8-31-07 (11:48PM EDT)—- Microsoft Enters Anime Industry
At a strategy briefing for partners in Tokyo titled “CONNECTED” on August 29th, American software firm Microsoft continued their promotion of a digital lifestyle campaign which is ongoing this year, seeking to make Windows Vista and the PC a nucleus. President & CEO of Microsoft Co. Ltd., Japan and Corporate Vice President Darren Houston delivered a keynote address stressing the importance of contents providers and revealed three television broadcasters (Nippon Television Network Corporation, TBS and TV Tokyo) would be partnering with them on some of their Media Center offerings. TV Tokyo announced their plans to synch up their Ani-Tele anime exclusive channel up to Windows Media Center, mentioning their main site draws 50 million accesses per month. Features involved a simple user interface, easily navigable via remote control. They plan on offering rebroadcasts of new shows there just days after they’ve aired on television and many older shows for free.
8-31-07 (11:46PM EDT)—- Tokyo Anime Fair 2008 Website Goes Live
The official website for Japan’s largest anime festival / trade show, The Tokyo Anime Fair, has been revamped in 2008 livery at www.tokyoanime.jp. There you can view a greeting from the senior staff and some other basic information. Exhibition applications are being recieved as of Sept. 1st. The seventh holding of the fair will occur March 27-30th, 2008. 270 companies and 107,713 people attended over the 4 days in 2007.
8-31-07 (10:01PM EDT)—- Gonzo VP Forsees Age When Anime Is No Longer Sold On DVD’s
A recent IT Media interview with GDH Vice President Yasufumi Uchida has revealed how one of the industry’s giants could be looking toward a time in the not so distant future when the primary distribution method / business model sees a shift from physical media such as DVD, to an internet downloadable format. The business environment of Japan’s animation production houses is currently undergoing a transitory period of change where sales of anime on DVD inside and outside the country is becoming inactive even as more and more programs are being broadcast on television. With the boom of late night TV anime in the mid 1990’s, a popular business model closely tieing the production budget of those shows to DVD sales seems to be coming undone even as more delivery options emerge such as high def disc, internet stream, mobile phone, etc.. Gonzo is said to have been hit especially hard in the DVD sales arena and has been exploring other distribution channels. They recently established joint video streaming site with You Tube titled: GONZO DOGA. Uchida admits: “though there is not any single reason in the sales slump, and anime DVD sales remain inactive across the industry, one of the main factors is a power shortfall in our works”. He adds he believes especially the spread of HDD&DVD recorders and illegal video downloading / sites like YOU TUBE are to blame also. He believes the practice of burning off episodes to DVD direct from TV broadcast and opting out of commercially sold discs is becoming common domestically and programs being uploaded (in short order following their Japanese broadcast) to video sites are affecting disc sales internationally. A distribution model such as that used by Hollywood which sees major films and DVD’s release simultaneously worldwide (to minimize profit losses via time delay) is difficult for a company without a global network like GDH. Today, Gonzo deals out their licenses to multiple international firms and the attraction, negotiation phases involving those businesses as well as the production localaization / produciton phase (including subtitles, dubbing, packaging) differs from country to country creating a time gap and hence missed opportunity. An internet release method would allow both global simultaneous release and a venue to seek recognition / acknowledgement and promotion. The VP says their new You Tube channel will be used to pull in more customers and will be the spot where viewers can find out about their new animation first. It was the first jointly established site with an animation production company when it went live on August 1. Gonzo plans aggressive use of You Tube and has had over 110,000 video views as of August 27th although it hasn’t solved the problem of copyright infringement in other areas of the site. The net option is expected to be persued explicitly in the future. Uchida thinks a challenging environment will exist in the video production industry for sometime to come. He says content distribution needs to go into the next generation with product being adapted for all the emerging technologies from handheld video player to hidef disc and cites the advent of the video cassette in how change is nothing new in the industry.
8-31-07 (9:16PM EDT)—- Will Gundam 00 Series Run Only 6 Months?
There’s been some unconfirmed speculation in fan circles that the latest Gundam TV animation, Gundam 00 (official title: Kido Senshi Gandam double-o”), will only get a 6 month (26 episode) run in Japan when it starts broadcasting in hi-vision high definition format (the first ever Gundam series to do so) on October 6th on MBS and affiliate networks. The traditional format for Gundam television series almost exclusively since 1979 has been a 1 year run and currently the latest series is also currently officially slated to go 1 year as well. 00 will be directed by Seiji Mizushima with scenario written by Yosuke Kuroda and character designs by Yun Koga. Breaking from past traditions, the series will be set in 2307 AD of the Gregorian christian era calendar system.
8-31-07 (8:17PM EDT)—- Kissa Fugees Robbing Spree
Shoplifting by so-called “net cafe refugees” is said to be on the spike recently around Tokyo. The term is applied to otherwise homeless working poor who use manga / internet cafes as permanent / semi permanent housing. Reports include stolen DVD, manga, game software and electronic products such as PCs and digicams which are being hocked in second-hand goods shops and via net auction. The revenue is then