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Bandai and Manga Join for <I>Ghost in the Shell</I>

2 Mar, 2004 By: Edwin De La Cruz

In a rare occurrence, two anime distributors -- Bandai Entertainment and Manga Entertainment -- have announced they will jointly distribute the all-new “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” anime TV series worldwide, excluding Asia.

“We are very excited about releasing the ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex' series. We are proud to represent yet another outstanding anime project from our great and talented friends at Production I.G. in Japan,” said Marvin Gleicher, Manga's CEO.

“We are both partners in the actual production of the ‘Ghost' TV series,” said Jerry Chu, marketing manager at Bandai Entertainment. The companies said they are jointly marketing, producing and distributing the series. Together, they will coordinate production, consumer advertising, Web sites, screenings, promotions, press and more. Manga will be handling most video sales through WEA.

“The original Ghost in the Shell feature film sometimes outsells newer anime releases to this day, and is considered one of the most widely recognized anime films ever released,” said Bandai's Chu.

Its influence on the “Matrix” trilogy is obvious, and Ghost was the first Japanese animated film to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Video Chart back in August 1996.

“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” consists of 26 half-hour episodes and was co-produced by Japan's acclaimed Production I.G., which recently produced the animated sequence in Kill Bill Vol.1. Production I.G. is prepping 26 additional episodes of the program, making 2004 a banner year for the “Ghost in the Shell” franchise.

“It has been an incredible undertaking from I.G.'s standpoint. The animation quality has been completely updated for the TV series; the level of high quality remains intact,” Chu said.

This announcement comes at a critical time for the franchise, as Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, the sequel to the original film, hits Japanese theaters March 6. Executives hope it rekindles the fanatical obsession caused by the original film that helped bring anime to mainstream audiences.

Combining the latest CG animation techniques, elaborate mechanical and character designs and intense action sequences, “Stand Alone Complex” is set in a not-too-distant future where technology plays an even more important role in everyday human existence.

Story lines include the pursuit of criminals both in the “real” world and the online world, pushing the technological scope of the series even further than what was already established in the original film.

The first DVD volume streets June 22 (no price has been set), with seven DVD volumes over the following 12 months. The series will be supported by print and Web ad campaigns, and backed by a series of promotions to the fans.

Episodes from the first volume will subsequently be broadcast on U.S. cable TV on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup.

This upcoming summer season is already beginning to heat up, with announcements from Bandai on the launch of Gundam Seed at last week's Toy Fair. Also, Manga will soon unveil details of Dead Leaves, another Production I.G. anime title.

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