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Interview with Manga UK representative Jerome Mazandarani

Date: 2012 January 16 23:58

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Audio interview with Manga UK representative Jerome Mazandarani where we talk about Manga UK's upcoming releases, their plans for blu-ray anime releases, streaming rights (yes, I ask a K-On! question) and more.

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Manga: Celebrating 20 Years of Anime

Jerome Mazandarani, the UK contact for Manga UK, has given Otaku News an interview to talk with us about the company's plans for 2012, what anime they will be releasing this year, going into Netflix, pricing for blu ray and DVD's, plans for blu ray releases in the future and answers some of our readers questions. Jerome talks quite frankly about the perils and frustrations of releasing anime in an English speaking territory.

Full notes will be provided later. Please follow the link provided to download the mp3. Please note, there are curse words in this interview but in order to preserve the authenticity of the interview, these have not been bleeped out. Listeners discretion is therefore advised.

Download link File is 34.0MB in size.

Here are the questions asked by our listeners and readers. Please note, Jerome answered more questions on the podcast in addition to these ones.

First lot, from UK Anime forum member, Macloud:

1) With Beez now out of the running, and FUNI pretty much a cert for getting first dibs on Bandai titles, are we at a real risk of a Bidding war between Manga, MVM and Kaze for titles (especially seeing that Kaze AND manga regularly license FUNI titles)?

I wouldn't assume anything at this stage. And why would their be a risk of a "bidding war" between Kaze, MVM and Manga for new titles now Beez is out of the picture? Wouldn't there have been a 4-way bidding war before? Funimation only sublicense to Manga those licenses they have UK rights available for and only if Manga wants them. We get first dibs on all Funi sublicenses. There is no danger of bidding wars erupting because none of us want to or can afford to pay over the odds for new licenses.

2) Just How important is the UK as far as most US and Japanese anime companies are concerned? is it even considered as a market in its own right, or just as a way for US companies to frankly make back money on a license?

I would say the UK is up there with North Korea and Outer Mongolia in terms of importance to the licensing companies. That's a joke. As the domestic and North American markets contract, Europe and the UK become ever more important to the Japanese companies who produce and license anime. However, I would suggest the UK is probably quite far down the list in so much as we have no TV stations here interested in broadcasting anime. No TV = no real market for merchandising over than video games and DVD.

3) Contrary to the UK, just how popular are BDs of anime titles in the US and Australia?

Best Buy has hardly any Blu-ray racking in store. That's why all of Funimation's Double Play packages are in Amaray sized packaging. Does that give you a hint? Blu-ray has been a handl;ed terribly by Sony, much like everything else they've done over the past several years (See PS3 security flaws and 3D TV). Blu-ray is not going to replace DVD as the best-selling format until DVD sales decline to such a level, Blu-ray naturally takes over. BD is not the miracle shot in the arm the home entertainment industry had hoped it would be.

4) How much weight do the reviews and thoughts of bloggers and independent anime sites, such as UK-Anime, actually have on companies?

A lot. But the art is in learning when to listen and when to ignore the many voices in the blogsphere. I have not learnt that art yet unfortunately.

5) Will we ever see another multinational anime company again (ala ADV, Beez) on these shores? is anyone willing to take the financial risk these days?

No. Why bother? Who needs the hassle when you can just do a sales and distribution deal with Manga?

6) To Manga: has licensing live action films as well as anime titles still proven successful enough to continue doing?

No. Asian live-action cinema is no way near as popular as it once was. The content is weak generally and does not appeal to a mass market. However, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand do have thriving domestic film industries and they do export a half a dozen or so excellent movies every year. Next year's biggie will be The Raid.

7) To all: with Aniplex (and potentially Bandai) changing their sales tactics to directly selling their titles at Japanese prices, is there a risk of the UK being left out, in as far as anime titles?

Yes, there is a risk that some hot new series may be held back from a direct licensing deal with Manga for the UK because the Licensor has decided they can make more money exporting a deluxe box set directly to those fans crazy enough to pay the $200+ they'll be asking for it. I think that there are some anime producers who like what Bandai and Aniplex is doing (ie. Selling at Japanese prices to fans in foreign territories) and some that are probably as alarmed as I am at this practice. How do you reach a large audience selling a $300 sub-only DVD box set of Garden of Sinners for example? Only a handful of UK fans will fork out for it leaving a potential audience of several thousand fans empty handed. The less people who see it, the less chance of flogging your figurines, statuettes, t-shirts, manga, light novels, apps and games on the back of it.

8) To all (and Eeeper): have you seen any change in the UK and Irish anime community, as far as buying habits, genre preference etc?

The lack of good Shonen and Sci-Fi titles is starting to turn some fans off anime. Generally, most of the content being producd is poor and tailor made for a handful of otaku back in Japan. If the business continues to narrow it's approach to commissioning new series we will see the foreign anime market continue to contract. Where's the next Bleach, DBZ, One Piece or Naruto? And I am not saying we need to see more "Western style" story lines and characters either. What Foreign anime fans want to see is just a good story with strong characters whose journey we want to follow.

From Rui at UK Anime News forums:

One for everyone (well, the UK ones at least): Have they thought about getting a batch of the Aniplex "import" releases and making them available here, or is the BBFC arrangement prohibitive? I know Beez dabbled in this in the early days of Gundam Unicorn, but awareness was low. It would be interesting if Kaze could do this kind of thing from France, as it's a bit silly that I'm effectively importing a Japanese import from the US each time now just to show my market exists. And Kaze often has nice, shiny things at Expo.

I suggested it, but it has been poo-pooed by my operations team as cost prohibitive. First, there is the very high cost of buying the box set from the Licensor. They don't offer much discount at all on wholesale. Second you have high shipping and insurance costs. Third, you have high duty. Then we still have to BBFC every episode and then spend more money repackaging the box set, so that it has BBFC certs on the outer packaging. Finally, the actually discs have to have BBFC certs burnt onto them at point of manufacturing, which the Licensor cannot do. Sorry! It's a big fat no. However, we do distribute Kaze's titles in the UK and they love doing deluxe packaging and collector's editions. They are EU based and ship directly into our warehouse, so I expect to see an increase in fancy editions in the future for all of you guys.

I'd like to hear Jerome talk a little about simulcasting and how they feel about cross-promoting their older catalogues with AoD.

I totally want to do that. I think it could happen. All of our digital rights along with Anchor Bay UK (our parent) are handled by Starz Digital out of the USA, so we actually get little input into the nature of the deals they do. I think you will start seeing catalogue on Netflix very soon too.

Source: Otaku News
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