Friday, July 27, 2007

Late Breaking News: Same Song, Different Con.

Tokyopop Is Still Attempting to Negotiate the Rights to the Sailor Moon Manga.

Genvid was one of the first to report of this news story at Baltimore’s Otakon. At Tokyopop’s industry panel, A fan asked Katherine Schilling and Alexis Kirsch if they were interested in re-releasing the Sailor Moon series. Katherine and Alexis are manga editors at Tokyopop and were representing them at Otakon. Here is our transcript of their answer from the video posted at ANN. Fast forward to around 28 minutes to see this part.

Katherine: It was the first one that Tokyopop did years ago, and it totally, yeah... we deserve to do a good version.
Alexis: We wanna do it but unfortunately there’s licensor issues with...umm.. in Japan between the creator and her company, so we’re just kinda stuck in a black hole there where we -
Fan: But you are working on it right?
Katherine: Oh we are pursuing it as much as we can, but sometimes there are some issues that are out of your hands for now.
Fan: Have you considered about releasing any of her other work?
Alexis: Yes we have-
Katherine:To a degree, to a degree... But there’s other stuff to consider first, and Sailor Moon is still in our hearts.

We sent an email to Tokyopop earlier this week to clarify details about the comments that they made at Otakon, but as of this writing we still haven't heard back from them. These comments that were made really aren't antyhing new from Tokyopop’s end. Since 2004 we have read many reports that they have been trying to get the rights to re-release the manga. As of this writing it is still unconfirmed whether they are trying to get the rights to the old manga releases (the ones from the early 90's) or to the new re-releases with the additions and act redistributions - though we suspect it is the latter. But what really surprised us was finding out that they considered to get some of Naoko’s other works over here - of which most if not all are available only through fan translations. Still, it's nice to know that they still have such positive feelings towards the property, and that they do want to do a better translation. The translation the first time around wasn't well received by everyone with changes in names and attacks, for starters. Despite this, it was one of the first titles in North America to start the "Manga Boom" over a decade ago. And fans would probably have a better chance to acquire the manga now, as manga used to be carried in short stocks in a bookstore's small graphic novels section or on a shelf with any of the cartoons, humor, or comics section. Now manga has become so popular it is hard to find a bookstore that doesn't have its own large section devoted to manga.

This sort of got us wondering what the other two companies involved with the anime were up to. The general trend these days (when a series is brought to other markets), is that both a series' manga and anime are usually picked up at around the same time - give or take a few months. We wouldn't be surprised if another company was pursuing the rights to the anime at the same time that Tokyopop is going after the manga. Over the years, it seems that Geneon has definitely been more vocal than ADV (time and again) about re-acquiring the rights to the series should issues between Toei and Naoko be resolved. We even heard of a rumor from one of our readers, Furu, that Bandai Visual was seeking the rights to distribute PGSM to North America. We have been unable to confirm the validity of that rumor. But barely a peep from ADV, and this is the response we got to an email we sent to them earlier this week.

"At this time we have no information regarding an attempt to renegotiate the rights to Sailor Moon."

Interested fans who want to know how hard ADV tried to get certain pulled episodes to DVD from their releases of the first two seasons should watch the last minute of the third video and the first bit of the fourth video here. The most striking point of the interview with Matt Greenfield (founder of ADV) was when he said "Sailor Moon has not exactly been handled in a logical manner in its release in this country." We have to agree with them - and in looking at the release of the series in the early 2000's, it really seems ADV got the short end of the stick in many ways. We're going to spare you everything that went wrong with the handling of the series in North America, but the major ones that stand out in our minds are distribution (theatrical, home video/DVD and television), marketing, and merchandising.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, we have not heard from Geneon. If we do ever hear from them we will amend this post. But we did hear back from Right Stuf International (they handle Geneon's customer service inquiries):

"We have not heard anything from Geneon about that. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on rumors; we can only comment on solid fact that the manufacturer provides to us."

So all in all fans, while this is exciting news, the only really new thing that's come out of this is that they considered getting Naoko Takeuchi's other works. We have reason to believe that there are still some efforts by other companies to bring back the anime - but we can't really say just which companies we know other than Geneon in the past or present has had some interest in the property (playing it safe). But to anyone involved with the property who may be reading this, we think we speak for all fans when we say...

"Bring her back already!"

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