Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long, 2008!

And so ends quite the year that was 2008, or at least when midnight comes around later. The North American anime industry saw its biggest shake-up in years, if not in its history, with FUNimation solidifying itself as the dominant company with its acquisition of the titles from the doomed Sojitz-ADV venture and their partnership with the reduced Geneon (not including the major shows they picked up on their own) as well as its massive push in the digital distribution sector (more on that later). Bandai Ent. shocked many with its pick up of Gurren Lagann off the heels of the aforementioned deal collapse and created some intrigue (and amusement/annoyance, depending on who you ask) with their still-mysterious Project Nebula and the "novella" being played out within their site's source code. Even a small company in Media Blasters got in on the surprises when it announced its "rescuing" of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit when it became a victim of Geneon's collapse late last year. On the boxing side, there were upsets galore, with Bernard Hopkins schooling Kelly Pavlik, the U.S. Olympic boxing team stinking up Beijing (and let's not even get into the scoring, all-around...), Antonio Margarito's march through Miguel Cotto, Joe Calzaghe smoking out Roy Jones, Jr., and the biggest of all, Manny Pacquiao's absolute destruction of Oscar De La Hoya.

HardDoor's been keen on covering digital distribution in anime and 2008 provided a big boon in that regard. GONZO kicked things off with its landmark simultaneous worldwide broadcast/webcast of its two newest shows, The Tower of DRUAGA -the Aegis of URUK-, one of their marquee works for the year, and BLASSREITER, which would later be followed by the sleeper mega-hit Strike Witches and its top-liner for the year, LINEBARRELS OF IRON. FUNimation, as mentioned, poured their shows through any venue they could find, be it YouTube, iTunes, Hulu, Joost, Direct2Drive, or even by themselves, taking a commanding presence in the field and getting attention to their stable of titles and to the fans for little to no cost on their end. More parties, including Enoki Films USA, Media Blasters, and Manga Ent., are making similar moves, and that's only is a good thing for all involved going into the upcoming year.

Speaking of, what will 2009 yield only a few scant moments from now? While 2008 gave us all of the above, some other great boxing matches (Pacquiao-Marquez II, Holt-Torres II weirdness, Vasquez-Marquez III), shows (Gundam 00, Code Geass, Macross Frontier, and Kannagi--to name a few), and a stellar Summer Olympic Games, 2009 has plenty to look forward to. I guess one could consider this a Speculation Corner of sorts, since I have made only one so far in this closing year...:

::Unlike last year's year-end post, the hotly-anticipated second season to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya will be debuting in 2009, should everything pan out well for Kyoto Animation. I originally thought it was turning up this year... ^^;

::Nikolai Valuev fights one of the Klitschkos (Wladamir?) and gets (T)KO'd...

::Kannagi, Toradora!, Mouryou no Hako, CASSHERN Sins, Seto no Hanayome, Skip Beat!, Ga-Rei Zero, and Dennou Coil are sure to be licensed. Ultraviolet: Code 044, Kaiba, and Tales of the Abyss are dark horses, though I'll officially go out on a limb and say that a particularly well-known show will be announced...

::To Retire--Bernard Hopkins (one more fight--Roy Jones, Jr.?--or none), Shane Mosley (one bad outing--Antonio Margarito, in late January?), Roy Jones, Jr. (Hopkins or cupcake), Marco Antonio Barrera (perhaps), Evander Holyfield (hmm...), and Oscar De La Hoya (maybe tries for one more fight, but realizes no one will bite)

::Macross Frontier will be licensed. Harmony Gold, the (notoriously stingy) international license holder, can't afford to miss capitalizing on its great success, but someone with deep pockets will be need to handle the expenses, music rights, merchandising, etc. that will be necessary for it. FUNimation has the vast corporate money to back itself on, plus experience with musical shows (BECK) and distribution of Robote--something...

::Kelly Pavlik fights Arthur Abraham in a dangerous, desperate fight--unless Hopkins mentors him...

::BandaiChannel (or something close to it) opens for North America and Europe...

::Manny Pacquiao, after fighting Ricky Hatton (already scheduled), locks horns with Juan Manuel Marquez at lightweight, should the money be right. Edwin Valero's a longshot, but possible, maybe even another fight at welterweight...

::Current North American anime industry will remain in a holding pattern. Japan's will continue to open up and change--more for the better than not

::Welterweight, lightweight, and middleweight divisions will be the centers of attention. So will heavyweight(!), for lesser but notable reasons...

::Another round of Code Geass (yes...hopefully a prequel of sorts or alternative take) and Macross Frontier announced, along with a Unicorn Gundam series (30th anniversary, as long rumored) and a second Gundam series/film

::Kermit Cintron vs Antonio Margarito? Slim, but I'd never doubt Cintron to suddenly stop the current champ, despite there last two meetings...

::More digital distribution and simultaneous airings and licensing tie-ins (shows picked up, and a place where one can watch them).

The last year-end post was surprisingly accurate (well, except for a notable few), so it naturally remains to be seen whether this will ring true again. Many things can happen over the course of a year, some things expected, some things not, but either way, that's what can make a whole new year exciting. Of course, there is always at least some constants that one can hang their hats on:

::There's always room on the anime schedule for one of each, each season: robots (giant or human-sized), snappy girls with 'tudes, ecchi (chiefly, involving overly-endowed girls), and shounen...

::If you are an up-and-coming boxer, an aging but decorated veteran, or over-hyped, inflated rank hog, there's always a "title" belt wait for you out there...

In the slightly augmented words of a certain character from a certain OVA series:

So long, 2008!

And welcome, 2009, and a great new year. :D



  1. Agree about Cintron, who I like a lot and think is in many ways is boxing's version of Dominik Hasek (who supposedly "melted down"/"quit" in the playoffs against the Flyers when he was with Buffalo before reaching his true greatness later in his career). With whatever ghosts of the first fight now exercised by a "more courageous" performance in the second, and the right team in place (although the jury is still out on Ronnie Shields) executing the right strategy (this is what was missing in fight 2-- he was never going to win a street brawl with Margarito), I think a third fight is winnable-- but probably not on the agenda until 2010. Kerm will likely have to beat Clottey or Williams in 2009 and regain a belt first. Would love to see it happen--- Kerm's a great guy and it would be great to see him silence the haters out there.

  2. I agree on Cintron's questionable choice of fight tactics in the second bout, though he did look better and accomplished more than in the disastrous first bout. He reacted nervously at times, was too busy thinking, and fought Margarito's fight too often (not a great idea for many, just look at Cotto), but he did seem to be finding his rhythm and looked to have a chance to give him some trouble until that unfortunate body shot that took him down.

    He may not be a perfect fighter and can be a little stiff (as other athletically-gifted fighters can be), but he does have enough in him to defeat Margarito. He could give Williams a good fight, but Clottey might be a tougher bet due to his tenacity. A win over one of them at this point (perhaps even without a No. 1 contender spot on the line) should be enough to get him that third bout. It also wouldn't hurt for him to watch Margarito's fights against Williams and Cotto for the right and wrong things to do against him.

  3. Generally agree that Kerm's performance in fight II was much improved. In Fight I Kerm (and his then-team) tried to move him up in class far too soon. He certainly showed improvement in the second fight--- he had his moments (although too few and Margarito is just granite jawed, and even more importantly, though he unquestionably was losing the inside battle, he was still firing to the very end when he got hit by that devastating internal organ rearranging body shot which was near perfect. I'm not one of those haters who continue to question Kerm's intestinal fortitude because he didn't make the count-- I think very few would/could have survived that shot. But by the same token I think even Kerm recognized right after the fight that he simply couldn't expect "to bang" with him and win. Somehow, he turned the second fight into his own redemptive "Vision Quest"- only this time it didn't have the happy ending like the movie.

    I think we also both agree that, to remain in the mix as a top welterweight, Kerm somehow needs to continue his development as a boxer and not just rely on his thunder. My only question is whether or not thats Kerm's current gameplan, and is Ronnie Shields the trainer who can build on what Manny Stewart improved but is still an unfinished product? Kerm said all the right things immedately after the loss, but then he dropped Manny and is now talking about becoming "the old Killer" again. Which is fine-- as long as the focus with Shields is on improving on his weaknesses (most obviously, the weak rangefinder jab and the bending over at the waist)

    All in all-- I'd like Kerm to improve and reach what I think is his full potential. A Cintron KO is still a thing of beauty to witness-- he is so fluid and generates more torque than almost anyone I've seen since Tommy Hearns--- much like Freddie Couples does on the golf course. And I think he has even more heart. But he's at a career crossroads; I personally think he needs to fight more often for any improvement to happen (if his hand permits), and not necessarily with high risk/big money "marquee matchups" each and every time. So a third Margarito fight is out near term, as should any talked about match up with Cotto (who in the replay I saw last weekend did to Quintana what Tony did to Kerm in the second fight). He's just not there yet-- even with all the baggage of Margarito I now lifted. I'll take your word on Clottey, who I honestly don't know much about, but I think Kerm still matches up well against the remainder of whats out there (Williams, Quintana, Berto, Judah). But to get to the point where he can win a Margarito III or a Cotto down the line, Shields has got to correct/minimize some of those flaws which still exist. I hope he pulls it off.