Sometimes, a news story arises that’s just too weird to not mention.
Earlier this week, Section23 Films announced their release calendar for November. And, as one would expect, these are just release calendars that detail when new products hit the market during the month.
Over the past few years, most of us learned to take a closer look at these releases. Among the normal release date reveals, there’s usually a surprise license or announcement. It’s through these reveals that we learned of Sentai’s acquisition of shows like Sunday Without God and Samurai Bride.
However, some of the acquisitions can just seem baffling. The most recent acquisition was Jewel BEM Hunter Lime.
Jewel BEM Hunter freaking Lime. Yes, that Jewel BEM Hunter Lime. “Your Bad Anime Night Needs Jewel BEM Hunter Lime“ Jewel BEM Hunter Lime.
For the uninitiated, Jewel BEM Hunter Lime is a 3-episode comedy OVA that’s based on a series of PC games. It was cheesy, it was unambitious, and it ended with no real resolution. Still, when the title hit in 2001, it was seen as a decent B-grade budget release.
That said, this is a title that was first released thirteen years ago. For many, it was generally forgotten, and settled to the very bottom of the sales charts. To expect anything different with a new release is simply ludicrous. Pre-orders for the new release are struggling on sites like Amazon, where it rests below the 25,000 mark.
Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the move didn’t interest me.
Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in regards to Sentai’s behavior. Namely, the company is following a similar pattern to that of FUNimation a few years ago.
For those who don’t recall, back when the bubble burst, the anime market crashed in a most extraordinary way. Most of the key players, from ADV, to Geneon, to Central Park Media shuttered in the wake of collapsing revenues and declining sales.
In the immediate aftermath, FUNimation was able to amass a huge number of desirable licenses, which included titles like Trigun and Ah! My Goddess. The announcements were fast and splashy, with some containing as many as 30 shows at a time. This transitional period allowed FUNimation to really consolidate its power, gain a huge library, and become the dominant figure in the anime industry today.
We’re beginning to see a similar effect with Sentai Filmworks, who’s been quietly collecting shows from smaller parties to build a surprisingly versatile library. In addition to their newer shows, we’ve seen Sentai lining their library legends like Grave of the Fireflies and Ninja Scroll, as well as fan favorites like Lunar Legend Tsukihime and Appleseed. It’s allowed the company to really build a strong library in short order, and helped to build the brand with customers.
Perhaps Jewel BEM Hunter Lime fits into this strategy in the long run. Maybe the title was an inexpensive way to fill a void in Sentai’s lineup, or perhaps it’s a series that Sentai felt warranted a return to the market.
Whatever the case may be, we’re starting to see Sentai really position itself for a growth phase. The next moves the company makes will tell us a lot about how Sentai, as a whole, plans to proceed.