Saturday, February 2, 2013

News: Crunchyroll to Launch New Streaming Site, Anime Sols Going Live This Year

Crunchyroll, the video sharing website responsible for Cardfight!! Vanguard's official release and the original home of English-language Cardfight, is starting up a new campaign to bring anime closer to the viewer. Operating jointly with Yomiuri Group companies on a policy of consolidating the ways that fans can support their favorite shows, the Anime Sols website will feature a host of anime new to the English-language market. Through Anime Sols, legal streams of anime will become available and viewers will be able to support the release of merchandise, allowing all varieties of fans to support their favorite programs. Information on what kinds of products these will constitute is scarce for the time being, but already the larger community of anime fans is speculating that the future may see affordable DVDs--the long-lost holy grail of the English-language anime industry--and once-difficult to track down soundtracks and figures produced to sate public demand. Specific mention given to collectors is adding fuel to the anticipation.

This is the first time that Japanese animation and related goods are going to be been distributed by a Japanese business directly to North America, eliminating middlemen like 4Kids and Viz Media, companies that throughout the 1990s and early 2000s were an essential part of the industry. Three years into the new decade, businesses like Anime Sols may cut them from the industry altogether. Anime Sols is so far confirmed to be streaming Tekkaman the Space Knight, Bander Book, and Creamy Mami, the Magical Angel as release titles. While from these titles it's clear that Anime Sols is currently geared toward providing access to older anime of the 70s and 80s that never saw a proper western release beforehand, already they have picked up the 2008 remake of Yatterman, and newer anime may follow as the platform gains momentum.

In addition to those already confirmed for distribution, the various companies involved previously did work on Space Battleship Yamato, Magic Knight Rayearth, Beelzebub, Naruto Shippūden, InuYasha and others. Many of the major players in Cardfight's development have worked on one or more of these shows. Among the animation directors are Hattori Noritomo, responsible for directing OP02: Believe in My Existence as well as the animation of Aichi and Gouki's regional championship match in ride 22, and Shishido Kumiko, responsible for directing rides 50, 56 and 62, the episodes where Phantom Blaster Dragon's now-signature animation debuted. Hattori previously directed animation for Naruto Shippūden, while Shishido did the same for Beelzebub. Shiina Hekiru, the voice actor for the lead role in Rayearth Hikaru, performed ED01: Diamond Star, one of the more popular ending themes that is still inserted in new episodes as one of Cardfight's more impacting musical themes, and Shinohara Emi, the voice of Presea in the same series is also the voice of Aichi's mother, Sendou Shizuka. Yamato meanwhile was a classic work of the 70s whose animation directors included the departed Ashida Toyoo, a veteran artist of the period whose final artwork to be completed prior to his death was BT03: Demonic Lord Invasion's Stil Vampir.

Anime Sols is stated to operate on a crowd funding model, whereby more support for a series will see new ones acquired and the production of related merchandise. Among the participating companies are Tatsunoko Productions, whom westerners are primarily familiar with through Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, a Wii-based crossover fighting game that pitted Capcom characters like MegaMan Volnutt, Viewtiful Joe, Zero and Ryu against Tatsunoko's animated properties. Notably out of the series mentioned above, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom featured the titular Tekkaman of Space Knight, and the original 1977 Yatterman-1 and Yatterman-2, who were reimagined in the 2008 remake that will air through Anime Sols.

(via Crunchyroll, The Fandom Post and Anime News Network)