ANIPLEX at YOUMACON: So Many Shows, So Little Time

While Youmacon, which celebrated its tenth anniversary of being Michigan’s premiere anime convention this year, isn’t as large as Anime Expo or Anime Central, it still has its fair share of notable guests and panels. The only American licensor to attend this year was Aniplex of America, but they came prepared, showing off their streaming shows and upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD releases and merchandise to a large crowd on Saturday, November 1, in an hour and a half presentation hosted by marketing director Joanna Matoki, a variety of shows and genres were covered.

Streaming Content

First, Matoki discussed the current crop of shows Aniplex has licensed from its Japanese parent company of the same name that are streaming on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Daisuki, and the licensor’s own Aniplex Channel. For each show in this portion of the presentation, a trailer was shown.

The current crop of shows streaming in the Fall 2014 season includes Your Lie In April, a slice-of-life anime chronicling a budding romance between two young classical music prodigies. Matoki said the show was one of her favorites and described it as “absolutely gorgeous.” Next was Sword Art Online II, the second season of the popular science fantasy anime about gamers trapped in a virtual world, based on the popular light novel series. Matoki noted the series’ Facebook page has over 2.4 million Likes and an engaged audience from all over the world.

Spotlighted next was Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, the latest anime adaptation of the famous visual novel game. A loud cheer went up for the fan-favorite show. Matoki admitted it was also one of her favorites. Next was Mushishi: Next Passage, a continuation of the popular anime series. Unlike the other shows on streaming, this is a Crunchyroll-only show. Matoki described the series–revolving around people interacting with the supernatural creatures called Mushi–as “a great title for those who don’t watch anime too much.” Matoki also showed a sneak peek of the upcoming 2nd season of Aldnoah.Zero.

The popular mecha anime, an original series from A-1 Pictures and created by Madoka Magika and Psycho-Pass writer/creator Gen Urobuchi,  began in July 2014, recently finished its first season, available in full on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Aniplex Channel. The 2nd season, according to Matoki, begins in January 2015 and will be simulcast like the first.

Swag and Social Media

Matoki then shifted gears to talk about the Aniplex+ Store. She explained that the store sells only “rare Japanese items” in addition to their Blu-Ray/DVD box sets. The items they sell–like toys and prints–are exclusives and can only be ordered during a preorder window, with no orders after cutoff accepted. Items up for preorder now that Matoki showed (and are still available as of this writing) include a Madoka Magica key art print used in a concert devoted to the music of the series and a Sword Art Online II-branded “Photon Sword Light Stick.”

Matoki then talked about Aniplex’s main Facebook page. The CA-based company posts links to the newest episodes of their shows when they go live and encourages huge discussion threads for each and every new episode. She took great pride in saying that Aniplex strives to interact with fans as much as possible. The Facebook page, as of this writing, has over 140,000 likes.

Box Sets Galore

Matoki then moved on to the meat of the presentation: detailing the many and varied Blu-Ray/DVD box sets the company has out and will release in the future. After briefly discussing how Season One of Valvrave the Liberator, a mecha anime from 2013 by Gundam creators Sunrise, is available on home video now, Matoki detailed how Volumes 1 & 2 of the acclaimed smash hit Kill la Kill are now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and in special Limited Edition box sets. The Limited Edition Vol. 2 box set, Matoki explained, contains an exclusive documentary on the making of the Studio Trigger series.

The home stretch of the panel was describing the various box sets currently available for preorder from Aniplex and RightStuf. First up on Matoki’s list of shows was Otorimonogatari. In stores December 30, the latest anime adaptation of the popular Monogatari series of light novels will come in a Limited Edition Blu-Ray box set with package illustration from character designer Akio Watanabe.

Volume 3 of Kill la Kill, Matoki revealed, will be released to home video on December 23rd, with Volume 4 coming on February 24, 2015. Like the other two box sets, these will be released in normal Blu-Ray & DVD format as well as higher-end box sets; they contain 5 episodes each (Vol. 3 having episodes 10-14, Vol. 4 15-19) of the 24-episode series. Volume 3’s Limited Edition will come with a bonus soundtrack CD while Volume 4’s will contain a bonus DVD. The series, Matoki said, has been given an “amazing” English dub, with an all-star cast of voice actors–including Christine Cabanaros, David Vincent, Todd Haberkorn, Matt Mercer and Stephenie Sheh–doing a “great job.”

Detailed next was Nisekoi Vol. 1, releasing on Blu-Ray November 25th. The romantic comedy anime, which is getting a second season, is also available online. Detailed next was the 2nd Season release of Silver Spoon, an adaptation of the farming school manga by FullMetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa. Matoki praised the series, saying it “makes you respect food,” and mentioned that the show is also streaming online.

The biggest cheers were given when the trailer and details for the ongoing re-release of Gurren Lagann in Blu-Ray format were unveiled. The first volume of the legendary series–the license of which was transferred to Aniplex from the now-defunct Bandai Entertainment–contains the first five episodes and is available now; the 2nd volume, releasing December 9 and containing episodes 6-10, is currently available for preorder. Both sets contain 2-sided posters and a booklet containing interviews with the creators. The series, Matoki noted, is currently airing in English on Adult Swim’s Toonami block Saturday nights at 1:30 AM EST.

Finally, it was revealed that Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, an OVA (original video animation) that serves as a prequel to SAO II, will be released on Blu-Ray on December 30 and the second season of Valvrave The Liberator will come out on January 20, 2015.

The Wrap-Up

Of the short audience Q&A that followed, the most pointed question Matoki received was why all of Aniplex’s home video offerings are so expensive especially when, as with the Kill la Kill releases, they contain so few episodes. Calmly, Matoki explained that with their sets, Aniplex tries “to make things fans enjoy” and “Our prices are high because we strive for the highest quality.” She also praised the many legal online streaming venues available (including Netflix, to which Kill la Kill was recently added) because it has both positively impacted the anime industry and made things easier for fans.

A brief raffle of 4 Aniplex prize pack–containing a wide variety of items–was then held and the panel dispersed, with visions of box sets and shows to covet and to watch dancing in the attendees’ heads.


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Categories: Anime

Author:Tom Speelman

A lifetime of reading comics and watching television has left Tom with an inexhaustible supply of pop culture knowledge from the obvious to the obscure. Rather than keep it all in his brain for use at parties, Tom turned to writing a few years ago to help him share that knowledge with as many people as are remotely interested. Tom writes for several websites including The Mary Sue, Strange Horizons, Loser City and others. For even further rambling, follow him on Twitter @tomtificate.

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2 Comments on “ANIPLEX at YOUMACON: So Many Shows, So Little Time”

  1. 11/15/2014 at 6:12 PM #

    Reblogged this on tomtificate and commented:

    A writeup of Aniplex’s oresentation panel at Youmacon. This should have been up WAY earlier than it is, but that’s all my fault. Anyway…


  1. An Improbably Good Day(s) | Vagabond of the Western World - 11/17/2014

    […] had been putting off and finally wrote up my panel recaps from Youmacon (which you can find here and here). I also wrote and sent off some interview questions to some pretty big names, more of which […]

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