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And what's the deal with ADV?

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Say that subject line in your best Jerry Seinfeld impersonation for full effect.

The fact is, there's a lot of speculation about ADV, but nobody's 100% sure what's going down there... save for the folks working there, and they're bound by NDA to be quiet. However, let's face it - things ain't lookin' good. Here's a recap of all that's been happening at ADV recently that has people worried...

  • ADV shut down its 24/7 linear Anime Network earlier this month, presumably due to high operating cost and low returns.
  • Newtype Magazine has ceased publication, to be replaced by a more general geek-culture focused rag called PiQ.
  • Anime ADVocates, a program that provdes screening material and support to anime clubs, has been permanently disbanded.
  • ADV Films UK is going to shift sales and distribution to a more established outlet, effectively shutting down most of ADV Films UK as a separate office.
  • Recently, several titles disappeared from ADV's website and online store, including hotly-anticipated properties like Devil May Cry, Kanon, and Gurren Lagann. A poster on the Anime News Network forums found a Google cached ICV2 post, which stated the following...

    In a letter to retailers ADV Films has identified 37 anime properties including Devil May Cry, Gurren Lagann, and Pumpkin Scissors that are "on indefinite hiatus, effective immediately." The list includes virtually all of the properties that ADV has announced since its financing deal with the Sojitz Corporation (see "Japanese Investment Bulks Up ADV") in late June of 2006. The properties that ADV has announced (and released) since then are from a variety of anime studios but they were all licensed through the ARM Corporation, a subsidiary of Japan Contents Investment, an investor group that included the Sojitz Corporation, the Development Bank of Japan and KlockWorx. In its letter to retailers ADV explained: "ADV has suspended certain elements of its former alliance with ARM Corporation, which financed the acquisition of these titles. ADV is working closely with various constituencies with the goal of restoring most if not all of these properties to our release schedule at a later date to the extent possible." 
  • Today, ANN posted a statement from ICV2 clarifying the piece:

    The article on Sojitz and ADV you refer to was one of several contingency articles we prepared and posted on a staging site.  Although that staging site is not accessible through ICv2 navigation, an unpublished article was indexed by Google using a spidering technique of which we had previously been unaware.  We discovered the Google indexing within an hour or two of when it occurred and immediately removed the article from our staging site (along with any other unpublished articles).  Unfortunately, the article was cached by Google and has now been brought to the attention of anime fans.  It's unfortunate because as this is written, the article isn't true. It may still be one of several possible outcomes of the current situation, but as far as we know today ADV has not sent a notice to its retailers or placed the titles in question on hiatus and may not, pending the outcome of events that are still unfolding.  We regret that our efforts to prepare for any eventuality led to this draft article becoming public before it was published and have taken steps to prevent such an event from happening again.
  • Chris Beveridge of Anime on DVD also posted an article looking at what a post-ADV-implosion anime market in North America would look like. Keep in mind that Chris, operating the biggest anime DVD review website out there, is probably more privy to knowledge of the inner workings of ADV than most of us.
  • ETA @ 2:30PST: ANN posts a statement from ADV:

    We know there are a lot of rumors swirling about, and that fans are looking for assurances that ADV will continue to distribute the anime series they know and love. While we can't go into any detail at this time, please know that ADV is working through a few short-term challenges and fully intends to continue our releases. We thank you for your patience.

     

What does this all mean? It's hard to say, exactly, but clearly there's been a great deal of recent cost-cutting at ADV - perhaps to appease investors at Sojitz who weren't liking what they were seeing. The disappearance of titles also seems to be linked to Sojitz, who was involved in providing financing and other services in helping acquire the licenses. If they're currently unhappy, they could be threatening to pull out - and they'd take their licenses with them. Obviously, this would be something ADV would want to avoid at all costs - while it likely wouldn't kill them outright, it'd still be a huge blow to their solvency. There's probably some sort of negotiations going on between to two companies, but in the meantime, ADV's been forced to pull several titles from their website in lieu of the eventual outcome. The ICV2 article leaked seems to be just one of several possible futures for the ADV/Sojitz deal, and obviously not one of the good possibilities. Still, there are hints from external sources that things could turn out quite rosy in the end for ADV. Let's hope so - I want my manly giant robots, dammit!

I think of it like Chrono Trigger. I'm pulling for John Ledford and Matt Greenfield with their ragtag party in tow to quell the Sojitz threat and give us a hopeful future filled with plenty of bountiful releases. Hopefully, this future won't refuse to change... 

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Filed under... #ADV #Despair! #Industy affairs

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