By Brigid Alverson
Fan cons are usually more about cosplay than breaking news, but there was one big announcement at Anime Central this past weekend, along with a few interesting sidelights on the anime industry.
The big moment came at the Funimation panel with the announcement that they have licensed Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, which they will retitle Is This a Zombie?? for English-language audiences. Based on a series of light novels by Shinichi Kimura, the anime is a romantic comedy about a high school boy who is murdered by a serial killer and comes back as a zombie, then steals the powers of a magical girl (actually a masou-shoujo, "decorated girl," which is a pun on mahou-shoujo, "magical girl") and accidentally becomes a magical girl himself. He teams up with the necromancer who brought him back to life, the original magical girl, and a vampire ninja to battle evil demons while trying to solve the mystery of his own murder. The anime is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Funimation announced two other new licenses, neither of them anime: The movie Fullmetal Alchemist: The Star of Milos and the RPG Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: Fullmetal Battle. The Funimation panelists also said that the company would be adding a subscription level to its video site later this year (the beta version is up now), and that they are currently negotiating for more One Piece content, including movies.
The Sentai Filmworks panel included updates on a number of works in progress but no new announcements. Two new titles, MM! and Amagami SS, have been scheduled for September releases, and upcoming releases of Samurai Girls will include uncensored bonus content. More Golgo 13 is in the works, once they get the masters, but there are no plans to release more episodes of Glass Mask, which did not sell as well as anticipated.
Both panels included a discussion of streaming anime. Funimation community manager Adam Sheehan said that they place a great deal of weight on streaming numbers when trying to decide whether to simply stream a title or release a full dub, while Sentai public relations rep David Williams told his audience that the company has begun to consider streaming numbers when they discuss how to release titles. He pointed to Demon King Daimao, which was originally planned to be released as a DVD with subtitles but was also dubbed and released on Blu-Ray after it proved to be more popular than expected online. It is also interesting, given that the U.S. anime industry has been in a slump for several years, that Williams stated that the Japanese licensors have reduced their fees somewhat.
Bloggers gave the con mixed reviews; at Welcome Datacomp, astrange listed many annoyances, including bad music and undersized panel rooms. My Anime List gave it a C-, observing that the gaming area was upgraded but the dealers' room was about the same as last year. This anonymous sketch blog on Tumblr presents a cheerier, if still rather cynical, view of the event. And because fan cons are really about the cosplay, here's a great Flickr set of Acen photos.