Ah! My Goddess, older than she looks...

Back in the Nineties there were a fair few small companies that dabbled with anime, and the vast majority sank without trace.  MVM were a retailer from Wales that licensed a few series and put them out on VHS, and later on DVD, and could have disappeared with the others.  But they didn't.  Hard work, determination and some very canny deals with the likes of Geneon and Madman saw MVM go from strength to strength as they built an enviable catalogue of top titles.  Every year has brought more success and 2006 saw an even stronger string of releases than ever before.

There will have been a fair few envious glances from rival companies at MVM's ongoing releases in 2006, with the likes of Samurai Champloo, Paranoia Agent and Fullmetal Alchemist proving popular throughout the year.  In fact, MVM had such an active 2005 that they had more ongoing series to complete in 2006 than rivals Manga Entertainment, ADV Films and Beez combined!  Because of this they were probably the most active company of all, putting out no less than 6 DVDs a month for the majority of the year.  With such a huge number of DVDs hitting the shelves you may think that MVM could be guilty of overkill, but thankfully this haven't been the case.  Despite the quantity of releases the quality has remained high, and MVM have gone from strength to strength - something that they are rightfully proud of.  '(It's been) another year full of achievement and growth for all sides of the business, as publisher and retailer plus the UK Anime Club.' says MVM's manager Tony Allen. 'We were able to introduce some of the strongest titles yet seen in the UK.'

Samurai Champloo was one of MVM's big ongoing hits

He's not wrong either.  A seemingly endless stream of quality titles, from continuing series like Fullmetal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo, Haibane Renmei and Trigun, through to brand new anime titles like Samurai 7, Requiem from the Darkness and Gunslinger Girl, found their way into many an anime fan's collection.  It's not without reason that MVM won Neo Magazine's Best UK Anime Distributor Award again, their catalogue is one of the strongest of any UK company.  Tony is quick to highlight the success of Fullmetal Alchemist and Samurai Champloo, but their schedule in 2006 was full of great titles.  It's kind of inspiring to think that a company which started as a small retailer in

Chepstow in Wales is now considered the UK's top anime distributor.  They have worked hard for it and are reaping the benefits.

MVM have really mixed it about this year, big names have rubbed shoulders with underground titles, familiar with original, old and new.  Their catalogue has featured a real mix of genres, from the romantic comedy of Chobits to the drama of Gunslinger Girl and the action of Gungrave.  Titles from the last few years have hit the shelves at the same time as titles from the early nineties.  But best of all there has been space in the schedules for the unusual and the cutting edge.  Arthouse sci-fi thriller Texhnolyze is a hard sell no matter how you look at it, and the charming but little-known old-school title Twin Signal will not be a must buy for many modern fans.  Few would have taken the risk on titles like this, but MVM did.

In our opinion it's paid dividends too.  The reason that their catalogue is so strong is because they aren't afraid to look outside the norm and aren't swayed by certain styles or names.  In 2006 their releases appealed across ages, tastes and genders, with fan-favourite series peppering their schedule.  They, like many of their peers, also began to release budget boxsets of some of their older titles, breathing new life into overlooked series like Serial Experiments Lain and Ninja Scroll TV.  Many of our favourite series this year were MVM titles, and we're sure many fans would say the same.  However, the year hasn't been without its setbacks for MVM.

The excellent Serial Experiments Lain was given a new lease of life in box set form

There was a widely held belief that the incredibly gory Gantz would not make it past the censors unscathed, so there was a bit of a shock when it did and Paranoia Agent vol 3 fell foul of the BBFC instead.  There was an undeserved storm-in-a-teacup backlash about the cut that MVM rode with ease - it wasn't their fault anyway - but the biggest blow came in November.  FUNimation ended their distribution deal with MVM following a streamlining exercise by their parent company, and instead linked up with Revelation FilmsFUNimation were one of the first US distributors to sign a deal with MVM to distribute their anime catalogue in the UK, and the end of the deal saw MVM lose popular titles like Fruits Basket and the excellent Fullmetal Alchemist.  A couple of years ago this would have been a crippling blow for MVM, and would not have boded well for 2007.  But no longer...