15:15 - 21st January 2016, by NEO Staff

2015: The Year of Manga Animatsu

The past twelve months have been huge for one particular company in the anime industry – Animatsu has gone from barely existing at the start of the year, to merging with Manga and then winning our best distributor award by the end – see the latest issue of NEO, on sale now, for more details about the rest of the winners. We interviewed Andrew Hewson to find out more about this incredible rise to the top.

1) 2015 was a huge year for Animatsu - tell us what happened with the company and how it relates to Manga, and the merger between the two?
Jerome and I decided to leave Manga and start Animatsu at the end of 2014 after growing frustrations with parent company, Starz and the limitations we were facing in the digital space. Several months after our departure, Starz decided to sell Manga Entertainment to the Managing Director, and this paved the way for the company to become an independent UK business with exclusive rights to the brand and catalogue. After discussions it soon became apparent that both Animatsu and Manga could work harmoniously together - we needed a distributor for our titles and Manga (after Jerome and I departed) needed help with acquisitions and marketing. With a strong relationship still intact between us, the decision was made to begin merging operations. The company is now healthier than ever and currently in a period of growth, securing a number of new licenses and renewing current ones whilst also expanding our team. The majority of titles will continue to be released under the Manga Entertainment brand with a large focus on digital distribution and Animatsu will function as a special division for productions and international rights management - there are already multiple projects currently in development.

2) What have you been most proud of in the past 12 months?
The theatrical releases of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Boruto and the Attack On Titan movies have been a real highlight of 2015. There was a lot of positivity from the anime community surrounding these releases and thanks to the passion and support from fans the films did very well. We’ve known for a while that there was an appetite for anime to be shown in cinemas, so we are extremely proud of the this achievement and the amount of fans we were able to please in the process. Moreover, because of the success we will definitely be bringing more titles to the big screen in 2016!

3) What do you think Manga Animatsu does differently that made it the winner of the best anime distributor award for 2015?
We try to provide an eclectic range of titles and genre that hopefully appeal to the many different anime tastes out there. Also, I like to think we listen to the fans, we find out what shows everyone is excited about and try our best to bring them to the UK. In addition, we did something very different to most anime distributors last year and released a select few titles theatrically, allowing fans to experience anime features the way they were supposed to be seen, up on the big screen and surrounded by fellow fans!

4) What are the biggest titles to look forward to from Manga Animatsu in 2016?
We have so many exciting releases coming your way in 2016, some of which we haven’t announced yet so watch this space. I would say look out for Akame ga Kill!, Parasyte –the maxim-, Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo and the DVD/Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ and Boruto: Naruto The Movie.

5) Are there any hidden gems that you want to draw to our attention in the line-up?
There are a few hidden gems coming out very soon including Golden Time, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Humanity Has Declined and Haikyu!. Sports anime has always been risky to release in the UK, but we’re hoping that Haikyu! can change that. It’s a remarkable series with a wonderful cast and fantastic animation, definitely worth checking out!

6) Any surprises on the horizon?
We will be doing our best to ensure that 2016 is a fantastic year for anime in the UK. While we can’t say anything specific about what we have planned at the moment, I can tell you it’s very exciting and we’re sure it will put a smile on many a face. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support in 2015, we had such great year and we hope you guys felt the same way!

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