Last night, Anime News Network reported that Media Blasters will delay several titles in their library. the following releases will be pushed back to the specified dates:

  • Shamanic Princess, April 2013
  • Ai no Kusabi: The Space Between, April 2013
  • Bio-Slime, February 2013
  • Darnell Dawkins: Mouth Guitar Legend, February 2013
  • Lady Ninja: Reflections of Darkness, February 2013
  • The Possession in Japan, March 2013
  • Queen’s Blade/Queens Blade 2Complete DVD Boxed Set, March 2013
  • Chanbarra Beauty: The Movie, To be Announced
  • Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, To be Announced

In addition, the following titles were removed from the Media Blasters’s release schedule:

  • Dracula vs. Frankenstein(Blu-Ray)
  • Fresh Meat Six Pack
  • Gaogaigar, Complete Collection
  • Kite(Blu-Ray)
  • Ring of Curse
  • Squid Girl, Part 3 (Season 2)
  • Tokyo Vengeance
  • Unaware

On the surface, this sounds bad. Terrible, even. Two higher-profile anime titles for the company were canned outright while two potentially profitable titles were pushed back to April. Furthermore, we’re receiving conflicting reports on the company’s Fushigi Yuugi OVA release, with Right Stuf saying it was delayed, and Robert’s Anime Corner Store flatly stating that it was cancelled.

“That means Media Blasters is dying!”

Dear reader, that’s not necessarily the case. However, it does imply that something isn’t right in New York. In particular, the delays state that the company is planning beyond its current means. The company’s human and productive resources simply can’t keep up and, barring a sudden addition of employees and production orders, this capacity won’t be changing.

“Well, why don’t they just schedule less?”

Dear reader, that’s the basics of most product-oriented businesses. Deliver a product, don’t over-promise or under-deliver, and hope the market accepts your wares. In this lens, scheduling fewer products makes sense.  After all, why promise beyond what the company can deliver?

On the other hand, though, Media Blasters has several outstanding agreements with the licensors with whom they’ve forged agreements. Basically, for every minute that they hold a title without selling, they’re losing potential profit. Throwing a title out to market with a date allows retailers to pre-order, which allows people to buy, which in turn funds the release prior to street date. If they miss the target, they still have the funds allocated from these initial purchases, which they can continue to invest while they work on getting the title to market.

“I dunno… that sounds kind of shady.”

Well, dear reader, that’s because it is pretty shady. It’s not exactly an admirable practice for a reason. Over-promising and under-delivering is frowned upon because it preys on the goodwill of the customer. Forcing those paying for and expecting the company’s bottom line to wait is a surefire way to effectively undermine the company’s reputation in the market and demotivate those who would line up for their products. People are willing to forgive a slipped date on one product, maybe two, but once delays become a fact of life, as we’re seeing with Media Blasters, the company becomes a joke. Retailers, burned from their purchases, will reduce their orders to the company, while former customers pass their releases up and begin to actively beg for another company to re-license the products they want after the company collapses (if the company collapses).

So, in essence, Media Blasters should have an obligation to get a product to market in the specified format at the specified date, if only to maintain some face with the market. This isn’t even scratching the surface of which format they must release in. And, by pulling these mass delays, they’re failing to meet those obligations.

“Does this mean that it’s their fault?”

Basically. by over-promising and under-delivering, the company created the mess it’s currently in. They’ve lost fans,they’ve lost revenue, and most important, they’ve lost leverage in the market. The latter item is particularly big, since it means that the company’s ability to negotiate titles and the format in which they’re released is greatly reduced. It’s why Media Blasters still puts out singles in a period when the thirteen episode boxed set is the norm. It’s why they get the sloppiest seconds in the market, or must pick at corpses of fallen companies. They don’t have any real leverage to get what they want, nor do they have the wiggle room to negotiate terms in which they can release titles in a format that the market desires. Media Blasters’s reputation is in the crapper, they’ve laid off over 60% of their staff in the past year, several of their crown jewels are out of print, and many of the company’s biggest licenses (which includes Berserk) went on to expire.

“So… they’re dying?”

Not yet, dear reader. However, I am currently keeping them on DeathWatch, since it’s quite clear that not all is right in the company. Short of a miracle, a complete change to lean operations, or a surprise angel investment, the company faces an uphill battle. While profitable operations may not be impossible, the chances of a return the company’s glory days seem to grow dimmer with each passing day.