Gather around, children. We're going to talk about a time long, long ago when anime companies could afford to do special packages. There were boxes of all sizes and shapes, goodies galore in some, such as plushies, CDs, books and more. Toys were to be had inside of metal locker cases even! Then the times changed and because of retailer shelf concerns, dwindling fan purchases and the overall economy, everything became about getting the most you could into a small space.
Enter NIS America who is launching their first two titles in July. They're giving us a taste of how things were - and doing them a bit differently as well as I can't recall a package that has done things like this before. The company is releasing Persona and Toradora! in July in two collectors edition boxes with special bonuses to be had if you order from them directly. We got in a package from them today with the packaging samples, sadly no DVDs of course, and proceeded to do something we haven't been able to do in years - an unboxing!
Ever since talking with the folks from NIS America last year about the US market and what fans are looking for, I've been extremely curious as to what they'd put out in their final package, at least for the packaging. So getting this dinged up box today, which had everything very lovingly packaged inside, I was ecstatic to finally see what the results of the company would be like for their launch products. After all, as we've seen from the discussions about CMX Manga, a first impression can last the lifetime of a company.
Inside were two "boxes" unlike the kind we've seen before. They're reminiscent of the Mel Brooks box set that came out last year in terms of the hard long box. You can see that the Persona one is sideways while the Toradora is up and down. For Persona, the disc package (not included) and the art book slide out the left side while with Toradora! it slides out of the top.
Let's give you a little size reference here with my non-girlish hand. The box itself is a good solid heavy chipboard type with a very deep and rich black to it for the background where it has a really strong sense of atmosphere, something that the flash from the camera does lessen some. There's artwork on both sides for the premium edition where the main characters are either as you see them or in their full uniforms. The technical information is along the bottom which is nicely done (listing 307 minutes here) while the spine is understated with just the logo text and the volume numbering information.
The book slides easily out of the left side and it has some great full color artwork. Interestingly, the book has two sides to it, so about halfway through you turn it over and start from the other cover. One side is an artbook and the other is a detailed story with some gorgeous full color pieces of artwork attached to it. Here's some samples:
"A Whale's Feather," the back side of the book with the story by Shigeru Kanzato with illustrations by Haruka Kanzato.
The Toradora! premium box is laid out essentially the same but in a different direction and definitely lighter in nature as befits the material itself. The front cover has several of the main characters in full color that lets you know what kind of show it is while the back side is the same but with everything through a light purple filter.
Unlike Persona, the book for this one slides out on the top side. The left side is the new "bottom" as it has the technical grid information while the spine has the colorful logo with the volume one premium edition tag added to it.
Inside we get the really gorgeous full color episode guide book. It breaks things down into blocks of episodes, 4-5 episodes at each time, with all sorts of ancillary information about the show and the characters.
Both of these editions, quite frankly, are gorgeous. They're everything that you want as a fan of a show to have and it really does have a very premium feeling about them. Hem and haw bout the size and shape, complain about some little nugget here and there if you want, but these kinds of releases are so uncommon these days that I can't help but to love the way it all came together. There's so much good stuff here, a real sense of love about it, that not only does it have me excited to see the full final product come June and July, it makes me want to see what else they have up their sleeves so I can begin anticipating another round of beautiful premium releases.