A relative newcomer to US anime distribution, game company NIS America kicked off the Anime Expo industry panels this year with a trailer to their new show Arakawa: Under the Bridge. PR Manager Nao Zook with special guests Director of Localization Eugene Chen, and Producer Mitsu Hiraoka hosted the panel. Chen and Hiraoka both arrived in costume as characters from the Arakawa: Under the Bridge.
The panelists spoke about the video issues and delays they experienced on some of their first releases, like Toradora and Persona Trinity Soul, saying they have fixed any such issues for future releases and that they have worked very hard to improve on quality. “It has been a learning experience,” said Hiraoka. The panelist discussed on how the focus has shifted to quality taking precedence over the creativity of their releases (i.e. fancy box sets with bonus art books and the like), though they acknowledged that these extra perks are the driving force to purchase the NIS products. This was followed by a trailer for their release of Katana Gatari.
Their direction for the future will be 100% quality for all their anime and video game products, with an emphasis on value over price. “We put all of our energy and passion into our products,” Hiraoka said. They also said there are currently no plans to dub any of their anime titles and that this decision is purely for financial reasons. Simply, they would dump all of their profits into hiring voice talent for the dub. Subtitles are much easier to make a profit on, and doing voiceover may be an unnecessary risk in the current anime market. The third preview trailer was shown for Wagnaria (Working!!).
The panel discussed what they look for when licensing titles. Basically, they want story driven and silly titles. “We are very sincere to be silly,” Hiraoka said. Also they look to be the Anti-Fan Service option, though this slide was accompanied by some very cheesecakey images from other NIS titles like Our Home’s Fox Deity. A brand new trailer for the previously unannounced acquisition for Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera was then shown, but given no firm date of release.
Chen went on to describe the three different kinds of localization approaches NIS America uses when translating their titles, with video examples of each. This was followed by a Q&A from fans. One fan asked if popularity in Japan influenced what titles NIS considered licensing for US release, to which the answer was no. Another fan asked about Blu-Ray releases to which Chen replied that if they can get the Blu-ray license for their titles they would definitely consider it. After the Q&A, one final surprise trailer was shown for the previously unannounced Kimi Ni Todoke which will be available in October.