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Introducing the Players - UK Market
By Kristen Jones
2001. The UK anime scene, not quite dead but certainly not as healthy as it has been in years prior. Whereas at one point there were up to twenty anime titles being released a month, five or fewer would now be a better estimate of the industry's productivity. In short, the UK anime scene has seen a serious decline.
DVD is changing that.
The emergence of the format and the slow realisation that, anime fans in particular are the kind of people who are adopting the format, the genre is again beginning to take relevance in the UK video market and perhaps offer fans abroad reason to take interest.
In the first of what I hope will be a regular column, I'll be profiling the players on the scene and their current market position.
ADV Films UK
The US anime giant's UK branch has been slow to adopt the new format, having so far only issued two titles, Sonic the Hedgehog and Tekken. Both of these were straight imports from the US with only a BBFC Certification added by sticker. Indeed, the discs are in NTSC format and clearly state that it is illegal to possess them outside of the US!
ADV is however currently investigating PAL authoring houses and looking to release more in the way of DVD in the UK, which can only be a good thing.
As anyone who frequents the Region 2 forum on this site will now, there is a great deal of love and hate for this company. Love because they are probably the most prolific in terms of DVD releases, hate because their discs are usually hard-subbed/dubbed-only VHS ports which are ill-chapter stopped and of poor A/V quality.
They currently have the greatest amount of titles available on the UK market, many of which should be of note to international fans as some of these titles can be obtained in English/on DVD nowhere else. For reference, their current releases are as follows:
Adventure Duo* 1~3 (*a.k.a. Adventure Kid in the US/Japan)
Black Magic M-66 / Plastic Little 2-on-1
Gigolo / Rei-Rei 2-on-1
Leiji Matsumoto's The Cockpit / Digital Devil 2-on-1
Macross II: Super Dimensional Fortress 1~6
Sol Bianca 1&2 (original series)
Urotsukidoji III (subbed!)
Urotsukidoji IV (subbed + containing timed scripts as extras)
And coming later this month, the hotly anticipated Gunbuster DVD which will contain the whole series on a region zero disc subbed in English. It should also be noted that Kiseki have the rights to the version of Macross: Do You Remember Love containing the additional footage and have a subtitled master of it. This is not yet out on DVD but will hopefully appear soon as they work their way through their back catalogue. They've got MD Geist too, but cancelled the DVD release of that for some reason..? J
Manga Entertainment Ltd
Entering into the fray relatively late, the UK Anime behemoth (they've released a LOT more titles here than they have in the US) currently has several discs on the market with monthly prodiuction of more currently planned for this year.
Easily the most successful and well distributed of the domestic anime firms, their previous disks (GiTS, Perfect Blue and Ninja Scroll) have all penetrated the lower reaches of the Top 20 national video charts and their current release, Street Fighter Alpha, is repeating this pattern. All of these previous disks have been PAL ports of their R1 counterparts, but Manga is now moving to domestic DVD production with Urotsukidoji I&II (on one disc), Fist of the North Star and Street Fighter II: TAM all to be available shortly.
Unfortunately these discs will also be dub only. Manga are currently taking the position that whilst the Japanese track is nice, they're more worried about keeping up their market momentum. An issue that has had to be faced by US fans and now UK fans too. Likewise, not all of what the US sees on DVD will reach the UK in that form, for example the forthcoming Amon Saga is to be a VHS only release here.
A small Right Stuf-esque retailer / releaser combo which acts as Animeigo's UK agent. They are currently also in negotiations with Pioneer for rights to certain properties. MVM have announced that the UK will see DVD releases of the classic Bubblegum Crisis and Oh My Goddess later this year, it is assumed these will be the Animeigo masters converted to PAL as has been the case with their VHS releases.
And apart from releases such as Battle of the Planets and Pokemon / Digimon, aimed more at the nostalgia crowd and children than the anime fan, that's about it. The UK anime DVD is beginning to build up steam, but is several years behind its plentiful R1 cousin.
Upcoming UK DVD releases:
Digimon: The Movie - 4th June (contains additional languages not found on the R1 release)
Gunbuster - 23rd April (hard subbed, whole series on one disk)
Urotsukidoji I&II -14th May (double feature, single disc, contains multimedia extras, dub only)
Fist of the North Star - 11th June (expected to be dub only)
StreetFighter II: The Animated Movie - 9th June (confirmed to be dub only)
Battle of the Planets vol.1 (1~4) - 23rd April (said to contain Gatchaman informational extras)
Pokemon: The Movie 2000 - 14th May (most likely identical to R1 release)