From an anime fan point of view 2012 was a year when ups outnumbered the downs.  On the down side we saw the loss of the anime distributor Beez Entertainment, the continuation of manga distributor TokyoPop's slow demise and the cancellation of several anime events including Kitacon and Nemacon.  But on the plus side we saw an unprecedented amount of anime released on Blu-Ray, a much more varied array of releases springing from Manga's linkup with European distributor Kazé, more anime to legally watch online for free than ever before, the launch of a second monthly anime magazine (MyM) and an exponential growth for the MCM Expo events.  MVM Films, who had significantly reduced their anime output in favour of live-action Asian film at the turn of the year started to license and release more anime again, UK competitors were included in the World Cosplay Summit and European Cosplay Gathering for the first time and Dragon Ball Z finally got a UK DVD release courtesy of Manga Entertainment.

Despite only two anime distributors remaining active in the UK - Manga and MVM - and the number of anime conventions dropping for the first time in several years, UK anime fandom was actually in a better place at the end of 2012 than it had been for a while.  We were getting more anime and we were getting it quicker, and the year ended with a flurry of licenses and announcements for 2013 which raised quite a few eyebrows. 

  The first surprise for 2013 was the emergence of a new anime distributor.  101 Films have been around for a while specialising in bringing cult films and TV to DVD, but they've dipped their toe into the anime market by picking up the former ADV Films titles Elfen Lied and - it was initially reported - The Place Promised in our Early Days, although they have since revealed another distributor will be releasing the latter titleADV were probably the UK's biggest anime company prior to the financial crash and much of their extensive catalogue is

out of license, including some of the most popular anime of the 1990's and 2000's.  With MVM, Manga and Kazé largely focusing on newer titles the loss of former anime distributors like ADV, Beez and Revelation Films has left a vast array of older titles up for grabs, so it will be interesting to see what else 101 Films get hold of.

However, 101 Films aren't the only new anime distributor for 2013.  The biggest news to come from the last few weeks of 2012 was the surprise launch of a Glasgow-based anime distributor with the provisional name of Anime Limited.  Unlike 101 Films, Anime Limited are a brand new company and a dedicated anime distributor.  Led by Andrew Partridge - a man familiar to Expo and convention attendees from his time at both Beez and Kazé - the company promises to license a mix of old and new anime titles for home and cinema release.  Their website is set for launch in early 2013, and so far their only confirmed license is the classic series Cowboy Bebop - a former Beez release that they are bringing to Blu-Ray for the first time.  The company is something of an unknown quantity at the moment, and it is unclear whether Partridge is still with Kazé.  However, he has considerable experience in the industry and close ties with Bandai from his time with Beez (who were Bandai's European subsidiary), he is also one of the main organisers of the annual Scotland Loves Anime film festival and has a proven track record of bringing the cutting edge of cinema anime to the UK.  We will be watching them with extreme interest.

At the moment it seems that Manga's distribution linkup with Kazé is continuing in 2013, although whether the creation of Anime Limited is linked to Kazé remains to be seen.  Of all the UK distribution companies Manga is by far the most active, and they've also announced their full release schedule - including titles being distributed for Kazé - for the first few months of the year (check out our Release Schedule for full listings).  Amongst the highlights so far are the fantasy film Journey to Agartha, sci-fi sequel Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion, sci-fi series Tiger & Bunny, fantasy action series Black Rock Shooter and welcome re-issues of the former Beez titles Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass: R2.  One of the most notable things about Manga's release plans for the year is the scheduling of more Blu-Ray titles.  In a recent podcast they revealed that several of the restrictions around Blu-Ray production have been changed, most importantly the minimum order limit, which makes Blu-Ray far more affordable for niche companies.  This has enabled them to revisit some of their older titles, and both Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Hellsing Ultimate are getting Blu-Ray re-issues in 2013.

MVM's re-embrace of anime continues in earnest with several intriguing licenses lined up for the first few months of the year.  Unlike Manga they prefer to release series rather than films, and focus on picking up a select clutch of licenses that mix the cutting edge with some older series that Manga and Kazé have missed.  Amongst the most intriguing confirmed releases are the action series CANAAN, sci-fi series Bodacious Space Pirates and fantasy sequel Shakugan no Shana Series 2, but the as yet unscheduled slice-of-life series Kids on the Slope and the comedy Majikoi: Samurai  

Girls are also of note.  Also interesting is their re-issue of one of their oldest titles Vampire Princess Miyu, which is due for release as a complete series box set in the Spring.  Despite re-releases of Kiddy Grade and Fruits Basket in 2012 the re-issue of the series is something of a surprise, and it raises the possibility that MVM may revisit more of their classic series.  At the moment MVM do not have any Blu-Ray titles scheduled, and from comments at last October's MCM London Expo it's clear that the format isn't a priority despite encouraging sales of Broken Blade, their first and only Blu-Ray anime release.  They will however be continuing their live-action Asian film releases, and currently have the Thai horror film My Ex 2 and the Japanese horror film Death Game scheduled for February and March respectively.

Event-wise 2013 sees a continuation of the shift away from big dedicated anime conventions to smaller ones and larger Expo-style events.  Kitacon and Nemacon have already confirmed that they won't be returning this year, and the Scottish convention Auchinawa is unlikely to run, whilst the UK's largest anime convention AyaCon has revealed that this year's event will be its last.  There is still a demand for conventions - in most cases these events are closing due to committee members moving on rather than a lack of popularity - but it seems clear that a new generation of fans need to take up the reins.  It's therefore quite heartening to see a number of smaller conventions running this year, with the likes of ONEcon, Lucky Con and the Saltburn Anime Convention joining the bigger, established events.  Minamicon, Alcon, DokiDoki, J-Con and DOJ-CON return alongside AyaCon, the ambitious Sunnycon returns to replace Nemacon in the North East and the MCM group are plugging any gaps with an expanded calendar of shows which sees MCM Expos returning to London, Telford, Birmingham and Manchester as well as a new event in Glasgow.  Scotland Loves Anime should return to Glasgow and Edinburgh, with some of the films featuring as part of a touring program which will visit several other British cities, and the Sci-Fi London Film Festival will return with its popular Anime Allnighters in May and October.  It's also worth keeping an eye open for Studio Ghibli's latest film From Up On Poppy Hill, which is likely to hit UK cinemas some time this year courtesy of Studio Canal.  Check our Event Diary for full listings of events and cinema screenings.

At this early stage 2013 seems to promise a lot, there's even going to be anime on free-to-air TV again when Dragon Ball Z Kai starts showing on satellite channel Kix! (available on Freesat and Sky) in January, so keep an eye on our reviews, news, event diary and release schedule to stay on top of it all as the year progresses!  On the next page we pick out ten anime titles to look out for in 2013...