be posting a loss for the first half of this fiscal year (Oct. 2007 – Mar. 2008) due to downsizing their Geneon USA operation.
Since they preferred to take a loss means that Geneon USA was probably operating at a loss with little chance of turning a profit for the foreseeable future.
If they decide that it’s not worth staying in the North American market, then they will probably close shop once they have fulfilled all (or most) of their outstanding obligations.
If they want to continue in North America, then they may turn to the Kadokawa model.
Kadokawa Pictures USA is essentially a licensing company. They license productions (both animated and live action) and sub-contract other companies to dub, distribute, and market.
As you can see, Kadokawa is not tied to one company for these functions and they don’t have to do this in-house either. This gives them flexibility to work out a deal with a decent chance for profit without the overhead of an in-house staff.
If they decide to go this route, then Geneon can contract other companies to dub, distribute, and market the licenses which they still hold…otherwise these licenses will be in limbo for a while. Well, now that Geneon is down and Bandai is in a sorry state as well, it looks like we fans may feel the ripple effects before too long.
One of the major impacts Geneon’s absence will have is the lack of Hellsing OVAs.
Who’s going to distribute them now?
Who else is going to feel the effects of this giant’s take down?
Are any of you going to feel the pain like a Karate Lesson or does this not impact at you all?
I think it would be difficult, if not down right stupid, for any American Anime fan to say that this wouldn’t impact them at all.
Like all niche markets that continue to grow, anime has been heading to the collusion point for some time now. I’m not altogether surprised this happened, but now that it has there’s only so many ways it can end up.
As you said, this issue isn’t specific to Geneon, they just happened to be the first. If things continue as they have, it’s very likely other companies would pull out or, at the very least, scale back their releases a great deal.
Of course, the market could also continue to limp along and not change, but I feel that’s the least likely outcome in all this.
When you get right down to it, we tend to pay much less for our DVD releases than the Japanese do.
However, we also incur additional cost due to the dubbing and re-marketing of material.
I’m not sure how any company thought that having higher cost yet selling things for less would make them money.
Of course, the United States is big enough to turn profit on volume if we bought anime more, but even the best titles aren’t exactly doing record numbers when compared to other medium forms.
All in all, I think this is the point where the anime distributors here are going to take a hard look and decide if we either start getting charged more, they accept anime isn’t as mainstream as they hoped and release sub-only titles at higher prices with reduced cost to themselves, or they give up altogether.
I’m not particularly thrilled with any of those options myself. I know a lot of anime fans hate the “mainstreamification” of their beloved hobby and wish Naruto would die in the depths of hell, but the fact of the matter is we could end up going in the direction where ONLY those shows end up being released here.
I think this is perhaps the time when we, as anime fans, need to send clear messages to the companies that we support what they’re doing.
Offer suggestions to companies we like about the titles we enjoy, perhaps try to give clear indication of what we expect.
Companies don’t have to listen, but I feel they’re all willing to talk to further the industry in America.
This is, perhaps, the time when we can really affect the outcome of the industry as a whole here.
That’s a responsibility none of us should take lightly.
Shana, Karin, and Hellsing being in limbo for a long time just doesn’t sit well with me.
The fact that the former two won’t be getting box sets for an even longer time makes me sad.
I want to support Geneon because I appreciate the titles they put out and their non-aggressive attitude toward fansubs (unlike Bandai Visual USA and Funimation).
But what has been said about our unwillingness to pay the high prices that are the norm in Japan is a valid point, despite the fact that many of us pursuing academia can’t really afford to buy all our favorite anime by the volume.
Even movies like Hero and Crouching Tiger, which had to be dubbed in english and likewise subtitled for the Chinese language track, are sold at the same price as domestically produced Hollywood fare.
Domestic knockoffs of anime can be released cheaper per volume, also (Avatar, anyone?).
Despite not really having the funds, I’m tempted to buy up all the volumes of shana in a show of support.
The worst thing they could do is abort all operations in NA and let their licenses expire/be bought up by their competition.
If their NA operation was bleeding them, then they might do well to go the Kadokawa route.
Eliminating dubbing or raising the prices to Japanese equivalents are only likely to have an adverse effect on sales, imho.
Just a note, Towards the Terra, which had been licensed by Geneon is now being licensed by Bandai, so we may be seeing the licensing shift starting now. I agree that we, as fans, should take a more active role.
In addition to purchasing their DVDs, we should also provide feedback to the domestic anime distributors.
We should praise them when we like the product, and we should try to give constructive criticism on what we don’t like (flaming is always unproductive).
We can also make suggestions on possible strategies they can take to increase their survivability.
For example…and this is ignoring any legal or economic issues…the companies could try to partner with one or more of the fansub groups and have them provide the subtitles in exchange for credit and some form of incentive (free LE sets, perhaps).
If more than one fansub group is used, then this would give the viewer the choice of translations.
Also, the companies could release a sub-only version quickly and follow that with a dub release a few months later…of course, calculating how much of each set should be produced could be tricky. I am not sure where your information came from, but all my sources indicate that Toward the Terra (TV) was never licensed by Geneon.
The show was broadcast in Japan from April 7, 2007 through September 22, 2007.
At Otakon 2007, Bandai Entertainment announced that they had licensed the show…this was on July 21, 2007. It seems unlikely that Geneon would have been able to license the show before Bandai.
Just to make sure, I checked the movie which was released in 1980.
RightStuff! licensed it and released it on VHS in 1994 and on laserdisc in 1995.
The manga was licensed by Vertical in 2007. As far as I know, none of the outstanding Geneon licenses have changed hands.
Personally it would not bother me if they released sub-only anime dvds.
I’ve actually bought a few domestic anime dvds that turned out to be that way and I watch fansubs.
I usually watch my anime dvds in Japanese with the subtitles on anyway, plus I own some imported anime dvds, though the subtitles are not that great.
And even though I have seen all the epsidoes fansubed so far for Kyo Kara Maoh, Shonen Onmyoji, and Hellsing Ultimate I loved them enough to buy them all on dvd when they were released and hope to get to own the rest of them on domestic dvd in the (near) future!
I think after the holiday season, we’ll start to hear announcements about some of the top-tier titles like Hellsing and Black Lagoon.
This can’t be drawn out indefinitely, otherwise the audiences could drop off.
I actually just found out about this today while reading “Anime Insider.”
I am shocked, but strangely (like everyone else) not surprised either with how the market has been.
To be honest, I didn’t even realize that all this was going on.
Kinda makes me wonder how many other fans didn’t know about this?
I `ll admit I usually don`t follow the stuff that goes on “behind-the-scenes”, however I am finding out the hard way I better start . I want my Hellsing OVAs!
I hoping that this doesn’t start a chain reaction. Speaking of sub-onlys. I am having flashbacks to the VHS days of when I paid $5 to $10 more for a sub.
I have got to be one of the few anime fans that supports English-Dubbing. It`s a lot better than what it use to be.
I don’t mind having the English-Dubbing, since most of my friends prefer to watch in English versus Japanese and on occasion I don’t feel like reading (or got used to the English voices from watching it on TV first), but I usually prefer to watch anime in Japanese with the subtitles on.
So, if releaseing anime as sub-only is the only way we are going to get domestic anime dvds, then it won’t bother me at all.
So, if releaseing anime as sub-only is the only way we are going to get domestic anime dvds, then it wont bother me at all.
Amen to that!
English Dubbing vs Domestic Anime DVDs. There is no contest.
I also like the idea of using fansub groups to do translations.
Half the time the tranlations from fansubs are of better quality. Maybe do the same thing with fan-dubbing?
Speaking of quality.
I should had figured months ago that somehting was up with Geneon when the “extras” on the DVDs were cut down to almost nothing on their standard releases. As ICv2′s CEO has said, the current business model for DVD sales is breaking down.
He has also said that, while the release of sets will reduce the per DVD cost, they will never be as inexpensive as the season sets for US TV series due to “the inherent costs of licensing, producing, and dubbing anime”.
The costs of sub-only sets will be less than the dubbed versions and some companies have released sub-only sets on lesser known titles.
Perhaps they will expand this practice to other series, offering a “budget” line of releases and have the dubbed version as the premium line (value added, perhaps, with some extras).
Using fansub translations should also help keep the cost down. Of course, there is a downside for the people/companies which provide the translation and dubbing services.
With the increase in high speed/broadband connectivity, an interesting alternative has started to appear.
BOST TV, a Japanese company, is offering sub-only streaming (for rent and free) of lesser known series. Their goal: “We want to bring you anime more quickly than before and titles that see little chance of a DVD release.”
Similarly, Vuze (formerly Azureus) is offering free, for rent, and for sale anime.
ADV is using its AnimeNetwork.com to stream some of their dubbed series for free (with ads).
It might be a good idea for companies like FUNimation (and, yes, ADV too) to partner with BOST TV and/or Vuze to offer sub-only versions of the titles which they license.
They can split the licensing cost with the online service and offer lower cost DVDs to the public.
From what I’ve been reading, the next sticking point are with licensing fees. Apparently, the Japanese companies are unwilling to change their current business model and thus want to keep the current licensing scheme.
This will limit how low US companies can price their titles…also, this will limit the number of titles they are willing to license. I will be sure to look at AnimeNetwork.com then. I have also noticed that Funimation, ADVfilms, and some Japanese companies have been using YouTube for advertising new titles.
Thank you for the all the information. It`s been very educational for me in a lot of ways. Again, thank you. I believe you will find that AnimeNetwork.com and Vuze.com offer better quality videos.
You may also want to look at ImaginAsianTV, since they stream some of their anime in subbed form…navigating t