Evangelion 3.33 -The Plot Thickens

All hell broke loose this afternoon when customers with open pre-orders through Amazon UK for the long-delayed and previously blogged about release of Evangelion 3.33 got cancellation notices claiming that “Manga UK were no longer releasing it”.

“Is it coming out at all?” ask some.

“Have Manga lost the license?” ask others.

“Do people even bother paying attention any more?” asked… well, me.
(I’m not exactly known for my sweet, tolerant and patient nature)

What we’ve actually heard, so far, from Manga’s social media feeds is that it is still coming out and that further details are coming. It also seems to be tied into the ongoing delay.

What people seem to forget that, especially with anime releases, cancelled-but-not-cancelled isn’t unheard of. It has happened before, especially with regards to Amazon.

The exact situation is still unknown and whether the news is good or bad is yet to be clarified. There are a few things that can be said for certain, though:

  • Amazon currently list Anime Limited’s upcoming DVD release of Durarara as being cancelled. This has been confirmed by Anime Limited as not being true.
  • Both properties have been suffering ongoing delays. My own personal speculation is that both titles have been communicated to Amazon as having their releases pushed back with no clear date in mind.
  • Last year’s Manga UK release of Psycho Pass, when changed from two parts to one part, was “cancelled” when the release pattern changed.
    They couldn’t just change “Part One” into “Complete Collection” because the price would go up and Amazon would be forced to apply their pre-order “lowest price” guarantee to a different product that actually cost more. That and it was likely a different SKU.

Eva’s mid-February release date was all-but-confirmed as being impossible at this point. Funimation still haven’t given concrete details of the American release. And I am pretty sure that theirs would have to have been out by now for Manga to be able to release in February.

I suspect that the apparent “cancellation” is down to one of two things:

  • Amazon put their foot down after yet another pushback without being given a confirmed release date. Taking pre-orders for a product is difficult if you don’t know when, or even if, it is even coming out.
  • That particular SKU has been cancelled or drastically changed. Maybe to have a dual-format pack. Maybe to offer something else. If a specific release has been removed, though, with an upcoming-but-not-submitted SKU due to replace it, it is still “cancelled” from the point of view of that particular item.

Hopefully, time will tell regarding what’s actually going on. Hopefully, though, the movie is still coming out over here and the Blu-ray version (something Manga seems to be going through a phase of skipping) is still on the cards.

Personally, I just want the damn thing to come out already. I have no interest in buying it but I just want it off my damned blog stats. 😉
And between the first post about it being popular and events like today’s warranting followup posts, it continues to dominate why people visit here.

Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Get a Straight Answer out of any Official Party

The tale of the third Evangelion Rebuild movie coming to the UK (or any English-speaking territory) is a woeful one at this point in time. It has been prompting outbursts from the fandEvaom for a bloody long time so far and, as of this week, also starting to get outbursts from more official channels.

This Wednesday, just before my last blog post, Jerome (Manga Entertainment UK’s Director Of Marketing And Acquisitions) was expressing a little bit of frustration at the latest official delay over Twitter, starting a thread of parody titles for the third movie. (The title of this post was my response)
And, yes, that was what got me to pull the trigger on actually releasing the last post.

The thing is, though, I completely understand where his frustration is coming from.

The Japanese theatrical release of Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo came out in November 2012. During 2013, one of the most frequent questions I saw on Manga UK’s Twitter and Facebook feeds was when Evangelion 3.33 was getting a UK home release. (Note: The theatrical releases have always been x.0, with the home version being x.xx)
Of course, being the UK release, it is dependant on the North American version as they are reliant upon that being complete. If I remember correctly, Manga UK sublicense these movies through Funimation (the NA publisher). If that is not correct then even if the license directly from Japan, they have licensed the English language localisation (dub and subtitles) from Funimation. So, either way, they can’t do anything until Funimation do. This doesn’t stop people, understandably, wanting to know when the next home release is out once the Japanese home release has started.

Fast-forward to October 2013 and the official Manga UK panel at MCM London Comic Con. They announced that Evangelion 3.33 was coming to UK DVD and Blu-ray in 2014. it got the biggest cheer for the panel. Even I was excited, and i don’t even care about the series. I just know that a lot of people have been avidly awaiting this. Even a technical screw-up (the screen went dead halfway through the trailer) didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

The rumblings started to come out from Funimation’s side of things that the North America release had been delayed. This had a knock-on effect on Manga’s UK release and Madman’s Australian release, as both were dependant on the aerials that Funimation would be supplying.

Then…

…nothing.

There were a few announcements about “Time for additional NA theatrical showings” but, generally, there hasn’t been any real news for quite a while until recently. There have been rumours that it was something to do with the English language version, as other languages have had their home releases, but nothing concrete. nothing official.
The most “real” information we have had so far was a Facebook comment by Funimation in June saying that they are “working very closely with the studio in Japan” – which is worrying, so many months after the initially scheduled release date.

Like I said, there are rumours. I’m not going to list them because the rumours themselves are besides the point. The point is that there are rumours, and no official word. All we get are variations on “No Comment”. And, especially form Manga UK’s side of things, this has the air of coming out from between gritted teeth. There is clearly A Story Behind This, but it isn’t something that can be publicly stated. However, the lack of official facts is pissing off the fan base something seriously.

Mix into all of this that all of the UK distributors have had several delays on titles over the past year or so. Whether it’s down to material delays or last-minute quality issues, a  fair few releases have been delayed. And the ones that go down the best are when the full story, or at least a clear reason, are related. Especially because when the delay is upstream, if you don’t state that it reflects badly on your company. I’ve seen this happen a lot where people who are less researched than myself (sorry, “people who don’t waste as much time as me looking into the public reasons behind things because they’re not at irritatingly knowledge-hungry as myself”) blame end-point company A for a delay when the problem is upstream supplier B has delayed it for everyone.

I think this is where Jerome’s latest outburst came from. He knows the story. He knows the only thing that will calm people down is explaining why there is a delay and at what point the delay is coming from. And he can’t say anything, instead having to take the flak from the fanbase. And, unlike some production issues, this one isn’t in any way Manga’s fault. But they’re taking the same criticisms as if it were.
(BTW, working in IT support I understand some of the pain of having to wait on the supply chain, and fending off customer queries when there is a delay. So I can’t help but empathise a bit.)

Manga UK spent much of 2013 fielding questions about this title. In October 2013, they finally thought they would be able to close the book on this chapter in 2014. Now their latest new is that they won’t be able receive the assets form Funimation until October 2014. And the production and BBFC certification processes basically mean that the release date is now Feburary 2015.
And, by the time that date arrives, fandom expectations will probably be impossibly high.

No wonder Jerome’s frustrated.