Bandai Entertainment, R.I.P.

Yesterday, anime licensor/publisher Bandai Entertainment announced that they will no longer release DVDs or Blu-Rays. According to an interview at Anime News Network with Ken Iyadomi today, the decision was made in October by parent company Namco Bandai Holdings. February will be the last month they release anime and all planned releases for after then are cancelled. Cancelled titles include Yoshiyuki Tomino-directed Turn A Gundam. Their entire manga division is also cancelled. However, they will continue to handle licensing and sub-licensing for "group companies". Iyadomi added his gratitude to the fanbase for supporting the company. 

 
Bandai Entertainment has had a significant effect not just on anime in North America, but in particular, my own collection. The first DVDs I ever owned were of Cowboy Bebop, my favorite anime. I have several of their DVD releases. I've attended their convention panels. I considered them the best name in anime for quite some time. Titles like The Big O, Outlaw Star, and Gundam 08th MS Team, aired on television, were formative in my anime fandom. Many of my favorite English dubs, like the one for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, came from Bandai releases. 
 
It's hard to stay positive about this. Part of me wants to blame the fandom, a fandom that prefers to download things for free, illegally, to buying their anime and supporting the industry. I even want to blame myself. Sure, I bought plenty of Bandai releases over time, but there were titles I always told myself I would pick up later, but never did. I know one person hardly makes a difference in the market, though. Even blaming anime fans in North America is a little shortsighted. While it's true the piracy is a factor in the downturn in the anime industry in North America (voice actor Kyle Hebert blames the "bad eggs" who "fill their hard drives with millions of dollars worth of content and never have to pay a dime for it"), it's not the only contributing factor. 
 
Bandai Entertainment had people pulling strings from Japan. Many of them ignorant with how the North American market works. Because of tight reins on Bandai Entertainment from the Japanese, they were releasing singles, sub-only sets, delaying releases, and other practices, such as pushing the original Mobile Suit Gundam for television in a market that shys away from older titles. Then there was the Zeta Gundam release mistakes. And in recent years, Bandai Entertainment had been licensing very little. 
 
Perhaps Namco Bandai expected a profit rivalring their Japanese domestic market and were let down. But the market is changing. Fans are demanding their anime faster and in better quality. The Japanese seem to believe that they can market anime the same here as in Japan, meaning up to a hundred dollars for a handful of episodes on physical media, like DVDs and Blu-Rays. Instead of trying to evolve with the rest of the market, they decided to stop production entirely. However, it does seem now that instead of physical media they'll be concentrating on digital distribution. 
 
In other words, Bandai Entertainment is dead and yet it isn't. 
 
As Kyle Hebert says, "Anime is an awesome art form, but at the end of the day, it's a business." A myopic parent company pushing an outdated business model is not the way to succeed in business in North America. 
 
That being said, I'm extremely thankful that Bandai Entertainment stayed as long as it did. Even if I'm smarting over Turn A Gundam's cancellation (I was looking forward to it), thinking of all the great titles Bandai Entertainment brought to me over the years makes me smile a bit. The argument might go that if they didn't, somebody else would have. But're the ones that did, so I still thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for the good times. 
 
Thanks, Bandai Entertainment. 
 

Basically this comes down to

Basically this comes down to one thing, and one thing only. The Japanese want to get rid of the American anime industry. They instead want to take all the work and love ADV, Funimation, Geneon USA, Bandai Ent, and Viz Media put into it and instead use it to sell overpriced imports to a few desperate people.

Then when sales go down in Japan because people are sick and tired of buying overpriced crap, the Japanese companies then turn around and blame the Tsunami (that's the reason they are giving for 20,000 less people at Comiket.

So will Gundam Unicorn still

So will Gundam Unicorn still be released here in America?

Lots of speculation, but no

Lots of speculation, but no one really knows quite yet. I was hoping for a nice box set once all of the episodes have been released.

IIRC, Bandai

IIRC, Bandai Visual/Honneamise are handling the Blu-Ray release of Unicorn. It was Bandai Entertainment handling the DVD releases with the first two episodes.

I still don't have volume 4, myself, wanting to wait for the price to drop a little. But if I wait too long, the price might skyrocket from greedy sellers on Amazon. Actually, I think it's already happened.

How much can you blame piracy

How much can you blame piracy when at the heart of it there was a failure to meet the needs of the market?

When the needs of the market

When the needs of the market to many is to have everything immediately and for free there's a big problem.

Now that Bandai is gone,

Now that Bandai is gone, what'll become of K-ON! season 2 and the inevitable future seasons of Haruhi Suzumiya? Neither of them were licensed to begin with, but Bandai's shutdown might prevent them from ever getting licensed.

If only Bandai were more like Funimation. When Funi licenses a show, they get all the seasons and OVAs and movies and whatnot, and they dub EVERYTHING they release. And they release BUTTLOADS of titles every year. They're without a doubt the most successful anime publisher out there right now. If only more companies could follow their example.

Other companies likely can't

Other companies likely can't afford to do what Funimation does.

Funimation can afford to because they picked hits, like Fullmetal Alchemist, that are extremely profitable. And because they re-release DBZ, which is always popular and sells well.

Penguin Truth you've been

Penguin Truth you've been lacking off on your articles!

K-on

Hi everyone...I was wandering now that Bandai is gone...will the second season of K-On be dubbed...I really liked the first season being english dubbed...so thank you....

K-ON season 2

I last saw it dubbed on anime network, licensed by sentai filmworks. it was decent IMO

Future gundam anime

so who`s going to dub and license the newer gundam anime IF a company decides to release it?

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