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Why Not More Anime on UMD?

21 Jun, 2005 By: Edwin De La Cruz


As more and more content is announced for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), it begs the question: Where's the anime?

Initial reports mentioned anime as a key driver for the overall success of the PSP because of its close relation to video games, but few have been announced.

So far, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has scheduled one anime UMD. Sony's Steamboy streets July 26 from famed director Katsuhiro Otomo.

Among the anime studios, Geneon Entertainment was the first to show support for the PSP's video format when it announced the UMD release of the best-selling Appleseed (street July 26, $19.98). Upcoming titles include episodes of “Samurai Champloo,” “Gungrave” and “Hellsing,” scheduled for August at $14.98 each.

For Geneon, UMD is a chance to regain some shelf space. Video game retailers were among the first to jump on the anime bandwagon, stocking VHS and eventually DVD — that is, until brick-and-mortar giants saw profitability in the genre.

“The format gets our unique content back in some gaming retailers that were no longer carrying DVDs,” said Mark Roche, VP of marketing and publicity for Geneon.

While Sony and Geneon have jumped on the PSP bandwagon, anime studios such as ADV Films are on a “wait-and-see” approach.

“We have titles on deck, but we haven't set firm release dates yet,” said Mike Bailiff, ADV's SVP of sales and marketing. “We're ready to move when and if the market can bear it. Actually, we're spending a lot more time examining other platforms with a bigger upside than any single game system.”

But Geneon's Roche hints that current production and/or licensing costs could be involved in the delay of releasing more anime on UMD.

“There are some higher costs with the inception of the platform, but we are projecting diminishing manufacturing costs,” he said.

Bandai Entertainment plans to release some of their theatrical titles on UMD later this year. While nothing is scheduled, they are looking at titles that will be attractive to gamers, such as Gundam Seed and Escaflowne.

The genre could get a UMD boost from Sony's September launch of the eagerly awaited CGI movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on UMD and DVD. The film has been in production for almost two years. Other September anime releases on UMD will include Geneon's perennial classic, Akira, as well as current favorite Paranoia Agent.

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