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2010 In Anime: NIS America

A look at the latest company to bring anime to the US

By Chris Beveridge     January 11, 2011

NIS America
© NIS America
While 2010 saw the usual ups and downs that the anime industry has gone through for the last few years, the one up that I saw that had me really curious to see what would happen was seeing NIS America take a stab at the anime market to supplement their gaming business. I met with a couple of people from the company earlier in the year and got a handle on their approach and what they were looking to do so when the final product came out, it was definitely the kind of release that I think the anime market had long since abandoned because of changes in the brick and mortar market as well as the race to the bottom in pricing sets and doing things as cheaply as possible.
What NIS America brought back to the game was the premium edition, something that stands out against other releases. Premium edition releases are obviously more common in Japan and many fans spend time importing just to get the goods of their favorite shows. What NIS America wanted to do was to tackle a small number of shows with something to really make it worth owning. While a number of fans weren't happy about the lack of dubs, they're still a very hard area for a lot of companies to justify. NIS America also ran into trouble with their first sets in regards to video issues, but they really stepped up to the plate quickly by talking about it and offering the kind of exchange program that can put others to shame.
With the first six months under their belt, they've released six of their premium sets across three series and recently made the licensing announcement for Working!! as Wagnaria for 2011. Going through these sets with the expansive boxes to work with for cover artwork and some really nicely designed keepcases, they'd have something that would stand out well from the start. But each of the sets have included some gorgeous full color hardcover books that either deal with something key to the show, such as Persona's story involving the whale, or they've dealt with a whole lot of character details, artwork and illustrations along with interviews and more that makes it thoroughly unique and something that makes the whole set worth owning.
With their selection of titles, NIS America can't be pigeonholed with what kinds of shows they're willing to license. Toradora certainly has a following and was a very good title to launch with. Persona gave them an opening into the gaming market a bit since there are fans familiar with it there that may not have heard of the anime. They've gone for much newer material with Working!! on their lists and they've also dealt with such interesting shows as PandoraHearts, which ties well to the manga in release here, and the little talked about Our Home's Fox Deity which is one of those under the radar shows that leaves you wondering why people don't talk more about it.
In its first six months, NIS America has brought out some intriguing shows to the market and has shown some solid commitment to their fans by dealing so openly with the problems that have come up that seem to hit every company's first forays into the anime DVD world. While their output won't be high, and I'm curious if they'll ever release non-premium editions, NIS America is a company to watch for surprising and interesting licenses in 2011.
Mitsu Hiraoka of NIS America was kind enough to send a message to the fans about 2010 and what to look forward to this year as well:
“Almost half a year has passed since we released our very first anime title in July 2010. These past months have gone by so fast, it feels like a blur. At the same time, I am grateful to have had such a wonderful experience.
While media-viewing has become more mainstream through the internet, we strove to provide "something of value that we can hold." We have yet to obtain a solid bond of trust with people in regards to the value and quality of our goods. Due to that, we will continue to improve ourselves and raise the quality of everything we do even further.
Before we select a title, the entire company views it together so that we all understand how enjoyable and great the title it is and then we put all of our passion into delivering a high quality product to our fans and customers. It is important to look at things objectively as a business, but I also want our customers to feel the heart and passion that is put into these works, both by the creators and us as publishers.
We have just announced our new title for 2011 to be "WAGNARIA!!" So far, we have only announced this title, but we will soon have many more to announce. We will continue to try harder so as many customers as possible can readily pick up our titles and experience the quality of the products firsthand.”
Mitsu Hiraoka,
Producer - Anime Business”

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Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
METR0lD 1/11/2011 4:57:59 PM

Too bad they missed the one key element that actually makes their titles worth owning—the dub.

Simply put, I love NIS America as a game company. Their games are excellent, and I buy most of them (even just bought Prinny 2 today). But as an anime company, they're nothing short of a complete failure in my opinion. Bring the dubs, and I'll be the first in line to shove my cash into their wallets.

Hectotane 1/11/2011 9:38:03 PM

I like to add that there's a second reason NISA needs to, RIGHT NOW, crawl from out of that pigeonhole of "catering to the reality-challenged so they can feel like they're cool."  And that's...  (All Together Now, Folks.)  ...the type of titles they have.

Persona and Wolf Diety were "way out in left field;' and it's not that "good kind" either.  Toradora and Working featured characters that needed to be punched in their face.  Mainly and respectively, Taiga and Inami.  Pandora Hearts was "5 out of 10," but not worth it if NISA's going to be like that.

I mean...  FUNi have something for everyone to a certain extent.  The shows with characters that needed to be socked in they faces are multiplied by 10, but a couple of shows often slip by and turn out to be the most engaging, "edge of one's seat" productions out there.  Mostly because of FUNi's half-the-time off-the-wall dubbing cast (which of whom I like to play around with during my YouTube works).

So yes, NISA.  Work on actual localization of the titles you have.  Concurrently, work on getting titles that will be like by more people outside of the otaku-base.  And maybe the company will have more friends and more people who will speak good about it.

Puck85 1/12/2011 3:11:21 AM

Personally I'd rather they focus towards an English track than premium high quality packaging & booklets. Thats a much better bonus/extra than some booklet. Of course dubs cost much more so maybe I'm asking too much. Can't expect everything to be dubbed, but I hope they start at some point.  In the end people buy the anime for the show, not the packaging.

Persona is something I'm surprised they didn't dub because of the popular name.

Glamrgrl104 1/12/2011 10:10:46 AM

I love Wagnaria but yeah a dub would have been nice. I still love subbed too since that is the only way I can watch it.

formerroadie 2/17/2011 4:38:49 PM

I love the NIS anime.  I will be purchasing as much as my wallet can handle.  I got my first box set today and it's awesome.  I can't wait to watch.  I'm a huge Persona fan and this is right up my alley.



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