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Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 16/5/2011 15:26
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    Anime Review Roundup

    Casshern Sins Blu-ray Falls To Ruin

    It took just 36 hours for Manga Entertainment to pass judgement on the release of Casshern Sins: Part 1 on Blu-ray. It had only been in the shops for 36 hours before Manga's Twitter feed exploded with dismaying comments about low sales figures, and the consequent likelihood that Casshern Sins: Part 2 on Blu-ray would be cancelled. A couple of days later, Anime on Line removed it from their pre-release listings, and Play.com followed suit, pretty much confirming the cancellation.

    No doubt this will vex the people who purchased volume 1 on Blu, especially as the US release is locked to Region A, and while the Australian release may be Region B, the exchange rate isn't favourable at the moment.

    There are questions to be asked, and no doubt Manga will be asking them with a fair bit of head scratching involved. Why choose Casshern Sins to release on Blu-ray in the first place, hardly a title with mass-market appeal? Why the massive difference in price between the DVD release and the Blu-ray release R.R.Ps, £15? And why the almost Gerald Ratner-esque move of twittering about the failure of Casshern Sins Part 1 on Blu-ray so soon after the release date, and without even waiting for the first weekend worth of shopping to see if sales would improve? Of course that last is probably an indication of how little the high street actually matters to sales of anime, and that companies are apt to count on pre-orders online to base their decision-making on.

    The worry is that this is the second time that Manga have taken such an action. Last year they cancelled the Blu-ray release of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood after poor sales of the first and second volumes. The action this week with Casshern Sins simply sets that precedent in stone. Manga have subsequently twittered about being more careful with the titles they release on Blu-ray in future. I suggest that they also consider how they release them as well. The likelihood is remote that fans will invest in a partial Blu-ray release without guarantee of completion, or they will wait for it to be released in totality first. The next such release scheduled by Manga is Xam'd Lost Memories, scheduled to be released in two parts on Blu-ray later this summer. If Manga are smart, they will consolidate the release into a single boxset. If they are smarter, they ought to cancel it outright, as while Xam'd is an awesome show, well deserving of a Blu-ray presentation, like Casshern Sins, it isn't a show that has garnered the sort of universal appeal that will let it break out of its niche.

    For clarification, no official announcement of Casshern Sins Part 2 Blu-ray cancellation has been made, it remains in the limbo of 'unlikely to be released'.

    The Casshern Sins DVD release is unaffected by this week's twittering, and the Part 2 DVD will be released as scheduled.

    MVM To Announce New Anime Licences

    MVM have been pretty dry of late when it comes to new anime releases. While they continue to re-release their old licenses in cheaper boxsets, and have recently re-released the fan favourite Chobits, new titles are less evident. A lot of that comes from the move to the boxset format. When you release six discs over a space of 12 months, it looks as if you are busier than if you release 6 discs in a single boxset once a year. But, a lot of it has to do with Funimation and Manga becoming the big fishes in their respective ponds. There is less out there for companies like MVM to licence. With the recent release of The Tower of Druaga, and nothing else on the schedules aside from MVM's rather more lucrative venture into live action titles, some had commented that they may be departing from the anime market.

    Well it turns out that nothing could be further from the truth. This week, MVM Facebooked that they have some new anime licences in the pipeline, and news will be forthcoming very soon, most likely at the MCM Expo at the end of the month. It's already got fans talking about potential licenses and wishlists. I'm putting my money on Linebarrels of Iron, Blassreiter or Welcome to the NHK.

    And Anime On Demand Serve Up Another New Series

    Slowly but surely they are getting there, filling out their schedules with the anime shows that they promised early on, but which earthquakes and contract negotiations delayed. This week's new anime is a delightful sci-fi called Steins;Gate. It's the one show on Crunchyroll this year that was annoyingly locked away from their UK subscribers, which makes it either fortunate, or contrived that Anime on Demand have it, and they have started streaming the first episode. We're a little behind the scheduled releases, so expect a catch up service to get us up to speed over the next week or so.

    Steins;Gate is about a group of friends who have customized their microwave into a device that can send text messages to the past. As they perform different experiments, an organization named SERN who has been doing their own research on time travel tracks them down and now the characters have to find a way to avoid being captured by them.

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    With the move to boxsets, and a contraction of the market given the current financial situation, I find that the average week is pretty thin when it comes to anime reviews these days. Then there are weeks like this one, where I have five reviews to present to you. It almost feels like the old days again. I am starting with one from the back catalogue though, as I conclude (for now) my attempted appreciation of the mecha genre. For the last few months, I've been trying to see how the other half lives, and have been partaking of that particular genre that has always left me cold; giant robots. Gun Sword is a rather more recent contribution to the genre, and given its futuristic Wild West alien world setting, I thought it might have more than a little of the Trigun about it to appeal to me. It's also got a pole dancing mecha pilot. Click on the review for the Gun Sword Boxset to find out more.

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    Why is that every new release these days seems to come with dollops of good news and bad news in equal measure. Naruto Shippuden: Collection 5 comes with the good news of a native PAL conversion. There's the added good news that from this volume, Naruto Shippuden joins the widescreen world. The bad news is that this is where the rescue Sasuke arc takes a breather while we indulge in 20-odd episodes of filler. The irony is that the good news isn't all that good, while the bad news isn't as bad as you would expect it to be.

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    There's more good news and bad news with Vampire Knight Guilty: Volume 2, as we have the best episodes of the vampire teen angst gothic romance yet, coupled with the worst disc so far, technically speaking. It's the sort of visual transfer that might invoke a nervous twitch in those who are drawn to flaws in what they watch. But, the story in this volume may just be good enough to counter that, with the narrative soup thickening nicely, and the all important revelations coming early enough in the series to allow for a potentially cracking conclusion to play out.

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    Finally David Beckett came up with a two-fer, offering his wise and considered opinion on the unconventional family antics of My Neighbours The Yamadas, and the Miyazaki classic adventure, Laputa: Castle In The Sky. The high definition Ghibli invasion continues apace, and it's no wonder that we reviewers are scrapping at the foot of the table for those much-desired Blu-ray discs. If only all anime was seen in that way…

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    MVM have released, and re-released Gun Sword on more than one occasion, and I'm sure there is some flavour of boxset collection that will suit you. Naruto Shippuden: Collection 5 comes out today, while Vampire Knight Guilty: Volume 2 will be released next week, on the 23rd of May, both courtesy of Manga Entertainment. Optimum Entertainment released both My Neighbours The Yamadas, and Laputa Castle in the Sky on Blu-ray last Monday.

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