Ayashi no Ceres 001 - 20140619Discotek’s been a busy company in the past week. Since Monday, the company announced that the licensed six titles. The list is varied, and contains a number of fun B-list titles that have hovered just beneath the radars of many western fans in their heyday. The list so far is as follows:

Impressive list, wouldn’t you agree?

Of the six titles, Flame of Recca, Ceres, and Orguss are license rescues. In their heyday, Flame of Recca and Ceres had decent-sized followings, though they could never escape the shadows of Yu Yu Hakusho and Fushigi Yuugi, respectively. Orguss, on the other hand, was a fairly low-key title. It was a flagship release by ImaginAsian entertainment that, though it saw decent pre-order numbers, never had a definitive “yea” or “nay” on its overall performance due to the company’s closure.

The other three shows in the list are new acquisitions of titles with varying degrees of prestige attached. Everybody knows the name Mazinger Z and ItaKiss has some brand recognition due to its manga releases. Zombie Loan, though, stands as the dark horse of the bunch, with little presence in the western market, and generally middling word of mouth from the general population.

I must admit that it’s intriguing to see so many companies pulling the stops out. Though we’re only six months into the year, it seems that everybody is operating on overdrive! Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how amazingly vibrant the western industry’s appeared this year:

  • The ball got rolling with Sentai’s “licensing bender”, which saw over nine titles revealed over the course of roughly two weeks
  • NIS announced that they acquired Cardcaptor Sakura, rescuing a highly requested title that was off the market since Geneon folded
  • Viz upped the ante by announcing their license of both Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, which would include a brand new dub and free streaming episodes on Neon Alley

Now, we have Discotek’s announcement spree, in which the company threw out fan favorites and niche darlings alike, igniting conversation and sparking one conversation after the next. People are excited, they’re giddy to see just what the market will bring next!

On a higher level, this is a good thing. An excited market, a happy market is a market that will talk and evangelize to potential customers. They’ll be the ones that pull the curious into the fold, and get people interested both in the hobby and the products associated with it, driving┬ámarket growth.

As we get deeper down, though, we can really get a good look at just how little these reveals needed help from a major convention venue. Sentai, NIS America, and Discotek drove their announcements home on their social media channels. And, while Viz made their reveal at ACen, it was the first tweet on May 16 that really sparked the chain reaction. Such feedback, such conversations really begin to drive the idea that the market as a whole has changed and evolved, even in the past few years.

Back in the day, before Facebook and Twitter were part of our every day vocabulary… hell, even as recently as three years ago, we were in a very different place. Heck, when I got started in 2003, we might as well have been living in the Middle Ages in comparison!

Major announcements would be delivered at conventions, where banks of reporters would sit hunched in front of notebooks, typing fiercely to capture every last word, every last detail they could. The room would revel and chatter with excitement – they had heard something new, something that nobody had been in the know about until just that moment. Depending on the internet situation (and whether the company sent out a press release on the topic), it could take anywhere, from fifteen minutes to about an hour to hit the regular news channels.

Conventions were the only place a fan could get in touch with industry figures, and the real place, outside of clubs and fan meetings, where like-minded folks could come together.

Of course, things are different now. the internet is everywhere, fans can connect at the touch of a button, and communicating a message to a large group of like-minded individuals is easier than ever. Over 17% of the world is on Facebook, nearly 75 million Twitter accounts are available, and Google Plus exists as a thing.

So, to see the industry embracing social media, and really tapping into the power of an open conversation, is beyond heartening. The power of an open conversation, of actively reaching out to and sharing with customers, is one of the best ways to actively market and grow awareness for a brand. Customers get a chance to talk to the people who make their hobby possible, and the news itself manages to find its way to the masses far far quicker than the old-fashioned way.

As time goes on, I wouldn’t be shocked to see these major reveals become increasingly common on social media, as companies grow more comfortable talking with the greater population and the sheer impact of those gigantic reveals at an Anime Expo or an Otakon begins to dwindle.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the big convention reveal will go away entirely. The energy of a live panel will always provide a burst of excitement and energy that is hard to capture on a Tweet, Facebook post, or YouTube video. However, I don’t doubt that we will see publishers begin weighing their options, to determine whether holding a hot title back for the big at-con reveal is really worth waiting for.