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Geneon: After the Fall PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 02 November 2007 09:12

GeneonSo I've been reading a lot lately about the Geneon 'shutdown' - in true fandom style, there've been comments on this that would make you think that the sky is falling, or that the end of civilisation is nigh. This Tuesday (6th November) marks the final slate of Geneon releases, so I seemed appropriate to put my own "what next" thoughts down - and I'm not as fatalistic as some. Read on for more...

First, it's important to realise what's happened and what hasn't. Geneon as a company hasn't gone away - it's still there, it still has some staff, and by most accounts it's still got several titles in the pipeline that dubbing work is still ongoing on. That's not the catatonic / tits-up state that some fans would have you believe, and it's important to remember that. What happened was simple: Geneon had a deal with ADV to take over DVD production, distribution and marketing; that deal fell through; and shortly thereafter Geneon announced the end of their own production, distribution and marketing efforts. Look at that carefully: if the ADV deal had gone through, Geneon would have been farming out those functions anyway. They just did what they had always intended to do.

After the "shutdown", the next thing that drew fans' attention was the news release from Geneon's parent company, Dentsu, announcing "extraordinary losses" of 4.7 billion yen as a result of "downsizing" at Geneon. Some took this to mean that Geneon had been losing a shedload of money - but not necessarily. The key part of that is "extraordinary", indicating the losses were directly related to the restructuring (layoff costs & other writeoffs etc), and not a result of Geneon's usual business. Whether they were losing money or just not making enough we'll probably never know, but the headline figure here is irrelevant to anyone expect Dentsu shareholders. Note also that the press release [PDF document] doesn't say anything about a shutdown, but just talks about a "downsize in scope". That is relevant to us.

Kannazuki no MikoHand Maid MayPopotanStellvia

The final link in the chain was a letter from CEO Eiji Orii, issued to Geneon's G-Spot mailing list, which stated:

At this time, we are internally discussing plans to explore all available options to continue distribution of Geneon titles, both old and new, at a later date. However, nothing is certain at this time. We will release more information to the public once we have any concrete plans, if any.
Worth remembering: Geneon had no obligations to issue any such statement, and doing so if they were really planning to just up sticks and go away would have made no sense. To me, that means they do genuinely intend to do what they say.

So, after going through the evidence and throwing a few runes in for good measure, here's my take on the whole situation:

- Geneon were always planning to shut down their production, distribution and marketing operations - the deal with ADV would have taken a good while to set up, and its late collapse left them with no Plan B other than carrying through with the shutdown of their own operations.
- The company is still around, and working on finding that Plan B that will allow them to continue getting product into the marketplace - if they weren't intending to do that, then there would be no point wasting money on dubbing the shows they had in the pipeline, which is still going on.
- From here, their best option is to follow the example of Kadokawa USA - (sub)license some titles to existing companies (eg SHUFFLE! to FUNimation), and reach co-production deals on other titles (eg The Third with Nozomi Entertainment). Getting properly geared up to do this - and making sure they don't get their fingers burnt again - will take time. In the meantime, we fans need to be patient.

I'm a glass-half-full kinda guy - after following events quite closely, I'm firmly of the opinion that Geneon will be back. Not in the form we knew and loved, maybe, but if they can find that way to continue releasing their product (and in terms of how they appealed to me, their lineup of titles was the strongest of any of the R1 companies), then we'll see them in action again soon.

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