Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Begins Not A Bang, But A Big Ol' WTF

So at this point I'm moving into my new place bit by bit, replacing all the furniture and housewares and personal care products I'd grown to take for granted over the years. It's the little things, you know? Like dental floss and butter and KY jelly that you really miss when it's gone. Also, you miss guaranteed parking. Piss and balls, do I miss guaranteed parking...

I'm also working well over 40 hours a week at my new totally legit gig, and while I can't give up too many details, what I can say is this: I'm working day in and day out with video of all kinds both for big studios and fledgling independents, working on that wide variety of content in tandem with a lot of really awesome people. It's not at all a waste of the skills I've cultivated over the last few years, and best of all it focuses on the few areas of the film delivery industry I have a feeling are going to stick around for the next decade. I really can't thank them enough for having given me the opportunity to show them what I can do when given the chance, and I can say without the least bit of hesitation that I genuinely like my job. Between that, the missus and this bitchin' new one bedroom pad, I honestly don't think I could ask for too much more in life.

As I've said in the past I don't plan to give up the Kentai's Films and I hope to have a review for a title very near and dear to my heart ready in the next week or two, but for the moment my days are spent turning my empty apartment into a home. I can't even remember the last time I watched a movie, so don't fret that I haven't had time to write about 'em, either... I'll get back to that soon enough, I promise.

Now, what else has been going on in the last few weeks? Here are some of the more interesting highlights, at least from my point of view...

Megaupload: The owner was arrested in New Zeland as is being, last I read at least, extradited to these United States on the behalf of "copyright holders". I've mostly tried to avoid all of the SOPA/PIPA nonsense since it's all too vague and political for my tastes - but this is evidence that it doesn't fucking matter anyway; despite The Internet as we know it being policed solely by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act - which, despite the name, isn't the fourth part of the Stieg Larsen trilogy...), that still, apparently, gives the US Government the right to destroy an entire web service and extradite said service's CEO despite the fact that the guys running the service aren't actually posting anything illegal themselves. We're already living in 1984, as you probably all suspected beneath your stylish foil doo rags, it was just a question of how long it took before Big Brother decided to openly cock-slap someone.

Also, there are websites that claim to be "The NEW Megaupload!" Don't trust it; at best it's some desperate scabs trying to rape your Paypal account before folding. At worst, it's the MPAA loggin' your IPs with the express purpose of buttfucking you for downloading a copy of goddamned A Dangerous Method you can't find in a theater anywhere nearby, and the newest episode of Family Guy you can watch for free on fucking Hulu anyway. This is a super big deal for everyone within earshot, and I'll just remind all friends of the Kentai Blog to do whatever they do safely and smartly; in other words don't put up links to full episodes for everyone to see, ya goddamn goofball.

Bandai Entertainment: Despite being profitable after some 15 years in the North American home video industry, their overlords at Bandai Co., Ltd in Japan crunched some beans and realized they were one of the three least profitable parts of the company umbrella. Unlike Geneon's closing a few years ago the licenses still exist for the time being... they just, uh, aren't going to press any more copies of anything. Whatever's out in the wild now is all there ever will be, so if you desperately need that Mobile Suit Gundam OO: The Movie Blu-ray or the The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan DVD specials, this is probably the time to stockpile that stuff.

It's weird that I don't own many Bandai titles. Granted they've had all sorts of QC issues over the years, but when they gave a goddamn and weren't stiffed with 10 year old masters the results were typically pretty damned good. I have little doubt that FUNimation will pick their bones clean of the moderately-marketable marrow once those titles all lapse, so while I could see a S.A.V.E edition of Code Geass R2 being a thing down the line, I wouldn't get my hopes too high for ever seeing Dan-Doh! on DVD again.

Media Blasters: Down but not quite out, the regular mustache-twirling villain handling so many of Kentais most favorite Films has downsized from 15 regular employees to 6. This news came a day or two prior to them announcing several new licenses, but odds are those contracts have been in negotiations for far longer than the week between this little chestnut and, say, the announcement that Fushigi Yuugi and Gamera the Brave were on tap for an American re-release for the hundreds of people who already give a shit.

I have a very bittersweet reaction to all of this. I feel bad for the employees who have just gone from a regular paycheck to crossing their fingers and HOPING Sirabella calls them, someday, with a project he can't slap together on his own for a fraction of what their monthly salary might have been. It's a frustrating way to live, and it's exactly why I moved about 3,000 miles to be where I am today: stable, regular income. For those people, I feel bad. For the people calling the shots at Media Blasters and letting terrible product leave with their name all over it, I don't feel particularly poor in the slightest.

FUNimation vs ADV Films: Whoa, what? TEXAS BRAWL IN THE ANIME HALL!!

FUNimation bought themselves out from Navarre's thumb last year to the tune of $24 million, and is now suing ADV's former management over $8 million in debt they basically inherited from Sojitz, the Japanese company that gave ADV 30 titles which all later went to FUNimation once it became clear that ADV could no longer pay their bills. Once that happened, ADV kinda... well, it's complicated, but the short version is they sold off all of their assets (including their own, non-Sojitz related titles) below market value back to themselves and left ADV itself to die like an amputated limb. Sentai Filmworks, Section 23 and a host of their sublabels were basically "Neo ADV" - same folks and same business model, but with a fancy new logo! - but ADV as a company recently surfaced anew to try and sue Gainax over the rights to the live action Evangelion movie, so what's good for the honking and suing goose is, I suppose, good for the shell game playing gander.

What I find fascinating about this one is how the majority of the anime fandom in North America have basically said "Bad FUNi! How dare you bully our old friends and demand money they didn't originally owe you to start with?" FUNimation is suing for money that's a third of their current worth - it's not like ADV just owed them burgers and six pack or something. This is especially galling when you factor in that ADV's reply cites the statute of limitations as a reason not to pay! They aren't saying "Come on guy, you know we good!", they're admitting they owe the money but are claiming that it doesn't matter because they took to long to demand it. This all gets even more complicated by the fact that FUNi's demanding a trial by jury - something that's usually reserved for cases where the contracts are pretty flimsy to start with.

Smore Entertainment: Rhino Records just bought the rights to Galaxy Express 999 TV and Bo^7 and are promising a "complete" DVD release for each. How fucking awesome is that? I seriously thought it was some weird April Fools joke, but nah, it's legit: The US anime market has become such a wasteland devoid of profit that Toei would probably sell you the rights to Space Captain Harlock and Futari wa Precure for any miniscule percentage of actual sales, so long as you promised not to rape them after the meeting, too.

IFC: Promises the Feb. 14th Blu-ray release of The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence] will be the "Unrated Director's Cut". Keep in mind that the version cut by 3 minutes was never rated either, so while I'd certainly love to find uncensored penis-mutilation at my local Target, I'm not sure what to make of all this... guess we'll find out soon enough. It's not like we don't have uncut screeners and the like floating around already should anyone decide to check the film out before release.


LoBo said...

Good to see you back. Did you know that the Blu-ray of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky was released earlier this month?

It can be bought here:

I can only find this review:

But, no screenshots to compare.

Kentai 拳態 said...

All too aware, friend. I'll get to that soon enough, I promise you.

Balun's Ghost said...

I just ordered a copy so I hope it doesn't suck.

Kentai 拳態 said...

Yeah, I finally got impatient and ordered a copy too... I'm not expecting much, but it can't be any worse than the "HD Remastered" Fortune Star DVD.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Good timing on this post: I came here to ask you about some Bandai BD releases, ha.

Was wondering about Gunbuster and Diebuster. From what I can gather, they're movie versions shortened from OVA series, but is it just old animation reedited, or was new stuff added? I don't know anything about the series, but I was thinking of picking up some more Bandai/Honneamise BDs before they go for ridiculously high prices like the Jin-Roh BD (crying so hard I don't own that), so I was wondering your thoughts on that, and if I should maybe seek out the box set containing both movies. (It's cheaper to get each movie separately, but I don't know if the combo pack has something exclusive.)

Kentai 拳態 said...

GUNBUSTER: THE MOVIE doesn't feature any new footage, except for a slightly re-animated credit sequencee leading into an intermission. I can't stress enough what a masterpiece the 6 part OVA is, but "The Movie" has some really clumsy editing choices and skips a lot of the character building scenes from the first 2 episodes that help make the show such an emotionally satisfying experiment. Episode 5 and 6 are left almost totally intact, though, and those episodes are pure greatness on a goddamn cracker.

DIEBUSTER: THE MOVIE compresses episodes 2-3 down into an incredibly brief montage and adds a short bookending sequence as Nono writes a letter from space. The transition here is much less clumsy, though again, there isn't much to get excited for other than superior audio/video to the DVD (and it's an upscale, at that).

The box set, aside from having a lovely chipboard slipcase and a fold-out poster detailing the timeline of the "Aim for the Top!" universe, includes a third bonus disc including all new staff interviews which are available with English subtitles. I can't tell you how many times I picked up the set at my local Best Buy and put it back down, a decision I only regret now because I CAN'T make that choice. The US/UK edition has English translated booklets, but is otherwise identical to the JP set.

There was also a Limited Edition release with flashcards detailing the Buster Machine's hardware and some awesome PVC figures of Noriko and Nono... sadly, much like JIN-ROH that was a pre-order only affair, so if you don't have it now, you likely never will.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Hmm... I may have to pass on this, then. I heard Bandai were doing a Blu-ray for the series with transfers supervised by Gainax, but it doesn't look like that'll ever see US shores. Is the US branch of Bandai done for good, or just scaled back? Either way I'm guessing we won't see any more new releases.

Are the movie versions taken from the same OVA series, or are there two separate series?

Lastly: Y'heard anything new about the Urotsukidoji OVA DVD collection? I think it was Media Blasters handling that, which probably means it'll take years to come out if ever. I've been holding out, hoping I don't have to shell out for the Perfect Collection from a while back.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Oh, one more thing: What do you know about the Sonic the Hedgehog OVA? Is the movie version released here just the two parts squished together, or is footage missing? That'll be the deciding factor on whether I plunk down fifty bucks for the 2004 DVD (grumble, grumble) or just watch the flick on YouTube and hope for a better release someday.

IMDb says the two parts make 106 minutes, while the movie version is 90.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

...But wait, the movie version's only 60 minutes (or under), so wtf imdb get yo chit togetha.

If you can confirm whether or not anything's missing from the movie version, if it doesn't, I'll bite on the DVD. I've been wanting to see this since it came out in Japan (read about it in a GameFan magazine).

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