It looks like AIC was purchased earlier today. Specifically, pachinko machine manufacturer Oizumi will purchase 3,800 shares (95%) of the animator’s stock, while AIC will purchase the remaining 5% from its former shareholder TM company.

Frankly, this is a sad day for a lot of fans, or should be. AIC is one of those legendary companies – they’re responsible for dozens of legendary shows, including Bubblegum Crisis, Ah! My Goddess, Tenchi Muyo and… well.. you get the picture. Few anime companies have enjoyed such a consistent stream of excellent, even amazing titles. They were an integral part of the OVA era of the ’80s, with classics like Gall Force, Bubblegum Crisis (again), and Megazone 23, and their TV shows are usually of high quality. Even now, we’re seeing excellent things come from the company, with Strike Witches, Nyan Koi hitting in ’08 and ’09 (respectively), and more in production for the coming season.

This really feels like the end of an era. Things will change now that AIC has a master to answer to, and I’m uncertain as to whether they’ll be for better or for worse. AIC is a profitable company as it is, although the margins are thin with only $330,000 in profit last fiscal year. If handled correctly, we could see them flourish under their new owners. But, on the flip side, we could see Oizumi pretty much pillage the company for its various licenses, and let the animation aspect fall by the wayside. I like to hope that the latter won’t happen, but the cynic in me is just saying otherwise.

Personally, I foresee a lot of pachislot machines in the near future with very nice animation and very recognizable characters. Still, I’d love to be proven wrong.