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Toei Enters the DVD Market

By Justin Strauss     -

Toei Animation has been working hard since 1956 to bring us the absolute finest in anime. Though they started out humble enough, they have grown to become the largest and most famous anime company in Japan. They have worked on countless series, and have been responsible for releasing the most recognizable names in epic television anime. Most recently, they have been responsible for the series that captivated both Japan and America in the last two decades: "Dragonball" and "Sailormoon." With multiple incarnations of both shows, they have found amazing success worldwide. However, it goes far beyond that, as Toei has been responsible for countless amazing series.

Currently, the Toei series "Digimon Adventure" is sweeping Japan, and has even surpassed Pokémon as the top rated animation in America. And aside from modern productions, Toei has been responsible for countless classic series, including: Cutie Honey, Captain Harlock, Dr. Slump, Getta Robot, Marmalade Boy, Tiger Mask, Galaxy Express 999, and others. Couple this along with the primary Toei Company (who does live action shows and movies) and you have

even more content to go from. They are also the force behind the popular Sentai shows, such as: Turbo Rangers, Galaxy Rangers, Star Rangers, Ninja Rangers, etc. (which our American Power Rangers are taken from).

So you can imagine this author's shock and joy when Toei announced (a few months ago) that they are formally entering the DVD market! It makes sense, and we would think that they would be the first company to do this. So why did they wait so long to enter a market that has dominated Japan lately? They have the biggest track record, so why not go right away? It's not unprecedented, we saw a similar situation in our own backyard this past year. The Walt Disney Company is the leader of animation in America, but they did not release their animated movies on DVD until late 1999, which was long after the other major companies had jumped on the DVD bandwagon. It just takes a longer while for such a huge company to decide on a huge marketing decision like this. With over 500 past television series to work with, Toei is gonna have lots to make us smile in the coming years.

The first titles to be released on DVD from Toei are coming to Japan in October. In the anime department, I decided to ask a friend of mine at Toei to explain their plans to me, in any way he could. Their first anime plans, as they have announced on their web page, are to release the new season of Digimon, titled "Digimon Season:02." Volume one comes to us in October, and volume two comes in November. These may likely be used for rental stores (as the VHS tapes are now) but will also be available for sale. Assuming that sales go well (which they should), the first season of "Digimon Adventure" will be released on Toei DVD soon after.

They have expressed interest in releasing all of their biggest anime series on DVD boxed sets, with extra features and possible remastering of both video and audio! They will also release their new series and movies (such as Digimon or Getten) on DVD rather than Laserdisc as a primary format from now on. Yes, this means that we will finally see the boxed sets of Dragonball Z and Sailormoon on DVD! Not only will this make them much more affordable, but both of them are very hard to find on home video in Japan anyways (Dragonball is very old, and was released before Toei started putting their big series on consistent Laserdisc, like they did with Sailormoon). Here's one very happy columnist (with a forthcoming empty bank account) signing off. Ja matta!

Always anime,

Justin Strauss


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