What Happened to Geneon Anime (Pioneer & ADV Films)

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Pioneer and Geneon Anime are Long Gone
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.

For example; they licensed The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, then contracted Bang Zoom! Entertainment for dubbing and Bandai Entertainment for distribution and marketing.

Similarly,with Full Metal Panic! TSR, they contracted ADV for dubbing and FUNimation for distribution and marketing.

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.

Speculaton by AnimeOnDVD.com and Robert’s Anime Corner Store seems to see this as a likely scenario for Geneon- unfortunate for former staff- but things can be cold in the world of business.

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?

This entry was posted in Anime News and tagged adv, anime distribution, anime trouble, geneon by Mochi. Bookmark the permalink

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.