When the Japanese company Aniplex held an industry panel at Anime Boston last May, their emphasis on the unlicensed series Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens baffled the audience and bloggers.
“Why are they spending so much time talking about Kannagi?”
“The show’s still unlicensed, right? What’s the point?”
“Do they want the fans to pressure American distributors to license it?”
“Do they really expect us to get hyped over this series at this point?”
I was reminded of another industry panel last year held by the Japanese company Kadokawa. That representative was there to introduce the American fans to new Japanese series and get them to demand it to be licensed in America. The problem with this plan is that since broadband internet had become so widely available in recent years, the fans were already well aware of these new titles and had probably already watched them.
So was Aniplex being just as ignorant as Kadokawa was with this Kannagi business?
“Well, we already had the Kannagi license back at Anime Boston,” says Bandai’s Marketing Director Robert Napton in an interview with me two weeks ago at Otakon. “That was the first time we were coordinating with Aniplex in what to say and what not to say. This has been in the planning stages for a few months.”
It wasn’t an act of ignorance on behalf of the Japanese company this time. It was the initial step in one the largest marketing ploys that the US anime industry has seen in years. And from the point of view of this blogger, I thought it was a tremendous success.