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20 Questions with Manga Entertainment

By Chris Beveridge     August 24, 1998

Many thanks go out to the folks over at Manga who followed through with myself and the fans to try and answer some of the questions on the minds of DVD owners these days. The Q&A session took place with Mike Egan, the GM and Marketing Director in charge of DVD production for Manga Entertainment.



Similar to our chat with John O'Donnell, I asked Mike to share a bit about himself. "I come from 14 years in the record/music business. I have always been a fan of international and cult films. Manga Entertainment was a natural transition for me as I also enjoy Japanese animation very much. I am now a huge DVD fan also."



So, let's jump right into the questions!



1) First off, what can you tell us regarding the problems Manga encountered with Polygram being bought off and split up among various studios? There has been little output up until this year from Manga in general, and it has been since last summer since we have seen a DVD release.



We really didn't encounter any problems at all. We simply decided not to release anything until our new distribution was in place with Ryko Distribution Partners. The sale of PolyGram had nothing to do with us. They were a great distribution company and we miss them all, but the nature of corporate takeovers is commonplace these days. We are now into our 6th month with Ryko and everything is going fine and getting back into place.



In regard to your DVD question. We've been very aggressive with our DVD releases. People need to know that we are also Palm Pictures and that Manga Video is a label under Palm. We have released 16 DVD titles to date including The Basketball Diaries, Gravesend, Mandela, Strip to the Bone, Mocean Worker, General Chaos Uncensored Animation, Tokyo Fist, Tetsuo II, Six String Samurai, The Fabulous Story of the Cuban Cigar, Dancehall Queen, Superthruster, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Hommage a noir. We are currently working on The Wings of Honneamise and Macross Plus. We have the plans for re-releasing the complete Manga Video catalog on DVD. We are not just throwing DVD releases out there like others. We are watching the market grow.



2) What are the criteria for selecting a title for DVD release?



Our criteria for selecting a DVD release is based on three things. Quality of the program. Popularity of the program and sales projections of the program.



3) I get a lot of email (and I mean a lot!) every week asking about specific titles in your catalog and wondering what, if any, plans there are for a release. The two most requested being Gunbuster and Giant Robo.



We do have plans for Giant Robo - 1st quarter 2000. Nothing on Gunbuster as we only have the rights to the subtitled version.



4) While DVD benefits for the anime consumer are relatively obvious, what are the main benefits for the format for the business side? Are there significant savings involved with having both languages on one disc (solving some inventory issues)? Are there other areas where the DVD format helps you as an importer of anime?



The digital transfer of anime to DVD make the programs look simply amazing. The art, the color and the sound all benefit from DVD. DVD continues to explode in the marketplace. It's great to have another media format to release our titles on besides VHS. VHS is still king but DVD is finding its audience quickly.



5) To sidetrack into the theatrical aspect for a few moments, Manga sponsored the first public showings of the Memories movie back in 1995. Is this a feature that Manga has a license for and if so, what are the plans for release?



We do not have the rights for Memories.



6) Many people are hungry for information relating to the X/1999 and Perfect Blue theatrical and DVD releases. Any new news on that front?



X/1999 will be released theatrically late 4th quarter 1999. VHS and DVD will follow in the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2000. Perfect Blue will be released theatrically in August of this year. The VHS and DVD release is slated for November. We are very, very excited about both of these titles.



7) Ghost in the Shell set an early standard in the DVD community in general, not only with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but also in the fact that it was an anamorphic 16:9 encoded disc. Is this something we can expect for theatrical releases on DVD? In addition, was there a reason that the Japanese audio track was not encoded in 5.1?



Yes on the 16 x 9 anamorphic DVD releases. There was no specific reason for keeping the Japanese track in stereo on Ghost in the Shell. This was our first DVD release and we tried to make it as interesting a possible with the additional features on the disk. We will pay close attention to both language versions for surround sound in the future.



8) Late last year, Polygram announced that Macross II would be coming to DVD, and has been constantly delayed and practically off the radar. What happened there and can we still expect it at some point?



Yes, you can expect Macross II on DVD March 2000.



9) Many were disheartened to hear that Macross Plus was delayed until a late summer/early fall release. Since then, rumors have been rampant about what the cause and what kind of features we might see on it. Is there anything you can share about it, especially in regards to any potential sound remastering?



We are just beginning the Macross Plus DVD. It will be available in two parts. Volume 1 will contain episodes 1 and 2. Volume 2 DVD will contain episodes 3 and 4. We are currently mixing in 5.1 Dolby Digital. We are also including the original commercials and the Japanese ending credits. There will be additional materials as well.



10) For every question I get regarding the Macross Plus OVA's, there's another one right behind it wondering why the movie version is not being put out on DVD. Will the movie see a release?



We hope so.



11) With the numerous petitions that on my site, and with the survey/petition style that Animeigo has done for their Urusei Yatsura release and for interest in possibly TV series acquisitions, we had heard that Manga was very interested in pursuing something similar to this. Is this being followed up?



I don't understand this question.



12) How much impact does the online anime DVD fan community on title selection and minor changes to how discs should be done, in such things as subtitles and other features?



We read every anime DVD e-mail and we appreciate the great feedback we are getting from all of you. Your production opinions are always considered and are of great value.



13) Speaking of subtitles, many have been clamoring for yellow subtitles with black borders as opposed to the white that seems to be prevalent. Are there any plans for yellow subtitles from Manga?



No. Not at this moment.



14) One thing that I have found bothers many of the more hard core anime fans is the lack of credits for Japanese voice actors and actresses on DVD releases, with the credits mainly being the English involved people. Are there plans to make these credits available on future releases?



Yes.



15) The announcement of Castle of Cagliostro coming to DVD made a large number of fans quite happy. Can you give us any information on what we can find on this disc?



Brand new completely remastered transfer, Dolby Digital and additional materials.



16) Speaking of the Lupin movie, can you explain why the character is often not actually called Lupin? How does Manga intend to handle this issue with their release of Cagliostro?



I am not sure at this moment.



17) Back when I was purchasing domestic laserdiscs, Macross Plus was one of my most eagerly awaited releases. Unfortunately, when it did come out, the laserdisc was subtitled using the dub script, as opposed to the Japanese language version found on the VHS tape. Will Manga avoid dubtitling on DVD?



We are using the English subtitles that are found on the VHS as well as an additional SDH track.



18) How much of the old US Renditions catalog does Manga still retain? From the email sent, I received many questions about the original Orguss TV series and whether the rights were still held by anyone.



I am not sure at this moment.



19) Where does Manga Entertainment want to be in 5 years time in terms of the anime market? With reports of the few DVD's out getting upwards of 20% or more share of VHS sales, when do you see DVD being a real force in regards to domestic releases?



The Walt Disney of anime. DVD is on an upward climb and will take time to catch up with VHS.



20) Is there anything you would like to share personally to the fans?



Thank you to all of the Manga Video fans. We love you!

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