Anime · Lists

Anime Monopoly – A.D. Vision edition


I must state that this version was the toughest of the four to compile. Unlike CPM, which had multiple titles that are notoriously awful, plus a couple of “so bad, it’s good” OVAs, ADV had a plethora of mediocre, forgettable titles in its catalog. Part of my reason behind this was to educate casual fans on some forgotten gems, not to stump otaku with obscure shows from the late 90’s / early 2000’s.

Pardon the pun, but I was a fan of AD Vision‘s vision. It was a company founded in the early 1990’s by a couple of converted anime fans. Their love of the medium was shown in how they acquired so many shows, regardless of its popularity on either side of the Pacific. And while anime’s profile in the collective conscience began to rise, and certain shows became part of the cultural mainstream, the medium as a whole was still very, very niche. ADV just could not grab a hold of that fleeting zeitgeist. Sure, there was that ill-fated “Robot Week” on Cartoon Network, but that was doomed to fail from the very start. Even when it seemed that every digital cable channel (e.g.: IFC, Fuse, Showtime Beyond, Encore Action, Sci-Fi, TechTV, and even MTV2 [?!]) wanted to air anime, hardly any of the anime aired were from ADV. And I can’t blame the networks. ADV did not corner the market on the “hot-blooded” shows that generate ratings. Perhaps ADV was holding back in order to build an inventory for the very own cable network.

One more case study: In the early 2000’s, during the height of the anime craze, ADV loved to talk about how they passed up on one of the biggest anime movies on the market, The End of Evangelion, due to the exuberant licensing fee. They repeatedly noted that the cost was so high, that they could have obtained ten anime licenses for that price. Many fans speculated on which “10” ADV titles were procured in lieu of EoE, but ADV never confirmed that part. Instead, what ADV did with their money was something more aggressive. They invested in a magazine, Newtype USA; an on-demand anime cable channel, Anime Network; and a joint venture development of a live-action movie version of Neon Genesis Evangelion. (Not to be confused with Pacific Rim, which I recommend you see in a theater near you.) Sadly, ADV’s ambition was not rewarded. Perhaps they would have been better off with the most controversial anime film of all time, a film that was (and still is maybe?) a staple of every anime convention. The bottom line is that niche titles from an already niche medium was not a winning formula.

With all that in mind, here is my ADV MONOPOLY board:

Dark Purple = Dragon Half, Kanon

Railroads = Bubblegum Crisis 2040, Samurai X (Rurouni Kenshin), Dirty Pair, Battle Angel

Light Blue = Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Cromartie H.S., Excel Saga

Light Purple = Gasaraki, Noir, Gilgamesh

Utilities = Voices of a Distant Star, Place Promised in Our Early Days

Orange = Kino’s Journey, Martian Successor Nadesico, Full Metal Panic!

Red = Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Fist of the North Star

Yellow = Sakura Wars, Azumanga Daioh, Princess Tutu

Dark Green = Gantz, Elfen Lied, Rahxephon

Dark Blue = Robotech, Neon Genesis Evangelion

sentai filmworks

Although ADV is no more, it has been succeeded by Sentai Filmworks. They picked up most of ADV’s catalog, and continue to license new shows that ADV would have loved to acquire. Only a handful of Sentai’s DVDs are dubbed (i.e.: the popular ones.) The more obscure and less popular ones, especially the ones under the Section23 Films and Maiden Japan labels, are subtitled only. Sentai has also picked up a handful of Geneon (e.g.: Mahoromatic), and Bandai (e.g.: K-ON!!) titles. However, there are many other ADV titles out there that have not been picked up by either Sentai nor Funimation, which goes to show that the marketability and profitability of these shows were always close to zero.


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