Akemi's Anime World

AnimEigo Anime Company

A bit of info about AnimEigo.

Company Overview

Founded in 1989, AnimEigo is the oldest surviving US-based anime distributor. They're a small "family" company that has, from the very beginning, put an emphasis on obsessive translation and releasing things fans really want. They have a small back-catalog of movies, OAVs, and a few lengthy TV series that they have re-released on DVD. As the US market expanded, they embraced their small size, choosing to work on subtitled-only sets of lengthy TV series that probably would not have otherwise been licensed, selecting one at a time to work through.

Their focus in recent years has shifted away from anime to live-action samurai films; they release uncut, subtitled versions of old samurai movies and a smattering of other classic live-action Japanese films.

Their Catalog

AnimEigo's remaining in-print anime catalog includes a few classics and cult favorites, most notably the original Bubblegum Crisis OAVs, The Dagger of Kamui, and the original You're Under Arrest TV series.

The centerpiece of AnimEigo's out-of-print catalog was the Urusei Yatsura series; they began working their way through the TV series in the early days of the company and completed a DVD re-release of every TV episode, OAV, and movie in 2005 (note that, by some fluke, the 2nd movie somehow ended up being co-released by US Manga Corps, although AnimEigo translated it and even left an empty slot in the box set for it).

Their back catalog also included a number of anime classics that they have since lost the license to distribute, including a gorgeous, meticulously remastered DVD set of the original Japanese Macross series, the entirety of the Kimagure Orange Road TV and OAV series, and Kousuke Fujishima's better known franchise, the original Oh My Goddess! OAVs.

On that note, they have a history of not maintaining older licenses, with several popular series dropping not just out of print, but out of license entirely. The Oh My Goddess! OAVs were the most recent victim, and the Spirit of Wonder OAVs were another, with the handful of DVDs produced now being almost impossible to find and selling for a small fortune.

They run an "in house" store, so if you want whatever the newest title from AnimEigo is, you're going to have to go straight to the source and pre-order it from their website. The seres are eventually released to standard retail stores in individual-disc versions or box sets, but not until later, and their in-house prices are quite competitive. They also periodically have very good closeout deals on their own products, particularly titles that are about to go out of print--keep an eye on the site for chances to pick up last-chance DVDs for bargain-basement prices.

What Their Releases Are Like

AnimEigo has always been fanatical about the accuracy of their translations and their peripheral material. Their releases have always included liner notes with often-fanatical cultural and translation notes, cast(s), and usually the lyrics of all songs in both languages (which, in series like Kimagure Orange Road or Bubblegum Crisis, can be quite a few). Good stuff, and all available on their website for anyone to see (including information on old titles no longer in print).

One thing AnimEigo has not done is much dubbing; their motto for quite some time was "The best movies you'll ever read!" They did eventually start releasing dubs of some of their productions (although the effort to dub Urusei Yatsura only produced one tape of the TV series), forcing a motto change to "Anime your way."

This is particularly appropriate, since one of the things that really stood out about AnimEigo is the way they involved the fan community; in the heyday of LaserDisc they solicited preorders for sets and even complete TV series that probably wouldn't have been licensed otherwise (the Kimagure Orange Road TV series LD box set is one example). When DVDs hit the scene, they embraced the format, and were, in fact, the first anime company to announce that all of their new releases would be DVD only.

Their DVDs don't tend to have a lot of peripheral material, but they are sticklers for quality--as they've said themselves, they prefer to use every byte of data available to improve video quality, and keep the number of episodes per disc low to that end. (And, unlike some companies that use the low-episode-count disc to wring more money out of fans, they release stuff in box sets anyway, which keeps the prices reasonable.)

AnimEigo has released a couple of their live-action titles on Blu-ray, and while it's a long shot at this point, it does mean there's at least a small chance of seeing the Dagger of Kamui in high-def some day. They also haven't been known to stream anything online.