Predictions fail to pan out
WITH the end of the year arriving today, I thought I'd take a look at all the predictions for the anime and manga industry that I made in this space 364 days ago. Let's just say I won't be an operator for the Psychic Friends Network any time soon.
Here's a look back at a few of those predictions, and how they panned out:
Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD: And the winner is ... well ... it's still difficult to tell at this point. It's certainly not the consumers, who, unless they're flush with cash, have been forced to choose one format or another.
If anything, I'd give the slight edge to Blu-Ray at this stage. Funimation released "Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan" and "Broly: Second Coming" as a double feature on a single Blu-Ray disc. Bandai Visual has dabbled in the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray arenas with its releases, and seems to be leaning Blu-Ray at the moment. Sony, of course, is solidly Blu-Ray, what with its PlayStation 3 video game console driving the market for such discs.
Illumitoon Entertainment: So much for experience counting for anything. Sure, there were former Funimation executives on board for this new venture. But the company's initial batch of titles -- "Beet the Vandel Buster," "Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo" and "BT'X" -- were released with "dubtitles," or closed-captioned subtitles of the English dub script, rather than the more customary English translation straight from the Japanese dialogue -- a cardinal sin in fans' eyes. Not to mention, the shows really weren't all that good.
In October, online anime retailer Right Stuf listed future volumes for the three series, as well as "AM Driver," as "discontinued"; Illumitoon's future at this point is unclear.
"The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" (Bandai): This turned out to be one of the unqualified hits of the year, driven by special editions that offered tons of goodies (not to mention DVDs that featured episodes in broadcast order, a point of contention among many "Haruhi" fans) and the popularity of the "Hare Hare Yukai" dance at anime conventions. It'll be interesting to see if Bandai can continue its momentum with another popular Kyoto Animation series, "Lucky Star," next year.
"Sgt. Frog" (ADV): Well, at least the Web page at www.sgtfrog.tv ... umm ... exists. Aside from that, there's been no word on when the frogs will invade American homes on Pokopen in animated form.
I'm still confident that the entire year-plus has been spent working on special features; I'm hoping for the return of ADVid-Notes, the company's trademark informational pop-ups explaining cultural references and jokes. But why other licenses can be turned around in a handful of months while "Sgt. Frog" languishes is a bit mind-boggling to me ...
Coming up Sunday
In "Drawn & Quartered" in the Sunday Today section, tag-team partner Wilma J. looks at the manga series "Cross" and "Pilgrim Jager." Yes, we promised this a few weeks ago, but technical difficulties intervened ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao