Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Central Park Media Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - (Update)

Anime News Network reports that Central Park Media has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy "and has closed its doors as of Monday. " The company owes US$1.2 million to creditors and has not released a new title for 12 months. ANN writes, "under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States will face liquidation". Chapter 11 and 13 bankruptcies alow a company to restructure and continue to operate. ANN uses The Crain's New York Business website as a source. ANN states that CPM's representives did not respond to their request for a comment.

Update: April 29, 2009

ICv2 reports that Central Park Media filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in bankruptcy court on Friday, April 24th, 2009. CPM cited assets of $126,282 vs. secured liabilities of $908,173 and unsecured liabilities of $277,531. Bank of America was their only secured creditor. CPM held a meeting of their Board of Directors on the 23rd, and came up with the decision that if changes to a forbearance agreement with the bank could not be negotiated , they would file for bankruptcy. The two largest unsecured creditors were the company's landord and law firm.

Icv2 writes, "The assets were primarily accounts receivable, with some limited inventory. No specific value (or an unknown value) was assigned to the company’s intellectual property rights and master tapes." Central Park Media News will continue to report the developments, and any significant events regarding the titles currently and previously licensed by Central Park Media.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Utena to play on Anime Network on Demand

"Revolutionary Girl Utena", a title licensed by Central Park Media (under their Software Sculptors line) will be airing on The Anime Network on Demand, starting in August. The airing is scheduled to begin on August 8th, 2009. Although the title is from CPM, it was sub-licensed though Enoki Films (a firm that works as a middle-man between Japanese and US companies). It is Enoki Films, not Central Park Media, who licensed it to air on the Anime Network. The English Dub for "Revolutionary Girl Utena" was produced at Taj Studios Inc, in New York City.

"Revolutionary Girl Utena" has previously aired on Comcast's Anime Selects on Demand, and the FUNimation Channel, through Central Park Media. The "Revolutionary Girl Utena" TV series was released on VHS and DVD by CPM. The movie "The Adolescence of Utena" was also released by Central Park Media on VHS and DVD. The manga was released in North America by Viz Media.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Below the Radar Label (March - June 2007)

In March 2007 Central Park Media launched a label known as "Below the Radar". This label licenses live action films, documentaries, and other cult titles that are "below the radar". As Anime News Network writes :

"Below The Radar will be the source of "desirable oddballs" – those offbeat, non-mainstream motion pictures and programs that have always had a devoted consumer base. The label, to be distributed by WEA Corporation (Warner Music Group's U.S. sales & retail marketing company), will feature both recent movies, and also older oddball films previously overlooked because of their eccentricities."

The first title released was the documentary "A Perfect Fake", directed by Marc de Guerre. This documentary won the Silve Plaque at Chicago International Television Awards. It is about the secret world of "mannequin fetishists " . Another title released under this label in 2007 was the black comedy/horror film "BACKSLASH" directed by Kevin Campbell . The third title released under this label was the horror film "Kissed by an Axe". "Kissed by an Axe" was directed by David Sterling.

Central Park Media also launched a site for their new label BTRFilms.com, but it has sense gone down. You can view an archive of the website here, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. These title are a return to CPM's start when they had licensed and released many mainstream documentaries along with their anime.

John O'Donnell , Owner and Founder of Central Park Media, was also a guest on Rightstuf's podcast in June 22, 2007, where he talked about the "Below the Radar" label launch and the titles they licensed for it. He also talked about their recent Asian Pop Cinema releases (Cat Girl Kiki , Legend of the Doll , and Pretty Made Cafe). John O' Donnell also talked about how the industry has changed and grown in the U.S. over the years, how he got into anime, and how he started Central Park Media in 1990. He talked about their up-coming manga and manhwa (for example "Full House", "Casino Lily" , "Yebisu Celebrities", "Virgin Soil" etc) titles as well. John O'Donnel also talked about how he plans to re-release more of their older titles, and hopefully license something new soon. He said he wants to make anime "more affordable" by re-releaseing their older titles for much cheaper then their last release of those titles. He also stated how he would like to re-release " Project A-KO " for its 20th anniversary .

During the podcast, John O'Donnell made some suggestions of anime that he thinks everyone should watch. These are his personal favorites, from his catolog, and one title from Manga Entertainment.

John's Personal Recommendations:

MD Geist - CPM
MD Geist II - CPM
Project A-Ko - CPM
Ghost in the Shell - Manga Ent

Sunday, April 5, 2009

DVD look : Animation Runner Kuromi

Today I decided to start something a little different. Everyone once in awhile I will give a review on one of CPM's anime DVD's/box sets. I'll review the anime it's self, the extra features, and give a little insight into how I found this anime or why I decided to purchase it. I'll try to comment on the dub as well .

Today's anime is none-other then the hilarious Animation Runner Kuromi! This is straight out of the mind of Akitaro Daichi, so you just know it's going to own. Daichi is a director I've come to respect over the years. He's show his ability to do off the wall comedies like this, with a lot of heart and care towards it's characters, great comedy-dramas like Fruits Basket and Jubei Chan The Ninja Girl, and even dark (and some-what disturbing) dramas like Now and Then, Here and There (one of my all time favorite series). To be able to direct anime series that are such polar opposites, is a true sign of Daichi's great talent.

Animation Runner Kuromi is a 2001 OVA, about Mikiko Oguro (nicknamed "Kuromi"), who gets a job at a small animation studio in Japan, only to end up having the job of Production Desk Manager thrown on to her. While interviewing her for a job, the previous manager got sick and had to leave, and gave her the job out of desperation! It's pretty amusing to see a job like this falling onto someone as inexperienced as Kuromi. The studio has fallen drastically behind schedule (as usual) for the next episode of Time Journeys, and Kuromi must inspire the artists to work hard enough and fast enough to meet the deadline. The rest of the anime follows her around trying to do her job the best she can, and learning a little about anime studios, and the artists who work at this studio. In essence this is an anime, about making anime, and it's incredibly fun to watch! There are many downright funny scenes in this anime, and they all are fast paced. The characters are very interesting, and very well developed for such a short OVA. A testament to Diachi's skill no doubt. Of course Kuromi is the star of the show, and she's a very cool person. She's very active, sometimes talking incredibly fast, and running around like a chicken without a head. But she has many calmer moments, like when she's at home just thinking about her job, or worrying about finishing the episode in time (something Daichi admits to doing often as well). Her ambition comes from watching an anime while she was in high school Luis Monde III (a reference to Lupin III no doubt). She's a very understandable character and very likable. Many of the other characters she interacts are the key animators for the studio. They all have their own little quirks, habits, and interests and together make a very interesting and diverse group of people. And it's very interesting to learn (from Akitaro Daichi's commentary on the DVD) that most of these characters are based on a few people (combined together to make one person).

The animation in this is pretty good. There are some really fast paced scenes, and they are handled very well. This is an OVA and the animation really shows it. Although this isn't exactly mesmerizing, it's very good artwork. The music is all right too, with a cool ending theme that I enjoyed. There is also a certain background music song that keeps popping up, that's really catchy! I love listening to that! But as far as the rest of it goes, it's pretty standard background music. However the dub is nothing but standard! This is a really good dub. Lisa Ortiz manages to do an excellent job at capturing every essence that is Kuromi. And she's incredibly funny at times! Rachael Lillis and Eric Stuart play two of the key animators and do a wonderful job. They both impressed me a lot with this anime. The other actors are spot on in their roles as well. This is a dub to show to those sub-only guys!

The special features on this disk are amazing. Central Park Media really outdid themselves with this one. The interview with Akitaro Daichi is very informative, and interesting. We get to learn some of the ideas behind this OVA, and some interesting tidbits of facts. There is also an interview of Lisa Ortiz, which was a great extra as well, at least for any dub fan. And as if the interview with Daichi wasn't enough, CPM even got him to give a commentary of this show for the DVD. In the commentary he goes into detail about many of the scenes, and how anime is really created in the real world. There is also a "Director's Diary" which is a bunch of pictures and recordings of this OVA being created and the people behind it. Which is a fun watch. And there is also an interview with an "animation runner" (or someone who has a similar job to Kuromi's only in American Animation) that's pretty interesting to watch as well. This gives you some insight as to how realistic this anime is, and the differences between how anime is created and American Cartoons. There's also an alternate angle with the storyboard that I didn't check out, but is worth a watch if it's anything like the one on the Now and Then, Here and There DVD's. There's a bunch of other stuff here too, and as many trailers as possible. The menus are also pretty cool, just another bonus for this DVD. The only problem I can find with this release is it's rated 16 and up! That's insane, I'm not really sure what they were thinking. There's nothing objectionable at all in this anime! (Well one character smokes, but really I think even a 13 and up rating would be overdoing it for this one. I find it funny that Maze got a 13 and up rating with all the sex jokes and fanservice, but this is 16 and up and it’s all very clean). But this isn't really a big problem.

The humor in this anime is fast paced, and really had me laughing out loud multiple times. Yet it's not all about the comedy, because by the end of this anime you will look back and go "Wow did I just learn something about how they create anime in a small studio?" . So overall a fun plot, great characters, and an amazing dub. There's no reason not to buy this DVD right now. I highly suggest it to anyone looking for a good time.
For some more info about this great show, or some previews of the extras and trailers go to the official Central Park Media website for this show.