20:24 - 22nd February 2012, by David West

Bandai Winds Down Distribution

The anime and manga industry took another knock in January with the announcement that Bandai Entertainment will cease releasing new titles in the US from February onwards. Three anime series that had previously been announced have been cancelled entirely - Gosick, Nochijo, Turn A Gundam - and six manga series including Code Geass: Renya, Gurren Lagann and Mobile Suit Gundam 001 all face the chop. Bandai will continue to distribute its existing catalogue of anime titles until their licences expire.

The company is planning to restructure its business to focus on sublicensing its properties to broadcasters both online and on television. Three of Bandai's five employees will be made redundant, and the shift in structure brings to an end Bandai's role bringing new anime and manga to US audiences, which started in 1996. The final two manga volumes to be released will be Code Geass Queen volume five on February 7, and Code Geass Knight volume five on February 21. While the US licenses for the unreleased anime shows will revert to their original licensors, the fate of the manga properties was unconfirmed at time of writing. Bandai plans to continue releasing anime DVDs and Blu-rays in Japan with English subtitles, making their catalogue available to anyone willing to pay import prices.

Namco Bandai is the parent company of the UK and European label Beez, but at the time of going to press, there had been no official word on what this announcement means for the future of the distributor. "There'll be an update in due course - in the meantime, at least as far as the UK is concerned, titles will remain available anyway!" said Beez through its Twitter account.

The company has licensed very few new series in recent years. While Beez released the first series of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya in the UK, subsequent series and the movie were picked up by Manga Entertainment. The Anime Legends edition of Cowboy Bebop Remix was released on 2 January, and the Anime Legends edition of Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion R2 is set to come out on 7 February.

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