Le Chevalier D'Eon - gender-bending action horror in pre-revolution France

Things aren't as simple as they used to be.  A few years ago ADV Films ruled the anime distribution roost in the UK nearly unopposed.  Whilst other companies were simply regurgitating their existing VHS catalogue or putting out series that had been available for years in America, ADV mixed new and old and strived to bring UK release times closer to US ones.  Nowadays ADV have more competition.  MVM have built a strong catalogue through shrewd sub-licensing, Manga Entertainment have risen like a phoenix since they came under Anchor Bay's wing and Beez are putting out strong, glitch-free releases and special editions.

With the market here growing ever more competitive you may think 2006 would have been more of a squeeze than normal, but this hasn't been the case.  '2006 went very well indeed' says ADV's Marketing Co-ordinator Hugh David.  'Whatever your tastes, I think the 2006 schedule had something for everyone if they're fans of quality anime: Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU!, Elfen Lied, MADLAX, Cromartie High, Gilgamesh, Area 88, Samurai Gun, Yugo The Negotiator, alongside still-running shows such as Chrono Crusade, DNAngel and the ever-popular Get Backers.'

The fun Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu! was one of ADV's popular titles

It's certainly true that ADV had a strong lineup of titles in 2006, so many in fact that releases reached an all-time high with up to six DVDs hitting the shelves per month.  This rate was matched by MVM and coupled with Manga and Beez's releases, as well as those from fringe distributors like Optimum Asia, ILC Prime and Contender, anime fans have been spoiled for choice.  In our opinion there hasn't been a better time to be an anime fan in the UK, but bank balances will only stretch so far.  ADV have been the leading force in the UK for a while and they recognise what they have to do to keep that position.  'We've made a distinct move towards pure quality as our yardstick'

states Hugh, 'instead of putting out any old rubbish and claiming it's new and hip as some companies did, we've genuinely delivered recent Japanese series in quality packages.'

He isn't just talking a good fight either.  Whilst ADV may not have had the big name series this year they certainly have had some of the best.  Our favourites from their catalogue in 2006 have included Elfen Lied and Gilgamesh, two remarkable series that have really pushed the boundaries of anime into new areas of quality, story and style.  But what is especially noteworthy for them this year is that they have balanced genres well - horror, romance, action, drama, comedy, you name it, they've released it.  Their catalogue in 2006 has been very eclectic but also very strong, giving a wide range of fans decent series from the last couple of years that appeal directly to their tastes.  The lack of 'big name' titles may have seen competitors hogging the limelight, and some series ADV release may not appeal to all, but in a way that has helped them to succeed where other companies haven't.  They appeal to the hardcore anime fans, and at the end of the day it's these dedicated fans who stick with seven volume series that companies need to engage if they want to do well.

ADV Films have always been a fan orientated company, and as the number of fans in the UK grows so does their success.  For the first time since the Sci-Fi channel 'de-prioritised' anime and shunted Excel Saga to a graveyard slot well over a year ago, an ADV title has been on TV in 2006, with Mezzo DSA showing on digital channel Rapture TV.  But they've had lots of other successes too, their titles have been in cinemas and at event screenings around the country, and Hugh is very happy at how the year has gone.  'We're proud of all our achievements in the UK - The Place Promised in Our Early Days limited theatrical run, the Ubisoft cross-promotion with Samurai Gun,

Girls and guns galore in Mezzo DSA, which has been showing on Rapture TV

our TV deals with both Rapture TV and Redemption, now Rock World TV, (see page 2 - ed), and our support of events both small and large'.  As always ADV have been at nearly every expo and convention this year, and Hugh has presented screenings at both The Anime All-Nighter at Sci-Fi London 5 and The National Film Theatre

However, of all their releases and successes this year, there is one special edition release that has grabbed the connoisseurs eye, and that includes Hugh.  'We're immensely proud of the Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum Complete Collection limited edition tin - designed and made solely for Europe and 100% GAINAX approved. I've been a huge EVA fan for years, and this is how I want Platinum to sit on my shelf.' he declares.  He's not the only one either, a boxset like this is a UK first and with only 1000 being made they are likely to snapped up very quickly.  That they can release a set like this shows how well ADV have done this year.  In the past the costs involved with producing this kind of boxset were just too high and the potential buying audience too small for any UK company to even attempt it, but now they can.  If this kind of growth continues then who knows what we my have seen by this time next year?