Wednesday, September 30, 2009

:anime: And Another One Bites...

Kadokawa Pictures USA, the licensing arm of Japan's Kadokawa Pictures, closed down on August 31, leaving a number of to-be-distributed titles such as Ga-Rei -Zero- and H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ in possible limbo and becoming the fourth (or third, depending on how you view it) American anime company to dissolve within the year. It's such a shame to hear this news, as their products were of high quality and they seemed to put a lot of effort in ensuring it (as personally observed with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). The titles in question may still be in queue if the closing only meant a reallocation of resources and that negotiations would occur through the parent company and not the subsidiary, but as of this moment, there is no word on their fate or of those that have already been released by the likes of Bandai Ent., FUNimation, and Nozomi Ent. I have really enjoyed their work over their too-brief lifespan, and along with their awesome eyecatch, I'll definitely be missing them if this is truly it.

Speaking of possible/not-so-possible demises, this brings memories of the recent implosion of A.D. Vision, Inc., aka "ADV Films". As many well know, the one-time industry leader suddenly announced its dissolution on the first of this month and had its various pieces sold off to other companies, including its dubbing house, licensing division, and distribution service. The news had many (too many) fans lamenting the loss of the company, some wondering what would be of its current shows, and others angry at the state of affairs and signalling the ultimate downfall of the anime industry in the US. What the "too many" either failed to realize or just flat-out read only the news heading and not the article itself was that A.D. Vision essentially restructured and split itself into the new companies that "bought" its fragments (ANN's Editor-in-Chief wrote a very informative piece on the company here).

While said in only so many words in their press release, it is apparent, and some of their addresses are located at the same place (even a few at ADV's former offices) and owned by the same individuals in some cases (one of them being John Ledford, ADV's former CEO). This reshuffling of assets, as pointed out on the ANN forums by a number of helpful folks who gave some great and very well-informed answers my questions about it there, most likely had to do with ADV having some trouble with paying its creditors, largely brought about by the aftermath of their failed partnership with Sojitz. Additionally, restructuring also meant getting Sojitz out of their hair, who still retained a 20% stake in ADV after pulling their money out. While the now-sullied brand name is gone, ADV still lives on...albeit in a cooperative "Baby Bell" sort of way a la AT&T's breakup.

Kadokawa Pictures USA joins A.D. Vision (sort of), Central Park Media, Broccoli USA (Synch-Point's parent) as the fourth (or third) company in the US to go down within the past year, although the last two have been silent for much longer than than that, and does not take into consideration the downsizing done at the remaining companies. Though it has been a tumultuous time in the industry both here and in Japan, I believe that things will settle down within the next year barring another worldwide financial crisis, as it has a tendency to self-correct. In the mean time, they'll all be missed, and hopefully their employees have found other areas of employment by now.

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