Akemi's Anime World

Central Park Media Anime Company

A bit of info about Central Park Media.

Company Overview

Central Park Media was one of the older US anime distributors, getting their start way back at the beginning of the '90s when anime was starting to take off. The company had several sub-divisions, most notably US Manga Corps, which almost all of their anime videos were released under. Another was Software Sculptors, which handled screensavers and other computer products, but also had a few anime titles (most notably Slayers on DVD) released under that banner. Others were their Anime 18 adults-only division, CPM press, which published translated manga (and later manhwa), and a few videos were even released directly under the Central Park Media label (mostly artistic anime).

The company built up a large catalog of classic movies and TV shows, not-at-all classic movies and TV shows, art-house anime, and a cross-section of shoujo and yaoi titles. While their releases were of variable quality through the company's history, in later years they produced a consistent stream of interesting anime on DVD, and were usually good about re-releasing back catalog periodically. Sadly financial troubles hit the company hard, and their releases tapered off around 2006, with the company declaring bankruptcy and being liquidated completely in 2009.

While a few of their licenses have since been picked up by other companies, most are out of print. Interestingly, though, there was apparently a lot of stock of some titles (particularly less-popular ones) extant when CPM closed its doors, so most are still easy enough to find even as new products.

An aside, US Manga Corps had an official company "spokesmecha" as part of its logo, the title character's battle armor from the '80s action OAV MD Geist. They're the only anime company to use an existing character in their logo. The prominent placement resulted in an unusual amount of popularity for a forgettable show, to the point that the original creator was actually commissioned by CPM to make a sequel. Somewhat ironic, also, that the "spokes mecha" isn't technically mecha at all, just armor.

Their Catalog

Their catalog included a little of nearly everything with the exception of kids/all-ages fare--almost everything was targeted at teens and up. They generally leaned more toward OAVs and movies than TV series, though they did license a number of those as well. They were also good about getting unusual titles--some of the first hard shoujo and yaoi fare available in the US, for example. Particularly notable titles are Project A-ko and its sequels, the multitude of Slayers TV series (ADV released the movie and OAVs), Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Record of Lodoss War.

Notable less-well-known titles include Venus Wars, They Were Eleven, VOTOMS, the epic cheese of Gall Force, Cat Soup, and the educational series Animated Classics of Japanese Literature, one of the few all-ages titles the company handled.

What Their Releases Are Like

CPM/USM's early VHS releases were quite nice--they almost always produced both subtitled and dubbed versions, and at least some of their movies were even done in letterbox (Project A-ko, in particular, was subtitled in "Mangarama," a silly name for having the bottom letterbox bar bigger than the top, and putting all of the subtitles inside it so as not to interfere with the picture--very nice). While their translations were usually of at least acceptable accuracy, their earlier dubs were usually of questionable quality at best.

They were quick to adopt DVD, narrowly winning the race to get the first anime DVD on the US market with Battle Arena Toshinden, and most of their back catalog was eventually released on DVD. Their first DVD efforts, however, were shaky; while they usually included a lot of extras that were playable only on a computer (whole scripts and art galleries, for example), they usually didn't translate the Japanese cast on the disc, song subtitles were often hard-coded on the video, and the production values were inconsistent. The episode count per disc for some TV series was also unusually high, which, while good from a cost and shelf space standpoint, resulted in noticeably poor video quality.

Their later DVDs were more consistent and much better, although they did continue to use full-size cases even for TV series, taking up a lot more shelf space than the increasingly popular thinpak or multi-disc cases. An oddity of almost all their DVD releases was the inclusion of voice cast (English and Japanese) and other information printed on the back side of the DVD case's cover insert. This wasn't a bad thing once they switched to transparent cases, but on their early DVDs with standard black cases you needed to pull the cover insert out to read it--odd way to save a few pennies on printing an insert.

USM was involved in some degree of online streaming and VOD before going out of business, and if you count a few of their titles released on CD as unprotected video files only playable on a computer, were probably the first anime company to accept computers as a way to get your anime fix.


Anime 18 Titles

Anime 18 was the adult anime label of Central Park Media, originally created to distribute Urotsukidoji; the label was later taken over by Critical Mass, though most of its old licenses are out of print.

Software Sculptors Titles

Software Sculptors was a sub-label of Central Park Media, specializing in anime-related computer software, though they also relesed a few DVDs under this label, most notably Slayers and Revolutionary Girl Utena.

US Manga Corps Titles

US Manga Corps was a sub-label of Central Park Media; most of the anime released by the company was under this label.