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Interview with Sylvester “Sly” Ip, Product Manager for Madman Entertainment – “Madman in 2013 and Beyond”

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Wolf Children

2013 has been another big year for the Australian anime industry, with four publishers now vying for the attention of fans with a wealth of licences in addition to all the other world / Australian premieres, special guests and even more film screenings than earlier years. To wrap up the year, I have reached out to representatives to all Australian anime publishers with some questions about the year – and potential plans for 2014.

First up is the Australian powerhouse Madman Entertainment who have released numerous titles over the last twelve months – including a few gems that have a good chance of walking away with my Australian Anime Release of the Year 2013 award. This year also saw them take their biennial Reel Anime festivities to the annual level, with five films screened during late-September to October.

Anyone who has ever attended a Madman anime industry panel at a convention will be familiar with Sylvester “Sly Ip, who has been product manager at the company for a number of years now. He kindly took up some of his time to answer the below questions, providing an interesting insight into the industry and some of their plans for the future:

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With another year in the Australian anime market under your belt, can you share a bit about how it has been for you guys?

This year has been a bit challenging for us. With retail market conditions on the decline, it has certainly hurt more than previous years. People are buying less and expecting prices to drop more as well. That being said, we’re still doing ok. Licensing wise we’ve had a big year with a whole bunch of acquisitions. Too many to name all of them but highlights include – The Wind Rises, Kill la Kill, Space Dandy, Attack on Titan and more. We’ve also had one of the busiest convention calendars ever with one stretch of 5 events in a row. It’s certainly taken a bit of a toll on our staff. Next year looks to be even bigger.

We also ran REEL ANIME, for the first time in back to back years. With a film like Evangelion 3.0 in the mix it was a must do for us. Our Cosplay Contest – The Madman National Cosplay Championship was also a huge success for us this year. We hope to replicate this for 2014 as we move into the 6th year of the contest with even better coverage and presentation as well as bigger prizes for entrants. We’re also doing a lot more different styled releases – you’ll see a lot more value-added items like booklets and other extras. The Garden of Sinners was also another example of us being able to offer something to fans that they have wanted from us for a while. Premium packaging with premium extras.

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The Garden of Sinners

With many acquisitions picked up this year whether for simulcast, new release or classic release, were there any titles that have drawn in a greater than expected reception in terms of sales / public interest?

Attack on Titan was certainly a key acquisition for us. It was also the first series where we did an almost simultaneous simulcast. We saw our stream numbers jump up 10 times more than any other show we’ve ever streamed before. Coppelion and Kill La Kill were also our first true simulcast streams as well, going online the same time as the rest of the world and only 30 minutes after the Japanese broadcast.

Attack on Titan is certainly one of those titles that only happen every few years. It’s hard to describe just how massive this title is. We’re certainly looking forward to being able to release the home video version as soon as possible.

One of the big announcements you made earlier this year was that Reel Anime would be an annual event and had five titles lined up for the event back in September / October. Could you share a bit about the goals / planning process for such an event, and do you think that this could remain an annual event in the future?

Our goals for REEL ANIME are to be able to allow audiences to see some of the freshest and best anime to come out of Japan on the big screen. It takes a long time to plan and also we need to make sure we have the right mix of titles for the showcase before we can commit to doing it. Whether this will be an annual event will depend on the titles that we are able to acquire at the time. We’re also doing something different with more special event screenings that are also branded as REEL ANIME. This started last year with Madoka Magica and continued with Berserk 2 this year. We’ll be doing Madoka Magica: Rebellion under this format as well in 2014.

Earlier this year you began the Yokoso Anime Edition anime releases, however past a few releases it hasn’t really been continued. What is the state of the program and how are you as a company trying to appeal to a younger market of anime fans?

We’re trying to find the right mix of titles for Yokoso Anime. At the moment the titles in the range all had TV airplay. We’re considering expanding the range to include titles that may not have necessarily be seen on TV, but is the right fit for the audience. Trying to expand our market reach is one of our most important goals we continuously try to strive for. We believe that in order for there to be more fans, we must be able to reach out to the younger audience. Hopefully with Yokoso Anime, we’ll be able to do this by giving fans a cheaper option to get into the world of anime. We’ll have another range of titles for 2014, but dates and titles are not yet set.

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Sword Art Online

With 2014 just around the corner, what can we expect to see from Madman Entertainment in the new year?

I think you can continue to see more and more of the best titles from us. We are in an interesting phase at the moment and acquiring more titles than ever before. Fans should also look out for more FREE simulcast streaming shows to debut the same time as Japan, and also catching up on others as well. We intend to have a vastly different convention experience as well for fans in 2014, doing a lot more things and also giving fans a new type of retail experience at conventions.

Finally a more personal question, if you were to name… say three favourite anime releases from 2013, what would they be?

This is always so hard but!

  • Wolf Children
  • The Garden of Sinners Limited Movie Collection
  • Sword Art Online Limited box

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I would like to thank Sly for taking the time to answer these questions, and the Madman Entertainment PR team for helping me organize this interview! Be sure to keep an eye on The Otaku’s Study in the new year for reviews and news on many more of their releases!

Interview with Sylvester "Sly" Ip, Product Manager for Madman Entertainment - "Madman in 2013 and Beyond" 3
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fourteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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