I mean, after this Haruhi thing. Bandai's US DVD division. And how my Soul of Chogokin Gaiking's knees keep collapsing on themselves. Bandai's toy division. But seriously, I don't. It's just that one of Bandai's many arms, Bandai Visual, is making a tragicomedy of itself.
This bears some explanation. Bandai Visual, over in Japan, got this great idea. The US anime industry is kind of on a downturn. The licensors are paying too much for the rights to anime and they're not selling the stuff, and look at all these people there are to sell to. What they need is a Japanese company (one who, like Bandai, already has the rights to all this shit) to come down from the heavens and issue them premium, authentic Japanese animation. THIS WILL DEFINITELY WORK.
Bandai Visual took a dip into the market earlier with their releases of Mamoru Oshii's Patlabor movies. They were a little unusual: there were regular editions, priced like typical anime releases, and there were lavish special editions that went for more like, oh, I dunno, 90 bucks. These are very nice releases, and I've even considered getting them myself, but there's this huge issue that stands in the way: they cost 90 bucks. In today's promised land of cheap, legal anime on DVD (why, I'm buying Bandai Visual's release of Gunbuster right now) and cheaper pirated anime on the Internets, 90 bucks is a tough sell for any movie, especially movies with such niche Western followings.
So, taking these criticisms to heart, Bandai Visual makes a smart call in their big US roll-out: they charge more. Part of the Japanese authenticity that is Bandai Visual's mission, you see, comes from the fact that they charge closer to Japanese DVD prices. Diebuster? $40 retail for two eps! Freedom? $40 retail for one ep! Wings of Honneamise? No regular edition! $80 special edition only! Galaxy Angel Rune, the one best described as the already none-too-bright (but at least dumb fun) Galaxy Angel post-lobotomy?
$50 for 4 episodes.
The really embarassing part here is you can get the actually-funny previous seasons for $35.
What's sad is that I was really interested in a lot of stuff that Bandai Visual was really interested in selling me, and it's a shame that, like Toei before them, they're getting ready to botch the releases so badly that nobody is going to end up seeing them. Freedom is, in particular, amazing stuff. The US anime companies are having a hard time making money off the huge US anime fanbase, but the way into the business is definitely not to barge on in, having done zero research, and assume that things will work your way. Unfortunately, Japan keeps right on assuming that this is the case. They were never good with foreigners.
What a bummer this all is. Let's watch the chicken suit episode of Galaxy Angel.