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As you would hope all of the major anime distributors set up shop at the Expo, and all of them we're selling their DVDs with a decent discount.  MVM snatched the pre-expo headlines by announcing the creepy horror Le Portrait de la Petit Cossette prior to the Expo but had no other announcements to make, as with all of the distributors the Expo seemed to come a little too soon for them to have anything ready to announce.  They did preview a fair few of their existing and forthcoming titles in the anime screening area, giving punters a chance to check out the likes of Requiem from the Darkness, Spiral, Samurai 7 and Burst Angel, all of which were well received.  The difference MVM had from the other anime distributors is that they began life as a shop, and they still run this side of the business alongside their licensing and distribution.  The MVM stall therefore had a load of artbooks, CDs and other merchandise alongside their DVDs, and there were usually a lot of fans crowded around.

Manga Entertainment had the big Expo news though, and that was the licensing of the excellent ninja actioner Naruto.  With voice actress Maile Flanagan on hand to sign posters for free and chat to fans and plenty of enthusiasm from the Manga staff, Naruto was really making an impression on the Expo visitors.  Manga once again called in the graffiti artist group The Cable Street Collective to paint a giant mural featuring Naruto, Tetsujin 28, Karas and Heat Guy J, and very impressive it was too.  Tetsujin 28 seemed to be the other focus of Manga's energies, with the excellent designer Terratag brought in to design t-shirts, booklets and even a cut out card model!  Manga also had a member of their Street Team stomping around in a Tetsujin 28 outfit, which later appeared on stage to fight ADV's resident robot - Cromartie High School's Mechazawa.  They also found time to preview the first episode of Naruto with Jetix, show a preview of the forthcoming live action Tetsujin 28 movie and also screen episodes of Karas, Otogi Zoshi, She the Ultimate Weapon, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG and the anime version of Tetsujin 28.
 

ADV Films may have had no announcements to make, but of all the anime companies their stall was by far the busiest.  This was due in no small part to their enthusiastic staff, bargain priced DVDs and also the presence of Garnier Fructis' stylists who were on hand to dish out anime inspired hairstyles with their Manga Head styling putty.  ADV's screenings were probably the best received too, with Cromartie High School and Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu! drawing plenty of laughs whilst Madlax and Gilgamesh kept the action fans happy.  ADV's enthusiasm created a great vibe around their stall, where a rolling trailer reel showed clips of some of their forthcoming titles.  Their genial

PR man Hugh David hinted at some great licenses to come, once all the red-tape is cleared, and chatted to us about the superb looking forthcoming title Samurai Gun, which looks set to be a hit with fans of Samurai 7 and Trigun.

Beez always seem to draw the short straw when it comes to stall size, but standing opposite the Dance Dance Revolution area is always a good way to get passing trade.  Their screenings were pretty action orientated with Gundam SEED, Crest of the Stars and .hack://LEGEND OF THE TWILIGHT leading the way, however, it was the super powered schoolgirls of My HIME that seemed to be most poplar with the audience.  Their Marketing Assistant Andrew Partridge was really happy with the success of Wolf's Rain, particularly the TV run on digital channel Rapture TV, and was really talking up the unique looking - but as yet unlicensed - Gankutsuou (aka. The Count of Monte Cristo).  News was scarce, but their catalogue did confirm releases for Gundam SEED Destiny, Eureka Seven, Panda Z and Fantastic Children.

Jetix shouldn't be forgotten though, whilst many anime sites (including us) focused on Manga's DVD release of Naruto, the fact that Jetix were going to screen it played second billing, and their other anime project - Oban Star Racers - got very little coverage.  However, Oban turned out to be the surprise hit of the Expo, with everyone taken aback it must be said by how good the French-Japanese co-production actually was.  Jetix were really pushing both Naruto and Oban Star Racers, screening episodes of both and even having the creator of Oban on hand to answer questions and introduce the show, keep an eye out for both when they hit our screens later this year.

Tokyopop was another company with a stall at the Expo but made no announcements on new manga licenses.  However, they didn't really need to - their stall was so popular that their Field Sales Manager Andrew Whelen told us they had to restock entirely after the 1st day!  From a retail point of view Tokyopop had a really successful expo, but they weren't the only ones...


 

One of the big successes from a retailers point of view was TokyoToys, a relatively new online retailer who have grown exponentially over the last year.  Their stall drew a huge crowd throughout the weekend, thanks in no small part to their stock of the latest merchandise direct from Japan and the US, the Japanese snacks they were selling, and the fact that their sexy sales assistants were dressed in maid outfits!  Their cute mascots Coco and Kiki adorned a number of special Expo t-shirts which were selling well, and they sold out of their Trigun cosplay caps in just 4 hours, we spent a hefty amount of cash there ourselves, when we managed to fight our way through to the counter!

Anime distributor MVM was doing well too, with its merchandise arm selling a large amount of artbooks and cosplay caps, whilst their DVDs and the UK Anime Club attracted interest too.  In fairness all of the main anime companies

seemed to be shifting a few DVDs, particularly ADV Films, who were selling some older titles for just 5 each.  Alongside these you have the Sheffield Space Centre, United Publications, Gundammad and Forbidden Planet all shifting anime and manga merchandise, and the excellent designers Terratag and Genki Gear.

As you can gather, if you want anime and manga stuff the MCM London Expo is the place to come.  Only at the larger UK conventions do a larger number of specialist retailers and anime and manga companies attend, and the Expo boasts a really friendly and inclusive atmosphere that makes people want to attend.  And did people go?  You bet they did...


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