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"The abilities that we have at our disposal will allow us to avoid the problems created by "fractured rights" which have plagued the anime industry in the U.S. since the very beginning."
with: Scott C. Mauriello
Interview by: Matthew Anderson
In May of 2004, Anime Crash announced they were "back with a vengeance". Strong out of the gate, the "House that Anime Built" have a 1-2-3 punch they hope will knock your tabi-socks off!
In an email interview, Managing Director of The Crash Media Group Inc.
Scott C. Mauriello talks to us about the history of Anime Crash, why they chose Geisters as a first release, and their plans for producing their own anime.
Tell us a little about The Crash Media Group.
SM: The Crash Media Group Inc is the parent company of Crash Cinema, Anime Crash, and a number of other subdivisions and DVD labels. With our corporate and strategic partnerships (Including our major corporate partner Abrams Gentile Entertainment and T-ink Inc, or AGE T-ink) we are one of the few companies out there that are looking at anime and anime and Asian pop culture as something more than just a DVD on a shelf, but rather something that can be made available on every consumer level to the American public.
DVJ: How did Anime Crash come about?
SM: Anime Crash started as a retail subdivision of Little Nemo's Comics in New York and in 1994 the first Anime Crash retail location was opened in New York's Greenwich Village. At that time, there was no mainstream retail entity providing anime or anime related goods under one roof. By streamlining and re-packaging anime into something that could be presented to the general public through mainstream retail (as is done in Japan), vast numbers of people who had never been exposed to anime before became aware of what it was.
After becoming a very successful retail chain, we closed the storefronts when The Crash Media Group shifted focus from being a retail entity to an intellectual property company and DVD label. Currently, Anime Crash is the division of the Crash Media Group which handles "all things anime".
DVJ: Where did the company name come from?
SM: In trying to come up with a name for what would be the country's first chain of anime and Asian pop-culture retail stores, many different names were explored; ani-world, anime-land, planet-anime, animountain, and so on. The words "Crash" and "Anime" seemed to go together, but in a syntax more fitting of Japanese popular culture the reversed "Anime Crash" seemed to work the best.
DVJ: What are the costs in starting an anime company?
SM: As with starting any company, there are regular costs that present themselves in both anticipated and unanticipated areas. As for costs indicative of the anime business, we encountered many instances which have been traditional costs associated with anime, but to Crash it seemed like it would simply be money wasted.
DVJ: Why did you choose
Geisters as a first release?
SM: GEISTERS ( GUYSTARS ) was attractive to The Crash Media Group as we acquired it with all of its rights intact. The abilities that we have at our disposal will allow us to avoid the problems created by "fractured rights" which have plagued the anime industry in the U.S. since the very beginning. By being able to take full control of a title, the various applications it may have in DVD, TV broadcast, toys/collectable merchandise, clothing etc, can all be implemented in a concert strategy designed to maximize a titles presence and long-term viability. By implementing this strategy with Geisters and other titles, Anime Crash will do with the anime market as a whole, what it first did for anime retail.
That being said, Geisters itself is a very nice title, especially when you consider it was finished in 2001. When my staff first took a look at it, many of them were reminded of what brought them to anime fandom in the first place. It is a very involved ongoing sci-fi story with political intrigue that is similar to what was and is similar to current events in the world. It's more down to earth and not as existential as some of its contemporaries out there and I think that will draw a lot of viewers from many different walks of life.
DVJ: Were there other titles you were interested in?
SM: There are titles we were and still are interested in of course. However The Crash Media Group is not just a DVD company. We have been offered pieces of other titles such as merchandising only, and so on, which we have had to pass on simply because we can not properly introduce a title to the market piece-meal.
As a new company, what were some of the difficulties you encountered?
SM: Being in the anime business since 1994, we were able to take much of our experience we had from that time and apply that in designing a product that would meat the standards of most anime buyers out there.
What has been most difficult has been getting the Japanese to see how they are selling their properties short by following the habit of selling off the "fractured rights" of a title, going for a quick buck up front, and then simply moving on to the next DVD. The reason Anime Crash exists is to alter that way of doing business.
Do you produce your own DVD's, or do you outsource?
SM: Both. It depends on the nature of the project.
How important is it to keep the story and script translations true to the
SM: With roots in retail, we know that this is no room for negotiation with otaku customers when it comes to preserving as much of the original aspects of any title. Geisters was unique in that many times in scripts and character designs, the letters "R" and "L" would be used as if they were interchangeable along with the letters "C" and "K" (you would imagine the problems that caused when talking about "glass", or "grass"). Geisters also came from 2 different production houses using different character name sets, which complicated things far beyond the norm in that particular case.
Most of the times where there are noticeable differences in any of our titles will be for the sake of continuity and flow of an episode.
DVJ: Who are some of the English voice actors
in your upcoming titles?
SM: Much of the acting talent that we use is well known in the Broadway theater and musical communities. Being based in New York and doing our voice recording here in-house allows us to take advantage of this extraordinary pool of talent, some of which have been in anime before and some have not.
DVJ: How many units have you sold during the
SM: About 31,000 units
DVJ: What are your feelings about fan sites
and fan cons?
SM: Conventions have always served an important function for the fan/consumer level of anime since their inception. I think they will continue to serve as a venue where otaku can be comfortable in their fandom and have access to a type of community that they may not have access to otherwise.
Fan websites however can be tricky. It's great when someone spends their time building something constructive, and the sites can be great at helping to spread important information around the communities that use and support them. Unfortunately they can be great at helping to spread incorrect and unfounded information as well. I think one should always use common sense and caution when examining what someone they have never met writes about someone else they have never met.
If someone wanted to work for Anime Crash, what skills should they
possess? What would an entry level position be?
SM: Live in the NYC area. Have a very basic working knowledge of the market as it is currently, and the ability to separate their fan life from their work life.
Send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org .
[An entry level position would be] someone would rotate through our various departments.
DVJ: What projects
are scheduled in the near future?
SM: Our latest acquisition Ji-KOO (pronounced "jee ku") will be the first true anime property to be taken global right from the start. Through our strategic partnerships, The Crash Media Group and our partner company AGE T-INK Inc will make Ji-koo a very strong property in 2005. It is a production from Kimio Ikeda who has brought us such titles as SPEED RACER and GATCHAMAN just to name a few. The title is still in production in Japan right now and we are very pleased to be able to be involved with it (or any anime) at such an early stage in its development.
Anime Crash will also be involved in the merchandising of a much anticipated upcoming anime movie, as well as release a number of anime titles for winter 2004-2005.
DVJ: Where do you see anime in 5 years?
SM: I think this time anime is here to stay. Unlike the previous anime booms of the 70's and 80's, there is a complete home video and ancillary market to support it, and "anime" is now known as "anime" as opposed to japanimation or Japanese animation. I think that in the next 5 years, if titles aren't flooded too fast into the DVD market with no ancillary market support, anime will become a market entity in the U.S. very similar to the Japanese model. However, I think that what will always be unique about anime in the U.S. and what will always set it apart from the way it is in Japan, is how the various demographic clusters of anime fans will diverge and evolve into their own entities as time goes on.
DVJ: Where do you see your company in 5 years?
SM: The Crash Media Group is currently poised to lead the Asian pop-culture revolution in to the next phases of its evolution. I believe that in that time, The Crash Media Group and Anime Crash will be operating in an anime market that operates quite differently from the way that the "usual suspects" of the anime business currently operate.
DVJ: Any plans to release other non-Japanese animation or manga?
SM: Absolutely. Many artists and cultures around the world are gravitating towards and adopting the artistic styles that have become associated with anime and Japanese pop-culture. The Anime Crash title KI-FIGHTER for example, would definitely fall under the "Tezuka-style" of character design and animation, it just happens to have been animated in Korea by the same animator and animation studio responsible for both G.I. JOE and all of the original TRANSFORMERS TV series episodes. So I think there is quite an abundance of creativity out there just waiting to be put up in front of a mainstream audience that is now more than ever ready to accept it.
DVJ: Do you have any interest in producing your own anime?
SM: The Crash Media Group and our partner company AGE T-INK Inc are currently in negotiations with a very well known animation corporation based in Japan regarding the production of a 26 part series to be made of one of our long-standing intellectual properties. This property is also being made into a live-action Hollywood production, and the animation should be coming out around the same time. We wanted to use a Japanese studio for this project in order to incorporate the anime style that would very much suit this particular property. This would be a true anime series made for simultaneous releases to Japanese and North American audiences.
Crash Media Group and AGE T-INK Inc will be making further announcements as this project advances.
So to answer your question, not are we only interested, but we are well into the actual process.
involvement will you have in the anime network?
SM: We have not determined what our involvement will be at this time.
DVJ: Thank you for your time.
SM: Your welcome.
ŠAll information protected by DVD Vision Japan copyright unless otherwise noted.