The Story So Far
So, about a month ago, Anime Limited’s CEO Andrew Partridge mentioned on an anime forum that the second part of Samurai Flamenco was slightly delayed owing to poor sales of part one. They still intend to complete the series but, to date, it still hadn’t recouped all of the costs of part one and they’d have the same costs for part two.
A major problem, as usual in the UK, is the BBFC certification fees. Home video must be rated to be legally released. This is mandatory and, unfortunately, this is done at a per-minute rate payable by the publisher or distributor. Apparently fees for part two would be around £2,100 and part one still hasn’t fully recouped its BBFC costs.
Unfortunately, I think the title has a few things going against it. Some of which are out of Anime Limited’s hands.
The BBFC charges being one of them.
Not on Crunchyroll in the UK
I think this got things off to a bad start. When Anime limited first started picking up brand new shows, they worked through partnership with Wakanim. A service which has since left the UK, although is still going strong in its home country of France. Although the show was available on Crunchyroll in America and elsewhere, it (along with Kill la Kill) were Wakanim exclusives here in the UK.
Both shows have since ended up on UK Netflix but not getting onto the most well-known legal anime streaming service can’t have helped.
Where Kill la Kill became pretty massive, Samurai Flamenco didn’t fare quite as well. Kill la kill got an English language dub. Samurai Flamenco did not. I think this worked against the latter’s interests. Unfortunately, the existence of a dub pretty much always relies on one being produced by an American company.
Personally, find most dubs unenjoyable. But that’s my personal preference. In wider sales figures, the lack of a dub will attract less general interest in the product. It’s as simple as that. But the difference in sales probably wouldn’t be enough for a UK-based company to fund a show’s dub themselves.
No Standard Edition (Yet?)
Anime Limited’s usual method of release is to have some sort of collector-oriented release first with a standard release to follow. As a general rule, especially if mandated by the Japanese license holder, the standard edition won’t be released until the collector version’s print run has been sold.
Granted, this means that the initial release always has a somewhat high price tag. The SRP is £49 with many retailers currently selling it for around £35. This is just for the first 11 episodes, though, a bit of a hard sell for some. Especially when, by this point, there’s only part One with no Part Two in sight. This is a bit of a high barrier to entry for anyone who doesn’t already have it, with no guarantee of being able to complete the series any time soon. And no use to anyone who liked to marathon a series and would ideally wait until both parts are out to buy it.
Put it all Together
As of now, Samurai Flamenco is a sub-only, collector-only release that you’d be expecting a lot of people to buy into Sight Unseen. That’s asking a lot. Future purchases will be slow. And even if part one does recoup its costs, will enough people still care about part 2 if and when it eventually comes out?
That’s a tricky one.
What to do
Anime Limited are beginning to work a bit closer with Crunchyroll at the moment. Some of their current and recent simulcasts have been on the service. Also, they did announce in May that more of their shows will be turning up on the service. Many of us are hoping tat this will include things from their back catalogue that Crunchyroll didn’t get UK licenses for the first time around.
Getting Samurai Flamenco to UK Crunchyroll viewers will help, at least a little. It will lower the barrier of entry quite a bit and I can only assume it would bring in at least some amount of additional revenue.
Plus, Crunchyroll already streams the show and with English subtitles in other regions, so they already have the assets. It ought to just be a case of authorising them to enable UK access.
Bringing out a standard edition of part one would have the advantage of lowering the initial buy-in price. People just won’t bite otherwise. There would still be a level of financial risk involved in this method but some of the heavy costs are already covered by the initial run. BBFC costs, authoring costs, these are already paid. A second print run would be somewhat cheaper than the initial one. Plus the packaging would be bog-standard.
I do get the feeling that anyone seriously interested in the collector edition will have already bought it. Any potential future sales are likely to be to people waiting for a standard edition release. Those of us who don’t need artbox or additional packaging but who do like a lower pricetag for 11 episodes.
Eventually they will need to take a chance on it oner rather than alter. Even if part 1 recoups, leaving it too long risks leaving the show unfinished as there just won’t be enough momentum left for many people to want to finish the series even if it does get completed.
Complete Series Set
This one could be a tough sell to the Japanese licensor, I know, but an all-in-one-go buy-in will work better for some people. One option would possibly be having this as the standard edition release. Release the part two collector edition but follow it up before too long with a standard edition complete series.
At the very least, this would have a slight advantage of only needing one set of packaging for the standard edition. And with the authoring and BBFC certification already being done, it should help keep the set’s overall production costs down.
The other thing is that I very much suspect that if and when any standard edition comes out, people will be wanting to just buy and watch the whole lot in a short a period as possible. Riding on the PR from a part two release should also help keep it in the fandom’s eye for a while, too.