Taking a Look Back at Now Defunct Anime Distributors and Publications

During my time writing about anime at BellaOnline, two anime distributors and two anime publications went out of business. I wrote articles about these publications and distributors at the time for the site. I have decided to compile edited versions of the four pieces here to share a brief history for these publications and distributors that once played an important role in the anime and manga industry that we enjoy today.

Geneon USA

Geneon Entertainment, Inc., a Japanese anime and distribution enterprise, was previously known as Pioneer Entertainment. The North American branch specialized in translating and distributing anime and related merchandise. The company was acquired by Dentsu in July 2003, and renamed Geneon Entertainment, Inc.

On August 24, 2007, a press release stated that ADV Films would handle distribution, marketing, and sales of Geneon products on October 1, 2007. It was also said that Geneon would still be able to acquire, license, and produce anime in North America. In the process of preparing for the merger, Geneon USA laid off much of its sales and marketing teams. However, on September 20, 2007, the Anime News Network website published a report saying that the distribution deal between ADV Films and Geneon had been cancelled.

On September 21, 2007, Dentsu issued a press release confirming the breakdown of the deal with ADV Films. No other details were given, except that ADV Films and Geneon were “unable to reach a mutual agreement.” Also, the press release stated that, “from October 1, 2007, Geneon USA will focus mainly on management of its works portfolio.”

On September 26, 2007, the U.S. branch of Geneon announced they were withdrawing from distribution in North America and cancelling all DVD releases for the United States market after November 6, 2007. Also, the company said it would cease “the sales of DVDs and all related distribution and marketing operations as of 5 p.m. on Friday, September 28, 2007.” Another provision stated in the letter sent to retailers explained that no more returns would be accepted after 5:00 p.m. on November 30, 2007, and new orders after September 21, 2007 could not be returned at all. The letter to retailers did not address the issue of the future availability of titles or Geneon USA’s future production plans. However, the company cited the termination of the merger with ADV Films as the reason for these changes.

On October 6, 2007, Eiji Orii, Geneon Entertainment (USA)’s President and CEO, wrote a letter to the fans to address concerns and issues e-mailed to the company and posted to various Internet message boards. Mr. Orii explained that the company was exploring all available options to continue distributing Geneon titles at a later date. He also said that the company would release more information to the public “once we have any concrete plans, if any.” At the same time, the company announced the closure of Geneon Spot, their official online fan club.

Newtype USA

The February 2008 issue was the final issue of Newtype USA that A.D. Vision (ADV) released. A new magazine called PiQ was launched in March 2008 to replace Newtype USA. However, this publication shut down after the publication of the July 2008 issue. When PiQ was published, it covered anime, manga, video games, and other aspects of pop culture.

After initially being linked to Digital Manga, A.D. Vision launched Newtype USA at Anime Expo 2002 with issue 0. The first regular issue of Newtype USA was the November 2002 issue. When all was said and done, a total of 65 issues of Newtype USA were published.

A.D. Vision licensed Newtype USA from Kadokawa Shoten, the publisher of the original Newtype Magazine. In Japan, Newtype has been in publication since 1985, with its first issue released in March 1985. The original magazine is named after the Newtype evolution of humans in the Gundam franchise. Newtype USA‘s circulation was estimated to be around 50,000 to 70,000 copies per month.

It was pointed out by some Newtype USA subscribers that Geneon Entertainment had advertised quite heavily in the magazine. So there was speculation by some fans on the Internet that Geneon Entertainment’s ceasing to distribute anime in the United States helped to bring about A.D. Vision’s decision to shut down Newtype USA.

Unfortunately, I think that Newtype USA was hurt by a couple of things. First, at the time the magazine ceased publication, the anime bubble had already burst. Also, print publications have lost ground in recent years to online publications that are available on the Internet.

Anime Insider

On March 26, 2009, Rob Bricken, a former editor for Anime Insider magazine, reported that Wizard Entertainment has ceased publishing the periodical after eight years. He also stated that the editorial staff had been laid off.

Anime Insider began as a quarterly publication called Anime Invasion and was published in this incarnation from Fall 2001 until Fall 2002. The publication became a bi-monthly magazine in November 2002, and the name was changed to Anime Insider in April 2003 in order to avoid trademark infringement. In July of 2005, Anime Insider became a monthly magazine, and it continued on a monthly publication schedule until March of 2009. During the winter of 2007, the cover price was dropped to $4.99 in the United States and $5.99 in Canada. And after the demise of NewType USA in early 2008, Anime Insider was cited as the English-language anime magazine that had the highest distribution and sales in North America.

Anime Insider‘s news section covered the events and trends for both the anime and manga industries. News that was covered included licensing announcements, expected releases, and lists of upcoming conventions. There were also news headlines for anime, manga, video games, and Japanese culture. As part of their anime coverage, Anime Insider would highlight a popular anime property debuting in North America, as well as an anime series currently airing in Japan.

The magazine’s DVD section would include such things as information about domestic DVD sales, interviews with voice actors, new release recommendations, and information on Japanese releases. The Theatrical section focused on the theatrical releases of anime and other films produced in Japan. The Stuff section focused on anime merchandise, anime figurines, and collectable card games.

Manga received some coverage as well. Each month, a preview of a new manga title being released in the United States was included, and this would usually be a chapter from an upcoming volume. The Manga section of the magazine included a list of English releases and publishing news. Often, comparisons of a title’s manga and anime versions would be included in this section. New manga recommendations and information about manga not available in English would also be found here.

Animail contained all the reader contributed material. Letters from readers were answered in this section. Reader comments, web poll results, and fan art were also included.

The 67th issue of Anime Insider was the final issue of the magazine.

Central Park Media

On April 27, 2009, it was announced that New York-based anime distributor Central Park Media had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and owed $1.2 million to the company’s creditors.

However, this was not the first time Central Park Media had experienced financial difficulties. In 2006, the company laid off many of its employees. With these layoffs, rumors swirled that Central Park Media was planning to declare bankruptcy. These rumors were supported by a statement made by a Central Park Media representative at the Anime Boston convention. The company’s managing editor issued a statement at that time that acknowledged the layoffs, and cited creditor problems following the bankruptcy of the Musicland group.

Central Park Media was founded in 1990 by John O’Donnell as an anime supplier. US Manga Corps, one of the company’s anime divisions, was one of the older North American anime distributors, and its mascot was a character from MD Geist, an OVA from the 1980’s. They also had two other anime distribution divisions: Software Sculptors and Anime 18 (which distributed hentai anime).

In 1994, Central Park Media branched out to distribute manga and manwha publications. CPM Press, formerly known as CPM Comics, was the company’s manga and manwha publication division. Other manga publication divisions included Manga 18 (for manga and manwha hentai) and Be Beautiful Manga (for yaoi manga). Central Park Media also had an East Asian film distribution division, Asia Pulp Cinema.

In 2005, Central Park Media had discontinued their manga and manhwa line, citing monetary problems. However, the line was relaunched in January of 2006. In 2007, Japanese publisher Libre claimed that Central Park Media’s Be Beautiful division was illegally translating and selling their properties. These titles had originally been licensed to Central Park Media by another Japanese publisher, Biblos, who had gone through bankruptcy and was bought out by Libre. During the company’s 19 year existence, Central Park Media distributed such anime titles as: Agent Aika, Alien Nine, Animation Runner Kuromi, Area 88, Armored Trooper Votoms, Birdy the Mighty, Black Jack, Dominion Tank Police, Gall Force, Grave of the Fireflies, Here is Greenwood, Iczer Reborn, Knights of Ramune, La Blue Girl, Maetel Legend, MD Geist, Munto, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Night Shift Nurses, Now and Then, Here and There, Project A-Ko, Record of Lodoss War, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Roujin Z, Slayers, Urotsukidoji, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, and Yu Yu Hakusho The Movie: Poltergeist Report.

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