2010 In Anime: NIS America (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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”