A few years back Manga Entertainment only released a handful of DVDs, nowadays they're one of the leading UK distributors once more.  However, 2007 was a year that saw a couple of minor failures overshadowed by some great successes.

'2007 was a great year for Manga' confirms their Marketing Executive Jerome Mazandarani.  'The latest edition in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society had a very successful release.  I am very excited about the launch of Bleach, my favourite anime series at the moment and I am looking forward to getting Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow out in time for Christmas'.  However Jerome's in no doubt what he's most proud of.  'Naruto has been a phenomenon! Manga has sold more than 60,000 Naruto DVDs since the launch in August 2006.'  It sounds impressive, and it is.  In the UK market most series are lucky if they reach a few thousand sales, so figures like this are jaw-dropping.  Jerome doesn't need us to tell him that. 'It is pretty amazing for an anime series that has not been seen on UK TV screens by that many people.' he confirms, 'I have to thank the fans for their amazing support and in exchange for that support I promise that we will bring out more Naruto in 2008 and that it will be packaged and presented in the way the fans want to see it.  That means no more dubtitles.'

Karas was again one of the best looking anime titles of the year

Such declarations will no doubt please a lot of fans.  Dubtitles are when the subtitle track is word for word exactly the same as the English language dub.  Whilst this isn't really a problem if you watch it in English, some fans who prefer to watch it in Japanese find it infuriating.  Some of the Naruto volumes had dubtitles, much to fan annoyance, but it's great to see that Manga have noted this and are doing something about it.  Fans appreciate it when companies make the effort to engage them and find out what they like and what they don't, and 2007 has seen Manga more active in attending and organising fan events than ever before.  'I am really proud of the amazing work we have done

in-store with our Naruto Day at Virgin Megastores (now known as Zaavi) in May and the Solid State Society launch day we held at HMV, Oxford Street in August.' says Jerome, but it's not just his own events he's proud to be involved in.  'You can't fault the London MCM Expo events in May and October.  They are growing at a phenomenal pace and I love being involved in them.' he confirms, 'And big respect to the Amecon massive.  It's such a well run and fun show.  It is the only fan organised event we get directly involved with and we will continue to do so.'

But with all this talk of Naruto it's easy to overlook one of Manga's biggest coups of 2008.  'I am also really pleased that I managed to acquire Bleach for the UK' Jerome nods, 'and I look forward to working with Viz Media more in the future.  They are a fantastic company and share our enthusiasm for bringing the best manga and anime to UK fans and growing the fan base in general.'  Such words are certainly good to hear.  In the part many of the 'Shonen Jump' anime titles released by Viz in America have not made it to the UK, despite their immense popularity.  This year has seen UK releases for probably the two biggest Viz titles, and the future could hold more.

But despite all this good news there were a couple of less encouraging signs.  Whilst the big titles were doing great business a couple of Manga's other series slipped from the schedules.  Noein and Tokko were major licenses for Manga but in September they issued a press release announcing that the remaining volumes of both series were no longer going to be released.  Instead budget box sets of both series were released in October, with Manga stressing that they would endeavour to ensure those that had been buying the series would be able to complete their collections with the remaining volumes.  Manga maintained that there were several

Noein, sadly underappreciated by fans and consigned to a box set release

 reasons for the change of release policy, but in most fans eyes it simply seemed that neither series sold particularly well.  It's a shame if this is the case, but it might be a side-effect of the sheer success of Naruto and Bleach that other titles pass under the radar.  People drawn in by Naruto may be looking for more of the same, which is where Bleach comes in, but not where Noein does.

However, despite this worry Manga have had another good year.  Naruto, Bleach and Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society did exceptionally well, and plenty of other titles graced the shelves, including Otogi Zoshi, Highlander Vengeance and Tactics.  Reissues of Golgo 13 and the excellent Street Fighter II were welcome retro distractions to all the flashy new stuff, and the excellent She, The Ultimate Weapon was rounded off in style with the spin off Another Love Song and a budget box set release.  There was also the superb Karas The Revelation, the conclusion to a story started by last year's Karas The Prophecy.  Things are going to have to be good in 2008 to top that, so what have Manga got lined up?  Read on and find out.