Friday, July 17, 2009

Bandai Entertainment: NO MORE DUBS!

Welcome to another bad news addition of this blog! I'm your Navigator Richard J., the seething evil at the bottom of your sneakers has nothing on me.

So, as you may have heard, Bandai Entertainment has licensed Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens. Of course, they didn't license it for you dub fans out there. Just for sub fans.

Shh, Bandai doesn't want you to know they're in financial trouble and sources say they'll be under in less than two years! (Note: Those sources are the voices in my head.)

See this article for some gibberish on the subject.

I'll summarize for you with quotes (and commentary) here:

Ken Iyadomi, President of Bandai Entertainment Inc. says the DVDs will be sold exclusively at and Amazon Marketplace. (Note: This is because they'll be producing extremely small runs, so expect EVEN MORE of disc failage as they seek the least expensive producers!)

“We hope fans will support our effort to bring this series to them on the day we announced the acquisition.”

Yeah, you're not supporting me as a fan so, I won't support you!

“This is our way of answering the challenges of a changing marketplace to see how streaming episodes helps DVD and we are making both available at the same time to beat bootleggers who are hurting the industry just as much as the illegal downloaders.”

Translation: We're desperate and we're selling legal versions of the cheaper sub-only bootlegs, hope you like our subs better than that subbing group you've been watching all along!

“North American anime companies have suffered unexpected heavy returns from general market retailers in recent years but if we can sell moderate quantities exclusively online where no sales returns exist, I believe we can acquire more anime for the US market to be released in this pattern. This is a very different business model and a new challenge."

Translation: As long as the idiots at the online retailers don't start cutting back on their orders we can. . . oh shit!

Yeah, take a moment and think about this my friends. This is literally a top officer of a company saying that they will be relying on minimal sales and orders that won't be shipped back to them. Now, take a moment and ask yourself this: What's to stop Rightstuf and Amazon from simply cutting the size of their orders? What if Bandai doesn't sell "moderate quantities?" What if the online retailers go "hmm, this companies stuff isn't selling like it used to, lets cut our orders?"

What happens to Bandai Entertainment then? Well, I'm sure Mr. Iyadomi doesn't quite know since apparently he doesn't realize sales will be even less without dubs.

Of course, I know lots of people are swooning over this move! NO MORE DUB TAX!

Those fans, of course, will largely just stick to fansubs and "imports." This is the problem, catering to fans who aren't buying already. Makes sense in an insane way I guess.

Let me run down a list of things Bandai Entertainment has done wrong lately. Not couting Bandai Visual being allowed to exist since that wasn't their choice, though it damaged their brand.

First: Inconsistent dub choices. Bandai used a variety of studios for dubbing, some favored by fans some not so much. They also changed studios for several projects related to earlier ones. For instance, the use of Ocean for the Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex compilation DVDs. Not a big deal at the time but telling.

Second: DVDs that didn't work. I think we can all remember discovering multiple Bandai DVDs that just plain didn't work. I was fortunate enough to have a simple and basic enough DVD player that I didn't have most of the problems others did. However, we remember the Code Geass DVDs that wouldn't play and that's just one series. One series with many releases. Which brings me to my next point. . . .

Third: Multiple SKU releases of the same title (Note: This is why they got so many of their titles returned from retailers.) Bandai released standard editions, limited editions and even re-releases of the same series at the same time. They flooded retail shelves at a time when anime fans weren't even sure their DVDs would play! (Also remember that the Geneon Panic was going on not too long ago.)

Fourth: LE items people didn't want. Lucky Star comes to mind instantly. Now, I bought the Lucky Star LEs because I wanted the CDs and the crayon art covers. (Wow, I got screwed in the end didn't I? No volume 6 LE at all! Thanks Bandai!) The T-shirts were horrible. I have yet to see anyone who liked the T-shirts.

And all of these things are only related to DVD releases. Behind the scenes, we know they had to absorb the financial problems of Bandai Visual when the two were merged and that Bandai in Japan is in trouble. (Note the creation of a specific department at the parent company just for Gundam. The rest of their anime will eventually cease to exist, mark my words.)

Essentially, Bandai Entertainment, in my opinion, screwed themselves and is now saying to English dub fans "screw you." Well, personally speaking, I say "no sale" to them.

Which, given the state they are in, might be a death sentence.

I admit, I'm going to be a little bit of a hypocrite and finish some English dubbed Bandai titles like Lucky Star (just volume 6, if I can't fight the urge to see it I'll DOWNLOAD the OVA! Hah! Take that Bandai!) Code Geass R2 and assorted Gundams.

I'm sad and disappointed I won't get to buy Haruhi's new episodes from them (trust me, they won't be dubbed without a TV deal unless they sold a lot better than I think they did.) I'm depressed that yet another anime company has decided to marginalize themselves.

Apparently, this dub will never talk about any anime that isn't coming out of Funimation or VIZ the way things are going. (Heck, if rumors turn out to be true, I could end up talking more about Media Blasters than Bandai Entertainment! How twisted is that?)

Well, that's it for this ranting rant of rantiness edition of Blog of a Heritcal Dub Lover. Let me know what you thought of my thoughts and if you think I'm being too harsh or not harsh enough. (Before anyone starts crying "niche is niche and must be sub-only, I point you toward Funimation. You just try and tell me Sasami Magical Girls Club is mainstream.)



  1. I agree with this post overall. You made a lot of great points about Bandai, and I have felt nothing but frustration towards them the past few days.

    Now I watch all my anime dubbed as long as they are available. I do think there are some anime titles obscure enough out there that dubbing them would be a waste of time and money, but there aren't that many series I would give that designation to. Most series, in my opinion, deserve a good dub, and I think that when you don't want to dub something, even if its just a niche series, you are just going to hurt sells in the end.

    One reason I think Bandai is failing is because of their release of shows. I like Lucky Star, quite a bit. However, I just don't see me spending $20+ on a dvd with just 4 episodes on it. With that making a 6 dvd release for the show, it will make the series easily over $120, not including taxes. If they would just release full or half season sets at a smaller price per episode, then we can talk purchase. In a time of a bad economy and cutbacks, spending a lot on a series just isn't very justifiable.

    I wanted to watch Hayate with a dub REALLY bad, and that perhaps is what saddens me most of all. I was prepared to buy the sets, dubbed or not, but when I saw that the sets will just contain 7 episodes, without dubs, at a high price point no less, I just can't see how they can keep up with this. I was going to buy, but the price outweighed my fan support. If it were dubbed, I would most certainly reconsider.

    Now that I see another niche series getting a sub-only treatment, it worries me. Will Haruhi 2009 be subbed only? (I hope not, but with Endless Eight, I almost wouldn't blame them) Will another niche series get the same thing? (If they get Toradora!, I will not forgive them) By abandoning a fanbase, no matter how small, they will be hurting sells. Last time I checked on their website, subs and dubs were near 50/50 on their poll, so it will hurt.

    Yeah, this may work for Bandai as far as the short term is concerned, but in the long run, I think it will be a tactic that will end up costing them in the end. They lost several purchases from me, and I am sure they are not alone.

    Sorry for the long comment/rant ^.^ Your post was good, and I am glad I don't feel alone in this. Its good to see some arguments that have more thought put into them than just "WAH! ME WANT DUBS PLZ!". I appreciate that!

  2. Heh, don't worry about the length of your comment. I rambled for quite a while myself. There's a considerable amount of rumor and insider chatter right now that strongly suggests a total pull out by Bandai Entertainment from the R1 market.

    Sadly, I believe that an English dub is now dependent on a TV deal.

  3. Agh, Bandai Entertainment, that's one company that I'm, for lack of a better term, very tsundere towards.

    Seriously, I really dislike how they're skimping out on dubs, yet I buy their stuff anyway. I already have the first volumes of Kannagi and Hayate the Combat Butler on my shelf.

    I really do wish they both had dubs though...

  4. "This is because they'll be producing extremely small runs, so expect EVEN MORE of disc failage as they seek the least expensive producers!"

    Nightjar, who is famous for amazing quality discs, is considered bad authoring/replication? I guess I need to get rid of most of my excellent quality Geneon discs.

    Richard, just so you know and I'm not the only one who shares the sentiments. The day Bandai Entertainment, ADV Films and Nozomi Entertainment fold, I will move to another hobby. Why? I've been an anime fan since 1997, my fandom started with Bandai and ADV. It will most definitely end there too.

    I'm ultimately saving money in this harsh environment, so sub-only releases are my way to go OR if Funimation lowers MSRP to better compete with Bandai, ADV and Nozomi -- I'll likely buy more from them. Instead of $59.98 MSRP, how about $49.98 or $39.98, now that would make Funimation a bit more tempting to buy from in RightStuf studio sales as it would make it only $24-30 for 13 episodes, which would put it on par with ADV, Bandai and Nozomi.

    Bandai Entertainment is far from done, for all intents and purposes, Kannagi has done well and Hayate is doing well. I've seen Nielson Videoscan numbers for Hayate and despite people whining online, its doing pretty well for a sub-only release. They still have Gundam 00 and Geass to keep them afloat for another year. I don't see Namco-Bandai pulling the plug on Bandai Entertainment period. Don't forget they could still unleash Haruhi (which would get a dub regardless given how good it sold) once again to the unsuspecting market.