We Promised We Wouldn't Say Anything Until the Expo Was Over!
Moonies, this was the big piece of news we had to keep quiet about for over a month. About a week before Operation Moonrise Phase 4 ended, we stumbled upon a complete surprise - Toei Animation Inc.'s exhibit at the Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas. And then, we looked at the properties up for license... Dragon Ball (Z) Kai, Digimon, One Piece, Saint Seiya, Slam Dunk, Air Master, Asataro the Onion Samurai, Master Hamsters... and Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary. We were all celebrating, but only for a moment when the big "Oh @#$%" hit us. This Expo was scheduled from June 8th-10th. We had a report to finish... could we do it? We tried, we really did. We have finished the numbers at least and some of the writing. We'll update you on our report's progress later. At this expo, Toei was not only seeking to license the show for broadcast, but was also looking at licensing for apparel and accessories, gifts and novelties, stationery, toys, video games and software, and DVDs. Aren't you fans glad we asked that question about what sorts of merchandise you want to see in Phase 3? Hopefully we will all get to see some of the merchandise that everyone suggested. Before we go any further, we'll have to add a small caveat. Should you go wandering around the site to look at individual exhibitors, DO NOT CONTACT ANY OF THEM. These are mainly for serious buyers and licensors only. We have provided safer addresses in our forums should you want to write any of them.
If there was one important thing we learned from our investigation of the Latin America rumor from earlier this Spring, it was that we had to be careful about what we said regarding the licensing of Sailor Moon. We learned something very crucial about this from our contact at Toei Animation Inc. - we had been careful before when it came to our industry posts, and since then we have been even more careful. It is a sensitive situation and anything out of context could mean that plugs could be pulled any time (we can't say any more). We promised our contact at Toei Animation that we would not mention a word about Sailor Moon's pitches at this Expo until after it had passed.
In hindsight though, we probably should have said something. Leading up to two big markets in France, Kazachok and MIPTV, there was tons of publicity. There were articles in licensing magazines, interviews with some of the key members of Toei Animation Europe, and other articles. But for this expo in the USA? Nothing. We also caught the Expo's live UStream interviews and there was no sign of any representatives from Toei Animation. We can't figure out why there was all this promotion in Europe, and nothing at this marketplace which is one of the largest in North America (and the Western World). We can also confirm representatives of the following companies that are probably most relevant to the licensing of Sailor Moon were there. These companies are:
Corus Entertainment (YTV's Parents)
Cookie Jar Entertainment (Holds All of DiC's Assets)
As of this writing, we think that everyone that was at this Expo and interested in Sailor Moon was at least introduced to the idea of the series, and was probably handed a promotional packet and factsheet. It may be months before we hear of a license for Sailor Moon on these shores.
Also, just because FUNImation was not there, do not count them out. At Anime North 2010, staff member Emily attended a FUNImation Industry Panel. Lance Heiskell in passing after the panel reaffirmed their interest in Sailor Moon, but also noted that other companies were interested, too. We wonder if this may later lead to a bidding war for Sailor Moon.
And here's our Operation Moonrise update. We sent our last report to an executive with a major network. They were impressed with it, however this person suggested how we can improve our analysis - of which some of these issues were addressed in Phase 4, but we weren't specific enough. We did do pretty well though for being amateurs and not entertainment industry professionals! Unfortunately, this means we are going to have to run another short survey ASAP. We also think that these responses will be of interest to FUNImation and Toei. What we're going to do is finish the report up (there is just writing left, the biggest part was the numbers - the nearly 50 charts are all done). We should be finished this in around a week, but we will probably start this new survey next week and run it for either a month or until we get around 500 responses. We promise it will be short (one page only of around ten questions), and we are mostly focused on responses from the US and Canada (though we don't mind hearing from other places as well). We know the fans are tired of surveys (and we understand! we're sorry to have to do this again!), but hopefully this will be the last one. We hope our fans can understand our continued strive to make this our best work. Once we have this new information too, we can actually expand and send our reports to other places of interest. We want to let everyone we can know exactly what the fans want to see, and hopefully this can lead to a release of Sailor Moon that is without the troubles of the past.
Let's now take a quick look at each brand/series that Toei was looking to license. They offered a lot this year, and many titles were featured last year as well.
Air Master: A great one about a gymnast turned street fighter that was also big in Japan. Another former Geneon license that was never released in its entirety in North America.
Asataro, The Onion Samurai: We talked about this series last year, and we are still hoping someone will license it this year.
Captain Harlock: This space pirate anime was the other one that created a lot of buzz at the Tokyo Anime Fair this year with a brand new CG series in the works.
Digimon (5 Seasons) and new "Digimon" with new title: Digimon is a series that is very close to Pokemon. Enough said. This is a big hit with the kids.
Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Z Kai: This series needs no explaining. They could sell anything with Dragon Ball's name on it and it would still be popular. Oh yeah, there was that one thing with Dragon Ball's name on it that didn't fare so well.
Fist of the North Star: Another classic and popular anime from Toei Animation that is slated for a DVD release sometime later this year by Discotek.
Gaiking!: This mecha anime created a lot of buzz at the Tokyo Anime Fair this year with a brand new movie in the works.
GeGeGe no Kitaro: A series with tales from the graveyard, a long-lasting hit in Japan.
Marie & Gali: Licensed by a Canadian company called Breakthrough Entertainment, and was supposed to premiere last October but as of this writing it has not premiered yet.
Master Hamsters: Also up for license last year. This charming and heartwarming show would do great on an after school block or a Saturday morning block. Why has no one picked this up yet?
One Piece: Another series which has proven to be popular among the Otaku. About a treasure hunter who unfortunately consumes a gummy fruit which leaves his arms in a super stretchcable state.
Pretty Cure (6 Seasons): Big hit in Japan. Has yet to take off here. Magical Girl anime in the vein of Sailor Moon. We're assuming this means everything except for the most recent series, HeartCatch Pretty Cure!
Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary: If you don't know about Sailor Moon and you're on this site, we don't know what to tell you.
Saint Seiya Classic TV Series and Saint Seiya - The Hades Chapters: Section23/Sentai Filmworks is interested in this title (as their former company ADV had the rights).
Slam Dunk!: A basketball anime that was big in Japan, and one that was licensed by Geneon a long time ago. This series was never released in its entirety in North America.
Thriller Restaurant: This is a brand spankin' new anime series in Japan about kids who live in a haunted town. They meet up at a restaurant each episode and serve an Appetizer, Main Dish, and Dessert of 3 short ghost stories! This series also has a connection to Sailor Moon - playing Machiko-sama is none other than Machiko Toyoshima (PallaPalla). This series has been well-received by many otaku.