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Monday, January 16, 2012

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Gets a New DVD Release Scheduled? Could Illumitoon be Making a Comeback?

[2017 ADDENDUM: This wound up becoming a dual-audio release from S'more Entertainment, which was founded from some of the founders of Rhino Entertainment. Unfortuantely, S'more had no idea how to release anime, resulting in uncut episodes in both Japanese & English audio, but without any English subtitles, with the lazy excuse of, "We put PDF files of the script on the last DVD!". Admittedly, this whole ordeal has made me less enthused about doing "news" pieces on the blog, because I got excited for a lazy release that was not properly advertised.]

I still wasn't sure if I was going to do a review today, but imagine my surprise to go online this morning, go to The Fandom Post's forums, and see this topic on the North American DVD/BD Industry board, plus a cover art to go with it:

Yeah, it says what you think it says: "Shonen Jump's Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo The Complete Series, Part 1". Someone is releasing Bobobo's TV series on DVD again, four years since Illumitoon's attempted DVD singles release bombed. If you go back to my first August 2011 post I talk all about Illumitoon Entertainment's poorly-done attempt at entering the North American anime industry, which started and ended in 2007 in terms of DVD releases. But there is now one question that remains: What is this release? On The Fandom Post forum topic I have linked above, forum poster WTK has done great work in linking to the online shops that list this collection release, so here's the info we can gather:

Runtime: 950 minutes/38 episodes (i.e. the first half of the show)
Number of Discs: 4 (Amazon lists 1 disc, but it's likely incorrect)
Release Date: March 27, 2012
MSRP: $49.98
Languages: English & Japanese with English Subtitles

That stuff is mostly agreed upon, but the trouble comes from the company handling the release. Going off of those sites, we have these potential choices:
E1/E1 Entertainment (now known as Entertainment One or eOne Entertainment)
Ryko Distribution
S'more Entertainment

S'more comes from the Amazon listing, with the ASIN number leading to S'more coming up in the search results. Ryko comes from DVDPlanet's listing, which has an item number that starts with RYK. E1 is listed by Amazon & VideoETA. Out of these possibilities, I would say that E1 is, at the very least, the distributor, as eOne Entertainment does do distribution for other companies... One of which is AnimEigo, so E1 being related to anime isn't out of place; eOne also distributes for S'more, as well. Also, eOne has released DVD boxsets of Gigantor themselves, which leads to them being even more likely. Also, before start worrying about the collection being only 4 discs, which would result in each DVD containing 9-10 episodes and looking potentially horrible in terms of video quality, there is the chance that the collection uses double-sided discs, which would give it the equivalent of 8 discs, or 4-5 episodes on each disc.

What's my take on this? I'm going with the idea that Illumitoon might still be around, even with their website gone and their phone line not in service. Enoki Films USA's website went down about a month ago, but apparently Mr. Enoki himself is still around and keeping the company afloat on his own, so Illumitoon still being around wouldn't be impossible. From what people in the industry have indicated, most anime licenses tend to last roughly 7 years now, and since Illumitoon announced their licenses in 2006, that would mean that their licenses would expire in 2013. There is the possibility that Illumitoon still worked on their titles, at least subtitling them, and might have decided that it's better to just get them out in larger collections now and hopefully get something out the last two years they have the shows for rather than continue doing nothing. They could be teaming up S'more Entertainment to help with production and working with E1/eOne Entertainment for distribution. Of course, that would mean that their other shows, B't X, AM Driver, & Beet the Vandel Buster, would be getting releases as well, but this is a best-case scenario.

For all we know, this kind of release will only happen to Bobobo. Hopefully we'll find out more about this release soon, specifically who's handling it. One can only hope that Bobobo, the only fully-dubbed title Illumitoon had, is simply the beginning and that collections will come out for the other Illumitoon licenses. Even if it's done in a bare-bones, double-disc collection format I would love to own B't X on DVD, Beet the Vandel Buster is enjoyable enough to possibly be worth owning, and AM Driver deserves the DVD release it never received. Honestly, with all of the bad news that the industry has had in the past two weeks, it's just nice to hear about an uncompleted show getting potentially released in full now.

*Late-night addition here, but Right Stuf added the boxset later this day, and ANN has also confirmed that it's S'more Entertainment that has licensed Bobobo and will be doing the DVD release. Also, S'more has confirmed that they licensed the show from Toei Animation, so it looks like Illumitoon Entertainment is truly gone now. With that said, I do hope that B't X and AM Driver, and even Beet the Vandel Buster, might one day find a company who can and will release them completely on DVD.*

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