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An Anime Titan Exits: Geneon Entertainment (USA) Ends DVD Sales And Distribution

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On Wednesday September 26, 2007, anime fans across the country got a shock when Geneon Entertainment (USA), a longtime player in the anime market, notified retailers of its plans to cease DVD sales and distribution. The news comes less than a week after a deal with fellow anime distributor ADV Films to take over the company's DVD sales and marketing fell through.

With retailers only being able to order Geneon product with street dates of November 6, 2007 or earlier, it's likely that all releases after that date are canceled (although this has not yet been confirmed). Since anime is usually released on a volume-by-volume basis before getting the box set treatment, many fans will be left high and dry as some series will not be completed before the November 6 cutoff date.

Geneon Entertainment (USA) came into the anime market in 1993, although back then it had a different name: Pioneer Entertainment (USA). Pioneer Entertainment (USA) was a subsidiary of Pioneer LDC, which was owned by the very same Pioneer Corporation that's known worldwide for its electronics. Pioneer LDC was acquired by advertising and entertainment company Dentsu in 2003 and renamed Geneon (taken from the words “generate” and “eon).

Under the Pioneer and Geneon names, Geneon Entertainment (USA) released a wide variety of series, movies, and OVAs (Original Video Animation) that were beloved by anime fans. Many people who were first introduced to anime via Cartoon Network's Toonami and Adult Swim saw Geneon titles including Tenchi Muyo!, Trigun, Samurai Champloo, and Paranoia Agent. Geneon titles have also aired on MTV, G4/Tech TV, Fuse, and the Starz/Encore networks. Other popular works released by Geneon include the anime classic Akira, the three Sailor Moon feature films, the anime versions of CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, and X, as well as the trippy Serial Experiments Lain.

Geneon gained a reputation among many anime fans as a fan-friendly company that delivered high-quality releases of even the least mainstream shows. For example, the special edition of Volume 2 of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA series included not only a second disc of extras but a steelbook DVD case and a book of production art. The company even released CD soundtracks of various anime series at one point under the Geneon Anime Music label.

There is no word yet as to what Geneon titles, if any, will be scooped up for distribution by the remaining companies in the U.S. anime market. It is also unclear whether the company will continue in the anime market in another form. Geneon's letter to retailers did not specify that the company was dissolving. It only noted that it would no longer be selling or distributing DVDs. There is speculation that Geneon Entertainment (USA) will become merely a licensor of properties produced by its Japanese parent.

Regardless of whether or not the Geneon name will be around next year, the loss of Geneon from the U.S. anime DVD market is a big blow for anime fans. The exit of such a major player will result in a decrease in the types of anime released in the U.S. It also makes one question the overall stability of the U.S. anime market. Is Geneon's exit the start of a trend of contraction in the anime market or is it just a case of a company not having enough mainstream titles to survive in a crowded market? Anime fans probably hope that it's the latter rather than the former.

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  • Katie McNeill

    OH! That makes me sad. :(

  • Chris Beaumont

    That’s rather shocking. Too bad to as they put out good product (based on the sampling I have).