Troubled road comes to end for ADV Films


POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

As I was beginning to write this column last week, the latest box stuffed full of new anime DVD releases from Funimation arrived at the office. Of the 11 individual DVDs and box sets I received, five — “;Jinki: Extend,”; “;Magikano,”; “;Red Garden,”; “;Sgt. Frog”; and “;The Wallflower”; — were once series that belonged to ADV Films.

That contrast between the past and present states of the anime industry grew more stark last Tuesday. As stated in a really confusing press release, the bottom line was that the ADV that anime fans had come to know for 17 years had been divvied up among four companies and no longer existed.

The announcement seemed inevitable, considering the endless procession of bad news slowly trickling from the Houston-based publisher in recent years. Failed ventures — the manga imprint, the collectible toys and cosplay caps, Newtype USA — all took their toll on audience perception of ADV. (My tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc never did forgive them for letting the “;Gunslinger Girl”; manga rot on the vine.)

The biggest blow, though, may have come last July when a two-year partnership with Sojitz Corp. broke off and 32 series that formerly belonged to ADV made their way to cross-state competitor Funimation. After that, ADV was largely a shell of its former self, reduced to re-releasing series from its glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

And lest we forget, when ADV was hitting on all cylinders back in those days, the company released some really good series. There were classics like “;Devil Hunter Yohko”; (ADV's first VHS release), “;City Hunter,”; “;Martian Successor Nadesico”; and “;Dirty Pair.”; The DVD era brought such series as “;Excel Saga”; (the first series your humble columnist ever reviewed for this paper), “;Azumanga Daioh,”; “;Full Metal Panic”; and “;Voices of a Distant Star.”; And, of course, all anime fans who consider themselves anime fans must have seen the company's flagship series, “;Neon Genesis Evangelion.”;

ADV voice actors including Monica Rial, Hilary Haag, Luci Christian, Tiffany Grant and Chris Patton, and producers Matt Greenfield and David Williams, became stars on the anime convention circuit thanks to the publisher's aggressive marketing efforts.

So farewell, ADV. Thanks for the memories. And in closing, consider this: In the early 2000s — a period that increasingly looks like the best days for anime in the U.S. — Funimation, ADV, Pioneer/Geneon, Central Park Media and Bandai were all jostling for market share.

Today it's a Funimation-dominated market, with occasional peeps from Bandai, Media Blasters, Viz and Nozomi Entertainment. And Geneon, Central Park Media and now ADV are all defunct.

It's a different world. And a much more ... intriguing one.


Jason S. Yadao is the author of Rough Guides' “;The Rough Guide to Manga,”; available this fall. For more anime and manga news and commentary, check out “;Otaku Ohana”; at blogs.starbulletin.com/ otakuohana. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jsyadao or e-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).