Saturday, April 28, 2012

Negative Positives?

Recently the "Uncut" Blu-ray version of Yasuomi UMETSU's masterpiece, A-KITE/カイト, was removed completely from the RightStuf website. I had half assumed that was the end of it... but no, this tale of intrigue and horror is only getting started.

Media Blasters has seemingly abandoned all future Shriek Show releases (despite having solicited Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and said that Zombi 3 and After Death were on their way), canceled* the second half of Bakuman, relinquished the rights to The Record of Lodoss War, and having already said that they would "be dubbing the rest of Queen's Blade", the announcement that Sentai Filmworks now owns the rights to Queen's Blade Rebellion suggests that CEO and public voice John Sirabella is finally so far out of his depth that he's spouting off nonsense that in no way reflects reality, instead of the usual incomprehensible mix of honest misunderstandings and bullshit half-truths.

It's with the following information firmly in mind that I'm going to repeat the following exchange from the Media Blasters facebook page:

Q: Has the uncut Blu-ray of Kite been cancelled, or just delayed? Also, is the Blu-ray an upscale or was it actually re-scanned in hi-def?

MB: Not cancelled at all. Just got the negative in from Japan. We are doing the transfer ourselves here in the states as they just felt in Japan not worth it for them.

Q: I pre-ordered the Kite Blu-Ray (which I assume will be the 45mins R-Rated cut). Umm...Can you guesstimate if I'm going to be getting this in the next month or so (amazon says it should be shipping in the next 4 days)?

MB: Good question. We will have the footage for the Uncut so we will release both versions. The one under AW is the cut one. it possible to have a ragegasm? Ignoring the fact that they've completely ignored the "when" part of the latter question, the suggestion that Media Blasters literally owns the original camera negative turns my stomach.

On the one hand, this isn't all bad news. The last time Media Blasters did their own HD transfer from an actual 35mm print it was for Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend, and that was QUITE THE CLUSTERFUCK. Media Blasters had the seemingly legitimate excuse of having had to scrounge around for elements until all they could come up with was a battered and censored UK release print, which was about two steps removed from belonging in a dumpster behind 42nd Street circa 1981. If they do have the camera negative on hand, it'd be almost impossible to fuck up; there's no reason A-Kite wouldn't have been edited on film, sans the original credits+. If what Sirabella's said is true, that means all he has to do is pick a competent film lab and it's done.

But would the Japanese licensor really hand over the original negative? I'm honestly not certain. Green Bunny was the adult anime production wing of Happinet Pictures, a Japanese subsidiary of Bandai/Namco Holdings, and Happinet released the 2007 Premium Version of A-Kite and Umetsu's follow-up Mezzo Forte before quietly dumping most of their remaining porn off at Pink Pineapple's door to release as bargain bin titles... well, at least as bargain bin as Japanese adult animation tends to get. I don't doubt that Happinet sees little point in doing a new scan of a 12 year old title for Blu-ray when contemporary hits always sell dramatically better than "old" content, and if they're not willing to send the negative out to a film lab to start with, it isn't unthinkable that they made Sirabella a substantial offer to essentially be the new international licensor for the series - they're done with it, after all, and since John Sirabella literally paid out of pocket to have that incredibly disappointing Kite Liberator sequel made - a sad fact that makes me grin to this very day - I would imagine he had no complaints.

Media Blasters is best described as "inconsistent", pumping out fantastic HD transfers one minute and shitty SD upscales the next. The only constant has been that their releases have been phenomenal when they were handed a perfect HD master from the start. Titles like Crows Zero, Queen's Blade and Mazinkaizer SKL were all fantastic because they were basically just copies of the Japanese Blu-rays. Truth be told suspect they were actual 1:1 copies of the Japanese encodes with the English audio and subtitle options muxed in after the fact, and that's fine by me; if the results kick ass I could care less if you're skipping the middle man. When they have to scramble for transfers themselves, well... that's when you get shit like Versus, Zombie Holocaust and The Machine Girl (lulz). Occasionally they manage a competent release, like Devil Dog or their own Flesh for the Beast, but more often than not you get something like Burial Ground or fucking Urotsukidoji.

I'm sick of Media Blasters' very existance... but I do love A-Kite. Love the fuck right out of it. If Sirabella pockets my money for a new HD scan, so be it. I just don't want him to expect me to give it anything but a fair treatment.

* Well, officially, it's just "delayed indefinitely". From what I hear, DO NOT hold your breath on this one getting a complete US release..

+ On second thought, the credits being video generated does give me pause to wonder if this would have actually been an A/B roll affair - in which case we could, potentially, have yet another Burial Ground level clusterfuck of lost frames on our hands. Still, all we can do now is take a deep breath and wait...

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tentacle Master

Sorry, Abel Ferrara.
You are officially no longer the best person alive to stick a camera at.

I've already got passes for a convention in late June finagled out, but I might have to make a trip if it means I can get Toshio MAEDA himself to sign my UROTSUKIDOJI LD BOX... assuming it survived the trip in one piece, anyway. I've honestly been too scared that it didn't to crack open the box and look.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kadokawa: Available In Stunning Low Definition

PANTY & STOCKING (With Garterbelt) was one of the most surprising and legitimately funny shows on Japanese TV I can remember appearing in the last few years. It took the aesthetic, timing and general raison d'etre of flat, ugly Cartoon Network shows and combined them with fetishized nose-picking,giant turd monsters and an episode that finally realized Johnen Vasquez' dream of  an entire episode in which the camera never once leaves the show's protagonists, who are sitting on their asses and doing nothing of consequence in their boring old living room. In short, the show was proof positive that Gainax still has something to give the world, and even if the blocky, flat art style makes your guts bunch up into your throat, you're doing yourself quite a disservice by not giving it a try.

FUNimation was all over that like fatties on free cake, and announced from the start that it would be a DVD+Blu-ray combo set, like... pretty much everything they've released in the last two or three years. They said that this was true as of three weeks ago, as well, but a troubling new turn of events has changed the likelyhood of that still being the case. Assuming the show gets released by the end of Summer, which FUNi had also said was their current plan.

Remember Sora no Otoshimono, the show about a pervy kid who gets a discarded cyborg angel with magical powers, and is mostly notable for the episode in which all panties come to life and fly away like flocks of birds? Anyway, the first series (released as "Heaven's Lost Property" in the English speaking world) was a typical FUNimation DVD + Blu-ray 'Combo' set, available with a shiny chipboard Artbox for the first press, and then in a regular ol' keepcase for the second pressing. The show's sequel/second season, Sora no Otoshimono Forte, was announced as a DVD + BD set... but the final release is DVD only. This is evidently a new policy from Kadokawa - one that hasn't been "officially" announced, just mentioned in passing after hours at conventions - in which no US release can include a Blu-ray if it's released during the same calendar year as the last volume of the Japanese BD sets. The rumblings suggest a 12 month grace period between the final Japanese Blu-ray single and the American box set, unless the American release is also released in hideously overpriced single discs... which, for those keeping score, American consumers, and yes, even the crazy anime people, gave up on the absolute second they were offered the "Complete Series" option.

Granted, Justin Sevakis' recent three-part article The Economy of Anime has pointed out, the money actually pulled in by the Japanese end on these bargain-priced North American box sets is a literal fraction of the money made by thise obscenely-expensive Japanese releases, and with Blu-ray having decided that Japan and the United States are officially in the same region, it's made the number crunchers at Kadokawa even more paranoid than usual that the Japanese fans will simply wait a few months for the US "Import" and spend a pittance to get, essentially, the same content.

Yes, that's right: The DVD-only box is still, fucking, BLUE.
I swear, they do stuff like this just to piss me off...

Kadokawa can officially choke on a dick over this policy, but they aren't alone; despite FUNimation having previously negotiated with Toei for the "HD Rights" for One Piece S4, the plans have since been changed to be a DVD only release. Even at the full $70 MSRP (which, let's face it, neither you nor I have ever once paid) these US "complete" box sets typically sell for about 1/6th the retail price Japanese consumers pay for their half-dozen or so individual volumes, and as sales for home media continue to dwindle world wide as consumers march towards a combination of streaming and apathy and pirates decide that Very Good HD downloads are "good enough" when faced with the option of selling a kidney just to afford a second season of Strike Witches - and yes, that's over $450 the less-expensive re-release of 5 hours of content - it seems that at least some of Japan's most powerful licensors might finally be putting the breaks on what it considers an already next to worthless profit margin... keeping the North American market in check at least until they're sure they've squeezed their home audience for every last yen.

Maybe Panty & Stocking will be a DVD + BD Combo set. Or maybe we'll get a limited DVD followed by a Blu-ray in a less-fancy box several months down the line.  [UPDATE: It's official now - JP extras and an art box, yes. Blu-ray... no.] Now I do generally like FUNimation's chipboard Limited Edition box sets, but I can tell you right now that my interest in buying a show that already has an HD master has dropped to nothing; if the Japanese release was an upscale anyway or it's a title that hasn't had a new telecine made in 20 years anywhere in the world, I'll consider an SD release... it's not something I take lightly or enjoy doing, but I'll make the odd exception when I'm convinced it's the only legit home video release we're ever going to see before home video ceases to even be a thing. Waiting a year doesn't sound so awful, but every week that passes my interest and memory start to fade - I'm getting old, you see, always sore in places and cranky in the evening and requiring bran to poop regularly... the only upside to this is the fact that I only grow more patient as time goes on, and if that's how Kadokawa wants to play, hell, I'll play the waiting game...

Still, for a show like this that aired in 1080i and already has gorgeous Japanese 1080p Blu-ray release - the last of which comes out next month? Bitch, you must be trippin'. I'd rather spend $50 on a figure or an artbook than a DVD. It's not about the money, either - it's about the fact that I want to buy titles in the best quality possible, and buying a DVD when I can download a high quality Blu-ray rip is literally a waste to me.

Sorry FUNimation. I know this wasn't your bright idea, but going forward for you it's Blu-ray or the highway... maybe if Kadokawa sees the numbers on their DVD only sets drop hard and fast, they'll reconsider. Home media is a market we're already watching slowly march to its death, but the market for Blu-ray has steadily increased as the market for DVD has only gotten smaller, so this is like taking the very market's cane away and then giving it a good swift kick in the pills for good measure. When those two shifting paradigms finally meet in the middle, the notion of mass-market releases will essentially be over... but hey, don't worry too much about it. We'll all be there sooner than I think any of us realize.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bo-Bobo vs Tersurou

This Guy Looks Legit To Me.

S'more Entertainment was a fascinating oddity in the landscape of the dying R1 anime market, pulling itself up from the afterbirth of Rhino Entertainment with two titles I never figured would see a complete North American DVD release; the original GALAXY EXPRESS 999/銀河鉄道999 TV series, and BOBOBO-BO BO-BOBO/ボボボーボ・ボーボボ - the latter occasionally known as "Bo^7". Brows were raised when it was announced that 38 episodes of the latter would be squeezed onto 4 discs, but they promised a complete and bilingual release, so the fact that there were literally 10 episodes per disc seemed like a drop in the bucket to most fans who actually wanted either of these shows.

Now that Bobobo is actually in customers hands, there's one vital element for any foreign series missing; the goddamn subtitles. Lemme quote S'more on this one, since if I don't you probably won't believe me anyway...

It appears there are some issues and confusion over the fact the packaging on “Bobobo…”alluded to the fact the episodes were viewable in English or Japanese with English sub-titles. This was an error on our part that wasn’t caught by anyone here and more importantly, not caught by anyone at TOEI who went over the package design with a fine tooth comb. The episodes can be watched in either Japanese or English language only but rest assured, there was no intent on our or TOEI’s part to mislead the fans.

All 70 plus episodes of the series were never available in a sub-titled format (I understand a small number of episodes were sub-titled in a previous DVD release) and neither TOEI or S’more could justify the cost of creating new, sub-titled versions of the series. DVD sales have plummeted to the point where most companies wouldn’t be willing to commit the money needed for packaging and authoring but we felt the series was important (and fun) enough to justify the risk.
I’ve dealt with serious fans before, starting with The Monkees, MST3K, Transformers and Battle of the Planets so I understand (and respect) their attention to details. It wasn’t our intention to mislead anyone and I’m hopeful that you and other fans will embrace the series as presented and appreciate the effort that went in to creating these packages.

The 2nd “Bobobo…” box set (that completes the series) will not have sub-titled option, the error will be fixed. On GE999, after listening to input, we will only offer the episodes in the Japanese language with sub-titles. There are no English language tracks and we will not be creating them for this release.

Wow... So, let me make sure I've got this right, it's not S'more Entertainment's fault that THEY  announced the title as having subtitles (and then never once made a public correction) - it's that dastardly Toei's fault for not fixing the box to reflect that it DIDN'T have subtitles! If nothing else you've almost gotta admire the massive stones it takes to pass a buck like that, particularly when you're catering to an audience that has an almost zero general bullshit tolerance policy.

That said... well, I'm not going to give them any grief over the rest of what they've said. As I've mentioned before, the market just isn't what it used to be, and having stayed in contact with film licensors of varying stripes, sales are downright pathetic in 2012. Licensors are surviving by the skin of their teeth, trying new strategies and increasingly crazy ideas because the old methods simply don't turn out profits like they used to. When a release comes out missing an announced bonus feature or has a couple of minor subtitle errors or the menu doesn't quite work, I don't expect a repressing anymore; they can barely afford to press that first batch, and if something doesn't work, too fucking bad, kid. I understand their plight as the market shifts towards digital streaming, and applaud them for trying to make any headway into keeping physical media alive... but that's still no excuse for lying or being too cheap to translate a show who's original language wasn't English. We're about one step away from getting a 1:1 copy of the Japanese DVD and having licensors shrug and say, "Hey, YOU already downloaded a fansub anyway. Whatcha gonna do, cry about it?"

If, at any time, S'more had said something along the lines "You get dubtitles, deal with it." I'd still be upset, but at least I'd understand - that's the scripts they were given, thus that's what we, the consumers, get... but they're actually being even shittier than that. They're flat out NOT using any scripts and are including the raw, untranslated Japanese audio as a bonus feature. Which would have been fine, I guess, if they had advertised the set that way from the start! How did we even get into this messy situation where a film licensor is looking their target audience and telling them "YOU don't spend enough money for US to treat it properly"? That's a level of transparency, nay, of visible weakness that would have been unthinkable in this industry prior, even when labels are being shut down for not making any money!

On reflection, I think I know what happened. Back in January when the announcement was made, S'more was likely getting all of the materials for the show together and saw that "English Scripts" were among them. They thought, "Awesome, subtitles!", but didn't immediately inspect them, only to inevitably confirm that they were - essentially - the approved first-drafts of the English dub scripts. Realizing their mistake and knowing they had a target release date already in place, they just shrugged it off and figured not mentioning fucking anything might somehow make the problem go away for the thousand or so consumers who have already pre-ordered... a dick move if their ever was one, but I applaud RightStuf for - upon confirming what happened - essentially putting every single order on hold, eMailing customers, and making sure they still wanted what, in effect, was a dub-only release. Shawne "The Dark Lord" Kleckner, you've had my respect for years, but this is exactly why I generally don't bother ordering anime from anywhere else*. You and yours are willing to lose money on this deal because you don't want to see your customers getting lied to, and that's awesome.

*Unless it's really, really, really cheap and you're charging close to MSRP. Sorry man, those Amazon sales are irresistible! You've already got my balls in a vice with all of those Aniplex imports, so let's just call it even?

This why for years I never, ever wanted to watch a Leiji Matsumoto series.
Seriously, is Tetsuro a potato alien or does he just have The Downs'?

But at LEAST Matsumoto's vintage TV series adaptation of The Galaxy Express Three-Nine should be fine, right? That's a show that's already available with English subtitles on various streaming and Download-To-Own platforms, so what could possibly go wrong?

Welp, according to the S'more on the Facebook, this happened;

We'll schedule GE999 once we take delivery of sub-titled masters. There has been some confusion on what elements they can provide. Best guess for initial release would be July-August.

I hope I'm misunderstanding every word in that sentence, but it... sounds like they're requesting hard-subtitled masters from Toei? They likely already have them in storage due to their slightly ridiculous plot to sell relatively low-quality download files for a few bucks an episode a coupld years back, but now these jokers aren't even going to take the time to generate optional, bog-standard DVD subtitles? What the fuck, did we hit a timewarp a couple months ago and now it's 1994 all over again?! Cripes, I guess we should be glad they aren't selling this poor beaten dog of a series on VCD...

Whether or not I was going to pick up either of these shows was up in the air to start with; Bo^7 is a marathon of lulzy bullshit best described as Shonen Jump Magazine's answer to Excel Saga, which is... kind of awesome? It's great nonsensical fun in 20 minute chunks, sure, but much like Robot Chicken I think the ADD experience would shift gears from engrossing to grating after more than an episode or two. Galaxy Express, however, I was curious about; despite still thinking that Matsumoto's drawings are on the wrong side of retarded for me to wrap my head around why people love them, the two Rintarou-helped "999" feature films are fantastic, particularly the Adieu film which is neither quite a remake nor a sequel; I've been curious if that melancholy and grim sense of facing death to grasp the value of life was the product of the director or the original creator for some time now, but if "burned in" video generated subtitles is the way the DVDs are going to be, I'll wonder a while longer.

If you want to watch Galaxy Express 999, and I hate saying this from the very core of my being... your best bet is to just watch it on Crunchy Roll. I won't link to them and give them the satisfaction, but even those "Legit Pirates" who have slowly turned the amateur world of fansubbing into the professional world of anime distribution are still smart enough to use player generated subtitles. For Bobobo, well... I think that less than inspiring S'more Entertainment DVD will be the only legal option around, for better or worse.

I don't want to cut a new studio down before they've even out of the gate. That means they don't even have the opportunity to better themselves. Rather, I want anyone who has the slightest interest in either of these shows to write them - call them, faceplace them, eMail them, send a damn carrier pigeon if that's what gets you off - and tell them not to be so fuck'n retarded. Don't SAY "fuck" or "retarded", but... you know, explain to them that no subtitles and hard-subtitles are both bad ideas and make you much less inclined to spend your money on their products, which is a shame because we want to see more older niche anime titles on DVD. I'd also rather not even think about how terrible the Bo^7 OP sequence is going to be at an average of 4,000 kb/s, but if that doesn't bother you, feel free to ignore it, you lowest common denominator YouTube watching heathen you. S'more Entertainment has the potential to be a lifeline of great things, but they're off to a shit start... with any luck they'll realize this isn't going to fly and their third announcement won't be a string of terrible ideas stuck together by a $50 per SKU price tag.

In the meantime, if you're looking for quality vintage animation, feel free to throw all of your money at Discotek/Eastern Star, and Nozomi Entertainment. The former is releasing a special edition of Golgo 13: The Professional in June, and the latter is releasing a set of the Dirty Pair features in May. Pre-order in good faith that they'll both have optional subtitles, to say nothing of a subtitled commentary track on the former and two separate English dubs on the latter... y'know, just in case you're into that.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Finally... A Serbian Film Uncut.

...needs moar, uh... I, honestly can't even tell what I'm...

Now I admit it, Invincible Pictures' own actual cover isn't quite as amazing as Jose Gabriel Angeles' original poster, but I give them props for not only releasing the film completely fucking uncut, FINALLY, but totally rolling with the "bootleg underground snuff video" vibe I myself had toyed with at one point.

So this basically proves that the "obscenity" thing was a knee-jerk reaction, though the fact that the asinine child-pornography charges against Ángel Sala - for a totally fictional film that didn't, in any way, ever harm real children - was dropped sure sounds like as good an excuse as any to admit you were being a pussy and do the right thing. As with Media Blasters and their ridiculous re-re-release of A-KITE, I'll try to focus not on the bullshit that led up to it, but the fact that they've finally corrected their boneheaded self-censorship and are letting adults choose for themselves whether or not they want to subject themselves to what, well over a year later, remains perhaps the most vile, offensive, and passionate film I can remember ever having seen.

Oh fine, here's the art it's ACTUALLY coming in. Skeezy xeroxed porn adverts and a hand-written note telling you to keep your fuck'n mouth shut may or may not be included in the brown paper wrapper, but it'll be available from their website starting April 16th. Seriously, what am I even looking at? Is that like a CD-R case glued to a piece of cardboard or something?

Don't lie to me. You love it.

There's only one problem... it's DVD-only. Having already spent the better part of $60 on the Scandinavian Blu-ray, I'm afraid they can fuck my fictional child's ass on this one.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spot Scanning Silliness

So I had a really great opportunity to see the inner-workings of one of the busiest and most respectable film labs in the country earlier this week. I won't divulge the gory details - you guys know I never do by now, sorry - but it was a lot of fun seeing the photo-chemical labs, the digital film printers, the DI theaters, film restorationists at work cleaning scratches... all the stuff I've studied from afar, and finally had a chance to see going on at the highest level with my own two eyes. I had a lot of fun, and I can only thank the new friend I've made for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to give me and the missus a tour.

There was one thing he mentioned that's stuck in my ear like an errant brainworm, though, something I'll try to paraphrase as best I can without context or having taken notes;

"This particular Telecine is a CCD scanner, so it uses different technology from the flying spot scanners over there. Yes, the CCD tech is newer, but a lot of clients don't like the 'sharpened look', and they actually request we use the CRT based machines instead. It's sort of like how some people prefer the sound of vinyl over CD, you know?"

Another thing he pointed out is the difference between "Telecine" and "Scanning". This may sound unimportant at first, but by definition a Telecine is a real-time output, typically to tape, while a Scan is typically a slower process. More importantly, scanning ALSO typically implies higher resolutions, better light output resulting in less signal noise, constant (and sometimes optically enhanced) 4-pin registration to prevent stability errors, and a higher tolerance to things like surface scratches, splice related judder, vertical artifacting, and a host of other nasty analog-to-digital issues I always seem to find and then complain about. Obviously these examples have to be taken for the propaganda that they are, but Lasergraphics has some fairly convincing arguments for 11fps scanning being far preferable to real-time 24fps telecine, even when using the same basic CCD technology.

So every "New" HD transfer made in the last couple years is a 'scan', right? Nope, not even when it comes to brand new productions that were clearly put together on a Digital Intermediate. There's technically nothing stopping a content provider from requesting a real-time telecine and then having that HD video converted back to DPX images for a Digital Intermediate editing workflow... which is exactly what some providers do. And I know they do because I've spoken to the guys actually in charge of restoring those materials - though, admittedly, that's another guy entirely. Keep in mind this miniature revalation was from the mouth of a guy working at a world famous lab that caters to some of Hollywood's biggest studios - if they have a sliding scale on how 'good' your films can look based on how much time you want to take and money you want to spend, perhaps it's not especially surprising that small, independent labs can't always push out "A+" efforts with decade old hardware.

I was also thrilled to hear a colorist use the word "Intent" when discussing how they go about their job when there's no real point of reference worth mentioning. Absolutely everything they do is approved by someone given the full authority to approve or deny the process, but when extensive restoration is required, a new transfer might take several weeks, or even months. Suddenly, the "Director Approved" banner takes a proper context; unless they're OCD control freaks with literally nothing better to do they basically watch the first draft, give the colorist some notes, get back to work and then come back in whenever those notes have been followed. They may come back a few times to ensure that everything's fine, but hey, when you're still working on new projects how anal are you going to be about something you made 30 years ago? This explains how we have masterpiece transfers like The Evil Dead and Taxi Driver, weak entries like Dracula and Suspiria, and everything else in between - sometimes even great transfers destroyed by their creators, like The French Connection, or to a lesser degree The Holy Mountain.

That all doesn't make shoddy work acceptable, but it's still good to know HOW it happens anyway. A proper restoration isn't unattainable for any film with a surviving camera negative, it just requires properly maintained and high quality hardware, a staff that knows what they're doing, and a budget to fuel the both of them and keep them focused on doing the best they can with the best they have. Knowing that some directors or producers literally shoot themselves in the foot by using lower quality methods honestly makes my head spin, but... I guess that's all a part of the approval process, isn't it? 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Guts Returns to America Thanks To...

Wait, for real? Viz Fucking Media?!

That's right Puck! The otaku's best friend ever, Viz Media, now owns the US distribution rights for the new BERSERK CG anime features I'm simultaneously dreading and realizing I can't escape from. Viz Media has something of a working relationship with Warner Brothers Japan, and with Viz having been the distributors for both the live action Death Note and Gantz features, this news is only shocking in the sense that the news isn't "FUNimation now owns the entire mainstream US anime market". Target date for the first film us Fall of 2012, which seeing as how the second film hasn't even hit Japanese theaters places us slightly less than a year behind Japan. Not a bad potential turn-around, at least when you consider we got the TV series a good five years after it started airing.

Some of you may know Viz Media as "the company that keeps releasing Naruto and Bleach singles even though it's goddamn 2012". You'd be correct, sir or madam. Others more familiar might remember them as "Those pricks who refuse to release the final half of Monster and Nana, even though the dubs are finished and literally all they have to do is press the stupid things." Also true!  At least one of you is also probably thinking "JESUS CHRIST! Didn't those mongoloids announce Inu-Yasha: The Final Chapter back in '09?!" Once more, positively correct... though the idea that anyone regularly reading my blog gives the slightest shit about anything Takahashi's done in the last decade just doesn't add up. If you still have a boner for Lum left over from the early 90s or something I guess that's fine, but the fact that a "final" 52 episode run of Inu-Yasha even exists, much less got licensed several years after the [adult swim] gravy train had drowned in a sea of flash cartoons, is nothing short of confusing.

But in short, yes, Viz is pretty fucking awful as a licensor and the only reason they still exist is because they're an appendix of ShoPro once removed, one of the largest comic conglomerates in Japan. Viz continues to have access to properties that are licenses to print money, and if they happen to handle something that DOESN'T generate cash they just... kind of stop doing it. It's a little hard to blame that mentality on them when the market is in such a violent state of upheval and change, but nothing says "Fuck You!" to an unwashed media collecting otaku masses (rare as we've all become) like literally getting 2/3 of the way through their favorite show of the year, and then just shrugging it off and telling them to watch the rest on Hulu+ or Crunchyroll or... something that isn't a third DVD box like the other two sets you already paid for.

To Viz' failing credit, there isn't anything especially wrong with their treatment of the Death Note or Gantz live action films, and I imagine Berserk is seen as a property of a similar caliber. True, in former case they're the slightly shorter Theatrical versions, but this is a pretty common issue with Japanese live action films in the 21st century and hardly something we can blame Viz for. With these precedents in place, odds are we'll get a special edition Blu-ray and maybe even a dubbed theatrical release, so for all the snarling and wincing I did when I saw the name, I doubt we have much to worry about...

...well, other than the potential crushing disappointment of the films themselves, anyway.

By the by, here's the trailer for the second part of the trilogy, which... does look substantially more exciting than the previews for the first. Still not digging the clunky CG horses or some of the awkward, PS2-esque fight scenes in general, but if these films keep me up to my eyeballs in related Figma debt, I guess they get a pass.